Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The End: NaBloPoMo 2011

Its finally here. The end of NaBloPoMo 2011. I'm not going to lie to you all, it kicked my butt. Seriously. It knocked me around this computer harder than anything I have ever attempted. I am fairly sure I am out of things to say for now. I fell behind once but I came back I suppose. Getting things sorted. I even got in a fight with the RSS Graffiti people. Just for you.

Now though, we go back to the same old grind. I will say that it seems to have rewired whatever was going on in there where there were days where I just didn't have anything to say. I am back to thinking about blogging again. Something that I know I love to do and something I had lost sight of. Mission accomplished I suppose.

So, here is to another year of brain wrecking and typed out drivel! See you next year! Yay!

This is an old picture. I never re-added the recent pics after my
computer and I got into a fight a few weeks ago. Sue me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Soda-less

When I was writing up this year's 2011 list, I tried to think of a couple of things that would challenge me personally. I thought about giving something up that I knew would be a hard sell and came up with soda. Coke. Pepsi. Whatever you call it in your neck of the woods.

Now, I have never been a soda addict like some people I know. I love a nice cold Coke as much as anyone but its not that have to have with every meal type of deal that some people have. Of course there are some things you just have to drink coke with. Like chips and dip. I drink soda probably 3 or 4 times a week. So did I take the easy road? Yeah kind of but I saw it as working up to giving up something I really can't live without: Sweet Tea. Something I drink with every meal. Yee haw.

At any rate, I actually found it harder to give up soda than I thought it would be. I knew that I would be better health wise at the very least. Soda is horrible for your health. It is bad for your teeth, your bones, your liver, your everything. With all the artifcial sugar and flavors and BPA lined cans, its kind of amazing that any of us can still stomach it knowing what it is doing to our bodies.

Drink it we do though. Thing is, it really is something you reach for without really thinking about. Those clever marketing folk make us think we need it. Think we need it to stay awake or to go with certain things. Like chips and dip. Hey... gotcha.

So, one day at the end of Summer, I got a bee in my bonnet about not drinking any more soda for the rest of the year. I knew I had made it a goal to not drink any for at least three months as part of the List so I figured if I was going to make it stick, I had better give myself time to slip up and start over. Once I set my mind to something, I mean to do it. This was no exception.

Even though I had given myself time to slip up, I am proud to say I made it the whole three months without so much as looking at a carbonated beverage. I thought about it from time to time and there were certain times where it really would have been nice to have a nice cold Coke.

Thing is though, the longer I went, the less I thought about it. The less I craved it even with certain things. Like chips and dip. I started noticing that I was feeling better after meals. Especially the meals I would have eaten with a nice cold soda. I wasn't as bloated and uncomfortable. I didn't have that crazy sugar crash a few hours later.

I felt.. weird. Good weird.

Not run a marathon good but noticeable nonetheless. I suppose that is what I was looking for though, huh? So, there you have it. Experiment passed. Will I go back to soda? Probably. Lets be real here but will I go back to drinking it even semi- regularly? Probably not. Why would I?

I would encourage you to try to give something though. Something you might not even realize you think you need. Caffeine in general is always a good one to give up. I did for several years before I had kids. You can't beat that high with all the Red Bull in the world. Thing is, you don't realize how much something is holding you down until you give it up.

So, what is something you would like to give up?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fernbank's Winter Wonderland

My mother and I were lucky enough to get to go check out the 2nd annual Winter Wonderland: Celebrations and Traditions Around the World exhibit at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History here in Atlanta last week. This holiday season inspired exhibition features trees and other displays decorated by local cultural partners from around the world. They had trees set up and decorated with trees that recognize celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights, as well as traditions and practices like origami, indigenous art and national symbols.

My favorite, of course, was the Danish tree. It looked almost eerily like my Mother in Law's Christmas tree. Complete with the little handmade paper hearts.


A close second for me was the tree from Chile. It was so colorful and beautiful.


Of course they were all beautiful. There were trees to represent all sort of different cultures and of course there were table exhibits for the cultures that don't celebrate the season with trees.

The Arab World

Ready to check it out? This magical exhibit runs November 16, 2011 – January 8, 2012 during regular museum hours. There are also offering an array of special programming and events along with the Winter Wonderland exhibit and you can check those out HERE. If you are already a museum member, the exhibit is free. You can buy your tickets online or at the box office located at Fernbank. Of course there is always the option to buy a combo ticket and check out the IMAX experience while you are there!

If you aren't from the Atlanta area and still want to experience a little of the culture you can check out the Fernbank page and find some pictures from last years exhibit, activity sheets for children and more information on the rest of the museum. Perfect for the homeschool crowd!

Don't miss out starting an amazing holiday tradition this year!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

There Goes #9

#9 of the 2011 List that is. A little time with Gigi for her 80th birthday.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful 3.0

Every year, I sit down and type out the things I am thankful for. This year has been hard for us. Lots of trials and tribulations so to speak. Still. Still, I am a very luck woman. I still have so much in my life to be thankful for. Here are my top 3:

My family. We have been through hell and back over the last few years and we have made it through in one piece. I think if anything, we have become a stronger more organized unit of attack. Like a family full of ninjas. Only less coordinated. And without the cool outfits (Must add that to the to- do list).

The roof over my head. Its simple and I think everyone is thankful for this but this year, I am especially thankful.
We went through a rough, scary patch there in the house we were renting this summer. Lets just say I have never been so thankful for working A/C and double door locks in my life.

My circle of friends. With out the love of my friends (both internet and real life) I would be a very sad, miserable person. Not to mention disillusioned. What are friends for if they can't keep you grounded?

Of course there are many more than these but I would much rather get back to my turkey left overs than sit here and type them all out. I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for this year?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope it you all had a wonderful feast and some quality time with your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Santa: Round Two

Well, K did a little better this time. At least he wasn't screaming but he was making a pretty epic unhappy face. D? Still unimpressed. I love it.


See Round One.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Callaway Gardens: Fantasy in Lights



Nestled amidst wooded landscape of Callaway Gardens, Fantasy In Lights is the Southeast's most spectacular holiday light and sound show with more than eight million twinkling lights celebrating the holiday season. This spectacular show has attracted almost two million visitors since it opened in 1992. Now in its 20th year, Fantasy In Lights has become an essential holiday tradition for many families, as much as a part of the season as caroling or attending "The Nutcracker." Visit once and you'll discover why.

We were invited to come down and see the Fantasy in Lights display and stay the night in the cozy Southern Pine Cottages. The Cottages were perfect for the four of us and we felt immediately at home when we checked in. Our cottage was beautifully appointed and had everything you would need to come and stay while, from pots and pans to an abundance of soft, clean towels.

After we got all settled into our Cottage and the boys got in a quick nap, we headed off to check out the Christmas Village on the Gardens grounds. The Christmas Village, a 22,000 square-foot indoor, heated area gives guests the opportunity to visit Santa and other holiday characters, or guests can shop for specialty food items from the Callaway Gardens Country Store®, unique gifts, nostalgic toys from simpler times and an assortment of holiday ornaments. An array of Georgia crafters are on hand making and selling their wares. The Christmas Village was a huge treat for us. The boys got to enjoy looking at all the beautiful ornaments and even got their picture taken with Santa!

After we had spent an hour or so checking out the Christmas Village we headed down to Robin Lake Beach where we watched the 'Twas the Night before Christmas and The Nativity scenes. These were were a spectacular light and narration show of two of everyone's most favorite Christmas stories. After that, we got ready to board our ride through the Fantasy in Light display! We got the chance to experience the light and sound extravaganza on the "Jolly Trolley" which was the best because we could all focus on the beautiful lights! You can also tour by driving through the lighted scenes in your personal vehicle, but I highly recommend the Trolley! 

This holiday season marks the 20th anniversary of Fantasy in Lights - named one of the top 48 events in the world by the Chicago Tribune - at Callaway Gardens. From Nov 18-Dec 30 this year, 8 million lights stretch across more than five miles of the gardens, creating 14 larger-than-life scenes set to choreographed holiday music. 

The sparkling, animated displays include my personal favorite: Snowflake Valley, a winter wonderland filled with enormous snowflakes and thousands of white lights; Magical Christmas Garden with a 24-foot wreath entrance; and Santa's Workshop, showcasing animated versions of Santa's elves busy making toys for the big night.

Ninety-nine percent of the frames used to create the scenes in Fantasy in Lights are custom designed and built just for Callaway Gardens, taking 3,900 man-hours to install. And in keeping with Callaway Gardens' mission of connecting man and nature, every kilowatt of power used to light up Fantasy In Lights is compensated with "green" power, the first of its kind in the south. 

Ready to check it out?

Advance ticket prices range from $16 to $22 for adults and $8 to $11 for children, with children 5 and younger always admitted for free.

Thinking about enjoying Callaway Gardens at a more relaxing pace? Overnight packages start as low as $99* per night in the Mountain Creek Inn and include:

· Fantasy In Lights admission for 4

· Inn Accommodations

· Special Jolly Trolley loading area dedicated for overnight guests

· Admission to the world-class Gardens and its many attractions including the Day Butterfly Center, Sibley Horticultural Center, Callaway Discovery Center, live Birds of Prey Shows, seven miles of nature trails and our 10-mile Discovery Bicycle Trail.

Additional package options include breakfast and a 2011 commemorative Fantasy In Lights ornament.

For traditions old and new, there’s nothing like Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens. And with great packages like these, ‘tis truly the season to celebrate!

Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Gardens is recognized as a "Top 100 Events in North America" by the American Bus Association for 2011, has been recognized numerous times by the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast, and by America's Best and Top Ten as one of the Top Three Light Shows in America. If you haven’t been, you should see for yourself!

Callaway Gardens® is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. To experience the most spectacular holiday light and show in the South, visit www.callawaygardens.com or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).





Monday, November 21, 2011

The Child Friendly Web

Lets face it, our kids are eventually going to completely school us in the technology department. They are going to roll their eyes and explain it to us again just like we do with our parents. So of course, we want them to be comfortable with using a computer as early as possible, right? Well, at least I do. D has been playing "games" on my computer for about two years. He loves it. It started out just kind of watching me play. Then he slowly took part in me playing and eventually got frustrated with me and started doing them all himself. Even more so when we got the touch screen computer. Now he plays games on my computer and my phone like its old news. It has become habit. A learning habit. Awesome.

K is getting more comfortable playing way faster than D did. He is already starting to navigate around his games with his tiny fingers like an old pro. K also has no patience for the mouse. He is all touchscreen or go home. He gets frustrated when I try to help him but he knows when he is stuck and will let me help out.

Since my boys are so computer crazy, I thought I would share a few of my boys' favorite websites. These can be played on a regular computer or on any tablet with internet access so its a double bonus. Of course, I wouldn't recommend just setting your child loose with your computer either. This should be an activity you can do together. An extension of parent playtime if you will. As they get more comfortable and you feel like they respect the equipment more, you can give them more leeway.  Feel free to add your childs favorites to the comments below!

Fisher Price online. This is a group of games designed for three different age levels. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers. They have a lot of the characters that kids are familiar with and that, of course, makes them irresistible.

Jump Start. This one you have to sign up for but it is a little more interactive. You can earn prizes and such and that is huge to them right now.

Knee Bouncers. This one is another one he can do himself for the most part. He really likes the music section.

Duplo. This one isn't really games but he loves it. There IS a games section to this site and it has gotten better than it used to be. We stopped going there for a long time but it has gotten more fun lately.

Jackson Pollock. Super simple. Fun to play with even for me. Move the mouse around, click to change the color. Its that easy.

Starfall This has something for everone! Love this site when we are looking for good entertainment with high educational opportunities!

Of course there is Nick Jr. too. lots of characters they know already and that is the best way to get a reluctant child to take interest.

Lil Fingers. This one looks really basic but they have a ton of games and activities for little ones. K loves the funny faces one.

So, thats the big eight for us right now. Enjoy and don't forget to leave your favorites for us to try!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top 10 Atlanta Landmarks Named for MINILAND in LEGOLAND Discovery Center

For months, Atlanta has been buzzing about its newest coming family attraction, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Atlanta. Did you know about it? Did you know this will be the third LEGOLAND Discovery Center in the United States? (I didn't actually know that.) Described as stepping into the biggest box of LEGO bricks in the world, the $15 million, 30,000-square-foot interactive attraction will feature a MINILAND exhibit which recreates landmark buildings in Atlanta out of LEGO bricks, hands-on play areas, a 4D Cinema, master classes from the LEGO Master Model Builder, LEGO rides, and special party rooms for birthdays and other celebrations. This highly interactive and educational 2-3 hour indoor experience is ideal for families with children.

Recently, brick buffs all over the city have gotten in on the LEGO® action with a contest to choose which landmarks will appear in the attraction’s signature MINILAND® exhibit. After rounds of nominations and voting for the top 20 contenders, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta unveiled the 10 winning Atlanta sites that will be immortalized in LEGO bricks.

Area LEGO lovers voted, and the following 10 Atlanta icons will be featured in the MINILAND portion of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta:

Bank of America Building

Fox Theatre

Georgia Dome

Georgia Aquarium

High Museum of Art

King and Queen Towers

Stone Mountain

The Varsity

Turner Field

World of Coca-Cola


Of course I whole- heartedly agree with all of the winners but we all know my favorite. On being chosen for the project, Fox Theatre General Manager Allan C. Vella remarked, “We are honored to be selected to be included in the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center MINILAND here in Atlanta, and we cannot wait to see our National Historic Landmark recreated! I am eager to see how the master builders accomplish our intricate designs.”

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta is scheduled to open in Phipps Plaza in April 2012. Don't forget to check this exhibit out while you are there! Its sure to jog some memories!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Santa: Round One

When we were at the Stone Mountain Christmas event, I decided to get the boys' picture made with Santa. I figured if we got a good picture, then cool. We could mark that holiday thing off our list. What I didn't expect, was this:


Monster wanted nothing to do with him. With Santa! D has always been a tad wary, like he is with everyone, but K is usually Mr. Friendly- Talk- to- Anyone. Oh well. Its still cute I guess. On to round two...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Yeah, He Has Me Wrapped. Can You Blame Me?

My little monster loves to sing. He loves to snuggle. He loves to giggle. Just thought I would share some of why he has me totally wrapped around his little fingers. Just pay no mind to the old hag singing in the background.





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Virus, A Flat Tire, and An Experiment

Today, has not been great as days go. It started off well enough. I actually slept for more than hour last night literally for the first time in a week. T took the boys out this morning and let me sleep in then put them down for nap before leaving for work. I got caught up on sleep and got a little break from kid duty. Not that I don't love them but let's face it, sometimes quiet is nice.

Then, I got up to do my NaBloPoMo duties before an event I was going to tonight, only to find that my computer was very angry. Very angry indeed. Somehow, a virus has snuck in past the myriad of protection programs and firewalls we have in place. Fabulous. After an hour of getting nowhere, I shut down and waited for T to get home. I am more computer savvy than he is about internet related things but he has much more patience to figure out how to get rid of a virus (that was mostly likely downloaded willing by him. Like I said, not net savvy.)

I got dressed, got the boys dropped off and headed to my event only to get halfway there and have my front driver side tire explode. The one we had just had replaced this week. Yay. I got to the shoulder fine and got to work taking the tire off but I could not, for the life of me get the stupid lug nuts off.

Now, I am not a damsel in distress kind if gal. I have always been a tomboy and pride myself on being able to fix cars and mechanical things with a quick and efficient manner. I have done everything from replace radiators to changing bulbs. In fact, three days before I gave birth to K, I changed a tire in 98 degree weather, in a dress, on my way to my midwife appointment.

So, me not being able to get the tire off was quite frustrating. I yelled and cursed at the tire. I jumped on the tire iron in my sexy heels. I tried everything. Nothing worked. Eventually I called AAA and they had to bring an air gun to loosen the nuts. Long story short, I won't be using that tire shop again any time soon.

At that point, I just headed home. I had missed the event and was dirty and cold. When I got there, I cursed at the computer, flopped down on the sofa and here I sit. Posting from my phone because I am too tired and frustrated to do anything else. So, if this looks crazy or is full of typos, my sincere apologies. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Anyone have any tips on ridding your computer of a virus?  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stone Mountain Christmas

This past weekend we got a jump start on the Holiday season. The boys, my mother and I packed up and head out to Stone Mountain Park to check out one of Atlanta's most well known Christmastime events. See, every year, Christmas truely comes to life during a Stone Mountain Christmas as Crossroads, the shopping and entertainment venue at the base of Stone Mountain, is decked out with more than 2 million lights. Featuring the new live, children’s holiday show Toyrific! and returning favorite shows Holly Jolly Cabaret, Simply Christmas, A Crossroads Christmas Carol, The Gift Train Show and more, guests can stroll through Wonderland Walkway, a magical tunnel of lights and melodies. 

After coming through the beautifully lit gate and oohing and ahhhing at the lights, we followed the Wonderland Walkway to visit Stone Mountain Park’s very own Snow Angel at her Snow Palace at Memorial Hall. The boys checked out the beautiful Snow Angel's Palace but the angel herself had an errand to run so we missed seeing her there. 

That was okay though because right next to the Snow Angel's Palace was the cookie decorating station! The boys enjoyed picking out their own cookies, icing colors and cookie decor before finding a seat and getting to work. D was all about making the cookie look right before eating it, K not so much. I can't say I blame him. Mama loves cookies too.


After we decorated our cookies, we headed out to stake out our spot for the Christmas parade to see the arrival of Santa Clause! The parade was full of beautiful lights, dancing characters from the live shows, the beautiful Snow Angel and of course the big man himself. K kept yelling for Santa from his perch on my back and I thought for a minute I might lose some hearing out of that ear. He was so excited, he couldn't contain himself. When we went to visit him later though, he wasn't quite so thrilled.

When the parade was finished, we checked out some of the other Christmas family activities like the Polar Express 4D Experience, storytelling with Mrs. Claus and of course a visit with Santa. The higlight for the littles was, of course, the Polar Express 4D show. The movie is big in our house right now thanks to my mother and I'm not sure either one of them moved the whole time. They were totally mesmerized. 

The boys sat through all of the shows really well though. They were perfect for every age group. I was happy to see that they had a great mix of everyone's favorite Christmas and Holiday songs and the boys were happy to dance and sing along to the ones they remembered from last year. Toyriffic was an energetic and enthusiastic event that had us all dancing in our seats.

Of course we ended the night with the magic of the Snow Angel as she flew high in the sky helping the kids "create" real snow and fireworks. The perfect end, to a perfect start to the Holiday season.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Admission prices for Stone Mountain Christmas are $27 (plus tax) for adults and $21 (plus tax) for children ages 3-11. Vehicle entry to Stone Mountain Park is $10 for a one-day permit or $35 for an annual permit.

Dates: Nov. 12- Jan. 1

Location: Crossroads® at the base of Stone Mountain

Information: (770) 498-5690 or visit www.stonemountainpark.com



COMING SOON TO STONE MOUNTAIN!

Snow Mountain returns to delight families with the region’s only snow park featuring more than 20 snow tubing slides. Situated on what is commonly known as the “Laser Lawn,” the snow park features tubing runs – including the AVALANCHE ALLEY family tube ride and the Snow Zone area where younger kids can tube, make the ultimate snowmen and snow angels and throw snowballs at a snowball shooting gallery. After playing in the snow, warm up at the crackling bonfires, roast marshmallows and enjoy s’mores.

Dates: Nov. 23- Feb. 20


Location: Stone Mountain Laser Lawn

Information: (770) 498-5690 or visit www.snowmountainpark.com

Sunday, November 13, 2011

TWLOHA 2011


"To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery."

As some one who has suffered from world crippling depression more times than I care to admit in my life, this is a mission statement that I can stand behind. Depression is a silent and unfortunately often deadly disease that poisons your thoughts, your relationships, and your body. It also keeps you from knowing when you need help the most. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in Americans. Facts show that people who do seek help have greater chances of recovery.

TWLOHA can be the first step towards that help. Today, we are stepping forward and spreading the word to save a life. Spread the word, spread the love.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lawrenceville, Georgia: A Ghostly Adventure

The Historic Gwinnett Courthouse
 I was invited by the Atlanta Metro Travel Association to join them and a few other amazing Atlanta bloggers and media experts in a two day mini tour of some of the cities outside the perimeter of the city of Atlanta. A taste of four communities that encompass Atlanta, all of which have something quite different to offer. I was excited to be included and check out some of the areas of Atlanta that I have heard about but have yet to experience first hand.

Ok, so you read about my tour of Alpharetta the other day. When we left off, I was freshly showered and ready to hit the streets again. We all jumped in our tour van and headed South East to the city of Lawrenceville. Lawrenceville is Georgia's oldest city in the Atlanta metro area and is the home to Gwinnett's Fallen Heroes Memorial and of course the amazing historic downtown district which was our playground for the evening.






Our first stop was the classic Italian restaurant Dominick's. When we first walked into Dominick's I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere. This was the kind of place that you felt at home and would be the perfect place for any occasion, from a first date to a private wedding reception. We ordered a family style Italian meal that could knock the socks off of anyone. We sampled the local favorites including the Spedini Bread and  Tira Mi Su. You really just can't beat the family recipes and fresh ingredients that have earned this local favorite the Zagat Award of Distinction multiple times. The staff was warm and friendly to boot! 


After we had stuffed ourselves silly on amazing Italian food, we headed back down the bustling downtown shopping district to Niko's Wine Corner for a wine tasting to take the edge off the day. Now, this location is not actually on the corner of anything. So, if you go looking and get confused, just know the name comes from the flagship store in Snellville. I asked, I know. 


Anyway, while sampling the selection of Farnese wines of Ortona, Province of Chieti, Abruzzi, Italy, we were able to look around the store and check out their selection of quality wines, exotic beers and superior organic products. Let me tell you something, this was a small store but they really did have everything. They say their mission is to provide the best selection of fine wines and to offer the most selection of wines by the glass and if they can't live up to that I don't see any reason why.


After we had sampled our little hearts out and let our bellies settle from our amazing dinner, we headed across the street to the beautiful Aurora Theatre. The Aurora Theatre is housed in a beautifully restored 100-year old former brick church and attracts over 30,000 patrons per year. With two stages, a main stage and a smaller studio stage, they bring to life intimate plays, renowned musicals, children’s playhouse programs, cabarets, comedy, and much more. It is a gorgeous building that oozes old world charm while still offering the cutting edge technology that makes modern theatre such a treat. 

After we had toured the Aurora, we were met by Madame Macabre, our guide for the infamous Lawrenceville Ghost Tour! Now, of course with Lawrenceville being the oldest city in the Atlanta metro area, you would expect to hear the locals talk here and there about ghosts and such but Lawrenceville has had several recent paranormal investigation teams come out and they have had some pretty spooky findings. This 90-minute scary stroll around the beautiful historic courthouse square and by storefronts restored to their turn-of-the-century charm, tours of some of Lawrenceville’s most interesting places and the stories behind its most bizarre events, hauntingly told with the charm and personality of a real Southern storyteller. Our storyteller lead us all around the Lawrenceville square, including the Old Jail, an eerie spot preserved from the 1800's and well known for haunted activity. The story of the jail is one that definitely had my goose bumps at full attention!


After our ghostly tour of Lawrenceville, we headed back to our American Girl rooms and crashed our tired little selves straight into our pink, comfy beds. The next morning we hit the streets and headed South. Stay tuned..

If you would like to read more about how to book your own adventure or get more information in general check these sites out:

Dominick's

Niko's Wine Corner- Lawrenceville


Niko's Wine Corner Wine Tasting

The Aurora Theatre


Lawrenceville Ghost Tours

Friday, November 11, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake™ Berry Biggest Talent Show Contest

 
Remember Strawberry Shortcake? I do. It was my favorite show growing up and I can still, to this day, remember exactly what my doll smelled like. Did you know she is still around? Strawberry Shortcake, who recently celebrated her 30th anniversary, debuted in 1980 as a line of social expressions products, as well as toys, videos, games, crafts and books. The character quickly catapulted from being a little girl with a mop of red yarn curls into superstardom. Today, a whole new generation of young girls and their moms are rediscovering the berry wonderful world of Strawberry Shortcake!

In fact, she has an all new show coming up to introduce a brand new character. To celebrate the debut of the newest Strawberry Shortcake character, singing superstar Cherry Jam, American Greetings Properties, has announced the Strawberry Shortcake Berry Biggest Talent Show Contest. From October 24th through November 21st, parents can submit a short video of their child showing off their dance moves for the chance to win a family vacation of a lifetime.


Families can submit entries to the “Strawberry Shortcake Berry Biggest Talent Show Sweepstakes” by uploading a short video of their child dancing to the Strawberry Shortcake’s “Sunshine Girls” song at http://www.facebook.com/StrawberryShortcake. Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, strength, dance moves, body language, performance, and stage presence. To help inspire families, an instructional dance video to “Sunshine Girls” is available on the Official Strawberry Shortcake Facebook fan page.

One berry lucky and talented winner will be selected by an esteemed panel of judges from the television and children’s entertainment industry including Emmy Award-winning television personality and host Victoria Recano, former Nickelodeon casting agent Jill Greenberg Sands and American Greetings Properties President Jeffrey Conrad. The grand prize winner will be announced on December 9, 2011 and awarded a JetBlue vacation for a family of four (valued at $5,000) while three runner-up finalists determined by the judges will receive product prize bundles valued at $500 each.

Can you say sweet? I can! Now to get my D to memorizing those dance moves! Hey, he already loves to dance so it can't hurt right?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On Weaning

My monster, at just shy of 26 months, has decided he is done breastfeeding. I am doing surprisingly okay with that most of the time but sometimes it still burns. I just want one more time. One more snuggle. One more sleepy gaze.

K has always been a good nurser. He was eager for it the second he was born. He latched on and got right into it. He nursed like a champ through his NICU stay and just kept right on going when we got home. Some would say it was because I was experienced already and that made it easy but I think he was just as determined as I was to make breastfeeding work for us.

When he was a tiny, new baby he squeaked when he nursed like a little rubber duck. It was the most adorable sound I have ever heard. Suck-suck-SQUEAK. It made nursing him in public a tad bit more obvious but what can you do? I mostly just pretended to not noticed the loud, squeaking sounds coming out of him while we were out and if people dared to stare, I would just stare right back.

He loved to nurse and when he was sad or hurt he nursed purely for comfort. Something his brother never did. I lived for the times he would melt into my chest and relax immediately to nurse. It was like a drug to him though he never did really fall asleep while nursing. It was all business until he was full and then it was bippy time. Some days here lately he would just snuggle down into my chest and talk to me. I guess, even though he didn't want to nurse, the snuggles were still enough comfort and that is okay with me too.

Besides there are good things about it. I can get some normal bras. I can hopefully stop waking up in a puddle. At least I hope. It's been almost five years of crazy lactation and I can definitely say I'm ready to dry up just a little. It will be nice to not have to carry around spare breastpads everywhere I go in case one of the boys does something cute or a baby cries or one of the other things that makes me leak like a cut hose happens. Ah, the joys over overproduction.

Then I think about the downside. Which mostly consists of my overwhelming mama emotions of my baby growing up. He doesn't need to nurse any more equals big kid and I don't like the thought of that one little bit. He is supposed to stay little forever. Oh, it hurts to think that he is too big to nurse. Self weaning is a gift that I have always given my boys but it doesn't make the emotions for me fo away.

I thought about pumping for him. I could. I did. For D. I pumped him breastmilk pretty regularly for about a year after he weaned. Well, weaned off me I guess. (How does that work anyway? He double weaned? Whatever.) I guess the thought of pulling out that pump again after all this time just kind if makes me gag a little. Or maybe more than a little.

Either way, we're done. Its time to move on to bigger adventures with a bigger boy. Who knows, maybe some day I will get to breastfeed again. Maybe someday. Until then, I have nothing but amazing memories of nursing my boys and even if K is my last, Its been a good run.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Alpharetta, Georgia: Where Mama Got Her Groove Back

I am the ginormous on in the back.
I was invited by the Atlanta Metro Travel Association to join them and a few other amazing Atlanta bloggers and media experts in a two day mini tour of some of the cities outside the perimeter of the city of Atlanta. A taste of four communities that encompass Atlanta, all of which have something quite different to offer. I was excited to be included and check out some of the areas of Atlanta that I have heard about but have yet to experience first hand. Plus, I got to mark off one of the items on the 2011 list! Now, in order to do each of these place justice, I am going to split the trip up into four posts.

Our first stop after meeting up at the Atlanta History Center was Alpharetta, a city that exclaims they have "the right blend of hometown charm and big city sophistication". Alpharetta is the home to Verizon Amphitheater and the only American Girl Boutique and Bistro in the South East among other amazing shopping and dining opportunities.

Our experience was a little more hands on that a little shopping though. We got to learn to ride dirt bikes, have an amazing lunch, and have an amazing hotel experience!

Hot stuff, no?
(Really, it was HOT.)
When we pulled up to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, I was a bundle of nerves. I still wasn't really sure what we would be doing and lets face it, I am not particularly in the best of shape. We went inside and met our fearless instructor, April, who put me at ease right away. They have all of the equipment and gear there for you to use but of course you are free to bring your own also. They have classes for everyone from  age six and beyond. They even have a class called "Dirt in a Skirt" that is only available to women. Perfect for a girls day out to work out some stress and get that adrenaline pumping!

Once we got all fitted into the gear, we were ready to hit the dirt.

For those of you who have never ridden a dirt bike and are curious, it is so much fun. It is very physical and tiring but its the kid of thrill that you just can't explain to someone. Words don't really express the adrenaline rush.


After a few hours getting down and dirty (and loving it) we had an amazing lunch at the always amazing Pure Taqueria and got a chance to chat with the ladies from the Alpharetta CVB. We got to learn about some of the amazing events that go on in Alpharetta including the "Scarecrow harvest" in which local groups and school all decorate a scarecrow and they place them all around town. We got to see some of them and the work put into them was awesome! Of course there are lots of other events all year round including things like the Tree Lighting Ceremony coming up soon.

Of course after a long day of getting down and dirty on the dirt bikes and a filling lunch, we were all exhausted and, honestly, a little smelly. So we headed to the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta to get checked in to our room. Now, this was no ordinary hotel room. We got the American Girl treatment.

Pink!
First, there was the special check in procedure in which we got to strut our diva stuff down the runway and got the special American Girl "credit card" good for one free dessert in the restaurant or a candy bar or chips in the gift shop. We also had the option of having milk and cookies delivered to our rooms with our turn down service. Of course the rooms were decked out in all pink accents. Pink pillows, towels and even the trash cans had been switched to pink. The most special part of this particular hotel package (for those of you who are American Girl doll fans of course), was the American Girl doll-sized travel bed that your little girl gets to keep!

After checking out our rooms and, of course, a quick shower, we were off again to the city of Lawerenceville for dinner and ghost tour to haunt our dreams. Stay tuned.


If you would like to read more about how to book your own adventure or get more information in general check these sites out:

Atlanta Metro Travel Association

Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Buereau

More awesome Alpharetta Events

Motorcycle Safety Foundation 

Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta American Girl Package

#OTPATL - The Twitter Hashtag from our adventures

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Monster and Me

Joining (late) to Mommy and Me Monday over at Really Are You Serious? because seriously, there are not enough picture of me and my littles. Of course that may be because we have a hard time focusing and being serious. Oh well.





Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn at Really, Are You Serious?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rawr.

What we do on our "family days":

SCARY MONSTER!!!

"What do you mean I'm not doing it right?"

"Nope. This can't be right mama."



"Well, okay but I'm not going to enjoy it."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Food in a Cup

So, a while back, I mentioned that I was going to slowly start working my way through my Pinterest board. You know, actually trying some of the amazing ideas that I had pinned in my must try that frenzy that is so easy to slip into when faced with the wonders of Pinterest.

I bet you thought I had forgotten about saying that didn't you?

Well, I did. Thing that matters is, I eventually remembered like I usually do when I forget things and went straight to see what I could try first. At the time, it was early and the boys needed breakfast, so I decided to check out my food board. The first thing I noticed is that I have a lot of junk food pinned there. I also have a t-shirt tutorial pinned there and I'm not sure why but I never went back to move it (Who wants to take bets on how long it will take for me to remember to do that?). I did notice a trend that piqued my interest though: Food made in coffee cups.

Now, I didn't used to be a big coffee drinker but since having my second son, hulk baby K, I have ever so needed that morning cup of coffee. My kids even occasionally get coffee. Not real coffee, but they think it is. I have not, however, ever looked at my coffee cups as anything but coffee vessels. Turns out, you can make some tasty foods in them too.

(I am so not a food blogger.)
The first one to catch my eye was the scrambled eggs in a coffee cup. We eat a lot of eggs in this house. Scrambled, frittatas, hard boiled, quiches. You name it. We are the Benjamin Buford Blue of eggs around here. What can I say, they are easy, healthy and cheap.

The idea is super easy. Crack two eggs into a greased (I used butter but spray works too) coffee cup with a teeny bit of milk and whatever else you like in your eggs. I took it easy and just added some shredded pepper jack cheese. Scramble it all together with a fork and stuff it in the microwave for a minute on high, stirring once in the middle. Perfect. Although I have to admit it kind of skeeved me out at first how they kind of bubbled up even though they go back to normal when you stir them. They tasted great though so no foul.

After that, I have three mug cakes pinned. Those are a little more complicated but actually quite similar. There is a chocolate cake, a coffee cake, and a chocolate chip cookie dough cake. I did actually try all three and I will say that they are all fairly tasty. The chocolate cake though was by far the best. Think gooey brownie or chocolate lava cake. Its that good. I did make one small tweak to the recipe though by adding a tablespoon or so of chocolate syrup. Maybe that was the difference between a more cakey cup and a gooey cup?

At any rate, now I am itching to try out more of the things on my boards. They are calling to me from the computer. All I have to do is remember to take a list of things I need to get when I go to the craft store. That way at least I won't be standing there trying to remember what it was I was looking for while the boys put one of everything they can reach in the cart. That is a slight plus I suppose.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Way Back Machine

I finally dragged out the old laptop this past weekend and transferred all of our years of photos off and onto the back up drive. It was mind numbing work but I can't really complain I suppose. I got to go back and relive the boys' past few years of life and remember how very tiny they were. They seemed even more grown up every time I looked up at them from the pictures of them all tiny and freshly delivered. 

Honestly, I figured this would make the perfect Wordless Wednesday type thing. But then its totally not wordless. See? (Oh my God I can't stop myself. Shut up already!)




D at birth:
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D at 1 year:
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D at 2 years:
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D at 3 years:
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D at 4 years:
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K at birth:
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K at 1 year:
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K at 2 years:
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So, are you seeing a pattern here? The same pattern that I am? You know the one where they are growing up way, way too fast? Its funny to me that K seems to be older looking faster than D was. I blame the baby face D got from his daddy. Tommy is still baby faced. K is chunky too just on different parts of his body. Kid has a butt that would make JLo jealous.

Anyone know how to get them to slow down just a little?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba, Yo

Remember last week when I told you about the Yo Gabba Gabba Live! show coming to Atlanta? Well, we went and it was even more awesome than it was last year! The boys were a little intimidated at first but by the end they were literally dancing in the aisles. So. Much. Fun.

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Arrested Development was the musical guest. They rocked the Fox.

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You can check out YoGabbaGabbaLive.com to look for tickets in a city near you!

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