Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sensory Friendly Movie Experience

Shout out to AMC Theaters for teaming up with the Autism Society to offer Sensory Friendly Films for families with members living with autism spectrum disorder!  Each month select AMC Theaters will offer a current family friendly movie in an auditorium that will have the lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up, dance, walk, shout or sing. This offering  grew out of a request from a parent of an autistic child in Maryland, more than 300 children and parents attended the first screening! Click on the link above to see if any of your local AMC Theaters participate.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekend Agenda 9/21-9/23

Did you know the World's Fair is coming to Charlotte this Sunday?  The Mint Museum Uptown is hosting Sunday Fun Day (which is one of our favorite hangout spots in town) is debuting their new exhibit 'Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at The World's Fairs 1851-1939':
This groundbreaking international exhibition presents outstanding examples of glass, furniture, jewelry, ceramics, precious metalwork, and textiles displayed at the world’s fairs between The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London in 1851 and the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Many of these objects have never before left their respective institutions or countries.
The museum is debuting this exhibit in a big way, there will be a Ferris Wheel in uptown Charlotte as part of the opening events his Sunday! If you come out look for us between 1-3pm, we'll be there volunteering.

If you're in the Kannapolis area Saturday evening you should check out Stories Under the Stars, for an interactive program that brings words to life.  
What better way to kick of autumn than with a corn maze?!  Rural Hill's seven acre Amazing Maize Maze is now open through November 3.

Big shout out to all of the ladies that will be participating in the Ramblin' Rose Tri this Sunday! I did it last year and crossing that finish line is such an incredible feeling.

What is on your weekend agenda? Don't forget to check out the calendar for upcoming activities and events. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Justin Timberlake, Math Whizzes, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and World Travelers all in one spot?!?!?

Do you know where you can go to learn new languages, receive free tutoring services and stream tv shows and movies all for free?  Give up?  It's your public library!  And those are just three of MANY services they provide and offer to the community and card holders.  The saying 'Membership has its privileges' definitely rings true in this case.

Most people think of the library as just a place to check out books, or if you are my age, it was where you spent your weekends in high school before a major project was due. Well there are so many services available it has taken me a week to decide which to highlight because there are just too many to highlight without this qualifying for a PhD thesis.

I would have had no idea about all the library offers and probably wouldn't have taken my son as young as I did had it not been for my father.  My parents are really great about doing activities just with him as a bonding opportunity and getting a library card was one of them.  My father was the one that introduced him to the library and got him his first library card. I lived in Hickory, NC when I was a pharmaceutical sales rep and I had a library card there upon learning that you could check out movies.  Clearly this was before Netflix and I don't remember them having a Blockbuster Video. But that was four years before he was born so I hadn't been inside a library for a while before taking him in to check out books.

One day I decided to go onto the library's website to see if downloading books to mobile devices was a possibility (which it is) and that is where I discovered a whole new world of services offered by the library.  One of the first was the ability to download new music. Imagine my delight to be able to download some of Justin Timberlake's '20/20 Experience' the week it came out!  That is where I found out about Hoopla, it is a service that allows you to stream movies and tv shows to mobile devices, for free. A sorority sister of mine recently posted about Hoopla on her Facebook page and how she enjoys it with her twins. Frankly I was surprised that someone else knew about it but am glad that people are taking advantage of this resource.  There are lots of kid friendly movies and tv shows available, especially shows that were popular when I was a child.  I always love sharing things with my son that my brother and I use to love or were popular when we were his age. Or as Tyler says, 'back in the old days'.

You can also take advantage of a great program called Mango Languages through the public library.  My son is in a spanish immersion school and since I did a horrible job of paying attention in high school, my spanish is sub par and I have got to learn so that I can better help him learn as well as communicate with him to make sure he isn't cursing me out to my face unbeknownst to me.  Mango Languages is a program that offers 60, yes, 60, foreign languages and yep, it's free! You can even choose if you just want to learn for conversation or if you want more in depth learning for grammar and reading comprehension. So guess who has it downloaded onto their mobile devices?

The other really huge service offered to the community through the public library is free tutoring services.  That's right, I said free! provides free tutoring services daily from 4:00pm EST to 12:00am EST. You can select from math, science, english and a few other subject areas and it is broken down by elementary, middle, high school and adult levels.  Seriously, how often are you able to find free tutoring services?

As I said earlier, membership has its privileges and you don't get these free services without having a library card. There are so many other services and programs I didn't mention: help with starting a business, digital magazine subscriptions, movie screenings, story time, audiobooks, book clubs for all age levels and the list goes on.  You can find out for yourself better than I can tell you.  What's the Daily Show with Jon Stewart reference?  I got to go to a taping of the show when it was in Charlotte for the DNC and guess where it was filmed?!?!  Yep, at ImaginOn, part of our library system! You can't tell me that isn't pretty awesome! The library is for kids of ALL ages. Do you and your kids have one of the the coolest membership cards in town?  What are some of your favorite things about the library?

Giveaway Winners: Rissi Palmer's 'Best Day Ever'

Congratulations to Brandy D. and Roxanne L. who will each receive a copy of Rissi Palmer's 'Best Day Ever' CD!  

Thank you to all that entered.  Stay tuned, there will be more giveaways in the near future!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

Before I became I parent, I constantly found amusement from stories one of my girlfriends who would share about her own child and things that she would say.  From her obsession with a deceased historical figure (mind you her mom nor I were even born when the person died) to some of her responses or ‘back talking’ that isn’t always meant as disrespectful.  Well I’m not so quick to laugh now that I have similar stories to share.

When he was younger, Tyler and I were in an office supply store and I was making a purchase at the register.  He kept trying to get my attention and I could see him pointing out of the corner of my eye, but I asked him to wait until I finished.  What caught my attention were the words ‘man’ and ‘pirate’.  I then asked him to repeat his question and he continues to point at a man that is wearing an eye patch and very loudly asks, “Mommy is he a pirate?”.  So in my embarrassment I tried to quiet him down, tell him it isn’t nice to point and tell him no.  I don’t believe the gentleman heard, if he did, he did a great job of ignoring him. 

Another time we were in a drugstore and we walked past an elderly woman with white hair and he (frantically waving) says, “Hi Grandma”.  **Let me throw a disclaimer in here by saying that my mom doesn’t go by the name Grandma, Grandmommy, or any other commonly used name, nor does she have white hair.  She definitely doesn’t look like the stereotypical image of grandmothers, as many grandmothers these days don’t.  Why the need to say all of this?  One to brag about the fact that my mom is really cute and doesn’t look like she has a grandchild.  But more importantly, I don’t know where he got the visual association with physical appearance and family titles.**

And OMG death to the phase where he and his classmates verbally hurt each other by saying that they aren’t each other’s best friends or by saying that I’m not your friend, such and such is my best friend.  Ooh wee, giving the ‘that isn’t nice, you can have more than one best friend’ speech has gotten old really fast.  What makes it harder is when it is a child that I’m not all that thrilled about myself (Yeah I said it.  And don’t you even act like there aren’t some kids you’ve met that just aren’t your ‘favorites’.) but I do the right thing and try to correct the behavior.  

What are some 'it wasn't funny at the time, but now I can at least chuckle' moments that your little ones have had?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekend Agenda 9/13-9/15

What's on your agenda for this weekend? Are you going to Freedom Park to check out the new Play 60 KidZone that opened on Tuesday? It includes an obstacle course, 40 yard dash with automated timing device, Play60 photo booth and a few other amenities. As this week's lunchbox notes have indicated we have had a little difficulty with decision making this week, so we won't get to check out this sure to be favorite spot, for at least a week. :-( With the weather cooling down any park or greenway will be enjoyable this weekend, so get outside, get some fresh air and more importantly get moving!  The great thing about the cooling temps is that you don't have to worry as much about your child passing out from heat exhaustion or having to pump them with water every five minutes to keep them hydrated.......eight minutes should do it.

Or maybe you've got team sports, gymnastics or church youth group activities. Many of us big kids are looking forward to the Mayweather/Alvarez fight, make sure you use the manners your parents worked so hard to instill in you and not show up at a fight party empty handed.

To all of my educators....WHOOOOP WHOOOOOPPP, are you taking advantage of Educator Saturdays at the Discovery Place museums this month? If not, you should, it's free and just for you.

If you are like me, you are looking forward to catching up on Breaking Bad while you and your child are at your parent's house.  I've got see what's going on with Heizenberg and Jesse, my son will be doing some manual labor to help out his grandfather as a result of not so great choices and behaviors at school earlier this week.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

National Day of Service and Remembrance: How do you talk to your children about September 11?

September 11 is National Day of Service and Remembrance, previously called Patriot Day. How do you talk to your children about the events that happened twelve years ago? Tyler is eight so he obviously wasn't born when the attacks happened but I feel it is important for him to know the 'why behind the what' as this is a national day of remembrance. Trying to explain why the attacks were planned is not a feat I choose to undertake right now because I don't feel confident I can explain it in a way that he can comprehend, just like it is difficult to explain other bad things people do.  I don't know about you all, but when he asks questions because he is truly trying to understand, there is no greater feeling of hopeless failure than having to respond, "some things we'll never know or understand, they just are".  That response is usually followed by this look of disappointment as if he is saying in his head, 'you're my parent, how do you not know these things? Any other time you act like you know everything else'.  (To know my son is to know that that could very possibly come out of his mouth)

I haven't talked to him about how I felt that day as the events unfolded and more information became available.  Having lived in Washington, DC to attend college and moving away just a year prior to the attacks happening, most of my friends were still in the area. My brother was in graduate school in DC at the time and not being able to get in touch with him just to hear his voice until later in the day was beyond mortifying.  My fiance' at the time lived in Louisiana and I remember there was speculation of attacks on nuclear power plants. There is a plant just outside of Baton Rouge which is where he is from and was in graduate school.  I called him so many times that day frantically crying when we couldn't get in touch with my brother and also making sure that he and his family were ok.  Like most, I remember the feeling of shock and the vulnerable feeling of anticipation, waiting for the next event to happen.

Many parents have varying views on talking to their children about incidents and topics such as this.  How much do you tell them? Do you go into great detail or do you just give enough to scratch the surface? How do you talk to your children about September 11 and similar events or difficult topics? If you lost family members or friends, what does your family do to honor them?

Monday, September 9, 2013

National Teddy Bear Day Pictures

Check out some of the great photos we've received in celebration of National Teddy Bear Day!!!  Thank you for sharing!

National Teddy Bear Day

Today is National Teddy Bear Day. This is a picture of me and one of my oldest best friends in a Teddy Bear Parade in uptown Charlotte. Instead of watching TV this evening how about you and your family have your own Teddy Bear Parade? It will be a fun way to get some fresh air and exercise. Have your child read to an audience of bears this evening for their daily reading time. If you all celebrate National Teddy Bear Day, take pictures and send them to and we will post on our blog and FB page.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Things We Love: Rissi Palmer's 'Best Day Ever'

My son received a CD from a friend that was excited to share her recent find with him and a few other of her friend's children. The album is Rissi Palmer's 'Best Day Ever', and listening to the album makes you feel just that, like it is the best day ever. The following summary from is the perfect description: 

Best Day Ever features 10 songs---all happy, all light, all “comfort food” for the soul and is what Rissi calls “a sophisticated children’s album” while also being melodic nostalgia for adults. The entire project is filled with songs from the perspective of a child--the simple-yet-profound things that makes life the “best day ever” for children in so many ways.

Sophisticated indeed, this isn't a kiddie album of single syllable rhyming words. This album is the perfect soundtrack to describe the thoughts and feelings of children.  As an adult it will take you back to those feelings of being afraid of the dark, knowing that your parent's love was more magical than a unicorn and wanting to be a dragon slayer when you grew up.

The title track is the first on the album and instantly puts you in a 'ready to take on the day' state of mind.  My son's favorite song is 'Pretend' which has lyrics like "mom I'm not stalling, the President's calling, I've gotta be solving President's stuff. See I'm a big deal riding my big wheel..."

I haven't been able to choose one favorite.  'Dear To Me' is a song that any parent can relate to in trying to describe just how much their children mean to them "...if you were a smile you'd be the happiest, if you were a joke you'd be the laughiest. Of all the things that you might be, most of all you're dear to me....". 'Not Afraid Of The Dark' is my other favorite for parental and personal reasons.  As a parent you want your child to feel secure in knowing you will be there to protect them from those monsters under the bed or the shadows that lurk in the closet. As children and adults we all want the comfort of knowing that there is always someone there holding our hands helping us through our dark moments.  "I've got the light of the moon, I've got stars in the sky, someone who loves me, all of the time.  Someone who hears the prayers of my heart, so I'm not afraid of the dark".

'Best Day Ever' is a must for morning commutes to school and perfect for any road trip! In a time where  listening to the radio with your children is almost impossible (unless you tune in to your local NPR or gospel stations), this CD is a win-win. You won't dread hearing songs multiple times because you'll be singing right along taking a stroll down memory lane while hoping your child can relate to the songs on the album.  This CD has been one of the most used and best gifts ever!

For more information about the album and Rissi Palmer, visit The album is also available on iTunes and Amazon.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grandparents' Day

Did you know that tomorrow is Grandparents' Day?  Did you even know that Grandparents' Day was a national holiday?  Grandparents' Day is "to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer". It has been recognized in the United States since 1978 and is celebrated on the first Sunday following Labor Day.  There is even an official song, 'A Song for Grandma and Grandpa'.

I don't think I found out about Grandparents' Day until my son was 4 and that year I made scrapbooks for both of my parents. Embarrassingly, I don't think we have recognized or honored them on Grandparents' Day since.  One thing is for sure, my son's life would be very different without his grandparents.  His paternal grandparents live in Louisiana and he has a strong alliance to all things Louisiana, especially LSU and gumbo.  Given the geographic distance he only sees them a few times a year but they talk often.  My parents live here in the city and he enjoys doing various activities with them.  He and my mother share in a joy for gardening, food and both have a knack for making friends in a room full of strangers.  He and my father share a passion for golf, football and movies.

What do you and your children do to honor your and their grandparents?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Agenda 9/6-9/8

This weekend there are TONS of things to do in Charlotte!  The Yiasou Greek Festival, free admission to local museums, Panthers first regular season home game, Educator Saturdays at Discovery Place museums, free crafts for kids and of course the new love of my life, the new Romare Bearden Park.  Check out the calendar for more details.  What is on your weekend agenda?

Calendar of Events/Activities

In an effort to share many of the family friendly activities in the area, I have added a calendar.  As I find out about fun and cool happenings I will update the calendar accordingly.  If you are like us, your life is filled with birthday parties, sports practices and games, etc. and you seem to hear about things after they have already happened but 'would have loved to attend/participate if you knew in advance'.  Hopefully this will help.  

If you know of any activities/events that you think should be shared, please send details to with the subject line, 'Calendar Suggestions'.