Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why southerners do snow "a li'l different"

We survived another winter storm in the Atlanta area this week and I think I speak for most when I say bring on spring!

Winter storms are an enormous news event here. Schools close out of an abundance of caution, often with no precipitation nor ice to be seen for 100+ miles. Grocery stores get slammed with shoppers and parents frantically dig through closets trying to find whatever winter gear they can scrounge up, whether it actually fits the kids or not.

So... why is that flake on the forecast such a BIG deal in the South?

Down here, we do snow "a li'l different". It's just the way it is. There are some hard facts as to why the panic ensues. For instance...

Actual meterological stuff! 
In the northern areas of the US, precipitation plus freezing temperatures = snow. Down here, when precipitation hits a warmer atmosphere, it generally comes down as sleet, "wintry mix", or a really wet snow. Yesterday evening, the snow came down in giant, wet flakes for hours but then it turned to rain. The rain melted a lot of the good fluffy snow - and guess what happens overnight once the temperatures drop below 32 again? Ice. And in case you didn't know, driving on ice is pretty much impossible.

Snowplows are expensive!
State governments do not have endless funds. If politicians proposed spending a large chunk of change on snow equipment that may or may not be used even once per year, they would have to give up something else. Like traffic improvements. Or runways. Or textbooks... you get the idea. Winter weather is not common in the South, so funds are spent elsewhere. When a large winter event occurs, our roads can't be cleared quickly. We can't even salt everywhere ahead of time because there just aren't enough trucks to go around.

Then there are the psychological effects of a winter storm in the South. Some kind of excitement/panic sensor triggers in our brains and we go a little bit nuts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A snow day - with actual snow!

This time, our "snow day" actually had snow! School was delayed two hours, with the announcement coming mere minutes before everyone left for school or got onto buses (apparently some children were already ON buses - epic fail, county. Try better next time). An hour or so later, school was cancelled for the entire day.

This is why: it actually snowed!

The snow fell fast in our suburban area and roads became white quickly. They were still technically driveable, but Atlanta drivers are fast and quite careless. It was a good call to keep us off the roads with children.

So what do you do when school is delayed/cancelled and everyone is already up and ready for the day? You go outside and play at 8:15am! We never know when we will see snow in our own yard, so we make the best of whatever we have.

I hate to break it to the local moms who need a break from their children, but we have a "big" snow supposedly coming tomorrow afternoon. Our winter is not over yet!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Science: it's good for little minds!

Everything we do each day has something to do with science. We woke up. We breathed in and out. The weather outside our front door showed off wintry precipitation. Our food changed as it was cooked for breakfast. Encouraging children to understand and recognize science helps them to develop their brains and improve upon reasoning and questioning skills.

So... since our Atlanta "snow event" ended up looking something like this:

... we ventured out of the house to Cartersville, Georgia to the Tellus Science Museum. The snow did not cooperate as Amelia had hoped; no sledding, no snowmen. We had a few icy pellets over the deck, but that is about it. It was just cold and windy and time to get out of the house.

Tellus Science Museum was built several years ago conveniently next to I-75 and it is a fun outing for the kids. It isn't so huge that it takes up your entire day (2 1/2 or 3 hours is perfect), but it has plenty of interactive exhibits and interesting models and artifacts to view.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Trunki: our favorite luggage for little travelers (#giveaway)

What better activity is there on a cold and windy winter Friday than to daydream about past vacations to warm and sunny destinations? I am longing for sunshine and sand between my toes, thinking of our island-hopping adventures in Hawaii and the fantastic service and turquoise waters at Beaches Resorts Turks and Caicos.

And lucky for you, I am also feeling nostalgic and generous! How about a giveaway to celebrate my five-year blogging anniversary and to get our minds on tropical warmth? Thinking back over five years of pondering, writing, and traveling, I have identified one of my favorite items and I would like to give you a chance to win. I was introduced to this item via a fellow blogger and giveaway years ago and I am going to share the same love with one of you.

Have you heard of the Trunki? 
Trunki images via

The Trunki is Melissa and Doug's ride-on luggage for little kids. We have had one for several years. Amelia has outgrown the ride-on part, but we just dug it out of the closet to hand down to Andrew. The Trunki ride-on luggage is built out of sturdy plastic and ours looks brand new, even after many travels with a toddler. Even though Andrew cannot ride on it just yet, the small size of the Trunki is convenient for hauling small clothes, toys and books, or various baby items. And the wheels and strap make it easy for Amelia to roll through an airport or hotel hallway when we need an extra hand. Plus, it is colorful and cute!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The have-it-all-mom: Revisiting my very first blog post (5 years and 1 month later)

I managed to miss my 5-year blogging anniversary last month, so today I pulled up the archives. I was five years younger when I wrote this, a mom of one, trying to figure out where I fit in the world of work and parenting. The blog was originally titled "Three Moms In One: A Balancing Act", because I wanted to be the happy mom, the "perfect" mom, and the working mom - all tied up in one neat little got-it-all-together package. I also knew it was going to be a perpetual balancing act to even attempt such a feat.

Many things have changed in five years. Other things have not. I still hold a soft spot, however, for this first rambling, personal, very real post. 

Know what's funny? I wore this SAME outfit at home today.

- - -
What do you mean, three moms? 
 originally posted January 21, 2010
Doing the mommy thing is not easy. No one said it would be. But I don't think I realized just how much I would bounce around the emotional spectrum on a daily basis. As a chronic over-achiever, I thought I could be the Perfect Mom, the Happy Mom, & the Working Mom without skipping a beat. 21-1/2 months after my gorgeous Amelia's birth, the realization that these three identities don't always mesh is hitting me in the face... and it hurts.

The Perfect Mom reads all the books, follows the rules, and ends up with a brilliant, sweet, and happy child. It's all a breeze, right? Ha. More like impossible. The pressure placed on a mom, both by herself and by society is astronomical. And unrealistic. And just plain stupid. Especially when said child nears the dreaded age of two.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fun and memorable 'no-snow' snow day! #Atlanta

It seems a lot of moms complain (a lot) about snow days, but I still experience childlike excitement. Even when it doesn't snow at all! We had a no-snow snow day yesterday...

In fact, it was around 41 degrees and raining. Most other school systems were already out for Presidents' Day and last year's SnowJam2015 made school and government officials increasingly sensitive in regards to weather, so they declared schools closed far in advance. Saturday night, actually! They probably should have waited as our winter forecasts can change dramatically in a matter of hours, but regardless, we were home yesterday and made an extra-special 'no-snow' snow day out of it. I don't complain about my child being home; I love to spend time with her! So I push aside my nagging work tasks (it's a snow day, after all!) and try to make it a fun day for all.   

Do you want to know our formula for creating a really fun and memorable no-snow snow day?

#1 - Blankets and stuffed animals
Oh, and comfortable clothes/PJs as well. The no-snow snow day is all about comfort and lounging at home. Even if roads are fine, it is probably too yucky or cold to go out, so we stay cozy. I enjoyed my soft fleece leggings and over-sized fleece tunic from Target. Best work-at-home-mom clothing, ever. Andrew was happy in his footie PJs.

#2 - Movies
We select movies featuring snow, of course! If we cannot get any fluffy white stuff outside our door, we can live vicariously through films. Two favorites are Frozen (although Amelia, believe it or not, is not a huge fan) and Rise of the Guardians. Clearly, Jack Frost missed us yesterday; although I hear he made his presence quite known in middle Tennessee.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Minions and more: 2015 animated movies

I received an exciting email yesterday. My daughter exclaimed a happy "yesssss!" When I told her the news: Hotel Transylvania 2 is coming to theaters in late September! The first was probably a lesser-known feature when it was out, but my daughter loves it. So we will be marking our calendars for the release date. September 25, 2015.

 And speaking of exciting movies on the way, everyone loves Minions! The yellow funny guys with their own language are on a mission for the most despicable leader and we will giggle along on their journey starting July 10th.

 If you just cannot wait for some silly G or PG-rated antics, check your local listings for Strange Magic (released January 23) and the New Spongebob Movie which premiered in theaters last weekend.

 The following is a list of several animated films expected in theaters in 2015:

Frozen Fever - this is a Disney short film to be shown prior to the live-action Cinderella, out in theaters on March 13th.

Home - a loveable alien misfit and a little girl on earth. Twentieth Century Fox, March 27th.

Inside Out - this year's sure-to-be hit from Disney-Pixar where emotions are real and they live inside Headquarters, the control center inside the mind. June 19th.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guess where we are going next? Plus tips on what to pack for comfortable kids during #FamilyTravel

Over the past week or two, we completed booking not one, but two exciting family trips for 2015. Up next in our family adventures? Washington D.C. and (soooo excited about this) a Disney Cruise!

Our 6 1/2 year old daughter is a school whiz and always eager to learn. Her first grade class studied presidents and other historical figures earlier in the year, and she has been asking us many questions about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Washington D.C. was actually her idea; she really wants to see the Lincoln Memorial! When a child asks to see something educational, I believe the only answer (if you can afford it) is an emphatic yes. In additional to the Lincoln Memorial, our upcoming Washington D.C. adventures will probably include the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Natural History and American History museums - she is going to be blown away seeing Lincoln's actual hat!

We have a while to wait for our Disney cruise and I am antsy with anticipation! We have always heard rave reviews about Disney Cruise Line, but the price was always nearly double that of other cruises. We finally found a price worth jumping on and the deposit has been paid! Stay tuned late in 2015 for our review of what I hope to be a wonderful, magical vacation including themed dining, Castaway Cay, and what looks to be an awesome water coaster water slide. 

Another family beach trip is also on the 2015 horizon and that is always a fun time with extended family. Clearly, we are a traveling bunch! We enjoy making wonderful lifelong memories visiting places away from home. With our travel history, I am now pretty speedy when it comes to packing luggage for kids. Clothes including socks and swimsuits, shoes, toiletries, diapers/wipes if needed, and a few toys and books are typical inclusions in the bag.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Can't wait for #Cinderella? Latest trailer just released!

A live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, “Cinderella” brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually-dazzling spectacle for a whole new generation.

The latest trailer was just released! This looks absolutely gorgeous.

See it, starting March 13th!

Website: Disney Cinderella 
 Instagram: disneycinderella
 Twitter: CinderellaMovie

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Do you need a mother's helper? A few hours a week can make a huge difference!

Do you feel like you never get a moment to yourself? Do you have children banging on the bathroom door or hanging (literally!) on your legs while you try to cook a nice family dinner? I did, and I was about to lose my mind.

I work from home as a part-time virtual consultant, so baby's nap times are jam-packed with my business to-do list items which never quite come to completion before he wakes. That means cooking, cleaning, first grade school needs for my daughter, and any other required chores have to be done with the little hurricane boy underfoot. Kitchen cabinets and television only entertain him for a few moments at a time.

Reaching the end of my rope, so they say, I decided I needed help. My consulting work can be unpredictable, so I decided against any regular daycare option; it was just too expensive. I came to the same conclusion about a nanny; I really only needed an extra hour or two in my day to regroup and finish the most pressing to-dos of the day. The perfect solution for me? A high school neighbor, now my three-day-a-week after school helper.

Benefits of a young mother's helper:
  • Pay rate - professional nannies and babysitters in this area usually require at least $11/hour. I was able to offer my neighbor $9/hour, which is a higher rate than she was making at her retail job and she simply walks across the cul-de-sac to get here. No gasoline needed, either. It is a win-win price for both of us.
  • Limited hours - this also helps me to reduce costs. Many professionals are not interested in just a couple hours here and there because they need a full-time income. My neighbor comes over three days per week after school and stays for two hours each time.
  • Great experience - she will benefit from the experience. Caring for a baby takes maturity and responsibility and the job allows her to highlight that for future jobs or college applications. I can also act as a personal reference for her should she need one.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mommy and Me Outtakes: Selfie with a baby

Taking a selfie with a baby? It is a challenge amidst plenty of giggles.

Mommy and Me! 

Beyond the flashes,
Beyond the countless clicks,
They are windows unto the past,
A tour unto our own heart.
-from 'Who Can Forget These Windows' by Ravi Panamanna

- - -  
Linking up to Really, Are You Serious for another Mommy and Me Monday!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Consignment season! Tips for first-time selling

In the Atlanta area, consignment sales are generally a pre-spring affair occurring in late February to late March. I have shopped consignment sales in the past but have just begun to navigate the tips and rules for selling. Andrew has grown out of several newborn and young infant items and I would love to make a few dollars back while passing along a great deal to another mother, father, or grandparent. I have not yet signed up to sell, but here are a few helpful consignment sale tips I've found in my mission to become less intimidated by it all!

Don't wait until the last minute
Sales are starting all over the Atlanta area in the next few weeks and registration is generally open at least a few weeks in advance. Search now for consignment sales in your area then peruse the sale website for registration information. Most want sellers to register online and they will provide all deadlines on the web page. Seller spots are often limited so don't investigate too late. Like I did in a few cases.

Gather your items and know exactly what you have 
I assumed I would just haul a carload of items to the sale location one day and start making some cash. Not so. Again, at least a few weeks in advance, gather all of your items. Find all missing parts and any instruction manuals you may have. You will likely need to enter your items into an inventory system for the consignment sale. Take time prior to this to understand what you have. Use the right terms for the items (is it a jumper, a bouncer, or a bouncy?). If you don't have a box or manual with brand information and item description, get online and find it. Buyers will appreciate correct information.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Valentine's Day surprises for young children

Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love and family. While you are planning a night out for your spouse or picking a card that says it just right or bustling around to get 22 classroom valentines purchased and coercing your child to fill them all out, do not forget to find a little surprise something for your young elementary or preschool aged kiddos.

I have always enjoyed surprising Amelia with a balloon or card or a little something special on various holidays and occasions. It is easy to purchase candy or a stuffed animal from the nearby drugstore for the kids pre-Valentine's Day, but how about something a little more unique or special? I certainly do not need any more stuffed critters in this house!

I perused the trusty Internet to find some ideas for my little ones. How about these adorable creations? 

Keepsake Surprise
This Hello Kitty box from is personalized with a name and filled with Jelly Bellies. You could get any jewelry box or ceramic trinket box and fill it with a favorite candy. This gives your child something special and "grown up" to keep along with their sugary snack.

Money Flower
I love this idea!  Children love to receive real money to add to their piggy banks or to take to the store. Money also allows children to learn about budgets and prices when they go out to find their new item. This Pin can be found here: origami money flowers. You just need some bills, green pipe cleaner, and a ribbon. How cute would this be waiting on the breakfast table on Valentine's morning?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Famous groundhogs of the USA (really!)

February 2nd is Groundhog Day. A holiday where we attempt to predict the weather by pulling a furry creature from his burrow. Where did that idea come from? 

Old European tradition states that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on February 2, six more weeks of winter will occur. This is attributed to Germany, France, and Scotland - so I'm honestly not sure of the exact origin. However, it was the US town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1887. A local editor convinced businessmen and groundhog hunters to launch the holiday, and they ventured to a site called Gobbler's Knob where the very first groundhog weather prediction occurred.

The Punxsutawney groundhog, the most famous groundhog in the world, is known by millions as Punxsutawney Phil.  But did you know there are actually several famous US groundhogs?

General Beauregard Lee, PhD
Apparently, Georgia's top groundhog is highly educated! He makes his home at the Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Georgia. He has been recognized by four governors and commended twice for forecasting accuracy by the National Weather Service.

Sir Walter Wally
Hometown groundhog of Raleigh, NC. He has been correct in his prediction 50% of the time since 1998. (Rival Punxsutawney Phil is said to be around 30%.)

Buckeye Chuck
Beloved groundhog of the state of Ohio. He was declared the official state groundhog in 1979.

Staten Island Chuck
Officially referred to as Charles G. Hogg, this fuzzy guy makes his home in the Staten Island Zoo.   He is the official groundhog meteorologist of New York City. He ran into some controversy in 2009 when he bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

So, now you know.

Happy Groundhog Day tomorrow!

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