Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 List, The End

Another year down! 2011 was a crazy one. Lots of tears and laughter and crazy. Pretty typical of my whole life I suppose. Major events seem to be my curse. I mean specialty. Whatever.

This year though, I did actually complete my list. 12 things, 12 months. I think this year is the first that I actually got all of them done out the ten or so years we have been making one so that is a major accomplishment for us. #Winning!

So, here you have it, the 2011 list, complete with links to the posts about each! (Well, except #2 and #8 because lets face it, we had a garage sale but made no money so it would not be a great read anyway and the video for #8 is coming this week. You'll just have to trust me on that one.)

1. Spend some quality time with my mother. Its not going to be easy and it may not be for long but I need to see her without my kids. Since having D, we really haven't spent any time together, just the two of us. So its time to date my mother again. COMPLETED 4/23


2. Have a garage sale and get rid of what we don't sell through donation. Or just donate it. What ever we have to do to declutter. We have so much stuff. It really is ridiculous the amount of just stuff we have stored in the garage and the attic. Its everywhere! So, we need to get rid of it. COMPLETED 9/30 (See above for story..)


3. Take the boys to Stone Mountain Park. If you are local, you know what I am talking about. If not, look here. It may seem hokey but its something that I know they would really enjoy. COMPLETED 11/12


4. Plant (and not kill) some plants or flowers. Yeah, we rent but we are free to do what ever we want to the yard and house and its something I have never done. Even as a kid, we always just let grow what the people before us had planted. PART ONE (4/5), A LITTLE HELP (4/6)


5. Complete the 30 Day No- Spend Challenge. This one is going to be hard for me. I am a self professed shopaholic so the idea of not spending any money except complete necessities is going to be a hard one for me. A good challenge for a good change though. COMPLETED 10/30


6. Take a class, of some sort, to better myself. I'm not getting all ambitious and crap here. Just something like a knitting class or computer class of some sort. Maybe even Zumba! Something fun. COMPLETED 10/4


7. Give up soda (as in: carbonated beverages/ Coke/ Pepsi/ whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) for at least 3 months. I know it is bad for you for so many reasons but sometimes it is what I reach for. I want to see if the sodas I have really have that much of an effect on my health. I started today (1/1/11) let us see how far I get! COMPLETED 11/29!


8.Learn to do the Electric Slide. Corny? Yes. Shut up, its not your list. Still, its something that I can't do and something that will be a challenge for me. I have two left feet and a really crappy memory. Should be interesting. COMPLETED 12/31! (Just under the wire, video coming soon!)


9. Visit my Nana. She only lives about an hour away and for some reason we have the hardest time getting up there to see her. In fact it has been over a year already. She is my only living Grandmother and has hardly met the boys so its time to get serious about getting up there. COMPLETED 11/26


10. Go see a movie or show with my husband. We were talking about it this evening and neither of us can remember the last time we actually went to a theater, without the boys, and saw a grown up movie together. COMPLETED 12/1!


11. Visit Turner Field and watch the Braves play. D will love it and it means a lot to T to share it with his son. COMPLETED 5/23!


12. Hire a professional photographer to take some good pictures of us as a family. Its time for a family portrait of epic proportions. COMPLETED 8/29

All done! Now to take about a 24 hour break before I get to pounding out the 2012 list! Next year is going to be full of more home based challenges. Getting things in order and organized. Something long over do.

 As for now, auld lang syne, my friends. The past year has played an amazing role, good or bad, in shaping us as human beings. As individuals. You can leave the time behind but you can't and shouldn't leave the experiences behind. Heres to the past and the future! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Review

2011 has been.. interesting? I, for one, can say that I am fairly happy its over. I am ready to move on to next year and get on with living. Not that anything particularly terrible went on this year. It was just a year of blah. A year so full of blah I am ready for next year to start so we can get a fresh start on our outlook.

At any rate, every year I do a review of my year in pictures*. Its become kind of a fun way for me to look back over the year and for you guys to revisit some of my favorite memories. So, without further ado, here is what you may have missed this year around here. My life in a year, in pictures. (Links to the corresponding post in the caption!)

K monster in the snow
January: Snowpocalypse

February: I made some promises
March: We were ourselves
April: I actually didn't kill some plants!
May: I announced Monster's big news
Photobucket
June: We spent some time getting wet
July: Our first set of stitches
August: We moved. Twice.
September:  Numbers Two and Four
October: My K gave up an old friend
November: Quality time with Gigi
December: D spread a little cheer
There you have it. Our year in a nutshell. We are planning a lot of changes in 2012 around here. Some big, some not so big at all. Either way, I hope to see you all on the flipside!



*2010's year in pictures

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 30 Day No Spend Challange

Well, I did it. I went for 30 days and spent no money. Well, except for groceries and gas and such. Of course. Granted it was a few months ago, in October and I just forgot to write about it until now. Still, it was hard. Way harder than I thought it would be. Its crazy how easy it is for us to spend money. Of course, I am one of those crazy bargain people that never pays full price for anything. I use coupons and shop the clearance sections. I am a penny pincher by nature. I was raised that way. To make every last cent count so you can splurge on the important things in life. Like your kids or vacation or that new toy you've been eyeing for yourself.

The only problem with being that kind of shopper means that you pretty much have to buy things as they are available at a certain price. For example, I shop the end of season clearance for next years clothes. If something is on sale at the grocery store I buy enough to last through the next time I know it will be on sale (yes, retailers, you really are that predictable). Its a piece at a time type thing. Crazy? Maybe, but I saved a ton of money so its well worth it. I can feed our family of four, three of which are boys, on about $200 a month. The other thing people usually say is that they don't "have time" to save money. That one always makes me wonder a little...

Anyway, as you can imagine, not spending money for a whole month was almost traumatic for me. First was the big grocery shop at the beginning. I am not used to buying a whole month's worth of food as once. Some of it was full price even! *Gasp*! Seriously, I think I died a little when they gave me the total. We did, however, have enough food to feed us for almost the whole month and it was kind of nice to not have to think about going out to the store every few days. Still, If we were craving something, we were just screwed.

We actually made it the whole month not buying anything outside the necessities. The problem is, by the time we bought a months worth of groceries and such at the beginning, we ended up coming out the end with almost as much as we do normally.

That was a sad realization but kind of good too. It means that we are able to save enough month to month on the day to day household operations to pay for the extras and still put a little away. Doing it the other way, we spent it all on food.

Does that seem backwards to anyone else?

It seems like the point of doing a no spend challenge should be to change your spending habits for the better but it just kind of made me like the way I do things better. My way is at least more fun. Which is usually the point, isn't it? If you can't find the time and money to have fun, then what fun is having the time or money to begin with?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

THQ's uDraw GameTablet #Giveaway!

Looking for a last second gift for the gamer in your life? Good news! With the holidays rapidly approaching, THQ has lowered the price of the uDraw to $49.99. Named as one of this year’s hottest holiday toys by the Toy Insider, the uDraw has an entire line-up of brand new games that provide hours of entertainment the whole family can enjoy all year long. The uDraw is the first of its kind and is now available on all platforms (Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3), providing families with any gaming console endless imaginative and creative gameplay opportunities.


I was immediately please with the size and weight of the GameTablet. It is light enough to not be too much to maneuver one handed but sturdy enough that I felt more than comfortable letting the boys play around with it as well. The touch pad is deft and sensitive to even the slightest pen movements and the cord that attaches the pen to the unit is plenty long enough to reach past the parameters of the unit itself. I was also impressed by the speed with which it kept up with my movements. Sometimes there is a lag with any kind of wireless remote but this kept up with me step for step, swipe for swipe.

The uDraw GameTablet comes with "Instant Artist" which offers countless hours of game play bringing the core functions of the uDraw GameTablet to life on your television. D had a blast exploring all the options in the free play mode which is huge considering he is usually not a big art kind of kid. K liked to color with it too. He used it like a crayon with paper just handing the pen off to me to change the colors. Tommy and I  played with it for a bit too and we had fun exploring the built in tutorials.

Of course there are a myriad of family friendly games to choose from, this console add on is sure to be a hit with the whole family. From Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat to Disney Princess Enchanting Storybooks to Pictionary Ultimate Edition, there is a game for everyone and more are coming!

You can purchase the uDraw GameTablet at most retailers that sell gaming systems and their games. With a price of only $49.99, this is the perfect gift for yourself or the gamer (young or old) in your life.

Want to win it instead? I have a uDraw GameTablet for PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to give to one of you! Here's how to enter (It may take the widget a moment to load!):


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Disney’s Phineas & Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever!

Ready for a an adventure? Disney's Phineas & Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! is coming to Atlanta's Philips Arena for two days only!  At performances on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm the beloved characters from Disney Channel’s animated series embark on a bold escape from the television screen to a live action adventure – right in Atlanta!




Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! brings Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Isabella, Baljeet, Buford and friends to the stage as they make the most of the last day of summer by building an invention bigger, better and more amazing than ever. And, before you can wonder, “Hey, Where’s Perry?” the beloved pet platypus shifts to his secret double life as Agent P to foil another one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plans. Musical madness abounds in an escapade so awesome that even Candace can’t help but join the hilarious hijinks. It’s the ultimate end to summer vacation, so seize the day ‘cause Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all.




Show Date & Times at Philips Arena:
Saturday, December 17 - 4:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, December 18 - 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm

Ready to get your tickets? Tickets are reasonably priced at $70.00, $55.00, $35.00, $25.00 and $15.00 (plus applicable fees) depending on where in the arena you prefer to sit. You can buy them online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Philips Arena Box office at: (800)745-3000. Hurry! They won't last long!

Want to WIN your tickets?? I have a family 4 pack of tickets to the December 17th, 7pm show to give to one lucky reader! Here's how to enter (it may take a moment for the widget to appear!):




Want more chances to win? Check out this giveaway on these other blogs!

Conversations With My Toddler

K has always been a vocal kind of kid. Always one to know how to get your attention even before he could talk. In fact, he said his first connected word at 6 months (Bruba) and hasn't stopped learning new words since. He was loud when he was a baby and is loud now. At least he can tell me what he needs and we can skip (for the most part) the "trying to figure out what he wants" tantrum and move right on into the "but I want now" tantrums. Hulk baby to the core after all.

Then there are the ones that just crack me up. As you can imagine, combining a talkative 2 year old with that toddler logic, makes for some interesting conversations.

Me: Monster where is your underwear? You have to at least wear underwear man.
K: Noooo! I don't want it! Is bitchy, mama.
Me: Bitchy? You mean its itchy?
K: Yes, mama, is titchy underwears.
Me: *finds and looks at K's underwear* K, why is your underwear full if glitter??
K: *comes running and looks in his glittery undies* Oh mama! Is so pretty underwears!.. and bitchy!
* Repeat times in


K: I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen. IwannawatchMcQueenIwannawatchMcQueenIwannawatchMcQueen.
Me: Later.
K: Ok... I wanna watch Bues Cues, mama. I wanna watch Bues Cues, Mama. (Repeat times at least a billion)

K: *following me around the house whining* I want a cookie, Mama!
Me: Not right now, you just had one.
K: Cooooookie!!
Me: *looks at K* You have a cookie in your HAND monster.
K: *looks at hand with cookie in it* Thanks Mama!

K: Dis chicken is soooo goooooooood Mama!
Me: Good baby! I'm glad you like it!
K: Soooooooooo GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When Christmas Come to Town

Just had to share. This little guy melts my heart...



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas on Peachtree



Christmas on Peachtree is the largest indoor Christmas festival in the Southeast. Located at 200 Peachtree Street (the former Macy’s building) in downtown Atlanta,Christmas on Peachtree is a 70,000 square foot mix of family-friendly festivities, food and shopping.

Christmas on Peachtree provides a place for kids and their families to share in the wonder of the holiday season and the magic of Santa Claus. The attractions and activities provide plenty for kids to do and see, while providing parents and grandparents with a nostalgic reminder of the holidays of their own youth — with a few modern twists!

Come see the stunning Symphony of Lights™ music and light show, let the kids play in the Cartoon Network Children's Adventure Area™ (which includes a life size toy train!), enjoy a meal in the North Pole Café and shop in our retail village. Get your child's photo made with Santa with a number of affordable packages available for purchase.

Perhaps the most distinct attraction at Christmas on Peachtree is the giant, 8-foot snow globe positioned right out front! This working snow globe features the Christmas on Peachtree logo and serves as an attention-grabber among passers-by, as well as an example of what can be found inside. 

Don't forget to check ou tthe decorated windows along Peachtree Street too! Reminiscent of the days when Department Store Holiday Windows graced Peachtree Street Downtown, Christmas on Peachtree's Holiday Windows feature nostalgic themes and settings, as well as some new holiday traditions. Local designers and volunteers have transformed these windows into magical settings from movies such as "It's a Wonderful Life," "Auntie Mame," and the upcoming holiday release, "We Bought a Zoo."

We were invited to check out Christmas on Peachtree and were super excited to be able to go and celebrate the beginning of a new Atlanta tradition. The boys had a blast playing all the games in the Cartoon Network section and getting their picture taken with Santa. They rode the train at least ten times, they did some crafts and enjoyed the light show. From their perspective, this event was a great find!

I do have to be honest with you though, my mother and I were left a little lackluster. There just wasn't much going on. I think I expected the shopping area to be bigger and more homemade crafty type stuff. There were only a very few carts of items available and while they were all very cool, it wasn't the shopping extravaganza I feel like they had advertised. With tickets at $12 for adults and $8 for children (3-12), it did seem pricey for what they had available but this IS the first year so I am assuming once it gathers steam it will be much bigger in terms of things to do and such. Plus, a portion of every ticket sold benefits Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It has a ton of potential, they just need to go there with it instead of holding back.

Overall, I would still recommend this event to people with young children. Like I said before, my boys had a blast so it was still worth the trip.

Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door and are $12 for adults and $8 for children (3-12). 

Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park


Remember a few weeks ago when we went down to Stone Mountain Park for the Stone Mountain Christmas event? Well, this weekend, we went back to Stone Mountain park to check out Snow Mountain. You see, for the last several years during the winter months, Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park transforms into a winter wonderland with Snow Mountain, Atlanta's only snow park. Sometimes, its Atlanta's only snow. Last year we were lucky enough to enjoy a "white" Christmas but that was the first one since the 80s. So, yeah, snow here is rare.

Snow Mountain has us all set up though. Based on Stone Mountain Park’s famous Laser Lawn, Snow Mountain kept our entire family busy for hours. The 400 foot tubing hill was of course Tommy and D's favorite. With the two Mountain SnoLifts taking them up the tubing hill, it made it super easy for them to go again and again! Which they did. D first, and then he would wait patiently at the bottom while T came slipping and sliding down the 400' of slippery snow.



The snow fort area was filled with pint sized snow activities and was where shorty K and I spent our time. We had a blast making a pint sized snowman and then K had fun knocking him over while screaming like a dinosaur (before I could a picture of the poor thing). They even had some mini tubing slopes set up for the miniature crowd and K went down those over and over again until he now longer felt the need to hold on with white knuckles. He was determined to conquer his fear!

After a few hours of fun, it was time to take it down a notch and have a snack.  We checked out SnoFire Point to warm our toes, roast marshmallows and make everyone’s favorite winter treat—S’mores! K kept trying to throw his mittens in the fire pit though so we had to move on before I was ready. Lucky for us, we got to check out the Stone Mountain Christmas activities again before we headed home and it was just as fun, if not more so, the second time around!

Snow Mountain is certainly Atlanta’s not-to-be-missed winter attraction. If you are thinking about checking out this attraction this winter, don’t worry about bringing snow equipment, all you will need for your tubing fun is included in the price of admission (For the safety of all of Snow Mountain’s guests, only park-provided equipment is allowed).

Please note specific height/weight requirements for tubing below:

Minimum height for Avalanche Alley: 36 inches
Minimum height for Tube Runners: 42 inches

Maximum weight for Avalanche Alley: (max of 5 riders)
Maximum weight for Tube Runners: 300 lbs

Looking for the best deal on tickets to Snow Mountain? On select days through January 1, you can play in snow and enjoy the Christmas spirit with Stone Mountain Park’s special combo ticket offer. Your ticket includes:



For the best value - Save 30% on Tickets with the Combo Family Value Pass. Includes everything above plus a meal at one of four restaurants at the park (Granite Café, Marketplace, Honeybaked Ham, Showtime Snacks), plus unlimited hot chocolate. Minimum purchase of four tickets required. More information here.

If you are visiting between January 2 and February 20, you can play in the snow and enjoy three great attractions with the 3 Attractions and Snow Mountain Combo Family Value Pass. Includes admission to Snow Mountain, daytime access to Summit Skyride, The YOGI BEAR 4-D Adventure and Discovering Stone Mountain Museum, plus a meal the Marketplace Restaurant. More information here.

If you are a Mountain Member, you can enjoy FREE entry to Stone Mountain Christmas and $10 off Snow Mountain tickets. Become a Mountain Member today and start saving. Current Mountain Members click here to purchase your Snow Mountain tickets.

Want to enjoy unlimited FREE admission to Snow Mountain? Get the best value with the all-new Mountain Membership PLUS Annual Pass. Includes all of the benefits of a Mountain Membership PLUS added exclusive benefits including free annual parking, unlimited free admission to Ride the Ducks and more. More information here. Current Mountain Member PLUS holders click here to reserve your Snow Mountain tickets.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical!


Last night, Tommy and I completed yet another 2011 List item. We got all dressed up and went downtown, back to the Fox Theatre, to watch a Christmas spectacular unfold. We went to opening night of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. I have to admit, I was skeptical. I am an old school Grinch fan through and through. The movi version from a few year back just doesn't work for me. So, I was a little worried I wouldn't like the musical, broadway version.

Good news! I was wrong! I loved it! Granted it took a few minutes to really get started but after the first 5 minutes, T and I were laughing out loud and having an amazing time. We were dancing in our seats and singing out loud with the classic songs we knew all the words to. Songs like “Fah Who Doraze” and of course "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss himself. The songs we didn't know were still just as fun to dance to.


The actor playing the role of the Grinch, Stefan Karl, hit the role dead on. He was energetic and hilarious but at the same time as evil and dastardly as you would expect of his Grinchiness. He was great at getting the audience to participate and have fun, something that can be hard to do in a live theatre setting. He had us all laughing and yelling and having a really good time.

The little girl playing Cindy Loo was a great little actress too. She has a beautiful singing voice and I am quite certain we will be seeing her for a long time to come.

If you are thinking about checking this out you most definitely should try to make it out. The show is only in Atlanta until Saturday as part of the 2011- 2012 Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta season.

Ticket prices start at $23. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Orders for groups of 10 or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000.


*I received two tickets to last night's performance as part of this review but all opinions are definitely my own. 

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.

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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

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