The past few days we have been super busy. Between the in-laws and friends visiting from out of town, to school events, parent-teacher conferences and new house meetings we’ve been non-stop. On Monday afternoon we met with the builder to finalize all of our structural/plumbing and electrical details so they can submit the plans for the permit. We were supposed to meet last Tuesday but they hadn’t received the plat plan from the city yet so we had to postpone.
Thankfully Joe’s parents were in town to help watch the kids so we could give our full attention during the meeting. I think coordinating meetings with all the right people around our kids’ schedules has been one of the hardest parts of this whole process so far. But thankfully we have wonderful friends and family that are more than will to hang out with our kids.
During the meeting with the builder we discussed and confirmed the follow:
all structural upgrades/options
exterior colors, siding, shutters, door
electrical outlet placement
co axial cable placement
lot and house position on lot
orientation of house (garage on the left)
all standard structural elements (doors, windows, island, kitchen, etc)
We didn’t go over any colors or finishes except for the exterior colors.
One of my biggest concerns and questions was how our house would fit on our lot. It’s a odd shaped lot and I couldn’t work out the ideal location for the house. I was really worried that they would position the house where we would lose a lot of our usable backyard space. They positioned the house at and angle on the lot which makes the backyard shape a little odd but does open up a pretty decent size space for the boys to play. So I’m pretty happy with the results.
We also updated the accent color on the exterior of the house. Now the siding and board and batten will both be the same pearl color. The siding and trim color will look something like this house.
(this is not our house plan, just an example of the exterior color scheme.)
My boys have been back to school for about 4 weeks now and I finally feel liked we’re getting into a good routine for our days. It’s so important for my boys to have a daily routine they can count on, it’s helps to feel confident and comfortable when they know what to expect from the day.
I typically prep their school lunches the day before so I can be present during our morning routine. The boys know there are no screens in the morning before school but after they are ready for the day they are free to play or read until it’s time to leave.
In the afternoons they unpack their backpacks and then are free to relax for an hour or so until we have to start homework. They typically run to play with their little brother’s that they’ve obviously missed throughout the day. We have a small snack and discuss the events of our day. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the day because they little brothers are so excited to tell the big boys what they’ve been doing all day. I love to listen to them excitedly share what’s be going on while they were gone.
Having a routine helps our days run smoothly and reduce the amount of whining when they kids know what is expected of them. I actually think they look forward to their screen free mornings playing with their little brothers before they head off to school.
Juicy Juice has more great tip from author Meredith Sinclair on how to get your kids into the back-to-school routine.
I received the featured product in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are not influenced by the company.
Yesterday was Jude and Noah’s first day of school. This year they are attending a year-round public school. I’ve had a variety of emotions over the past few months about them going to school this year instead of homeschool. I feel at peace about the decision and know there are many benefits to this decision. It’s not one we took lightly but when we originally decided to homeschool Jude 4 years ago we said we would take it year-by-year and do what was best for each child. I am sad to give up all of our free time and flexible schedule but I think there are so many positive things that will come from their days at school.
As I dropped them off at school yesterday morning they walked into the building holding hands and I knew they would be alright. While they were at school I took the 2 little guys out for a fun morning at Pullen Park and it was nice to spend some quality time with just the 2 of them. I didn’t know what to do with myself all day, it was calm and quiet around the house even with 2 little boys. I think they also liked the extra space they got with their brothers gone. When I picked up Jude and Noah from school they had smiles on their faces and told me all about their days. Noah admitted he was a little nervous but then happily told me about his desk, cubby, recess, story time, lunch and his new teachers. Jude had lots to talk about as well. He is ready to volunteer for all the things and wants to participate in all of the extra activities offered. I also noticed a big difference in Jude’s behavior after school, he was very relaxed and attentive. I think the structured school day really helped him.
After dinner we took the boys for a bike ride to Pelican’s Snoballs where they continued to share their excitement for school. They were all pretty exhausted when bedtime came around and were happy to go to bed, not only because they were tired but because tomorrow was another school day.
I know there will be challenges that come along with each school year but for now I’m so happy their first day was a success.
A few months ago I signed up the boys for the Kids Club at Buffaloe Lanes here in Raleigh. Over the summer they are offering Free Bowling for Kids. Each child you register will receive 1 free game every day (shoe rental not included) through October 31st.
It’s like 100 degrees this week so I took finally took the boys bowling and we had a blast. None of them had ever been bowling so it was a little chaotic for the first half of the game as they learned the rules and techniques. By the end of the game everyone had vastly improved and was loving the game. I think we spent around $9 for shoe rentals all three of the big boys.
In addition to 1 Free Game per day Buffaloe Lanes also has daily EXTRAS. We went on a Thursday and could have got an additional game for free but we had a limited amount of time. We plan on visiting on one of the other days to take advantage of some of the other bonuses like free cookies and arcade tokens.
If you’re in the Raleigh area and looking for a great (inexpensive) way to beat this summer heat register for the Buffaloe Lanes Kids Free Bowling program.
On Saturday we took the boys to a special program at the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center in Raleigh called, Mud: A Celebration of Wetlands. Some of the families from our Scout Troop met up to enjoy the muddy fun.
There were several different stations where kids could explore, play and learn about mud, wetlands, wildlife and the environment. The boys particularly loved the fort building station which was equipped with bamboo sticks, rope, cardboard and tarps.
We got to meet several turtles from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and some Salamanders, frogs and other creatures that you might find in the wetlands.
There were several stations that taught kids about native plants, storm water, pollution and other elements that impact the wetlands.
The big boys and Joe went on a creek walk where they got to a guided tour of the Walnut Creek Wetlands.
And of course there was mud. Lots of mud to cook with, paint with, and play in.
It was fun and muddy day and we can’t wait for the next adventure with the Raleigh Parks.
I knew going into this month it would be a busy on but I didn’t realize I would blink and it would be over. We celebrated 2 birthdays, went on vacation and wrapped up our final days of school and poof, here comes June.
It was fun filled month and I tried very hard to live in the moment and savor each special event.
I’m a planner and I like to think a few steps ahead while I’m working which is great for my productivity but not great for the every day. As a stay-at-home mom who also homeschools every day can seem sort of mundane as we work throughout our daily duties but over the past few years I’ve been working on being intentional with things during each day. I’m trying to remember to put down my phone and to-do list and take a mental snap shot of my family as life is happening. I’m not great at it yet but I think my intent of being intentional will eventually work it’s way into a routine of being intentional. *fingers crossed.
So with that being said here are some literal snapshots of our past month, primarily our trip to Charleston, SC…
The North Carolina Zoo has a new exhibit called the Dino Bus which takes you on a brief tour of robotic dinosaurs that are only accessible via the Dino Bus. Since our boys are really into dinosaurs right now we decided to try out the Dino Bus tour on our most recent visit to the zoo. We have a membership to the zoo which gives us the opportunity to explore small sections of the zoo each time we visit. This time we decided to explore parts of North America and the Dino Bus.
The Dino Bus has 3 pick-up and drop-off point. There are actually 2 separate Dino Bus routes for which you have to buy two separate tickets. To ride both routes you pay $4 per person. We bought our tickets at Junction Plaza. We parked in North America and walked straight through only stopping at a few exhibits until we reached Junction Plaza (which is about a mile walk). Then we ate lunch and bought our tickets for the Dino Bus. We had to wait a good while for the bus to arrive (probably 20 minutes or more). Our first tour took us through the dinosaur exhibit in Africa. There were about 5 dinosaurs on that route and our driver was very friendly and shared as much as he knew about the dinosaurs, he was very up front stating that he wasn’t a dinosaur expert and most of the kids would probably know more than he. We were dropped off at the entrance to Africa where we then had to catch the shuttle to the entrance of North America. We waited another 15-20 minutes for the shuttle and were dropped off right outside North America. We then waited another 10-15 minutes for the second Dino Bus that took us through North America to Junction Plaza where we started. This drive of this bus wasn’t as talkative and really only told us the names of each dinosaur as we stopped to look at them. We only saw 4 dinosaurs on the North American size but there was a dinosaur that spit water at you so that was fun! On each tour we were taken behind a gated area of the park probably employee only access areas to see the exhibits. It felt a little like Jurassic pack as the drive pushed the remote to open the large barb-wired fence.
Overall, it was a fun experience but a very lengthy process, we probably spent at least and hour and a half (or longer) with our Dino Bus experience. The boys had a great time seeing all of the dinosaurs, especially the one that spit water! If you have a kid that loves dinosaurs (of if you love dinosaurs) I’d recommend that tour if you have time to spend waiting for all of the different buses. However, we probably won’t do the Dino Bus again as it was very lengthy and we didn’t really learn much about the dinosaurs on exhibit.
We did learn from our first driver that the NC Zoo is planning a huge expansion over the next 5 years which will include 3 new continents. The NC Zoo is already the largest natural habitat zoo in the United States, so I’m excited to see how they develop the new exhibits. Being the largest zoo means a lot of walking, we probably walked over 3 miles on our most recent trip and we only saw North America, not Africa. This is why we have a membership, even though the zoo is over and hour away it’s so huge it would be impossible for our family to make it through everything… plus the membership is a great deal for larger families.
We took another homeschool field trip this week. We went to Chapel Hill, NC to visit the Kidzu Children’s Museum. I found a Kidzu Groupon that allowed 4 of us to get in for essentially half price. I’ve seen a lot about Kidzu on social media over the past few years and have been wanting to take the boys for awhile. It was actually a much shorter trip from our house than I was expecting, it took less than 40 minutes for us to get there and a little bit longer to get home because we hit some rush hour traffic. We left our house around lunch time hoping to avoid some of the morning crowd. It was a little busy when we arrive a little before 1pm but within 30 minutes most of the people with small children left (nap time). (It was just me and the three older boys as Abel was at home taking a nap with Joe.)
The museum is located in a mall type shopping center. In the shopping center is a movie theater, a few specialty shops, A Southern Season, Chick-fil-a, a pizza place and Maple View Ice Cream. Kidzu was much smaller than I was expecting. We visit Marbles in Raleigh frequently and the entirety of Kidzu is about the size of one exhibit at Marbles, although they do pack in a lot of fun into that tiny space. The areas were divided up nicely and all of the toys and play structures were great quality. It was beautifully decorated with vibrant original artwork that complimented each play space.
The Makery was probably our favorite spot. It has special hours and didn’t open until 2pm but the boys loved it. They did science experiments, crafts, played with tools, colored and much more. I really liked that they have different themed activities on a daily basis. The activities were lead by friendly staff members that gave children the space to create within the space’s guidelines. I personally liked the Make It, Don’t Take It rule where you can create whatever you want but you don’t get to take it home, instead they put in on display. It keeps my house from becoming cluttered and the kids feel proud to display their work on the shelves.
Overall, it was a great trip and I recommend anyone that is in the Chapel Hill area to check it out. The regular pricing is a little high, $7.50 per person but I think the Makery itself makes it worthwhile. They do offer memberships which again are on the high side, I think a 6 person membership which our family would need cost around $175 a year. We pay $100 a year for our Marbles membership and we certainly get our money’s worth out of that museum since it’s so close. Basically, get the Groupon deal if you want to go.
After we finished playing we ate some Maple View Ice Cream and strolled around the shopping center a bit before heading home.