Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Do You Love to Travel?!


We've lived in North Carolina for 2 1/2 years.  And I haven't done much to fall in love with the Tarheel State.  I love, love, love the beach and we are certainly closer than we've ever been, but at nearly three hours away, hearing the ocean waves may as well be light years away.  We've also been wrapped up in the day to day of everything, or I've at least allowed that to be my excuse.

As a result, we haven't seen much of North Carolina.  There are museums and zoos, science centers and amusement parks, and we've seen very few of them.  In an effort to see more of the state that we plan to call home for awhile, I've promised the boys that we'd be more intentional with our field trips.  While at the homeschool conference a few weeks ago, I found a resource we could use to help me with this promise.  (I received a complimentary copy of Kids Love the Carolinas in exchange for my honest review.)

It's a really neat book called Kids Love the Carolinas.  The super cool thing?  There are books about several other states as well!  I picked up the travel guide about North and South Carolina to see what new things we could discover about NC.  You might remember my post about the field trip we took just over a week ago.  Here's how the day was planned.

Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina
First of all, there was a craft resource place I've been meaning to visit in Durham for quite some time.  I decided to look up family activities in Durham so I could make the trip to the resource center worth the time.  Turns out, there's a really great museum in Durham called the Museum of Life and Science.  The book gave a description of the museum and listed hours and admission prices.  I was also informed ahead of time that there was a train and it cost extra.  I knew we'd be riding it because I have a train enthusiast so I appreciated the heads-up.

Elmo's Diner, Durham, North Carolina
Also mentioned in the Durham section was a restaurant called Elmo's Diner.  Apparently, Elmo's Diner has even been featured on Rachael Ray's $40 A Day!  So, we definitely wanted to taste some yummy food and also try something new as opposed to yet another fast food meal.  It was a cute diner and the boys enjoyed being there.  Had it not been mentioned in the book, we would have just rolled through somewhere else for nuggets and fries.

So our first outing with Kids Love the Carolinas as our resource guide was a huge success!  We need to head back to Durham again soon (the craft warehouse requires another visit) and we're hoping to make some reservations to the Duke Lemur Center.  The boys thoroughly enjoyed the lemurs at the Museum so they'd really like to see more of them.

We are bookmarking pages, highlighting locations, and making lists of where we want to go.  I promised the boys that I'd do my best to see new places so I'm pretty sure this book and I are going to become pretty good friends!

See the list of states/areas available by clicking here.

Browse through the book below here:

Enter the giveaway here:

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Friday, June 13, 2014

10 Things to Do Over a "Four-Day"

If you are a military family, you know how the awesomeness of a 4 Day Weekend.  Four whole days of hanging out as a family, working on projects, spending time together, possibilities.  If you're fortunate, there's a four-day every month.  For some, this weekend is a four-day.  Maybe this weekend you find something neat to do, something you've never done before, or something that is just fun to do as a family.  Take advantage of this special time together, friends.  Here are some ideas of what to do over a long weekend.

#1.  Check out a new museum.
Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville, NC

#2.  Invite friends over.

#3.  Work on a family project.

#4.  Find a new playground.

#5.  Blaze a new trail.

#6.  Watch a new movie.

#7.  Have a family fun night!

#8.  Volunteer.

#9.  Take a Road Trip.

#10.  NOTHING!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sometimes, I Just Hold Him

I have three sons, 11, 7, and 4 years old.  My oldest is trying to figure out the difference between being a big kid and little kid.  My middle son is often caught in the middle of the world.  And my baby is like having a sour patch kid living in our home.

He's difficult on a good day.  And it's so hard for me.  Some days, I feel as though I could sit in the bathroom and cry for awhile wondering what I've done wrong.  Truthfully, sometimes I do.  Often times, it's easy to see all of the negative he brings into our day because it far outweighs the positive.  He is particularly mean to two people--Zander and me.  Zander gets the brunt of his physical meanness and I get the verbal assault.  

This is him being mad at me for asking him to get into his car seat.

It's heartbreaking as a mom to dislike your child.  Sometimes, I really dislike him.  

But then, he hugs me.  Like one of those big, giant, nearly-knocks-me-over hugs and he tells me he loves me.  And he gives me a kiss.  The only one of my sons that will willingly kiss his mama.  When he does, I just scoop him up and I hold him.

When he makes me so mad, I feel as though my blood is starting to bubble (really, it actually feels like that), sometimes, I just scoop him up and I hold him.  When he makes me cry, when he makes me laugh, when he's telling me nasty things, I just hold him.  When I glance over to see he's fallen asleep beside me, I almost forget that he was maddeningly difficult all day.  Almost.  :)

Just a few days ago, he woke up early and curled up with me.

But then, I gather him up and I hold him.  Because what else can I do?  He makes me feel so very angry sometimes and there are times I definitely question my abilities as a Mother, but as difficult as he is--I love him so much.  From the very second I knew he was going to be part of our family, I loved him.  The minute I held him, he had my heart.  We were instantly in love.  When I'm so frustrated that I feel like one more thing is going to break me, I want to remember that I asked for this child.  I prayed and begged for him and here he is.  

I pray that eventually his sweet side wins over the sour side.  Even if it doesn't, my love for him is as great as it was the day I first kissed his precious face.  I remind myself of that when I'm hiding in the bathroom and counting to ten.  

Our first picture together.

Moms, if you have a child who tries your patience to the very core, please know that I understand.  When he's screaming in your face while you quickly remove him from the store, you will get no judgement from me.  I've been there.  Instead, I say to you, "You are not alone and you are not a bad mom."  When you see me hightailing it out of Target while Jaxon is kicking me and biting my hand, please offer me the same grace.  I thank you in advance.  

He's a cutie!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When is My Dad Coming Home?

As a military family, we face regular separations from our servicemember, my husband Adam.  We are married to each other, but we're also married to the Army.  It's been that way for awhile now and I imagine that it will continue on like that for another dozen years or so.

It's hard to be apart from my husband.  When he's away, I remember how much I love and miss him.  When he's home and driving me bonkers, I think about the fact that soon he'll be gone again and I'll be missing him like crazy.  He does really awesome things for me when he's home like taking out the trash (because that bag ALWAYS gets stuck in the can), bringing me iced tea before bed, reminding me to charge my laptop at night--or just plugging it in for me, and calling me every single day on the way home from work to ask if I need anything, just like his Dad does for his Mom.  I miss those things a lot when he's gone.

But the hardest part is when I hear

"When is Dad coming home?"

Because even if the answer is "Tomorrow," it still means one more day they have to miss him.  And they start asking the question the same day he leaves.  While I love what my husband does, and the kids thinks it's completely awesome, that doesn't mean it makes it easy for him to be away.  Regardless of how often it is, the duration of the absence, or how much time he's had at home between travels, missing him is hard for all of us. I'm on pretty good authority that he finds it difficult as well.

This is what we do, though.  This is the family we've made and the life we've chosen.  So, when he's gone, we'll get up each morning and we'll go about our day.  We'll have breakfast and think about what Dad is having for breakfast.  We'll hear the planes overhead and talk about how it's so cool that Daddy jumps out of them sometimes.  We'll start to get antsy about the time he'd typically come and they will ask "Is Dad on his way home?"  I'll remind them that Daddy is away.  And it continues all evening.  Before they go to sleep they ask me again, "Mom, when is Dad coming home?"

Soon, boys.  When they ask me that question, I just say "Soon."

If you know a military family, think of them tonight when you tuck your kids into bed.  Even if their servicemember is home right now, there's a good chance at some point they won't be home for awhile.  And the kids will start asking "When?"  That's a tough question to answer for the parent tucking them in to their superhero sheets.