Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pharmacy Field Trips


(Four infected ears + four infected eyes) / two children = three pediatrician visits x one tired mommy.

Given that we've been making lots of trips to the pharmacy lately, I'm grateful that the people at the Hayes-Barton Pharmacy are so sweet and lovely. They help my children feel better by getting the medicine ready quickly, and they help me feel better by making it easy to patronize a local business. Plus Pippi likes the personal attention and Junius likes sitting near the counter to munch a bag of chips while we wait -- a small treat that goes a long way.

My father-in-law was a retail pharmacist for more than 40 years, and he sets a high standard for me in how I expect to be treated at the pharmacy. These days it's easy to drive through whatever Walgreens/Rite-Aid/CVS/Kerr drug store is on the nearest corner and never actually see your pharmacist.

But at Hayes-Barton Pharmacy, it's worth the walk inside to meet the pharmacists and assistants, to wander the small aisles and have someone know us by name. I figure they are as important to my children's health as their pediatricians -- and goodness knows we spend plenty of time in that office, too.

When she's not busy administering amoxicillin and augmentin, Cyndi can be found writing at Junius & Pippi Take the Cake.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Favorites at the Farmer's Market

One of my favorite things about living in Raleigh is having easy access to the State Farmer's Market. Lots of communities have local markets, but the one here is big and open seven days a week. You can find all sorts of things there, from flowers to fruit to framing to flags, and everything inbetween (whatever that might be).

I like to go on Sunday mornings after church -- it's not too crowded yet, although not all the vendors are open then either. If you've got time to spend, you can shop for veggies, wander through the crafts and then eat at one of the restaurants (our favorite is the seafood market -- get the shrimp sandwich and a side of fries).

The Farmer's Market is great year-round (and not just for pumpkins and Christmas trees), but here are five of my favorite foods you can get now (or at least soon):

   1. Strawberries -- Go ahead and buy the big basket. Eat some now (yogurt and granola, anyone?) and freeze some for later (perfect in smoothies).
   2. Peach salsa -- They also sell pineapple salsa and other tasty flavors, but the peach is the best and it's not too spicy.
   3. Sweet potatoes -- The state vegetable (what? you didn't know?) is so much better here than in stores. Wonderful flavor and beautiful orange color.
   4. Collards -- Good for you and taste good, too. Just don't boil them into oblivion. Slice them into strips with a little salt, water and olive oil, and cook until they're not crunchy but not soggy either (about 20 minutes).
   5. Peaches -- Not in yet, but they are oh-so-yummy. Ask for samples, but be sure to bring the wipes with you. You and your kids will be sticky.

Crossposted at Junius & Pippi Take the Cake, where you can find five of Cyndi's favorites every Friday.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

If you're looking for Springtime activities for kids here in the Triangle, look no further than DBAP. That's Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the uninitiated. With sunshine, hot dogs, and cotton candy, it's got all the ingredients for a perfect kid day. Plus, with ice cold beer, baseball, and cotton candy, it's a fun for the parents as well.

Linus, slathered from head to toe in sunscreen, attended his first game on Education Day. Although much busier than originally planned, it made for an exciting atmosphere with enthusiastic renditions of "Charge!" and the Sponge Bob Square Pants theme song.

Our family attended an 11AM game which worked perfectly around naptime but there are also early afternoon games and evening games. If you splurge ($2 more per seat), you can get seats under the awning which, for a fair child like mine, will ease your fears of sunburn.

Linus was enthralled with the game, crowd, and Wool E. Bull and managed to sit through 6 innings during which we indulged in all the regular ballpark foods.

Just don't forget to purchase your Bulls hat before you leave the ballpark so you can root for the Bulls even outside of the ballpark.

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Great Wolf Lodge in Concord

Occasionally, it pays to be a blogger. Some people see actual money, and others just get free diapers or shampoo which they in turn use and then tell you how much they loved it. I don't really do reviews anymore, but I could not in my right mind turn down the chance to take my family to the new Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC for their media weekend. So, in full disclosure, we stayed as their guests one night, and then stayed another night on our own dime just for fun. They didn't pay me to gush about them; I just want to.

GRTWolf_04Just a few hours from our house is a new resort. A family resort with a ginormous indoor waterpark. It's called Great Wolf Lodge, and is the 12th Lodge to open in about a decade. They are growing across the country, and Concord, NC, is the newest city to luck out with their presence.

I had received a brochure in the mail a couple of months ago, announcing the opening of the family friendly getaway. It looked pretty nice, so I went to their website. With the resort being so close to home, it seemed like the perfect place to take the kids when Mallory tracked out in April. I priced out the trip and was all set to book when Kevin reminded me that he had a huge deadline at work and wouldn't be able to go until April 23, after track out ended.

In the meantime, I told my friend Tonya about it, and after she checked out the website, she booked her family to go over Spring Break. They also did some hiking in the area and went to a local farm as well. There are plenty of things to do in the Concord/Charlotte area. Even the new Ikea is only a few exits down from Great Wolf Lodge.

Just as I was getting over pouting about our trip falling through, I got an email inviting my family to come to Great Wolf Lodge for their grand opening weekend, the weekend of April 24th. Perfect. Kevin would just be done at work, and it was a weekend Mallory was with us. I accepted in a heartbeat.

They could not have been better organized or nicer people. The hotel is beautiful, and easy to navigate. We went with a 15 month old and a 13 year old. It's not easy to find somewhere to take both children where they can both have a good time. The Great Wolf Lodge was perfect for that.

Only resort guests are allowed in the resort, meaning that the waterpark is not open to the general public. That means everyone there is registered, and there is a finite number of people who will be there at all times. It was safe enough to let Mallory go to the arcade by herself after Christopher went to bed, and small enough that when Kevin went to join her, he had no trouble finding her at all.

 The waterpark is hard to describe. It's overwhelming, but in a fun way. It took Christopher a bit to warm up to the idea of getting randomly squirted with water, but Kevin and Mallory had a blast riding the slides. 

There is more to do there, like a magic game that takes you exploring all over the resort. Things that look like decoration, like the fake bear rug hanging on the wall? Just wait until somebody runs up with their magic wand and makes it growl and its eyes light up. That will get your attention.

There is a minigolf course and an outdoor waterpark as well that we didn't even have a chance to see.The arcade is a money sucker, but we went anyway. There is a little mini carousel that Christopher enjoyed, and he liked playing SkeeBall to, which entailed him hurling balls in every direction while I attempted to protect anyone in his path.

We looked at a trip to Disney this year. It's just not feasible. After airfare, I'm just not willing to fork out all of that money for a trip that Christopher won't even remember. Great Wolf Lodge is just a short drive down I-40 though. You can do a short stay and never leave the resort, or you can do a longer stay and enjoy some of the other things that Charlotte has to offer.

I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

An original Triangle Mamas post. Marty also blogs at Don't Take the Repeats and you can follow her on Twitter if you like.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Living is Easy with Eyes Closed

It's Spring time in the Triangle and you know what that means: STRAWBERRIES! Whether you find yours at the Farmers' Market or you head out and pick your own, the time to do it is now.

Linus's playgroup ventured to a local farm right here in Durham County where the berries were sweet, the weekday crowds small, and the picking cheap. At $1.35 per pound, you can afford to be greedy.

Grab your buckets, baskets, and rainboots (if it's just rained) and get yourself to a farm.

They won't even mind if you taste a few.

Of course, the kids may be enthralled with the farm machinery far more than the berries but you'll be pleased either way.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

My Home State

Unlike many people living in the Triangle, I didn�t get transferred here from another state or end up here by accident on my way someplace else. I chose this place for my home.

I�m a nearly-born and totally-raised North Carolinian � my parents were living in Pittsburgh when I was born, but I was still a baby when we moved to Greensboro, so I hardly think I qualify as a Yankee. Since then, I�ve lived in Greensboro two more times plus Hickory, Chapel Hill (twice), Charlotte, Durham and Raleigh (twice). I�m thinking I should get retirement homes in Murphy and Manteo (or maybe Asheville and Wilmington) just to feel like I�ve really covered the state.

Equally unusual is that my husband is also a native � born and raised in Winston-Salem, although he wandered the country a bit before finding me in Chapel Hill (the second time around). When we married, we agreed that North Carolina was our home � that even if we wandered some first, our family would live and grow here.

It hasn�t always been the easiest choice. We�ve both lived in other states and other countries, so we know there are fun and beautiful and interesting places to be outside the Old North State. And good jobs in public relations are tough to find here � we could make more money and have better opportunities in big cities like Chicago or New York.

But we knew we would miss the beach and the barbecue and the warm October nights � and we�d end up blowing all that extra money on plane tickets just trying to get back home.

It�s like the old television jingle used to sing, �I like calling North Carolina home.� And I expect I always will.

An original Triangle Mamas post.  When Cyndi isn't busy eating Krispy Kreme and watching Tar Heel basketball with her husband and their two children, she can be found blogging at Junius & Pippi Take the Cake.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Remember Sisyphus? That cunning heel who was hauled off to Hades for a
being a cheating trickster? His punishment was worse than languishing
in the August in North Carolina temperatures in Hades. Sisyphus is the
guy who worked for eternity pushing a massive boulder up a hill only to
watch it roll back down again. Eternity is a long freakin' time. Like
in forever. Always. E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y. Imagine this: Roll the rock.
Sweat. Cuss. Growl. Cuss some more. Feel sense of relief upon getting
to the top of the hill. Wipe brow. Try to rest on a burned out stump
somewhere. Think for a narcissistic moment that your quads and biceps
will be chiseled after all this. Bask in glory for a fleeting
millisecond. Rock rolls back down the hill. You look after it, feeling
forlorn, worn out, pissed. Cuss. Cuss. Cuss. And so it goes on for

I'm beginning to think that the routine of
parenthood is a lot like the life of Sisyphus, minus those nasty images
of hell and the punishment, of course. That's not to say that life
isn't hellish at times, because it most definitely is. I just feel like
as soon as I get the rock to the top of the hill the damn thing rolls
back down. Literally two minutes after the cleaning lady has left, the
house is a minefield of Matchbox cars and Happy Meal toys. Damn Mac
Daddy for getting all those free toys at work and feeling the
overwhelming urge to bring them home. I don't even get a chance to
breathe in the delicious just-cleaned-smell before I'm busy wiping up
spilled milk that Deal literally cries over. He gets further agitated
when I laugh at the ridiculousness of it. And for the record, Bird and
Deal are not wholly responsible for the mess. I mean, does Mac Daddy
not understand what the hooks in the mudroom are for (one specifically
for keys)? The back of the kitchen chair and somewhere in the vicinity
of the phone are not the appropriate places for storing his coat and
keys (especially when the coat is suede and the keys are in tauntingly
close reach of a 2-year old). Argh.

A Day in the Life of Sisyphus at Chez Dirt & Noise:

up a poopy mess in Spiderman underwear that are now deemed
unsalvagable. Potty training Deal is a whole other blog post that I
can't bring myself to deal with. Pardon the pun. Bathe Deal since he is
coated in poop. Find change of clothes that fit his ever-growing frame.

Help Bird wipe his bottom and fetch him dingleberry-free change
of underwear. At least the Superman ones he had on are salvagable.

throws up in four different places upstairs. It becomes a game to find
the Casey puke without stepping in it. Clean it up while keeping kids
and cat away from the yuck. (Incidentally, we found another pile of
puke weeks, yes weeks, later caked on the floor of the guest room.
Don't worry, Mom it wasn't while you were here.

Disinfect tub.
Toss in a load of laundry. Throw what was in the dryer onto the pile of
laundry the size of Grimace on the guestbed.

Speed shower. Wipe on Lash Exact black mascara (the BEST!) and Smashbox lip gloss so I can feel like a real human being.

Clean up toys that littered my room in the three minutes I was in the shower.

Remake the bed that Bird and Deal were wrestling on after throwing toys on the floor got boring.

Gather the troops to go on an adventure. Get downstairs, put on shoes and coats. Forgot to brush teeth.

Back upstairs.

Brush teeth while wearing shoes and coats despite the boys' lack of mobility bundled up in a down coat.

Trek back downstairs and get the bag of snacks and tricks ready.

Feeling pretty good now, just like Sisyphus must have felt as he approached the top of the hill.

"Moooommmmmm! Casey pooped in the living room! And the playroom! And in another place in the playroom!"

"Change me, Mommy. I'm poopy."

And so it goes, the damn rock rolled back to the bottom.

Cuss. Cuss. Cuss.

Cross posted at Dirt & Noise.