Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wake County Public Libraries Book Sale 2012

Seal of Wake County, North Carolina
Seal of Wake County, North Carolina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, we ventured out to the fairgrounds for the annual Wake County Library Book Sale. All the books for sale have either been donated or removed from library shelves in the last year. There were lots of free and fun activities to entertain the kids today, including a magic show, a juggler on stilts, and Irish dancers.

Books prices today were $1 for children and paperback books and $2 for hardback. Tomorrow is the big bargain day though $2 for bags of books and $5 for boxes of books. There were lots of kids books, but they seemed pretty picked over. However, there were tons of paperback fiction, textbooks, cookbooks, history books, biographies and more when we left this afternoon. There was enough of a selection that folks were able to put together whole series' (i.e. Lord of the Rings). So, if you like to read, go grab a box.
Wake County Library Book Sale!
Wake County Library Book Sale! (Photo credit: moonlightbulb)

I'll summarize the event with the words of my husband. "This was cool. Make sure you put this on the calendar for next year."

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Farm Animal Days 2012 at NCState

Yesterday, we met friends at Farm Animal Days put on by NCState University at their Lake Wheeler Road facilities. This is our second year attending. We got there at 9:30 a.m. with a steady procession of cars filled with moms and kids. Thirty minutes later, there was a steady stream of school buses, so it got crowded pretty quickly.

Last year, Jonah really enjoyed it, but this year he seemed a bit bored (it's not ocean related after all).  Elisabeth on the other had, seemed to delight in seeing and petting the animals.  

She got to hold a baby chicken (or maybe it was a turkey); by the look on her face you can see she considered it a sacred thing.

The rabbit exhibit is one of the most popular. Last year, we didn't get near them it was so crowded. Getting there early this time allowed us an opportunity to actually pet them. Again, you can see Elisabeth was very enthusiastic while Jonah kind of hung back.

My favorite were the little lambs with their mothers.

The thing Jonah was most interested in this year was the big tractors. Thankfully, they had more of them this year than last. We got in the line for the biggest, of course. We did have to wait, but it didn't seem as long as last year.

Jonah's favorite thing last year was the calf roping.  Despite having more metal calves to rope this year, the lines were horrendous - so long, in fact, that Jonah never even saw the calf roping area. Not wanting to wait in the huge line, I chose not to bring it to his attention - call it a mother's prerogative.

They both enjoyed the free ice cream at the end.  However, when I asked Jonah what he like best about the event he said, "Leaving."  So I guess farming and animal husbandry are not in his future.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fernbank Natural History Museum

On our recent trip to Atlanta, we visited the Fernbank Natural History Museum. We wouldn't have gone except that our membership at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Sciences allows us to get in for free. Normally it's $15.50 per child and $17.50 per adult - a savings of $66. When I visit museums in places outside of the Raleigh-Durham area, I usually come away feeling thankful that we have such good quality museums and that they are very reasonably priced. This experience was no exception. That being said, the Fernbank NHM had some great exhibits and we really enjoyed our visit.

(Unfortunately, I didn't get any great photos during this visit.  I had to use my phone camera because I forgot to put the memory card back in the big camera - oh well.)

My favorite exhibit as well as the kids' was NatureQuest. This highlight was essentially a huge playhouse setting with a nature theme. The detail of this place was truly amazing. This promotional video doesn't even do it justice!

A great little gem tucked away on the lower level near the IMAX entrance is the World of Shells exhibit. I really enjoyed this display of shells from around the world.  Of course, squids and nautilus are in the same family so Jonah enjoyed this section as well.



There was also the token dinosaur skeletons in the atrium and the Walk Through Time in Georgia Exhibit was nice. Both kids and adults enjoyed the Sensing Nature exhibit. There were several interactive displays here for us nerdy parents to enjoy. The biggest hit in this exhibit though is definitely the bubble table.


We also got to get up-close and personal with a glass-tailed lizard - which doesn't have legs and looks like a snake. (Again, didn't get a decent picture!)

If you were to ask the kids their absolute favorite part though, it would probably be the free dinosaur gliders they got in their kid's meal at the cafe!  They played with them consistently the rest of the visit and also when we got back to the campground. 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Durham Rescue Mission's Bargain Table

I took a friend out to the RDU airport this afternoon. Since I was in the area, I decided to stop by the Durham Rescue Mission's Bargain Center which is nearby. After paying 75 cents for a brand new address book (that I plan to put in the RV for keeping contact information on good campsites), I decided to walk around outside where most of the furniture is stored. Usually, the furniture is the sort that really needs a little refurbishment. You can usually find some good solid chairs with good bones, but needing some significant TLC or reupholstering. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of confidence in my DIY repurposing abilities. Thus, I have never actually bought furniture from there - until today.

There was a nice all-wood table for the kids that didn't have a price tag. I have been wanting a replacement for the metal folding one we have which is well worn and is really too small for both of by kids to sit and play or draw. When I asked the gentleman in charge how much, he quoted me $45. The table had some stickers on it and one of the chairs seemed like it needed some tightening so I hesitated. When I looked like I was going to walk away, he says that he could go down to $30. I told him I would go and look it over again. On this second inspection, I found the KidKraft logo underneath and was able to do a quick internet search and realized that these tables sell for over $150 retail. Being convinced that $30 was a very good deal and paid for it. (I was thankful that it fit in my little SUV.)

So now we have a nice, solid, appropriately-sized table for handwriting exercises which we will be adding to our homeschooling activities in the near future. AND, I rather like the fact that it's not perfect, because I will be less likely to freak out when Elisabeth writes on it, accidentally or not, with a sharpie - LOL!

Picnic at Anderson Point Park

We took sandwiches out to a local Raleigh park yesterday, and enjoyed a couple of hours in the glorious sunshine.

We saw gads of inchworms hanging in streaming webs from every tree, and picked up quite a few hitchhikers on our walk.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sisterly Love

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about what good friends my kids are. Well, here is more proof of their admiration for one another.

Tonight, Elisabeth had a bath with Jonah which is fairly common - usually involves lots of splashing with mixed tones of giggling delight and angry whining. I got Elisabeth out of the tub to get ready for bed. As I'm brushing out the tangles out of her hair, she says, "Can Jonah have a sleep over with me."  "No," I say.  "You just had a bath with him; now it's time to go to bed." To which she replies, "I just want to be with Jonah."  (I think she misses the past three weeks of shared sleeping space in the RV and at Grammie's house.)

You should never do this, but I couldn't resist and I asked her, "Who do you love more: Mommy or Jonah?" Without a millisecond of thought, she immediately replies, "Jonah."

I haven't asked Jonah, but he'd probably have a similar response. And that's okay by me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Just Knocked My Son’s Tooth Out!

Before you call child protective services, it was an accident. There is perhaps a tinge of guilt, however, as I was in the process of grabbing him by the shoulders to pull him out of the truck and give him a spanking for screaming at me. In his attempt to thwart my actions, he squirmed and somehow moved his head into such a position that my thumb went into his mouth. While I was trying to figure out how that happened, which was disconcerting enough, he yelps, “My tooth!” Sure enough, there is his tooth lying in his lap.

Obviously, my goal then shifted from reprimanding to comforting him and staunching the little trickle of blood coming from the depression in his gum.

He calmed down, and we walked back to the RV to let him use the bathroom and refill drinks – the original purpose of our interaction. (We were in route home from a three week RV trip.) 

Our goals accomplished, Daddy pokes his head in the RV to see how were doing now that he was finished filling the gas tank. By that time, Jonah was recovered from the ordeal and more concerned about whether the Tooth Fairy will make another visit. Daddy then says, “Well that’s one way to get rid of a loose tooth - make mommy mad.”  Thankfully, Jonah smiles (his now toothless smile) at this.

The initial cause of his outburst was frustration at not being able to find his cup buried somewhere in the backseat with him and his toys, which I had asked him to find. My tone revealed my own frustration at him not being able to comply with my request. No doubt, he and I both need to handle our frustrations and responses to each other better. 

Thus we have yet another example of God using my children to humble me, further challenging me to mature in spirit. Thankfully, a heated situation was transformed into a funny memory for Jonah about how he lost his 4th tooth. At least, that’s my hope.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Photo of the Day

Elisabeth making giant bubbles at the Fernbank Natural History Museum

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dream the Day Away

Yeah I stole the title from her shirt

Enjoying throwing things in the lake

She's throwing left handed due to her fresh wound today

Her nose is almost healed

She cut her hand falling down the steps of the RV today :-(

Jonah decides to join us

A rain shower in the sun

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The Bubbleman was at the playground - I think the park paid him to be
out there. Thank you Stone Mountain Park! You made my kids day.

The Georgia Aquarium

Our goal in staying near Atlanta this week was to visit the Georgia Aquarium - the largest aquarium in the world and the only place in the US where you can see a Whale shark and a Manta ray.
Whale shark and Manta ray
I was amazed to find they have not just one but three (3) whale sharks in the large aquarium. They aren't yet full grown and will get as large as a school bus. We saw Zebra sharks, huge Grouper, a massive sting ray, Sawfish, and oh so much more.
In addition to the world's largest aquarium tank, the Georgia Aquarium also has 4 touch tanks for sea anemone, bonnethead sharks, sting rays and the last with a diversity of shrimp, sea snails, sea urchins and starfish.
Bonnethead sharks
My three-year old daughter loved the Dolphin Tales show. The presence of the Beluga whales and the dolphins make this place a Sea World competitor to be sure.  
Beluga whale
The 4-D movie with Deepo, the Aquariums mascot, was a bit hokey but did a good job of conveying it's conservation message that we on land impact the ocean dramatically and that we should care what's going on in the deep blue sea. It was perhaps a little scary for a 3 year old though. 

There is so much in this aquarium besides what I have already mentioned: otters, spider crabs, frogs, jellyfish, albino alligators, and electric eels are among them.  (This is only the second time I have ever seen electric eels; the first was at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.)
Electric eels
This aquarium is pricy but worth it. I was surprised at the crowd present on a Wednesday - not uncomfortable but we certainly didn't feel like we had the place to ourselves. It is very well laid out so as to prevent bottle necks inside. 

The central lobby of the Georgia Aquarium
We arrived very near opening time and left near close. The traffic around the aquarium was horrendous; we were stuck on the same block for 30 minutes. Something to keep in mind for future visits. If you are considering a visit, keep in mind the cost. For a family of four, including parking, lunch in the cafe and a take home souvenir, plan on a $200 expenditure for the day.

Here are my favorite photos from our visit.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeschooling: From McDonalds to Mountaintop

Looking up on Stone Mountain
Looking up on Stone Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are camping at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia this week. It was raining this morning, and I knew my husband had to get some work done. Getting the kids outside wasn't much of an option with the rain, so I decided to remove them from the premises. After a couple shopping errands, we landed at a McDonalds for lunch. I brought coloring books and my homeschool materials with us. After eating, we had a homeschool session right there in the McDonald's. It went very well. We talked about the parts of a book and what an author and illustrator means. We also talked about the idea of personification and what it means to boast, which were in the story we read. I could tell Jonah was understanding and enjoying the lesson even as he drew an Octopus on a a piece of notebook paper. 

After reading another book or two, the sun started shining so we headed back to the RV..... except I decided to take the long way and find the other entrance to Stone Mountain Park. I enjoy taking unexplored detours. 

Upon entering the gate, I saw a sign for a historic trail. Not knowing exactly what that was I asked the kids if they wanted to take a "little" hike - thinking we would investigate a future excursion. Once out of the car, I realized the sign identified a trail going up Stone Mountain. After hiking a little ways, I was indeed convinced that the trail eventually took you to the summit. I decided we would go as far as the kids were willing and possibly come back with daddy one evening to complete the whole thing. I would periodically ask the kids if they were ready to head back to the car to which they they indicated a desire to keep going. We eventually came to a bare rocky spot that I thought may mark the halfway point. I asked them again if they wanted to head back. Perhaps thinking they were almost to the top, they again said that they wanted to keep going.  And so we kept on. Elisabeth was so cute hopping over rocks and seemed to enjoy finding the hardest route with the most rocks. They both would stop here and there to investigate a bug or some other interesting item, while I enjoyed reading the engravings along the rocky surface beneath our feet - some dating back to the 1800's.  
Taking a break
Finally, I knew we were getting close to actually reaching the top. Of course, this was the point where the kids started to complain of being tired. Keep in mind this was not a planned hike; I had nothing on me - no water, no snacks, no money - just my keys and my phone. So close to the summit, there was no way I would turn around now. So, I reminded Jonah about what he learned about boasting. As a means to motivate them to get to the top, I asked if they wouldn't like to boast to daddy that they made it all the way to the top all by themselves. They both said yeah and Elisabeth even stopped holding my hand so that she could take full credit for her own accomplishment. I had to use that ploy about three times, but it did the trick. We all successfully made it to the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Yeah! I was very proud of them as you can tell. I thought their accomplishment was pretty good considering that they are only 3 and 5 years old; it was certainly beyond my expectations. We called daddy from the top where thankfully there was a water fountain and bathroom (and a full-blown visitor center with concessions - here's where the money would been useful). We were able to see the campground and even make out our RV from our vantage point and my husband was able to see us through the binoculars.  
Looking down toward the campground
So we had a mountain top experience today....  It's good to know that some times it's easier getting to the top than it would seem looking up from the bottom. The hope of the end being just around the corner and being able to share the experience with others is a helpful motivation for continuing on until you reach the goal.  
Atop Stone Mountain Georgia with the Atlanta skyline in the background
Going down
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