She Works Hard for the Mommy v.4

Hi all! My name is Mary. I'm originally from New York. I came to Hampton Roads 16 years ago because my father relocated from New York to Cape Charles. I got hired with Norfolk Public Schools teaching kindergarten. I then got my masters in educational leadership at Regent. I have two beautiful little girls ages 7 and 8 and work in West Ghent where my girls attend school. I love being able to see them at lunch and recess each day! It also helps because we are on the same schedule, so I don't have to pay for before or after school care. I now teach first grade and absolutely love the students, staff, and family at my school. The girls and I also live in Ghent and enjoy being able to walk to school together. My biggest challenge as a single mother and teacher is being able to make ends meet.

To combat that I have a few side hustles. I teach workshops at Kitsch, a shop on Shirley Avenue behind Red Dogs. They sell handmade gifts by Virginia artisans. I also started my little side business of making farmhouse style wooden signs and Trays after being inspired by Fixer-Upper!  Recently I began hosting painting birthday parties with my company Easy Peasy Parties. I teamed up with two other talented teachers from Taylor Elementary. One is a baker and the other does hand lettered invitations. The package deal has been a huge hit! Being a teacher and knowing so many kids and families in the has helped spread the word about my service tremendously! Im really excited about how successful the idea has been so far and look forward to helping families have easy, fun, effortless birthday parties in their home!

The parties run for two hours. We arrive thirty minutes before for set up and stay thirty minutes after for clean up. We provide the canvases and paints, custom cake/cupcakes/cake pops in a theme of your choice, and personalized hand drawn invitations. So far we have done unicorns, mermaids, emojis, Minecraft, sharks, and puppies, but are always up for the challenge of something new!

Thanks Mary! Feel free to contact her for info on a party with Easy Peasy Parties. I love supporting things that other moms and fellow teachers do! It's also cool for a new birthday party idea. If you or someone you know is interested in being featured on "She Works Hard for the Mommy" send me a message!

Cinema Cafe

My first movie was at the Naro. I don't remember it, and I am sure RT won't remember this trip, but I do remember my dad talking about how much fun we had. It was a showing of 101 Dalmatians, and we sat in the balcony. Those who know me outside of the internet, know that I'm a huge cry baby. So, you can imagine that when I thought about that today I had a good cry once the lights went down at this movie.

We were going to the Pembroke Cinema and CafĂ©. What I had experienced in the past was that the tickets were super cheap, the movies were ones that were no longer in theaters, and you sat in rolling chairs at tables where you could eat. But when we walked in, we were shocked. The whole place has been transformed. The tables and rolling chairs are gone, and they have been replaced with reclining chairs with small desk-like tables on each chair. You select your seats when you purchase and head inside. Also, the movies are movies that are current. I won't lie; I was a little worried that RT wouldn't sit through the movie, and I had brought coloring books and stickers for sitting at the table, so I was a impressed, but a little worried.
We ordered the pizza, popcorn, soda combo, which turned out to be way too much food for just the three of us, but it was tasty. The popcorn comes with a container of butter that you can add yourself. R sat in my lap which was nice to have the extra tray for the large pizza. 
Cinema Cafe is locally owned and has several locations all throughout Hampton Roads. They have monthly sensory friendly movies and you can rent out a theater for occasions. They allow birthday parties to come in 45 minutes before the movie starts to do cake and gifts. Be sure to find the booster seats if your little one needs one. Also, sign up for their email list on their website and they will mail you a coupon for a free bucket of popcorn. They update their movie times and shows every Wednesday. 
So, the results... RT did sit through the whole thing. We saw Ralph Breaks the Internet. Halfway through he got a little squirmy and then about thirty minutes before the end he was moving around again. But even with the squirming, he didn't make noise and didn't bother anyone. He happily ate the popcorn and pizza and told us that he had a good time. It was a lovely way to spend a cold and kinda rainy Saturday morning. 
Image result for ralph breaks the internet

Menorah Lighting: Mount Trashmore

We had the best time on the first night of Hanukkah! Hanukkah lasts for eight nights and is about spreading a little light into the world at what can be a dark time. (Literally dark because it's winter and unfortunately, this year has been a particularly dark year for the Jews.) It's also about a small army standing up for what they believe in, and fighting against what's wrong. I always joke that it is the most punk rock Jewish holiday, but seriously- it is. Even the smallest group can make a difference.

We chose to light the first lights this year with 200 others at Mount Trashmore with dancing, singing, food, and fun. There were balloon animals, coloring stations, the traditional latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) and Sufganiyot (donuts) were served, and a DJ played Hanukkah songs. When I say that RT danced, I mean that the combo of the sugar, the light up dreidel bracelets, and the techno versions of Hanukkah songs worked together to create a dance machine that I had never seen before.

At sunset we chanted the blessings together led by a local Chabad Rabbi. Chabad is also the organization who put on the Home Depot Menorah building that I wrote about last year. If you're curious at Jewish holidays, they have some events that you may want to check out. Hoping everyone has a Hanukkah filled with light and love!


Hooray is one of the newer indoor play areas for young kids located on Upton Drive out in the Red Mill area of Virginia Beach. Online they advertise that they are for ages 6 months to 8 years, but I think this is more geared for the baby and toddler age. (Hey- it's nice that something is!) The areas are divided into sections. The first is for babies, and features soft things for little ones to climb on and play with. I wish I had known about more stuff like this when RT was learning to crawl.
The second section is for smaller toddlers. It has some smaller slides, things to climb on and through, and lots to play with. Both of these are gated so that little kids cannot escape, and bigger kids can't come barreling though.

Outside of the gated area is a jungle gym type play area with two slides, a rock climbing wall, and things to climb up and in. One big hit of this area was the light up memory game that was on the back wall. Also, parents can climb up if they want to or need to, unlike some of the other indoor play areas in the area. (Who hasn't had to climb up in one anyways- I mean really?!)

In the back is a little "town" with a movie theater, grocery store, vet, and other small buildings. This area was really cute, but I couldn't get RT to play in it for more than a few minutes. He's a climber and spent most of the time on the slides. In this area, the shopping carts were a huge hit.
On the far side is a cafe with what I thought were super reasonably priced drinks and cafe type food. All we had was popcorn, but it was delicious and freshly popped.
So, breakdown of our thoughts. The place was a little more expensive than some of the other indoor places like it. The $12.00 admission fee did let kids come back all day, but it was a 45 minute drive for us. So while that is a nice perk, we were not able to use it. The weekdays are cheaper at $10.00. (Younger children are cheaper.) They also offer monthly memberships which include classes, but I'm not sure what the classes are. During the summer they have a punch card option which would save money too. With all of that being said, the place wasn't over crowded, they had a staff member in the cafe pretty much the whole time, and it felt really clean to me. They do offer birthday parties and have lots of special events there too, including parents' night out and holiday pictures.


Overall, I'd come back here. It seems like a place where I'd be able to get something to eat and sit and talk with some friends while RT played. I love supporting local businesses, and even more so when it caters to toddlers.
In other news, a huge Mazel Tov to my friend Nancy who welcomed her little girl this week! 

Meal Tip Monday

It’s meal tip Monday with FIT4MOM Norfolk!
This week we are sharing a recipe that we love from Skinnytaste. Easy Everything Protein Bagels using 5 simple ingredients, 6 if you add a topping! They can be made gluten-free, dairy-free, or egg-free too. Our instructor Francine likes to make them with whole wheat flour and whole milk Greek yogurt for her family. 

Here's what one mama had to say about them!
  • They’re so good and I love adding protein to something my kids want to eat!! Bonus is that they come together in about 10 minutes. My boys now prefer these over store-bought!
This meal tip brought to you by Fit4Mom Norfolk. For more tips like this one, like their facebook page. 

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