Purim Carnival OST

*Scroll down for music! 
Never heard of Purim? It's one of the most fun Jewish holidays, but it isn't one that gets a lot of publicity. The story behind it is that Haman (the bad guy) was an advisor to the King. He wanted to kill all of the Jews. The King (quite a bit of a player honestly) was looking for a new wife. Ester went for the "tryouts" and made it, but she had to hide her Jewish identity. She braved being killed to plead with the king not to kill all the Jews. The story says that he killed Haman instead. So, on Purim when we read the story aloud, whenever Haman's name is read, everyone makes tons of noise and drowns out his name. People also dress up in costumes, since Ester had to mask her identity. It's a bunch of fun. Some people follow the tradition of drinking so much that you can't hide your true identity. That's even more fun, but not in the cards this year for us with a little one. There are often carnivals or humorous skits too. Sunday morning we attended services and events at Ohef Sholom Temple in Ghent.
"The Hebrew Hammerer"
We eat hamantashen, or triangle shaped cookies. Haman wore a three sided hat, so these pastries represent that. Jewish families often give mishloach manot, or little gift baskets to each other and gifts are given to the poor or homeless also. Lots of people will participate in a social justice event in honor of Purim also.
Today consisted of a small service with lots of audience participation and lots of NOISE. It was followed by a carnival. There were little booths with games, a bounce house, arts and crafts, and food of course... what's a holiday with no food?!
Let's play "how many tries does it take to get two kids looking and smiling in a photo?Answer... still unknown. 
And of course... prizes! 
As you can see, it wore us out! 

Date Night Idea

It's likely that if you've been following the blog you've seen Auntie Chelsea, my best friend, and the person whom I drag along on a good chunk of our adventures. She has her husband plan their dates in a really fun and interesting way that I thought she should share. Today I'm turning the keyboard over to her!

Hi! Auntie Chelsea here. Nick and I started going to restaurants in alphabetical order since we were dating, and we are now on our third rotation. So, what this means is we started by going to a restaurant that started with the letter A, then the next time we went on a date we went to a restaurant that started with the letter B, and so on. It has been a great way to get to know the different restaurants in the area and it makes me, who does not really like to try new things, to get out of my comfort zone.

So, if you want to start incorporating this in to your date night routine, here are some examples of the ABC restaurants, so you have somewhere to start!

For the letter A we went to Ammos Authentic Greek Cuisine. Ammos is in Virginia Beach off Great Neck Road. It is tucked back in a corner, so make sure to have the GPS on when trying to get there. This place is delicious, but you have to go hungry. We loved the appetizer sampler which had taziki sauce, hummus, and pita. YUM! I, also, adore their dolmades, but those are definitely an acquired taste. One thing I really like about Greek food is there are not a lot of "basic" foods, so you have to try something new.

Things To Know If You Go

  • There is almost always a Groupon available for Ammos.
  • Tuesday night is Military Night where military get a discount. (I am not 100% about if Tuesday is military night, so double check before you go.)
  • They sometimes have belly dancing nights, so check their Facebook. Good entertainment for kids and adults alike.

For the letter B we went to Brass Bell, which gets double points for alliteration! If you can't tell from the image, we went around Halloween and the decorations definitely added to the ambiance for us. Brass Bell is a little hole-in-the-wall off Independence Blvd. in Virginia Beach and from the looks on the outside, we didn't have high hopes walking in. However, the food was outstanding. We both got steak, which is what they are known for, and it was perfectly cooked. I cannot rave about this place enough.

Things To Know If You Go

  • The Brass Bell is a bar scene. If you go, this may be a night for the babysitter.
  • There are also pool tables and karaoke if you are feeling like making a night of it. 
  • Brass Bell is very affordable and has great drink prices as well!

For the letter C we went to Charlie's. As a Norfolk native I have been a few times before, but Nick hadn't and we hadn't been to their new location on Granby Street, right before the Granby Street bridge. One of the main features of Charlie's is their Blood Mary Bar that is in an old bathtub, it is a very cool aesthetic. This place is the best spot for brunch.

Things To Know If You Go
  • I highly recommend Charlie's for brunch, but they are open for lunch as well.
  • There are two Charlie's locations, both on Granby street, both scrumptious. However, the one closer to Ghent is smaller.
  • Charlie's gets crowded during holidays, like Mother's Day. 

If you want want to try out Alphabetical Restaurants for yourself here are some tips of the trade:
  1. We try to avoid chain restaurants. It just makes it feel more authentic.
  2. It does get expensive, so we only go once a month, maybe twice a month. It is a slow process, but definitely worth the experience.
  3. Some letters are especially hard to find, particularly Q and X. We have done Quaker Steak and Lube in Newport News for Q and Xenia in Harrisonburg for X. If you don't want to travel that far, we make exceptions for those and just find a restaurant with a Q or X in the name. Gateaux Bakery on Independence is good for X as well.
  4. We try not to repeat restaurants. So, if we find a restaurant we really like, we suggest that we take out of town guests to those or double dates, so we don't feel like we are cheating.
  5. We love Instagramming the experience. We always like to take a picture of the food, the name of the place, and ourselves there. Don't forget to use the hashtag #alphabeticalrestaurants 

The Strongest People I Know

Let me start by saying this. I love my husband. He is a great dad. We are a true team. With all of that being said, I have to give a shout out to the people in my life (besides Neil) who have really helped keep me afloat the past four months. Since finding out my dad was sick, it's been a community of strong women who have taken care of my mom and me.
(R wasn't into being put down by someone else so much LOL)
The cleaning of our house, the cooking of meals, the meal train... all set up by women. The shifts of watching R. The emotional middle of the night phone calls and texts, the snap chats, and the taking me out and trying to distract me, all women. Even the cards flooding my mailbox. It's been overwhelmingly women. A pillar of strong women, supporting my family, supporting me.
Women are strong y'all. My students will talk about what girls can and can't do. Girls can't play football at recess. Girls aren't scientists. Girls aren't inventors. You know what girls are? Anyone they want to be. Again...anything they freaking want to be. Girls grow and make PEOPLE y'all. They make people! Working moms wake up, they get kids ready, they work all day, then they take care of their kids again. On top of all of this, we take care of one another. We care enough to take what little time we have to ourselves in the day and spend it on one another. We send the text, make the call, and deliver the meal.
Simply put, this is just a post to remind women, we are awesome. It's also to thank those who have been there for me recently. Thank you for keeping me afloat. Thank you for checking in on my mom. Thank you for continuing to make sure I'm okay. Thank you, thank you, thank you. All the things mean the world to me.

Stroller Strides

Being a mom is hard work. You seem to put everyone before yourself.: your kids, your partner, your parents. It seems as if sometimes, by the time you take care of everyone else, there isn't time for yourself. Introducing Stroller Strides. Stroller Strides is a class by the company Fit4Mom where you bring your baby with you. Each class is an hour long and they focus on cardio, strength and core training. During the workouts, you sing songs to the kids, high five them, dance around them, different things to keep them engaged.
For this session, we met at MacArthur Mall, near the H&M. We would speed walk to different parts in the mall; the kids would stay with the instructor while we ran up and down the stairs or shuffled around in circles, and we paused at each side of the mall to do cardio, strength, and core work.
I've heard people say that a class like this is just "walking with other moms." Wrong, and I know because this class kicks your butt. The instructors are trained in pre and postnatal fitness. I also like that the class sizes are small, so you have a lot of personal attention if you need it. Not only are the instructors trained, but they are also super encouraging. My favorite part is the community of moms. There is also a monthly mom's night out.
(R giving Mama a high five for hard work!)

The classes are held Monday-Saturday. They start promptly at 9:30 outside of H&M. On Wednesdays, the class is more of a barre workout and they have a play group with a craft after class. If you're interested in trying any of their classes, click here. There are a couple different ones (I posted about the MacArthur 360 studio here.) There are different payment options also.
Things that I assumed about this class:
  • R would fuss in the stroller: Eh, he was interested in watching the moms, high-fiving me, and eating his snack. At the end of the class the kids got out of the strollers for a dance.
  • The moms would be too fit for my out of shape self: It was hard, but the other moms were super encouraging and you can make it harder or easier.
  • I'd feel silly singing songs and doing a workout in the mall in front of random people. False! When I arrived at the mall, there were quite a few people walking. The stores opened while we were working out and some shoppers were around, but it wasn't a ton. I didn't even notice them honestly. 
At the end, the kids got out to do a little dancing. You can see R's interpretation of my stretching. Perhaps he was trying yoga, or to work out himself? 

Toddler Tuesday: Links Edition

Did you know? There was an even darker ending to Toy Story 3 Originally.- Eshhhh and this is a kid's movie?! Breaking my heart! 

13 Fun Activities to Keep Your Toddler Busy- rainy days, cold days, hot days, all the days.

Toddler Tries to "Save" Sister in Wresting Match- this is too cute, check it out

Parents.com's List of Best Books for Toddlers- some of my favorites are on here. I've used Sheep in a Jeep for older kids in lessons about force and motion too!

Daily Toy Rotation Boxes- maybe a good idea if you need to keep your toddler is bored with some of their toys.

And a few other links:

Apple to Phase out iTunes Music Downloads - very interesting. This could mean a lot of changes of how we listen to music. As it is, most music is leased on streaming services rather than owned. Artists seem to be making less and less from their music.

VA Beach Navy wife, mother qualifies for 2020 Olympic trials, proving that moms are awesome. 

This looks lovely. It's a Hot Chocolate Bar Party. It's cold outside, so it is the perfect time. 

Chick-Fil-A Family Nights

You may not know it, but several Chick-fil-a restaurants near us have a free kids club. The one in Norfolk doesn't, but it does have a family night. Depending on your store, you can register for the once a month kids club here, or come to the Ghent one in Norfolk for their Wednesday family night. Chick-fil-a is one of the few places that still has a free indoor playground.

I'll admit- the playground was cool, but I made a huge mistake. We met Neil there, and so I let R play before we ate. Mistake... when it came time to eat R didn't want to sit down. Whoops, lesson learned. Needless to say, Neil, Bubbie, and I took turns eating while R played and ate nothing. Also embarrassing- R did great climbing up. But wouldn't go through the tube. He liked just sitting up there and watching the other kids. When I needed to get him down, that meant I had to climb up there in a skirt to get him. Parenting win!
Two Wednesdays a month the store has a craft. One Wednesday they have face painting, and the other a balloon artist. This time was a craft, Valentine's day cards. We made one for Bubbie. R wanted all the stickers and didn't understand when they didn't stick without picking off the back. Norfolk family night is from 5:30-7:30. It gets busy quickly, so go early! Another option is to download the app and order your food there to pick it up.
You may be wondering- what the heck does a vegetarian eat at Chick-Fil-A? I was wondering the same thing when I told Neil about checking it out. They have a yogurt parfait, a side salad, and a super fruit side. Their fries are also fried in a totally different type of oil than their chicken. Who knew? I was impressed that they gave these little placemats to the kids. I didn't even realize until later that they have a sticker side and can stick to the table while he eats!
Talking to some of the people there, I found out that there are lots of people who come weekly. Some of the kids even seemed to know each other. The night was a little stressful since R wouldn't eat, but next time we will know better. Eat first, then play. . Lesson learned! It's a nice free thing to do on a weekday or a rainy day.. 

Buyer's Regret

The first baby means that you buy and register for everything, because who knows really what you'll need. Neil, my mom, and I stood wide eyed at Target and BabiesRus. So many people gave us conflicting advice for our registry that we just scanned everything. Bottles? Get one of each brand. Diapers? Try one each one, because really, you never know.Today I'm sharing our buyer's/scanner's regret.. aka what we never should have bought or registered for. If you bought this for us- thank you! Sorry it didn't make the cut for big R.

01. Baby mittens- I know that these are so babies don't scratch their faces. But I never put them on. R slept swaddled, so he couldn't have scratched his face anyway. They looked totally adorable the ONE time we used them though?

02. Any bottle that wasn't a MAM. It leaked, he couldn't get the milk out. You name it, it was a problem. MAM for life.

03. Lovey. I know I'll get a lot of slack for this one, but R has never cared about a lovey. We have one and I sometimes give it to him, but he typically throws it on the floor.
04. Microwaveable sterilizer- We received this from a friend who was getting rid of it because it took up too much room in her house. Nice gesture. It took up too much room in ours too. Had to go! Boil some water in a pot y'all.
05. To go with the microwaveable sterilizer, the nipple holder for the dishwasher. The bottles were too big to go in, and I felt like the nipples didn't get clean in there. Some people love them though- they can have mine.
06. Specified burp rags- They are super cute, but a wash cloth, towel, or receiving blanket works just fine.
07. Shopping cart cover- we had a beautiful shopping cart cover. It was soft, cozy, and had toys attached to it. I think I used it all of two times. The first time in a shopping cart, the second time as a make shift type thing in a high chair at a restaurant. Real life... it takes too much time to put on the shopping cart. Who are these moms with all this time?
That's about it. I know that some people probably loved some of these items. I'm curious to see what you regretted and what you couldn't have lived without.