FedEx Field

We spent this past Sunday afternoon wet, cold, but excited at FedEx Field. The Redskins played our Green Bay Packers, and although the Pack lost, it was awesome to take our little man to his first game.

Some things to know if you take the trip up:
01. The NFL has outlawed all containers. This includes bottles. (Let's talk about how unfair this is to formula feeding moms... it makes me super unhappy.) It also includes diaper bags and sippy cups. You are allowed to bring in a clear bag- which the NFL "conveniently" sells, or you can do what we did and use a gallon size ziplock bag. It's cheap and it keeps the rain out. Just keep in mind, the NFL isn't the family friendly MLB, so be sure to take all snacks and liquids out. You also can't bring in a stroller to check anywhere.

02. Two and under are free. Once you enter, head to guest services to receive your lap pass for your little one. It's pretty painless. They also have wrist bands for kids of all ages to write their section and seat numbers in case they get lost.

03. It can get loud. We brought R's headphones just in case, but we ended up not needing them. Because it rained literally the entire time (drive up, tailgate, AND the game), the game wasn't crowded. But if your little one is sensitive to noise or you go to a rivalry game, you might want to bring them.

04. If you've got a kid who likes video games, check out the EA Sports Players Lounge on the club level. They have screens with Madden free and open for people to play. It's also inside and covered.

05. Family changing rooms are located near gates A and E on all levels.

06. If you're not drinking, sign up for the Good Sport program at Guest Relations. This will enter you to win prizes for being the designated driver. If you're just drinking soda, it might be more cost effective for your family to grab a bottomless soda at the concessions, rather than paying the $6.00 per soda. This is $10.00 for the game.

We had a great time. We talked to lots of cool people, and R shouted a whole lot of "Go Pack Go!". It makes me sad to know that neither of his grandfathers, who were both big sports fans, got to go with him, but I love knowing that he had a good time at the game. The Skin's apparently have some connection with choo-choo trains, because every ten minutes they seem to blow a train whistle, which was likely R's favorite part of the day! All that going on, and the train whistle still wins. Oh well!

She Works Hard for the Mommy

Happy Hump Day! Wednesday is for the working moms, and I've heard so many times from readers that they feel under represented in the toddler world. So many things are on weekdays, we don't get to participate, and it can sometimes suck. So, here is a new feature about local working mamas in Tidewater. My hope is to bring awareness to some locally owned mom businesses and learn how we all balance being a mama and working. Thanks Caytee for being my first feature!

I started my Etsy shop, Caytee Rose Designs in 2014, after the birth of my 4th child. Since I knew she would be my last child, I wanted a way where I could remember my last pregnancy. I searched Pinterest and of course, saw many beautiful hand-drawn pregnancy chalkboards. I knew my talents were more in graphic design then handwriting so I decided to create digital pregnancy chalkboards in Photoshop for myself, each week of my pregnancy. I shared them on my Facebook and all my friends and family loved them and suggested that I should try to sell them.
Once my daughter was born I decided to put my 15+ years knowledge of photoshop and graphic design to use and open an Etsy shop to help other moms remember their pregnancy, the way I had. I wanted to make it simple for the excepting mother. So, I created my service of digital chalkboards, where all the mother-to-be has to do is pose in front of any frame in her home for a picture, she then sends the picture to my Etsy shop and within 48 hours I photoshop a custom pregnancy board into her frame and send the picture back to her. Cutting out the hassle of printing and fitting it into a frame, we do all the work. I was so pleasantly surprised to find out this service was indeed in high demand and have worked with over 100 expecting mothers.
In 4 years, Caytee Rose Designs has grown into much more than pregnancy chalkboards, I also provide Child Birthday Boards, Adult Birthday Boards (perfect for those dirty thirty photoshoots), Pregnancy Announcement boards, Back to School Boards and Photo Editing. 
While my shop is certainly a blessing, I am sure every mom can relate to finding the time. Running an Etsy shop takes work, you always have to have new material and I promise every single client 48 hour turn around, no matter what is that you purchased. There are many nights where after running my 3 boys to 3 different baseball games and making sure my little girl got to her dance class, making sure all 4 are fed, bathed in bed, that I would stay up way past my bedtime and make sure every message was responded to, every client was happy and every listing looked perfect. But, for me, its worth every minute of it. Getting to work with a mother-to-be so closely for 9 months, on something as personal as a pregnancy is really an amazing thing. I have met some amazing, strong, beautiful women since I started my business. I love that my work can make a birthday party more beautiful, a photo shoot more fabulous, the first day of school more adorable and a pregnancy unforgettable.
Thanks Caytee! If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this series, contact me

On Saying Sorry

The Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur was this yesterday. It's a hard one. We say sorry for all of the things we did wrong this year and admit to our wrongdoings and failures. In the afternoon we have the Yizkor, a memorial service for the mourning which is cathartic, but heartbreaking and sad. It's no secret that I've experienced loss this year, and this Yom Kippur was hard for me. But as I emerge from the year, I'm also looking at the lessons learned.
This year, it's important to say I'm sorry to my kids. I mean my son, but I also mean my students. I'm sorry to them when I'm having a hard day and my patience is wearing thin. I'm sorry when their feet don't move fast enough and I move them along. I'm sorry when I don't savor the minutes of laughter and snuggles. I'm sorry when I move away from the 19th hug of the day. (Although- sometimes this is at the end of the day, and that school bus doesn't wait!)
We teach our kids to say sorry all the time. You know the scene..."Bobby, give that ball back! Tell him you're sorry!". Your kid shouts a quick apology before running off to the next thing. But what does sorry really mean? It means that you are feeling empathy and distress for your wrongdoing, or for another person's feelings. It also means that you recognize that you were in the wrong, which is hard for kids, and harder for adults.  You're putting yourself in their shoes. It's a hard concept that we as adults don't fully understand, but often expect our kids to. We often make them apologize for things, but we should model that to them too. So to my son, I'm sorry that we don't get to spend as much time together. I really wish we could. I'm sorry that I get frustrated when you wont eat rather than just playing in the moment. I'm sorry that sometimes I am running late, so I push you to move faster. I'm sorry that I don't want to read the fourth book before bedtime. I'm sorry when I lose my patience.
Saying sorry, despite our pride, our self esteem, and our self-righteousness, lets our kids see that we can let our guards down and be vulnerable too. A new age of boys in particular are learning to show their emotions, which we should nurture and embrace. It also shows them that everyone makes mistakes. Even their perfect mamas who they look up to and idolize. So, this mama is going to try harder to apologize when I mess up.

O'Connor & Hank's Filling Station

I know that most people wouldn't think of either of these are kid friendly, but in we had the perfect afternoon this weekend visiting both. We had two friends in town, one who lives in Portugal but is from here, and another from Richmond, so we wanted to show them some fun local places. O'Connor is a Norfolk staple that has grown since 2010. During the afternoon and early evening you can find people of all kinds, including lots of families here. There is seating both inside and out. I'd recommend sitting outside with your toddler so you can catch the frequent trains going by and kids can run around. Inside there is a large chalkboard wall that kids can draw on and family games like corn hole and the large Jenga. 

We left there and headed over to Hank's Filling Station which is a backyard bar on Colley full of games and space to move around. Hank's is named after Norfolk local James Hankins, who has an awesome background in the racing field. The place has an old school gas station theme, but makes you feel like you're hanging in your friend's awesome backyard- you get all of the benefits, but don't have to do any of the work. There is a fire pit, corn hole, ring toss, bocce ball, foosball, ping pong, and a giant connect four. If that's not enough, the place is pet friendly and has good food. Check out the picture of our "pickle flight" which had cucumbers, onions, carrots, and green beans. Almost all of their food is from local farms too. Their beer list includes tons of craft beer and ciders. 
Like O'Connors, this place is full of families during the afternoon and early evening and becomes a more adult atmosphere later in the night. Both places are full of events too. We happened to be there while they were raising money for Out Of The Darkness, which supports suicide prevention. 

What I really appreciate about both of these places is their understanding of young families who want to both do adult things like drink craft beer, and be with their kids. Neither one is a kids place, but both have gone out of their way to put things in place to entertain both kids and adults. There is nothing better than watching your kid play while you get to enjoy a meal... that isn't pizza at a kid's place. (Not that I don't love a good slice of pizza.) 
And a selfie for good measure, because this kid keeps me laughing. So glad we were able to get out of the house and spend some time with friends this weekend. I was glad for the down time that the storm allowed, but was tired of being indoors and having everything closed! Glad we made it safely through, and safe travels to everyone who evacuated! 

Bayville Park & Taste Unlimited

Although I grew up not far from this park, I had no idea it was there. I was given the suggestion by a friend to check it out. It's close to shore drive and tucked back into the trees. There are picnic tables, tennis courts, walking trails, a dog park, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, softball field, volleyball courts, a disc golf course, bathrooms and a playground. 

My favorite things about this park- the shade and the spongy floor. The park itself is a dream for kids who like to climb. There is a mini rock climbing wall in addition to the typical playground items. There were lots of dogs in the dog park and lots of kids at the park.

Afterwards we went to Taste. If you've never been, it's part grocery store and part deli. We stopped for a midmorning bite of Gelato which was delicious. There is outdoor seating with room for kids to run around.

Fall Wish List

It's that time again! Online window shopping! Here are some of my current fall favorites for being a toddler mama!

  • 1- Perfect for hot lunches. R is going to school five days a week now (crying!) so I want to send him with some hot lunches to switch it up! 
  • 2- to become the favorite classroom parent, send these in! They are not on the school supply list, but are some of the most useful things in the classroom. Plus, with these your kids wont get as sick this year! 
  • 3- For easy lunch packing! These have awesome reviews and everyone says they don't leak. They also fit a whole sandwich in the big part. 
  • 4- A light windbreaker 
  • 5- I've heard so many good things about this! There is even a facebook group that supports you while you go through each step. 
  • 6- Sweat wicking, which R needs! 

1.This is my birthday wish! I'm super ready for this! It has great reviews even from people with dogs and kids! 
2. Summer may be over, but I'm ready for nights sitting in the backyard under these lights. 
3. How cute is this Halloween wreath!? 
4. Ahhhh- I love this shirt! It's right up my alley! 
5. OH! and these are not on the list for ME, but I want them for my classroom! 

That's it! What's on your fall favorites list?! 

Bennett's Creek Park

The storm may be coming, but we had to get out of the house! So we headed to Bennett's Creek Park. The 57 acre park has three boat ramps, covered shelters, disc golf, a stake park, tennis courts, restrooms and a nature trail. The trail is 1.5 miles and has been known to be visited by songbirds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. On the larger playground there was this climbing feature that R loved. It scared the heck out of me, but he loved climbing up it.

We stayed on the playgrounds. There were a few families there playing and it was a warm day. The playground is made up of three sections. Two playgrounds, one for older kids, and one for younger kiddos. The third part is made up of swings, both baby swings and regular ones.

The clouds came rolling in, and we could feel the rain on its way, so we left abruptly and had one last stop to make... Coldstone! When in doubt, have ice cream! 

A Taste of Suffolk

The taste of Suffolk festival is a yearly event in downtown Suffolk where they line the streets with tastes of local restaurants. For the twelfth year Main Street was blocked off from Finney Avenue to Washington Street. This year there were representations from twenty local places, tons of vendors, live music, a car show, and lots of things for kids to do.
We found free parking a block away and followed the flow of people. Childrens' activities included puppet making, bubble art, story time, carnival style games, and several bounce houses. There were two stages with music, one with a band and another with a DJ.

Along the street were lots of stations with local eateries. We tried snow cones, strawberry wontons and cheese curds among other things. Our favorite stand (with the cheese curds) had several kinds of sauces and toppings. They were handing out samples of tater tots that were delish too. There was also a beer garden with several local craft brews. 
We had fun, and it introduced us to several new places. I also liked the area a lot, and I'd love to come back sometime when we can poke around some of the stores. 

On a Boy and His Pups

Our household is full of dog hair, and while we get annoyed with it, I'm so glad it's there. The house I grew up in sits on a cul-de-sac and almost every house has a dog. Without fail these dogs would generally end up in our back yard where my dad worked on projects. One neighbor swore that my dad lined his pockets with bacon grease. (Which is even funnier because we are Jewish.) Dogs were always around, and when a little black pup was found in our neighborhood she immediately became ours. Eventually, she stuck to my dad like glue, and when he died she started on a downward incline which ended recently with us having to put her down. While I'm heartbroken, what amazes me is that while Shanna was the leader of the neighborhood pack, a real boss bitch, with a high and mighty attitude, even she grew to tolerate and love R. Regularly he asked me to Facetime her at night and he would scream "Nene" looking for her whenever he saw my mom.

In our house our two dogs, Zora and Reggie, bring so much joy to R too. He often calls them to his room when he wakes up in the morning. When he watches t.v. he is often perched up on the couch in the small of Reggie's back. He loves giving them treats, petting them, and giving them hugs every morning. 

These dogs have taught him so much! He has learned the word gentle and how to use a gentle touch. He has learned to throw a ball. An ongoing battle, but he is learning patience when he tells Reggie to drop the ball and then has to wait. He learns responsibility when he brushes or feeds Zora. If you know me, you know how obsessed with dogs I am, and I truly believe that they are the best and most selfless creatures on this Earth, but now I'm even more amazed at all the things they can teach us. Shanna taught me undeniable loyalty and strength until the very end.

He is still looking for "Nene", which is heartbreaking for us. And while we will forever miss her, my mom does plan on getting another dog. The heartache is terrible when they go, but the lessons they teach us and the love they give us is so worth any price we have to pay.