Bumps to Babes: Birth Stories V:1

In talking to some of my favorite mamas at recent Fit4mom classes, I learned that so many mamas like reading birth stories. I knew I wanted to start this feature, but I wasn't sure where to start. But since I am excited to announce that our newest little guy has arrived, I figured I would start with myself!
This pregnancy was so incredibly different than my last. I was still sick, but for the most part I felt really good the whole time except for some pain around the left hip. I continued Zumba and moved from Body Back to Fit4Baby classes and tried to stay active chasing around RT. I worried (and still do!) about how in the world I was going to keep up with him with a newborn, but we still completed the Purple Stride 5k, traipsed around Busch Gardens, and adventured around everywhere else.
With RT I had what some refer to as a stalled pregnancy. I'd get regular, painful, and real contractions and then they would stop. I waited for three days to dilate enough to be admitted even after my doctor herself told me to head to the hospital after seeing me. Once I got the epidural, they told me that it would be a matter of hours, but RT still didn't come until the next night! Not this time! Neil and I checked into the ER at Leigh at 1 am, we walked the halls for two hours before they gave us the all clear to stay and by then I had dilated from 2.5 to 4.  We headed to our room, got the epidural settled quickly and took a few dozes.. That morning, they checked me at 8 cm and 12 minutes later, my water broke. When I called the nurse to tell her, she came rushing in, checked me, and told me we were ready. I literally said - "ready for what?!". RT had taken SO long that it didn't even occur to me that in that short amount of time we would be ready to push. The room flooded with people, nurses helped me do two rounds of pushing and his head was out. The doctor had to be grabbed from starting a C section down the hall for the final push- and he was out.

Turns out, the C section down the hall is a girl we know! We literally pushed her baby's birth out of line and the babies were born 36 minutes apart. Our nurses were great. The hospital was wonderful. We couldn't have asked for a better experience.

Watching RT come in and meet his baby brother has been one of the highlights of my life. So far he has wanted to do everything with his little brother, hold him, feed him, look at his little fingers. Sometimes this is awesome and super helpful... other times not so much. But seeing him take pride in becoming a big brother has been amazing to watch. I was, and am, still so worried about how I can be a good mama to two boys, but I am so excited to see them grow and change together. I am so thankful to everyone who helped bring both of our little guys into the world to make our family complete!

Want to feature your own birth story? Send me an email!

Tent Tales for Tykes

L.L. Bean is the latest store to discover the power of story time. Every Tuesday they now host the free story time program, Tent Tales for Tykes. I guess I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived, but the kids actually sit inside a tent and listen to a story while parents are encouraged to browse the store. While I appreciate this, with my guy being so little, I had no intentions of walking away. The problem was, there were not really any chairs for adults near the tent. There was one tiny camp stool that my Mom sat on, and there were some chairs scattered around the store, but there's no way my toddler would have let me out of his site. So my very pregnant self sat on the floor outside the tent.
Our story was about bears, and the lesson of the day was what to do if you see a bear in the woods. The kids then had the option of coloring sheets and creating bear bells, which was RT's favorite part of the event. Once the kids had on their bells, the shaking bell dance party could begin! The whole thing lasted maybe 30 minutes before R lost his attention. My mom, however, shopped around the store while he played.

We were lucky enough to be joined by an older friend who enjoyed the story more than the crafts, so I will say that this is one that can span some different age ranges. Next time though, I'll ask for a chair or drag one over on my way back to the tent! If you're interested in going, register online here for free

Nature Discovery Zone: VA Zoo

The Virginia Zoo has debuted their newest addition, and this time it isn't an animal. The Run Wild Nature Discovery Zone is the work of some of our local Rotary Clubs (who also donate dictionaries to local schools!) and lots of volunteers to bring natural play structures to life. The playground has stumps to stomp on, a sandbox to dig in, tunnels made of willow, and a maze made out of bamboo.
The zoo has made an attempt in the past few years to really engage children, through the VA Zoo Live stage, the splash pads, and now the nature  play area. The zoo's plan is to have informal animal pop ins in this area so that kids can see and possibly touch the animals.
The playground is located across from the Australia Walk About and does include its own set of restrooms. Lucky for parents, it is almost all in the shade and there are lots of stumps to sit on. Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to the zoo without a ride on the train. RT says it's his favorite animal there!

Eric Carle: Moonlight Nights & Other Illustrations

Eric Carle is a staple in the children's literature world even though he didn't start publishing until he was 40.  Although Hungry, Hungry, Caterpillar is his most famous work, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books. His artwork typically has vivid pictures on either plain white or deep black and blue backgrounds. He creates his look by using hand painted tissue paper in a collage.

Another note about Carle's books. If you look closely, he has done an excellent job of weaving in so many educational ways to use them. Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar is something I use even in second grade when teaching life cycles.  I use The Grouchy Ladybug when we teach telling time.  I read  Papa, Please Get the Moon For Me to third graders when we talk about moon phases. These books captivate children young and old. (For the record - older kids totally love being read to, even if they pretend they are too cool!)
Norfolk's always free and beautiful Chrysler Museum welcomes the Eric Carle Moonlight Nights & Other Exhibits from June 14th to September 8th. The exhibit is great for all ages. It has original art work of Eric Carle, showing how he creates his books. It also has interactive games for the kids and a puppet show experience that is also great for taking pictures. Several of Carle's books are available for the kids to read or for you to read to them. There is a magnetic board, activity bags, and peg boards to play on.

Want to check out the exhibit for yourself? Tomorrow, June 15th is a Family Day. They will have moonlit night crafts, visits from zoo animals which are featured in the artwork, stories, and local librarians around. At 10:30 and 2:30 a screening of the Eric Carle documentary will be shown and Astro will be entertaining.all day long  NASA will be in attendance, the Norfolk Public Library Bookmobile will be ready for checkout, and Applewood Book Party will have custom books available. Be sure to check out the Rainbow Puppet presentation at 11:30 and 1:30 also.
On July 11th and August 22nd from 5-8 you can come down to the museum in your pajamas and enjoy Moonlight Nights Pajama Party with s'mores and astronomy activities. Stuffed animal friends are welcome too. Chrysler's Tickle My Ears program, which hosts a monthly story time (we wrote about it here!), will meet June 20th, July 11th, August 1st and 15th all with Eric Carle stories. Tickle My Ears is open to ages 2-5 and meets at 10:30.
As a reminder, the museum is free and open to the public Tuesday-Sunday. Strollers are available free of charge. Also, don't forget to check out the Wonder Studio which has art that's safe for kids! You can see our write up on that here!
If anything, Carle's exhibit should be a reminder to read a ton this summer. Read to your kids; have your kids "read" to you. Ask questions. Just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference in their future. What a great way to start off the summer by mixing art, fun, and a little education! (Hey- just because this teacher is officially on summer vacation, doesn't mean I stop trying to force everyone to read!)

NFK Street Museum- Mural Walk

One of the many reasons we love Norfolk is because of the public art scattered all around. From mermaids to murals, the city is covered with them. Norfolk threw a party yesterday to unveil the 10 latest murals in the Railroad District Business Association.
This includes murals from John Hamersveld, Gary Wong, Tim Skirven, Mahari Chabwear, Earl Mack, Dathan Kane, Andy Harris, Hampton Boyer, Asa Jackson, and Charles Rasputin and was curated by the Contemporary Arts Network. The event was free and open to the public and had things to do all up and down the street. We started at Toast where they had a DJ and local merchants set up, then headed to their annex parking lot where Lava Presents had a stage with live music set up and Veil Brewing (which is coming to Norfolk soon!) had a tent selling craft beer. We kept walking down the street to Absolute Kitchen & Bath which was grilling outside and had corn hole set up. We continued down to the Kid Zone outside of Norfolk's 757 Makerspace and toward Oconnor's Brewing which had a whole carnival set up.

True to its name, the highlight of the day for RT was the trains that kept coming by us. We counted four big trains. We ate from different food trucks, Neil was able to drink several local beers, and we ran into some friends.
Want to check the murals out for yourself? You can get all of the addresses here, or see the map below. Be sure to stop and check out the many local businesses along the way!