Cold Weather Kiddo Blues

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There is nothing worse than cold weather and a young child or children, in my case.  I’m convinced the scenario is designed to make all parents lose what little sanity we have left. All winter long I fantasize about what it would be like to pack my crew up and take up residence in Florida or California.  I’m just not cut out for frigid temps.  I cringe thinking about having to go to the same indoor play area on repeat all winter, so my boys don’t tear my house apart. (Well that happens anyways, but that’s a whole different topic).

We already have a membership to almost every family option in Richmond, but the one place I hadn’t explored yet was Romp n’ Roll.  I know, embarrassing, considering its 4 minutes from my house.  We grabbed our socks, donned our most comfy apparel, hopped in the Camry (HA, I wish it was this easy. Let’s be real I chased them around the house as I worked up a sweat like I ran to China and back) and headed to Busy Street!

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Meet Rompy – the cutest mascot there is!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the front desk staff who had name tags created and was ready to check our family in.  I was a little nervous because Palmer (my 3-year-old) was headed into a Silly Science class on his own. I prepped him beforehand and told him that he was going to a big boy class on his own, so he was PUMPED.   He didn’t hesitate or look back when he heard the welcome song that the teachers use welcoming the children to class. Off he went, and Grayson and I were greeted a few minutes later into his Toddler Tunes class with other 10-24-month-olds. First impressions are critical for me, and we were off to a fabulous start with the smiling faces and cheerful demeanor.

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Welcome to Romp n’ Roll – West End location!

Grayson was welcomed to the toddler group and introduced as a new friend.  We met Rompy, the dog mascot, and began by singing and then reading a short story and talking about the weekly theme, Farm Animals.  We entered the gym for a structured 45-minute combination of free play, bubble dancing, parachute fun, and singing.  The activities were engaging, fun, and interactive. There was a schedule, a plan, and a purpose to all things we did with the kids. I LOVED that the teacher was also prompting parents on how to engage with their children as well (social worker mom over here was swooning by this point).  I was impressed that parents are involved in this class and play alongside their child. We ended the class by singing a goodbye song and telling Rompy we would see him soon! Earning a stamp for putting shoes back on was the perfect way to encourage the children to assist with that final task before heading out of the door.  Or in my case, football hold carrying Palmer out of the door because he loved it so much he was refusing to leave! (Worst mom ever when I told him we did, in fact, have to go home and couldn’t remain at Romp n’ Roll all day!)

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Bubble time = lights off and a strobe light on! Basically, a kid disco going on and a crowd pleaser!

We have now attended Silly Science, Pirates, Open Gym, Arts and Crafts, and Toddler Tunes, classes.  We have LOVED, and I mean LOVED every single one.  Scheduling class is easy through the Mind-Body App or website, which reserves a space for your child.  I got a little choked up (No surprise there for those that know me) being able to have 45 minutes with one on one time with Grayson.  All parents and caregivers who manage multiple children will understand that it’s hard to get one on one time with each child.  I needed that time to have no phone, no distractions and just be there 100% for him mentally and physically.  Moms of multiples, don’t despair, there are daily options with corresponding classes for siblings.  This is what sealed the deal for us.  The art classes are great because its one less mess you have to clean up.  The items are provided, the fun occurs, and you get to go home without a new masterpiece on your kitchen wall or without the family pet getting a new colorful stripe added to their fur coat.

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Some of the masterpiece creations from art classes! I spy some future Van Gogh’s!

So, here we are a little over 1 month later – members of another RVA family establishment and happy as can be.  In addition to amazing classes where you can be present with your kids there are times during the week where children, age 2-5 can be dropped off for a fun class while adults can run errands, shop, get a mani/pedi, wander the aisles of Target (every mom’s dream!) or heck, go take a nap! (You’ve earned it!)  Romp N Roll also offers Kids Night Out class with pizza and evening fun for date nights for parents as well as camps during school holidays. You are not locked into an annual contract either! When we factored in this added benefit, coupled with sibling discount, and the ability for a nanny to bring boys to class at no extra cost it was a no-brainer.

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Calling all parents, caregivers, grandparents, friends and shoppers – as we enter the holiday season and our homes become overcrowded with loud, annoying, plastic toys made in other countries that our children will play with for 5 seconds and then end up in a bag for Goodwill – check out Romp n’ Roll for a gift card or a month membership for a loved one.  For my friends across the river in the West End, don’t despair there’s a location close by to you as well! Promise its worth every penny! Rompy and the Smith Crew are ready to play!

 

Are you Romp n’ Roll lovers? Have you tried out a free class yet? If not, schedule your free intro class here.  See you soon!

 

Xoxo,

Erin

Making a list and checking it twice!

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Like jolly Old Saint Nick – you probably have a list of items to purchase and are checking it twice … to see who you have left to buy for and scrambling to figure out what to get! Gifts for loved ones can be difficult – especially when they probably have what they need already!   A gift should be thoughtful, special, and meaningful.  I firmly believe that gifting a handmade, local item that was made with love is more special than a mass produced item from a big box store.   It shows the recipient of the gift that you truly took the time to find an item that fits what they mean to you and symbolizes the relationship you share.

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White Chicken Chili

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The turkey leftovers are all gone and the temps are slowly dropping in RVA. The nights are dark and chilly and your soul is begging for an easy and delicious meal right after a long day’s work right? If you are tired of the epic “What’s for dinner?” saga, keep reading and add this easy recipe to the cold weather rotation!

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Deck The Halls

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While the holidays can be magically enchanting and fun, they can also be stressful and frantic for many families.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday catalogs, commercials, and sales that are front and center.  Keeping up with the Joneses can be stressful and we too often lose meaning of what the holidays are truly about – having time to rejoice and celebrate with loved ones.

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Holiday traditions are important to me, much more than the gifts under the tree.  My favorite tradition that I hold close to my heart and continue with my boys is receiving a book each Christmas Eve with a handwritten note inside the cover.   For example, when I was 12 we went to the Richmond Ballet’s Nutcracker and I received  The Nutcracker written by Mary Claire Helldorfer and Susan Jeffers accompanied by a lovely note from mom telling me how much fun it was to see the Nutcracker with me and watch me stare in awe at the ballet dancers before going home to put on my ballet recital gown and practice the moves. I have no idea what I got from Santa  that year but I can recall getting dressed up and going downtown with my mom and sister to watch the Nutcracker.  I remember feeling so special that we sat up front and it that it was such a big girl event.  Each year and each book has a purpose and a memory associated with it.  The boys and I get all of the books out at the beginning of December and read them throughout the month.  I love taking my time to find the perfect book for each one of my boys to remind me of a special moment from the year.

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This year I am excited to tell you about a new tradition  – making my own live wreath at Cross Creek Nursery with friends.  If you haven’t stopped by Cross Creek Nursery before, it’s a magical place located on Courthouse Road in Chesterfield County!  Cross Creek is a local and family owned business that started in 1974 by Gene and Diane McAuliffe.  Over the years the company has grown and expanded to include their sons; Jason, Mark, and Andrew who have helped add additional acreage and landscaping to the array of services.  You have undoubtedly seen Cross Creek’s fleet of trucks and equipment all over RVA busy making our lawns and businesses flourish. They have been voted Landscaper of the Year by R Home Magazine and a Family Favorite by Style Weekly.

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You must stop by the cutest cottage while there like our friend Ava!

Our Cross Creek wreath maker extraordinaire Kristi had expert tips and her helpful demeanor had the group laughing and creating in no time.  There were endless opportunities for our blank wire slate.  We had 3 types of branches available to mix and match.  Gathering bundles of 8-10 we used a giant stapler (Who knew these even existed!?) built into a table to press the points of the wire frame down onto the branches and secure them.

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Wire frame and beginning to fill the wreath!

We repeated the process 12 times around the frame until it was full and complete.  Then we began to accessorize the wreath.

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There may be a much more official term but its what we did – selecting from natural or snow frosted pine cones and variation of white, green, and red berries – before using glue to adhere on the branches.  I opted with the traditional and more natural option and was really pleased with how it turned out.  Most importantly, it smells AMAZING!

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The entire crafting event lasted an hour and a half and then we browsed the beautifully curated gift shop, where you can find a range of items from serving platters, household decor, and holiday cheer. You will find great inspiration for your home decor!

So, before you empty your pockets this year buying gifts and running around RVA frantically to find gifts to fill the space under the tree that will lose their sparkle and entrancement, think about how you can create memories and traditions.  Be mindful and present about what the holiday season is really about. The gifts will fade from memory but the laughter and joy that a friend or loved one will bring when you recall the fun you had will stay far longer.  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and most importantly the company of good friends.

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Now the fun begins – I am so excited to partner with Cross Creek to offer a 25$ gift certificate to one individual.  Contest rules:

– Follow Fit_Family_Life on Instagram

-Like and Comment by sharing your favorite holiday tradition

Head on over to Cross Creek Nursery and Landscaping Facebook page

-Like Cross Creek Nursery’s Page

-Find their post announcing this blog and contest

-Comment by sharing your favorite holiday tradition

We will be verifying – so don’t skip any steps!!  Contest ends on 12/9/2017 at 11:59pm.  Winner will be announced on Fit_Family_Life instagram page and Cross Creek Nursery and Landscaping page.  Keep an eye out and spread t

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Ho Ho Ho! Even Santa loves Cross Creek Nursery and Landscaping!

PS If you are bummed you missed the wreath class sign up for this season — do not despair. On Saturday (12/2/2017) and Sunday (12/3/2017) from 12-3pm head on over for the Christmas Open House to see Santa, bounce in the moon bounce, listen to Christmas carols, make a Christmas craft, and enjoy Hot Cocoa, cider, and marshmallows for roasting for FREE!!! If you head over on Sunday, say hi! I will be there with my family and cant wait to see you all.

Happy Holidays RVA. From my family to yours, we hope your days are filled with hope, joy, and love.

Xoxo,

Erin

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

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I am not sure what your plans are for tomorrow RVA but if they do not include the 40th Annual Model Railroad Show, you need to think again.  I went for an afternoon of fun with my 3-year-old and we had a blast.  So much so that when we got home he said “I’ve got to go to bed and marched upstairs and fell asleep standing up with his head on bed snoring.  SUCCESS!!

 

This event is for train lovers of all ages. I was equally enthralled as Palmer was.  If you have not checked out the Science Museum of Virginia yet, this is a great weekend to check out all the regular exhibits as well.  What I love as a mom of little guys is that under age 4 are free.  I will gladly pay $14.50 for myself considering the fun we have when we are there! (Active duty military, retired military and veterans with ID receive free admission, so do not forget to mention when checking in!) Also, if you have an Electronic Benefit Transfer Card (EBT) make sure you show the staff at the check in booth for discounted admission as part of the Museum for All Initiative, which promotes learning experiences for all nationwide.  With your EBT card the cost is 2$ for adults, 1$ for youth 4 and above and seniors!  Enough about logistics, let’s talk about the TRAINS!

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Home Sweet Home

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As we enter the season of busy social calendars with friends and loved ones at your home or theirs, I’ve noticed the theme of discussion leaning towards “Did you see Sarah’s new table?”  “How much did Jess pay for that new sofa?”  “How did they afford that home?” I will admit I used to fall into that same pattern of thinking pre-kids.  I wanted my home to be an impressive, shiny, perfect showcase. Since becoming a mom, my style and home decor philosophy has changed dramatically.  So, that leads me to the ever-lingering question of how does one make a home inviting and beautiful with little people running around? Is it possible to have a kid-friendly zone without it looking like Toys R Us in your living room?  It can be difficult – but doable!

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Just like riding a bike….

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We’ve all braved the training wheel stage and first big push from a parent before crashing time and time again. But, we got back up before pedaling into the sunset like a pro. I had a bright pink Barbie bike donned with streamers – naturally. So bike riding should be easy like a Sunday morning, right? Not if you are up bright and early at CycleBar Greengate.  Easy isn’t the word I would use – invigorating is definitely a better way to describe how I started my AM.  I was so tired, stayed up way past my old lady bedtime and had zero caffeine before CycleBar.  However, I opened the door and walked straight into a club like atmosphere.  The music was lit, on fleek, turnt, on point (NO idea, if I used those terms correctly but you get my drift right?!) I had to resist the urge to bust out all the good white girl dance moves in front of 6 strangers at 740am.

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Apple a Day – Day Trip Worth Taking!

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Getting my 2 kids dressed and out of the door with basic necessities to make it to soccer on time is a feat that leaves us sweaty and feeling like we’ve run a marathon. We will undoubtedly have forgotten something we needed to bring but usually just feel thankful we’ve made it in car alive, seriously. I questioned myself a little when I decided I would take the boys apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard by myself. What was I thinking? A simple errand is too much to ask some days yet I wanted to go on all day adventure on a mountain? Recipe for disaster or best idea Ive ever had?

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1-2-3 CHEESE!

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Are you plotting and planning outfits for family pictures as if you are launching a world war? Strategizing and having a Plan B, C, and D ready to go and waiting just in case Richmond VA weather decides the morning of your fall pictures that it’s going to be 89 degrees and sunny? Losing sleep over how to make your children match, but not be too matchy?  Wondering if your toddler will throw a temper tantrum and ruin your 2017 Holiday Card? 

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Step by Step

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Did you purchase one of the 3.3 million fitness trackers that were sold in 2013? Do you check it relentlessly to see where you are in comparison to 10,000 step goal you hear recommended? Do you engage in work week challenges and banter about who got more steps? Do you do a dance of celebration when your tracker tells you that you hit your goal?

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