May, 2009 – Staying at Home…A Good Start

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MOMMY MOMENTSkristam-sm2

By Krista Martinelli

Staying at Home…A Good Start

 

 

 

 

 

Let me just introduce this month’s “Mommy” column by saying that I’m a brand new stay-at-home mom! Yes, I’ve just finished my first week of it. My daughter is almost four and my son just turned two, so it’s a precious, chaotic, wonderful, messy time in our house!  And I’m glad to be at a place, where I’m not going to miss any more of these days. I can’t even count how many people, usually parents with older children, have said to me, “Don’t miss out on this time…it’s precious…they grow up so fast!” So we began our new life together. All day, every day! And my first question was, “What will we do each day?  How will we spend our time?”

 

I set off with a notion that it’s good to “get out,” at least every morning. I think young children enjoy the idea of going out on some kind of journey, whether it’s a trip to the zoo or just a walk down the street. Then, in theory, they will take better naps. Not only that, but there’s something to talk about, ask questions about or just revel in the memories of it.

 

Day 1 – The Local Library. We went to the local library, with the hope of finding a few cute Easter books. What we got was much more. My kids were thrilled to find the children’s reading section and a little rainbow reading corner, along with lots of those chunky wooden puzzles (made by Melissa & Doug). After just about a half an hour of reading and puzzle-solving, we were invited to “story time.” I think story time has improved quite a bit, since I was a kid. Story time included dancing, an arts and crafts project, a movie and, of course, stories.  The story time lasted an hour, and my kids were captivated. They were quite pleased with their construction paper projects, decorated with the moon and the stars. All of this fun was for free, and everyone was happy and eager to eat lunch by the time we returned. Off to a good start!  Note: We visited another library this time, but the Wellington Public Library is terrific and still new enough that the books are in very good shape! Check it out! 

 

Day 2 – The Dollar Store. My daughter received an invitation to be a part of a “sticker club” in the mail, thanks to her little friend Olivia. It was a chain letter, and in my more frenzied state as a workaholic, I would have probably declined (since it involves making copies, sending out six letters and gathering packets of stickers). However, there’s an appeal in the letter which worked on me. It says, “Parents, please take the time out for this project. It is worth seeing a smile on your child’s face when they open up their own mail.” So off we went to the Dollar Store with a mission – to buy six packets of stickers. My other mission was to keep my kids from buying everything else in the store and to have the discipline to pick “just one item each.” It was a lot of fun! While it might be just a bunch of junk through the eyes of an adult, it’s a wonderland of magical toys when you look at the Dollar Store through the eyes of a child. So we carefully picked out our packets of stickers. My son picked out a plastic baseball bat and a ball. My daughter picked out a baby doll. They also picked up many, many other items along the way. Instead of being in a rush, as I was always used to before, we had no big agenda on this shopping trip and I had the patience to teach them to put things back. “No, we don’t need that,” or “We can get that next time,” or “Let’s just get one thing that you really, really like!” These were good lines that seemed to work.

 

Day 3 – Surprise visit from Grandma and Grandpa. I hadn’t figured out what we were going to do yet for our “morning outing” on Wednesday, and that turned out to be just fine. We heard a knock on the door and surprise! It was Grandma and Grandpa, stopping by because they were in the neighborhood for a doctor’s appointment. The kids squealed with delight! They invited us out to lunch. We went to a restaurant, only to find that we had the whole place to ourselves. We ate like kings (or maybe like pigs). The kids ate big pieces of pizza, followed by ice cream sundaes. Fortified with extra sugar, the kids did laps around the table while we waited for our check. Everyone was stuffed and happy!

 

Day 4 – A Trip to the Palm Beach Zoo with our neighbors. So we had a play date set up for Thursday morning with some cute neighbors, a two-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy. Being new at this stay-at-home mom thing, I wasn’t entirely versed in what a play date would involve. I called the other mother, and she suggested we visit the zoo! This was a very exciting prospect for my kids. And being the opposite of the spontaneous type, it took me a few minutes to adjust to the plan. We had to pack a few things, get hats, get sunscreen on…and then we were ready to go! The Palm Beach Zoo, by the way, is the second largest educational facility in Palm Beach County (only second to the Palm Beach County school system). Just see last month’s “AW Spotlight” article for details about the zoo! We had a terrific morning at the zoo, which started with the Komodo Dragon and ended with a merry-go-round ride. We spent a lot of time watching the bear, who was showing off for the crowd it seemed. And the monkeys were so animated, as usual…we could all watch the monkeys for hours! Our neighbors have an annual pass to the zoo, by the way, so we got to visit the zoo for free. The annual family pass is just $85 (which covers two adults and all children under 17 living in the same household). In other words, the zoo pass pays for itself in just two visits and comes with a lot of other perks. “Best purchase I ever made,” says my neighbor. See “Contest” on our website this month if you’d like to try your chances at winning an annual family pass!

 

The fun continued that same evening. The kids had just finished dinner. My daughter yelled out, “I hear an ice cream truck!” We gently tried to explain to her that it was impossible, as we live in a gated community and ice cream trucks are not allowed. “It’s the TV,” said my husband, quite rationally. She didn’t buy it. She insisted that she was hearing an ice cream truck. So I humored her and walked out the front door. Lo and behold, an ice cream truck. Better than that, an ice cream truck that blows hundreds of bubbles! So I headed outside with the kids. A bunch of neighbors joined in, including a teenager who was just as thrilled as the toddlers. “It’s the first ice cream truck that’s ever come to my neighborhood in my life!” she said. It was a little oasis in everyone’s evening, bringing the neighbors together. The kids were dripping their ice cream treats all over their clothes and their feet. We washed it all off with the garden hose. In my book, it’s a very good day when your hands and feet get all sticky with blue and red popsicle drippings.

 

Day 5 – My Gym and the Gypsy’s Horse. We made it to Friday. My kids always have loved Fridays anyway, because they were just coming from a 4-day daycare schedule. On Fridays, we usually visit Grandma and Grandpa in Wellington. I took my son to his other favorite place, besides his grandparents’ house, My Gym in Royal Palm Beach on 441. It’s the only time all week, when I spend one-on-one time with him. He loves jumping on the trampoline, sliding down the slides, swinging and participating in “circle time.” He is thoroughly amused by the antics of Mr. Anthony, Mr. Chris, Mr. Ralph and Mr. Tom (the funny instructors).  Meanwhile, my daughter was off watching a movie with Grandma, being spoiled and probably having a few too many cookies.

 

Their grandparents like to go out for fish n’ chips almost every Friday night. We have discovered that one of the most kid-friendly places in town happens to be an Irish pub, the Gypsy’s Horse. It’s largely due to the fact that the restaurant is set inside the original Wellington Mall. The original Wellington Mall is owned by someone with a big heart, who is always thinking of our children’s future, Palm Beach County Commissioner Jess Santamaria. When you look up from the center of the mall, in large letters are the words, “We Are Our Brothers’/Sisters’ Keepers.” You can walk right down the steps from the restaurant to the common area, which is saved for public meetings. It’s an area, reserved for the common good. There’s a fish tank with giant fish. The whole mall is filled with sculptures from local artists of horses, turtles, dolphins and other animals. There’s a little stage, where my children (and all other children who I have observed) decide to put on shows, dancing and singing. There’s just something very inviting about the space that cannot be put into words easily. So we love our mussels in the cream sauce at the Gypsy’s horse. And the fish and chips are light and nicely done every time. But best of all is this place where your young children can have a ball!

 

I can’t even wait to see what the next week will bring! Have you got great, inexpensive ideas for things to do with your young children?  Send them my way! I might just include your comments in an upcoming article. BTW, if you haven’t done so yet, don’t forget to “Subscribe” to our online magazine. It’s painless and we do not share our email address with any other entity! THANKS in advance for your ideas!

 

Krista Martinelli is the editor of www.aroundwellington.com. She’s the mother of an (almost) four year old girl and a two year old boy.