You may know this about me already or you may have noticed it either on my LinkedIn profile or read it in a previous blog, however I am also a part-time Stay At-Home Dad (SAHD). As a SAHD, I try to leave the house once per day/every day. Thanks to the Triangle Stay At-Home Dads, I attend Tuesday and Thursday playgroups regularly with other Dads and their children. Then, usually the other 2 days of the week I am running errands with the kids (chiropractor, grocery shopping, library, etc...).
That typically leaves me 1 day per week in which I explore. It probably wouldn't surprise you that I keep a list of my favorite places to take the kids and I try to make sure that I mix it up and take them somewhere randomly. Depending on my mood, the weather, where we've gone recently and where we'd like to go; we either head to a Park, a Playdate with another Dad, Lunch (typically at a new place that I'd like to try) or keep it at an Inside location (I try my hardest to get the kids outside).
My favorite Parks to take the kids too include parks that are close to where we live, of course, and parks that are too good to pass up. For a park to be worth my time it should be creative, unusual, safe and fun. Some of the best parks near where I live include: Kelly Road Park, Bond Park, Morrisville Community Park, Carpenter Park and Laurel Hills Park. A couple of recommended parks that aren't necessarily close to where I live, but are worth the trip are the RDU Observation Park and Pullen Park.
If its a rainy or snowy day and you still need to get out of the house, there are also a couple of places Inside that I would recommend. Some of my favorite Indoor locations to take the kids include: Monkey Joe's Bounce House, the Museum of Life and Science, the Museum of Natural Sciences, Marbles Kid's Museum, the Rainbow Room, Notasium and the RDU Observation Park/Tower has an inside location as well.
If you are considering stay home with your kids, it is a choice I would recommend. For me, starting a travel agency and getting out of the house (hopefully with another SAHD) are ways in which I have been able to prolong how long I have stayed home. It is something I would recommend and I hope that my suggestions help.
Anyone who knows me, knows how important music is to me. So, they wouldn't be too surprised to know that one of my first blog posts was about music. When I travel, I primarily like to listen to music. Depending on the circumstance, I will be listening to either the radio or my IPhone or Pandora or a Podcast.
I heard, on the radio, that 93% of Americans still listen to the radio. I like to listen to the radio as well, especially the morning shows. However, I don't like listening to commercials, so listening to the radio does have a shelf life depending on what is playing and how many commercials are on.
Usually if the radio isn't doing it for me, I will listen to my IPhone. I will either shuffle songs, do a quick playlist in my head of songs that I want to listen to or listen to a pre-done playlists. My playlists are my bread and butter. A few years ago, I consolidated my songs with my wife's songs and made standard playlists. These playlists include the following categories: BPM (Beats Per Minute), Chilling Mix, Dance Mix, Dinner Mix, Party Mix, Really Chill Mix, Relaxation Mix and Workout Mix. Most of the titles of these mixes and what they are used for make total sense. Besides the obvious mixes, BPM is a type of music that my wife likes, Chilling Mix is basically all of my favorite songs, Dinner Mix is a mix of relaxing music and new music that I have recently purchased and the difference between Really Chill Mix and Relaxation Mix is that basically the songs in the Relaxation Mix could put you to sleep!
For Pandora in the car, its all about the kids for me. I let them listen to a Pandora mix in the car a little less than 1/2 the time we are in the car and usually on the ride home. The Pandora mix is basically a mix of music from their favorite TV shows or movies or groups specifically for kids. This mix does get updated periodically, because Daddy can sometimes get tired of hearing from a specific channel, like Barney. :)
Lastly, if I am along in the car, I like to listen to Podcasts. My podcasts are always updating depending on my interested, but some of my Podcasts that have stayed around for awhile include: my church's podcast, travel agency job related podcasts, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know", "Pod Save America", "The Tim Ferriss Show", "TED Radio Hour" and "Freakonomics Radio".
Hopefully I have given you some ideas of something you could listen to while you are traveling? Please comment below with some of the things you listen to.
Well, it was a lot of work, but we did it. A successful beach trip with the In-Laws. It was relaxing (as much as it can be with 2 young girls), fun and the food/dessert was amazing almost everywhere we went.
We used VRBO https://www.vrbo.com/ to book the Awake and Ready Oceanfront Condo http://www.a1propertyman.com/property/awake-and-ready?PageDataID=96574. This condo, besides being on the 3rd floor, was perfect for our stay. It was a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo. So, our family could share a bath and my in-laws could share a bath.
I highly recommend the Fort Fisher Aquarium for a fun place to take the kids http://www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher. I even bought a purple stuffed animal sea turtle for my daughter.
We enjoyed everywhere we ate at. Michael's Seafood for lunch http://www.mikescfood.com/, the Deck House for dinner http://www.deckhousecasualdining.com/ and finally, our favorite, Jack Mackerel's for lunch http://www.jackmacksgrill.com on the way back home from the aquarium. Jack Mackerel's was recommend to us and boy, were they right. Their shrimp and grouper was so amazing that my wife wanted to go back their again for dinner the following night. I convinced her to try another restaurant instead, but can guarantee that we will make a return trip to Jack Mackerel's when we visit Carolina Beach again next summer.
Another awesome surprise was a bakery called Big Apple Bakery http://www.bigapplecafeandbakerync.com/. I initially went for just a buckeye, but I left after eating a cupcake, buying 6 buckeyes and some coffee. I could have bought much, much more. The best thing about this bakery is that they had no problem accommodating food allergies. Not only do they have gluten-free options, but they will also customize your order. My wife was able to get a custom order of macaroons. This is a picture of the cupcake I had to buy.
Of course, no beach trip is complete without ice cream and Squigley's is definitely worth a visit http://squigleysicecream.com/. Almost everyone in our family got "Squiggled." LOL! The gift gallery upstairs is also very cool. I easily bought $20 of items including 2 items for my office desk and something for both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law. We liked Squigley's so much we went as a couple and with kids.
I am so glad that I did all of the prep work for this trip that I did. It was well worth it.