Virtual Learning 101

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To say that 2020 has been a year of school like none other, would be a major understatement. To say that this has been the worst year of school ever, might be a little melodramatic. To say that 2020-2021 will be a school year of new opportunities, would be a fact. As we navigate these early days and weeks of virtual learning, whether fully virtual or hybrid, there are some basics we need to cover. Today, I’m sharing Virtual Learning 101, or a primer in what we (parents, caregivers, and most importantly children) need to navigate virtual learning.

Seven essential “things” for virtual learning:

  1. Have a routine, and stick to it.
    It would be so nice to roll out of bed whenever we pleased, to work as much (or little) as we would like, and to do whatever it is that we want (Nintendo Switch anyone?); that’s just not a reasonable expectation. Everyone thrives on routine, but children need it. Set a schedule for waking, doing work, playing, and resting. 

  2. A designated space for learning
    For my family that is our dining room. Life during ‘Rona, has taught us that we do not currently need a formal dining room. As much as we’d love to host friends and family for a dinner party, that’s just not practical or safe. Since we have an available space adjacent to an area with regular adult supervision, our home office, this is perfect for a learning area. All members of our house have a designated space to work. One is at the formal desk, one at the dining room table with a stool, and another at a child-size art table. Each person has a means of elevating their device (laptop, iPad, a monitor) to eye-level with a lift, or stack of books to ensure that we are protecting our necks. Even little people need little seats, so it’s crucial to ensure that everyone has an ergonomic setup for working.

  3. Get dressed
    Let’s be honest… no one really likes hard pants (you know those things with zippers and buttons), but pajamas are not appropriate for school. Our brains need us to indicate through our actions that we have transitioned from one activity (sleeping), to another (school work), and this is accomplished through changing out of our PJs. Simple things trick our brains into shifting focus. Plus, many school systems are enforcing a dress code. Let’s head off trouble at the start.

  4. Have headphones with a mic
    This one isn’t necessarily a must, but it’s definitely nice to have if you have multiple doing school or working in the same area. Virtual school will be uncharted territory for all of us, and we do not need the added distraction of hearing what everyone else is talking about the whole time. This is also great for your children, so we aren’t listening in on their entire school day. They haven’t had us listening to their learning, conversations, and school day before; why start now. Let’s trust we’ve raised good humans that are doing things as they should. headphones

  5. Have supplies close at hand
    If you have done Boys Scouts or Girl Scouts, you know that it’s crucial to be prepared. Virtual school is no different. Your children will be set up for success if they have the things they need close at hand, rather than running off to find what is required in the middle of a lesson.
    (tag local councils here)
    https://hovc.org/
    https://www.comgirlscouts.org/

    book bad
    supplies close

     

  6. Be flexible
    Things will not go as planned, and technology will not always work. We can’t change what happens, but we can change how we respond. If we’re willing to roll with the punches, bend this way and that, and make adjustments as we go; the school day (week, month, quarter, or year) will go far better.

  7. Have a positive attitude
    We are navigating uncharted territory as parents, teachers, and students.
    We are all learning as we go, and doing the best we know-how.
    We won’t always know what to do, but we can keep learning and keep trying.

    Most of all, we as parents have the opportunity to set the tone. We get to choose how we want to view this school year. I’m focusing on a growth mindset this year and hoping to emulate this for my children. Will I be perfect? NOPE! Will I give up? Absolutely not! Will I encourage my children to make this the best year ever? Most definitely!

I hope these tips are helpful for you as you navigate this new school year. We are all learning as we go, and I hope that we can show lots of grace to ourselves, our children, our teachers, school leaders, and the entire community. None of us have navigated a virtual school year before, but we’re going to figure this out together.

 

September, when moms really start the New Year

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I look forward to every September as the start of my new year.  As the seasons change from summer in the fall, I start greeting the shorter days with more and more excitement – and this year is no exception. This year is the start of all of the new things that we can possibly imagine. Many of us are starting in-person school, many of us hybrid and so many of us are at home.  Regardless of the difficult choices, we have had to make for our families, we need to remember to take time for ourselves too. Its the perfect time to celebrate the real mom’s new year. 

This year, I have decided that I am going to make me a priority. 

It’s not that I wasn’t before, but a happy mom is a mom that has more of herself to give to her family – the right way.  For the last few months, we have all felt like we have been running on empty.  I went from an on the go lifestyle to being constantly at home with my children – and in our family, its just me, no husband, and no family that is close enough to help.  To say that I was completely overwhelmed would be an understatement. We are all there.

overwhelmed mom

A few months ago, when we found out that in our county would be completely virtual, I knew that for our family something had to change.

Everything about our family screamed overwhelm and I knew that it all starts with me. 

I have started getting rid of all the junk.  Slow and steady wins the race.  I am not doing too much at one time and I stop when I need to.  I also have been somewhat sneaky, and have donated or thrown away many, many well-loved toys that the boys have either outgrown or broken.  Virtual learning has helped me organize their room in a way that is not only nice but functional.

Exercise

I have started working out 2 days a week with a personal trainer.  You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I was a professional athlete for many years and all this baby weight has got to go! And by baby weight, my baby just turned 9 this summer so its time. I also have upped my step game and started drinking more water (this is totally my least favorite change, but it is good for you right?)

drinking water

Weekly Family Meetings

We have family meetings on Sunday nights – which also means a family meal.  We had gotten away from that since around May and more often than not I let the kids come and go as they please.  I grew up on a farm where we went out to play in the morning and only came home for lunch and dinner and stayed out well past the time the lightning bugs came out.  While there would be no football or too many friends this summer to have adventures with, at least they could have adventures with each other. Sigh.

family meeting

During the meeting, we will cover schedules and assignments.  With a son heading into high school and another headed to the 5th grade, I imagine it’s going to be a tough year.  Having each other to be our own cheerleaders is going to be crucial – and I am here for it. Let’s face it, no matter what district or school your child goes to, there are tons of apps, downloads, and passwords to go along with education this year having the time once a week to discuss our lives and hopes for the future will be helpful.  I am excited about this time together and I hope this is one of the things that they remember from this year and is important.

Love your skin

Maskne is a thing. Raise your hand if you’ve had it and been frustrated by it.  You are raising your hand, aren’t you? In order to make it less of a thing, I must take better care of it.  Yet another reason for the water.  Maybe one day I will like just plain water, but even watching the water episode of “Down to Earth” has not made that happen. I also don’t eat gluten, and I like to think that helps.  I am currently obsessed with products from Old Mechanicsville Health Spa.  Not only are they local, but they have their own line and tailor the products specifically to you. (I have really sensitive skin, so having a consultation with someone who didn’t have a sale quota to meet is really important to me.) I have definitely seen a decrease in blemishes and seem to look less tired and wrinkly.

Invite your children into a gratitude practice

Every day, no matter what, I start the day thinking of 3 things that I am grateful for. Sometimes they are big things, like getting a new client, and sometimes they are little things like smoothies.  It can be anything really.  My children this year will take place in this practice and I am hopeful that they will be happier as they notice all of the things around them to be grateful for.

gratitude journalA new school year is a great time for another great start to a new year.  Let’s put all of this past year behind us. A new year can start whenever you choose it to, and for me, September sounds like a perfect time to start.

Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show

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One of the most fun places you can go, when visiting Myrtle Beach, is the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.

It’s not only a fantastic meal but an entirely wonderful experience from the minute you walk into the building! Pirates Voyage is a show for you, your teen, your tween, your little and your itty bitty. There is really something for every member of your family, after all, do you expect anything less from a show from Ms. Dolly Parton?


When you walk in you are greeted warmly by members of the crew who will usher you into the best pre-show show located in the Pirates Village. The show is fun and exciting – full of music, hilarious jokes, and tricks.

Join the crew

While we were waiting for the show, we joined the crew! There is an area that is better than dress up where you can get dressed up as a Pirate or a Mermaid. It was so much fun. The crew members made sure that our pirate bandanas and flags matched the crew we were about to join! Kids and moms alike can participate and I had a wonderful time alongside the boys getting my pirate gear on! Complete with an eyepatch and makeup, we were ready to join the ranks and get on board!

Join the Crew
Becoming a Lady Pirate!

A Meal Fit for a Pirate King

The four-course meal served is plentiful enough to feed the hungriest of pirates and mermaids. And the soup? Amazing. You can even take some of it home from the gift shop or order it online. They even have gluten-free and vegetarian meals, which I was ecstatic about. It’s often hard to find special meals while on vacation, and Pirates Voyage took care of the gluten-free members of our family with a tasty meal that did not disappoint. The chicken was so good and so was the pork. My picky eater couldn’t put it down. Combined with the corn on the cob and the yummy potato, we were absolutely STUFFED.

4 course meal


The Show

Prepare to be excited! With the participation of the audience, each pirate is on one of two rival pirate crews – the crimson or the sapphire. We were on the best crew ever – the sapphire. Our side was so loud and fun, we really got into the excitement of everything with clapping and cheers! We knew our crew of pirates would win.

From the swashbuckling sword fights to the amazing energy and acrobatics, Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show is non-stop excitement. There is everything you could ask in a show. Adventure. Intrigue. The Pirate King, Blackbeard himself!

Without spoiling all the fun, I can tell you that there are surprises and excitement at every turn. Just when you have one awe-inspiring thing going on, you find yourself turning your head dropping your jaw again and again. Not only are pirates singing and tumbling, but there are mermaids, tropical birds, ducks,  adorable dogs and of course the cutest sea lions ever!

We had so much fun at the show, every single one of the boys did not want to leave. After buying soup mix and some pirates booty, I finally was able to get them to leave. They talked about the show for days and it’s going to be first on our list of things to do in Myrtle Beach. We can’t wait to go back!

The Richmond Mom Collective often receives requests for sponsored posts. We only recommend products and services that we have tried ourselves and believe are a good fit for our community. This post is a sponsored post by Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show Myrtle Beach. The thoughts and feelings expressed are our own.

What will become of Generation Z’s immune system?

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As we navigate through daily life in this pandemic, what some are trademarking as our “new normal” (I despise those words, and want to throat-punch whoever says it, every time), I worry greatly for those born between 1995 and 2015 the most – generation Z, the ones aged 5 to 25. I worry for them the most, more than the elderly, more than the high risk. The elderly want to see their grandkids. The immunocompromised people are used to extra measures to protect themselves, that has not changed. I worry about the complete disregard of the health and wellbeing of the already healthy youth. Generation Z is our future, they are also old enough to remember all of this that is happening right now. Every business closure, job loss, new regulation, human emotion, and reaction. They are also being robbed of their childhood. Nothing about this is normal.

When was the last time your child played in a sandbox?

Yes, those dirty, disgusting little boxes of germs, snot, and fun. While I cannot speak of your childhood, I can share bits of mine with you. I played in a sandbox, I played outside, I climbed on dirty community playgrounds, and bless my heart got lost in the ball pit at McDonald’s.

What is my point?

Our immune system needs to be exposed to germs to do its job. We were born perfect. Everything designed to work as it should. Somewhere along the line,  humans thought we could do better than nature, and if this modern-day “plague”, has reminded us of anything it should be how small we truly are. Mother Earth sat us all down and started to heal. If we do not start listening to Mother Earth, I fear the next plague will be worse, I was reading just the other day that a new super swine flu has been discovered in China. By invading these creatures’ homes they get “stressed” and their diseases move to humans.

I worry about the constant hand sanitizing, and masks on our little humans whose lungs aren’t even fully developed.

So how does the immune system work? When our bodies are exposed to antigens (a toxin or other foreign substance which induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies), immunoglobulins (B cells) start producing antibodies to fight the antigens. Most of the time those antibodies remain inside our bodies, in case we are exposed to those same germs, viruses, or bacteria again, so our body is always on offense and ready to fight it again.

Immune System Battle

For this reason, the reinfection of many viruses does not happen a second time, this is called acquired immunity. Acquired immunity can be developed by a vaccine or by naturally being infected with a disease. A few examples of diseases that typically do not occur in the same host (person) more than once are measles, mumps, and chickenpox.

I really do believe in attempting to protect the people with preexisting conditions, the immune-compromised, the elderly, but at what expense?

At the expense of my children having no immune system when they reach adulthood? How about your children? That does not seem fair to me. This is my opinion, and I do not expect everyone to agree with me. If we all agreed, there would be world peace, Mother Earth wouldn’t be damaged, and plagues would not keep popping up.

I reached out to some of my favorite mom friends for comments and below are some of the Q’s and A’s.

Q: Are you concerned that by isolating our children during the pandemic as recommended by the CDC they will have long term challenges? Such as weakened immune systems from underuse now, or social challenges from increased interaction with adults, and decreased interactions with children? Or any other long term issues?

A: Malikah Karim, Certified Health Coach, Registered Yoga Instructor, and Professional Development Facilitator says “Immune systems don’t forget, and I know my children are not in a microbial isolation bubble by being at home more often. As a family, we have not decided to hunker down inside in totality. We spend time in the dirt, on trails, and at stores for what we need with our children. Viral load is a relevant element to consider in the choices we all must make around exposure-related decisions. I have fed my munchkins the nutrition and lifestyle that provide immune strength since they were in my womb, and I know that no measures can completely eliminate COVID exposure, so I am happy to trust that their bodies can manage limited exposure, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they have already built a degree of immunity. We do, however, wear masks in indoor public spaces and practice social distancing to protect those in our community that are more vulnerable. I am confident that immune functionality, joy, and enriching relationships with friends are still happening with my children, and that is enough for me.”

A: Sierra Magee, Self Employed Mom says “I have serious concerns about our son’s social challenges. He is an anxious child. He is an only child. His ability to thrive socially has always been a concern and now with COVID, it is even more of a concern. We have a few select friends who our son has been allowed to interact with during COVID. Keeping him completely isolated from other children was not an option. We do our best to encourage and practice social distancing, but there is a degree of risk in everything we do and as parents, as members of the community, I can honestly say we are doing our best to follow guidelines while also doing what is best for us and our family.”

A: Shannon Somogyi, Wellness Coordinator, and Yoga Therapist tells me “I AM CONCERNED about the long-term effects. However, we started allowing him to play with just two friends in our cul de sac a few weeks ago. We also started seeing a few friends at home. So, we have been slowly integrating others back into our daily lives. I am a firm believer in science and the immune system. Research has shown that we need to be exposed to germs and bacteria on a daily basis, so that our immune systems can build a resistance to such viruses. Thus, eliciting an “immune response” for our bodies to fight off illness and dis-ease. By slowly integrating people back into our daily lives, I feel we are building our immune systems! But… you won’t see me at any large events just yet.”

Q: Do you feel that you were prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic? How so?

A: Kasfia Rashid, Accountant says “Not even a tiny bit. It hit like a ton of bricks and demanded everything stop and restart. Thankfully it was a Friday.”

A: Shannon Somogyi, “I do feel that I was prepared for this. We’ve been homeschooling for the past five years and felt we had a handle on that piece. I had also personally begun to pull away from my own career many months before COVID. My intuition led me to a slower pace with our family. So it was “easy” for us to settle in.”

A: Joy Langford, Stay-at-home-mom of 2 beautiful adopted toddlers tells me “We do not take our children in public because of their weakened immune systems and are at a much higher risk than other children. My husband and I take turns with childcare while the other goes into public to run required household errands. We will not take our children into public until there is a COVID-19 and/ or coronavirus vaccination.”

Q: What has been your biggest struggle as a parent this year to date?

A: Bonnie Coffa, Independent Toxicology Consultant tells me “Biggest struggle was finding balance and accepting that I can’t be everything and that’s ok. There were some weeks where everything was mediocre at best and others a total shitshow.”

A: Ashley Lane, Registered Nurse says “Being high-risk pregnancy, the stress of the pandemic and lack of certain items in stores, first it was toilet paper, then sanitizer, then meat. I would do grocery pickup to avoid nasty stares of taking my 3 yr old and 6 yr old in with me, but many of my items I ordered were sold out. So, I would have to leave them with my husband or have him go out in my place. Having to push carts around with masks on, already very out of breath was a struggle for me also.”

Q: What are your thoughts on masks?

A: Shannon Somogyi, “I do not believe in their efficacy. I made this decision based on recent findings such as:

~The US Surgeon General even came out saying it does NOT help in preventing the spread of COVID.

~The WHO recently stated that asymptomatic carriers do not spread COVID.

~The CDC also stated that the virus does not live on surfaces.

So, I feel confident in my decision. Also, my freedoms do not end where others’ fear begins.”

mask grocery store

A: Ashley Lane,  “I try to make my kids wear them, mostly because I am too pregnant to argue my point. I’m 9 months now, I am very big and out of breath. I try to save my breath; I avoid taking them in places at all costs if I’m able. They do not wear them correctly, my 6 yr old takes it off of his nose and twists the ear loop around, also touches his face. My 3-year-old almost had a meltdown in the post office yesterday because she did not want to wear it. I totally almost teared up with her, I just said “Mama gets it, baby, I’m miserable too. I’m sorry you have to wear it”, and I hugged her.”

To summarize, I think it is important to attempt to understand one another, and do your own research, and make the best decisions for your family.

 

Brandi Bovell is a part-time licensed massage therapist, aesthetician, certified natural health coach, marketing coach, and a totally wonderful business owner.   She is a FULL-TIME superhero and mom.  You can follow her here. 

Brandi

That Time I Thought My Grandma Might Be Racist

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I am a Black woman. I am a Black woman with a White mother. I am bi-racial. I am a bi-racial Black woman.

I have ALWAYS known I am Black. I have always known that RACISM is real.  

My earliest childhood memory is of our neighbors across the street throwing rocks into our yard because my mother was married to a Black man. I remember my parents’ warnings – do not go across the street – those people are dangerous. I remember them calling my mother a “n****r lover”.  It was the first time I had heard that word. I was three years old.  My KNOWING I was Black. My KNOWING what racism looks like at three years old.

These KNOWINGS kept me safe.  

I remember the second time I heard the N-word. I was in the backseat of my maternal White grandmother’s car. I was about ten years old. My grandmother was honked at by the driver she cut off. She yelled at the man; “Don’t look at ME like that you N****r!”.  I was frozen. I remember looking into her rearview mirror.  My eyes locked with hers – mine filled with tears. She was embarrassed. I was hurt. She looked ashamed. I was appalled. She was remorseful. I was terrified.  

My grandmother instantly apologized to me; “I am so sorry Leah” she said.  I replied, “But he is the one you SHOULD be apologizing to”.  We NEVER discussed it again. I never told my mother. I never told my siblings or my cousins what had happened. I swallowed this pain that cut me to the core. Though I was a child that surely deserved protection, I felt like I needed to protect her.  

Race is a funny thing. It is purely a social construct.

Over time, my mother’s family evolved their thinking. My grandmother loved me dearly. I am certain I was her favorite. My grandmother was also a racist. 

I remember growing up never seeing other people of color enter her home. I remember my father waiting in the driveway when I was a child.  He was not welcome in her home. I remember my older brother being invited to church with my grandmother – he could pass for White. I was never invited – instead I, her darkest grandchild, would stay at her home alone. I remember my grandmother calling me a “picaninny” as a term of endearment. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it was a racial slur.  My grandmother loved me – and for a period of time in her life, my grandmother was also a racist. 

I remember laughing, traveling, eating out, and shopping with my grandmother. I spent nearly every weekend of my childhood at her home.  She attended every school program, concert, graduation, and awards ceremony. She ALWAYS made sure I had what I needed. She cheered my success and supported my interest. She bought me my first concert tickets – Michael Jackson – when I was in eighth grade. 

My grandmother cared for me and filled in the gaps – like all grandparents do. She helped me prepare to go to college, an HBCU (Historically Black College/University, clear across the country in Virginia. She called me frequently, sent care packages, told me she was proud of me, and always told me she loved me.  

My grandmother, for a time in her life, was a racist. 

In some ways, my grandmother taught me some of my most profound lessons on racism. Racism is hurtful. Racism is sometimes unconscious. Racism can be blatant. Racism hurts, and the pain does not ease with time. My grandmother was a White woman. My grandmother had a Black granddaughter.  

My grandmother was a racist. I am a BLACK WOMAN. I am a Black woman with a White mother. I am bi-racial. Having a White mother NEVER protected me from racism. I am a bi-racial Black woman. I am complicated. My story is layered. 

My grandmother was a white woman. She had a Black granddaughter. My grandmother’s racism taught me about forgiveness. My grandmother’s racism taught me about resilience. My grandmother helped me to become the woman I am today. Without her love, I would have been lost.

My grandmother showed me that LOVE is the key to conquering hate.

Relationships matter and they make all the difference in changing beliefs. Because she loved me, my grandmother changed. Because of her, I remain hopeful and committed to eradicating racism from the minds and hearts of our nation.   

bi-racial family

A special thank you to guest author Leah Walker for sharing her heart with us! 

Leah Dozier Walker is a proud powerhouse mom of two daughters. Leah has devoted her career to public service and social justice. Leah currently serves as the Director for Equity and Community Engagement at the Virginia Department of Education where she leads statewide efforts aimed at advancing education equity, closing the achievement gap, and decreasing disproportionality in student outcomes.  Leah recently completed terms on the Virginia Indian Advisory Board and the Governor’s Board for Service and Volunteerism.  In 2018, Style Weekly named Leah to its annual “Power List” as one of the most influential people in education in the Richmond region and in 2020 VCU named her to its annual alumni power list.  

Leah writes and inspires other through her blog and has been published on various sites.  To follow her and be inspired to create change, head to BeImpacted. 

 

 

I Want to Remember the Little Things…

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From the moment I saw you,
I started to pray.
Big prayers and small ones
I have sent God’s way.

I prayed you felt safe,
full of joy and content.
When I whispered “I love you,”
you knew what I meant.

Y’all. This book nearly tore my mama heart apart. It’s called When I Pray for You by Matthew Paul Turner. I saw it on Amazon and thought it looked so sweet, so when it came I opened it to read the first few pages, and by the end of the second page I was in tears. By the last page, I was a complete mess standing in my kitchen with mascara running down my face. That night, I let my husband read it to our daughter before bedtime. He too had big tears rolling down his face by the end.

There are days that I feel like I’m just going through the motions of being a mama.

There are days when I’m so overwhelmed and tired of the little things, but forget to stop and remember that those little things are what I want to remember the most. I want to remember when my sweet girl runs around the kitchen with a wooden spoon and her cup, and happily plays while the million toys she has lay scattered in the living room. I want to remember the mornings where she’s in our room helping me get ready and tries to put on my shoes. I want to remember how she laughs when I brush my teeth with my toothbrush. How she pretends to put on her “makeup” with one of my old makeup brushes. I want to remember all the kisses and BIG hugs she gives.

And even though I get tired of hearing it

I want to remember how her face lights up when she hears the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show come on the TV just for her. I want to remember how she pats her little legs and calls the dog to come to her. The squeals of delight she lets loose as she swings and I jump around and scare her. I want to remember all the words she says, and all the people she waves to and the big grin she gives us when we read books to her. The way she clasps her little hands together because she wants you to say the blessing with her before she eats, or say her prayers with her at bedtime. The sheer joy and excitement on her face when she sees her daddy and how she says “mama.”

I want to remember the little things
Photo credit: Kiersten Russo of MileStone Photography, Richmond, VA

 

We prayed so hard for her.

We prayed for God to bless us with her, and now that he has, I don’t ever want to forget how blessed I am to be a mama…her mama. If I could bottle up my love for her, I’d run out of bottles, because it is infinite. I pray every day that I don’t let the mundane things get to me. That I remember the little things and remember the gift I’ve been given. To not be overwhelmed and not to feel sorry for myself or wish she were older so things might be easier. I don’t want her to grow up. I want her to be little forever. The first year went by so fast, and I know that they will go even faster as time goes on. I’ve always heard people say, “babies don’t keep and time is a thief”—it is so true. As mamas, I think sometimes we get too wrapped up in all of the things that are so overwhelming that we need to stop and remember the little things. One day, when our babies are all grown up they will ask us about these little things…and I for one want to be able to tell our daughter all about them. 

So, sweet baby girl, I pray you will always know how incredibly loved you are, and the prayers I pray for you will never, ever cease. I love you more than tongue can tell.

 

Guide to RVA Free Summer Fun: Anytime!

Here at Richmond Moms Blog, we’re working hard to bring you FREE summer fun activities here in the RVA. No matter the month or weather, here are some fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Have something you’d like to add? Email [email protected] or add it to our calendar.

Ultimate Guide to Parks & Play in RVA

Read our full guide here!

Rainy Day Fun

Keep the fun going inside. Check out our indoor guide here!

Splash Parks

  • Short Pump Splash Park
  • Twin Hickory Splash Park
  • Stony Point Fountains

RMB Favorite Outdoor Spaces:

  • Maymont
  • Rockwood Nature Center
  • Three Lakes Nature Center
  • Canal Walk
  • Belle Isle
  • Pony Pasture 
  • Tuckahoe Creek Park

The #1 Thing to Do in RVA

Your kids will always remember this.

The Richmond Moms Blog Guide to Parks and Play

parks-play-guide-3

It’s always a good time to find a nearby park or pick a new one to explore! Richmond and the surrounding metro area is anything but lacking when it comes to a great park with space to play, climb, walk, hike, ride, swim, or boat.

We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite family-friendly parks to make it easy to choose where you’ll play today!

At the bottom of this post you’ll find a clickable map to pin-point locations and determine which one is the closest to YOU!

Maymont Park

An unexpected find in the middle of the Capital City! Beautiful rolling hills (literally—have fun rolling down, kids!) and quiet bubbling streams make this quite our city’s gem. A children’s barn at the Maymont Farm and Japanese Garden make this an excellent learning field-trip and photo backdrop. Throughout the seasons, they host plenty of special events including summer camps and a Victorian Holiday celebration. The amount of fun and knowledge gained at Maymont is unending! As they say, it’s “100 acres given for all to enjoy.” So pack a lunch, bring some sunscreen, and let the kids roam free. After all, where else in Richmond can you spy bears and river otters in the same afternoon?


Battery Park

A park rich in history, Battery Park is where tennis legend Arthur Ashe learned to play. During the Civil War, gun batteries were located here hence the park’s name. Push-button lights allow users access to tennis courts from sunrise to sunset. Other family fun options include basketball courts, children’s playgrounds, and horseshoe pits. The Community Center offers a free computer lab and a community swimming pool open in the summer months only.  Battery Park Community Center also offers a variety of recreation courses throughout the year for all ages. Contact the Community Center for more information on becoming involved.

PC: Richmond Parks Dept
PC: Richmond Parks Dept

James River Park System

A vast network of trails and river activities await within the James River Park System! If you’re looking for a challenging rapids course or a leisurely weekend hike with the family, you’re sure to find it here! The entire park system is the most popular park in Richmond with over one million coming to appreciate it’s beauty each year! Be sure to research your park destination as some trails are not kid-friendly. In the summer months, take a Frog’s Eye Tour or Paddle and Potluck Picnic with your older kiddos and enjoy the benefits of being an RVA native with $10/$15 registration! You can access the trailheads and water-ways from both North and South point of the River. Be sure to bring your water and walking shoes! You’re in for a whole day of nature goodness.


Forest Hill Park

Forest Hill is home to the South of the James Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning and boasts a mountain biking trail, a hiking trail along a creek that leads to the James River trail, and a sloping running trail that leads to small fishing pond and playground area. In the winter, be sure you’re among the crowds who flock to the the huge hill at the entrance to the park for sledding!


ARC Park

ARC Park is for all ages and abilities and provides entertainment for hours! ARC boasts three modern playgrounds (to be enjoyed by everyone from toddlers to adults!), swings of all varieties (disk swing, anyone?), various playhouses, a tree house, water trough sensory play station, and a harmony park to explore musical instruments! On hot days, the water misting stations are available for a quick cool-down. The bathrooms provide ample room for families and include adult-sized changing tables. A large, covered pavilion is available for picnics and gatherings. Bring the whole family for an unforgettable play time!

PC: richmondarc.org
PC: richmondarc.org

Three Lakes Park and Nature Center

A park for the seasons! Enjoy hiking trails, picnic shelters, fishing, open play areas, and multiple playgrounds in the spring, summer, and early fall. When it’s a bit chilly outside, step inside the Nature Center which boasts a 50,000-gallon aquarium to give your child an exciting look at the underwater world! The Nature Center is open from noon to 4:30 pm on weekends in the winter, Tuesday-Sunday in the spring, and every day but Monday throughout the summer. Check their site for special on-site programs hosted seasonally at the Nature Center. 

PC: Henrico County Parks Dept
PC: Henrico County Parks Dept

Crump Park

Located within the Meadow Farm Museum in Glen Allen, Crump Park is a great central meeting location for families throughout Richmond. Especially appreciated is the abundance of shade on warm days. Two playgrounds offer activities for children from young toddlers to preschool, and one “big kid” playground has some fantastic slides! A row of swings is also conveniently placed in the shade of giant trees and make it feel like you’re soaring through a forest! A covered pavilion is located between the two playgrounds, and it’s a perfect spot to park the strollers and watch your kids play.


Cheswick Park

The oldest neighborhood park in Henrico offers families a nice and quiet getaway for the afternoon. Pack your picnic lunch and enjoy open areas or a covered shelter while watching the kids play on the playground. After lunch, take a stroll on the one-mile walking trail which is friendly for toddlers to grandparents.


Dorey Park

Your child will most likely go cheering the moment you pull up to Dorey Park. The adorable themed playground is enjoyable for young toddlers through school age children and offers open play and a walking trail to enjoy the beautiful outdoors! Have older kids? Bring your frisbee and enjoy an 18 hole disc golf course! The large pond at Dorey Park is stocked annually with channel catfish and trout. (Parents, make sure you have a fishing license. Kids under 16 don’t need one.)


Echo Lake Park

A quiet and serene spot to watch nature right in the middle of Glen Allen, Echo Lake Park offers a half-mile nature trail around the main feature: Echo Lake. Bring your fishing poles and see what you can catch! Watch the ducks and turtles swim and play while enjoying a picnic, or get some energy out on the playground.

park
PC: Henrico Parks Dept

Deep Run Park

Great hiking trails including some with paved trails for strollers. Lots of covered tables and several playscape areas to bring the family. Open play areas to roam and kick a soccer ball, or a lake for nature sightings and fishing with your little ones. Always wanted to learn archery? Check out their program list to find when Beginner Archery (and other activities) are offered throughout the year. 

deep-run-lake
PC: Henrico County Parks Dept

Short Pump Park

A beautiful new park in the Short Pump area offers little ones age appropriate playgrounds along with a larger taller structure for the older kids. Recently added is a sprayground with shaded benches (YAY!) and a dog park. The dog park includes a “big dog” and “small dog” area. A covered picnic area with restrooms is available for the public, while you are also welcome to reserve the covered pavilion and soccer fields for an event.


Huguenot Park

A beautiful escape in Chesterfield County, Huguenot Park is home to a blossoming Azalea Garden and 53 acres full of walking trails, fitness trails, multiple soccer fields, lighted tennis courts, as well as lighted basketball courts. A playground is located amidst a walking trail which leads to the back of the park and Azalea Garden. Two picnic shelters located on opposite sides of the park are available for use and are close to the main road for easy access.


Hanover Wayside Park

Along with a playground and walking trails Hanover Wayside Park is also the Hanover Veterans Memorial which honors veterans killed in action from WWI to the present day, as well as those service men and women currently serving in the Armed Forces.  The entire park is surrounded by beautiful trees which offer spectacular colors in the fall and breathtaking covered tree tunnels on your hike.  Open areas to roam and play, as well as covers picnic areas, welcome families to play for the morning and picnic for lunch.

PC: Hanover Parks & Rec Department
PC: Hanover Parks & Rec Department

Pole Green Park

Located right off 295 in Mechanicsville is Pole Green Park with seemingly endless grass to roam and run. Walking trails for all ages make it an easy weekend destination along with playground equipment for toddlers through school age. Bring your volleyballs and enjoy the sand pits for some family friendly competition too! Have older kids? The skate park is open for their enjoyment as well as a cross country running course. Be sure to bring along your furry friend, as the Pole Green Dog Park offers space to play for them too! The equestrian ring and stables are also open, but if you don’t have a horse, it’s still fun to take the kiddos and watch!


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Tangerine Essential Oil – A New Mom’s Best Friend

Tangerine essential oil is regarded as one of the safest essential oils. It is one of the few that can be safely used by pregnant women and can be beneficial for children as young as 2 months of age. 

 

Tangerine is native to Italy, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, China, USA, Algeria, Tunisia, Cyprus, and Greece. The rind is used to make essential oil, and it is extracted by the cold press method. It requires 9 lbs. of tangerine rinds to make 1 bottle of pure essential oil. 

tangerineTangerine is unique as an essential oil because it is calming and uplifting. For new moms, we need both of those things, something to soothe the “baby blues”, and keep us awake. Anyone have a fussy baby? Or a little bundle of joy that wants to sleep 22 hours a day, and is impossible to awaken to nurse? I had both, my son now 9, only wanted to breastfeed, or cry, the kid never wanted to sleep, or chill, and my daughter, now 5, only wanted to sleep all day and night, and I worried she would wither away from never wanting to wake up to eat. 

 

Tangerine is best known for the following therapeutic properties: antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, depurative, tonic, digestive, diuretic, sedative, stomachic, and calmative. As such, it is popularly used to treat stomach upset, irritability (no mom ever feels irritated, right?), cellulite, constipation, anxiety, skin issues, lethargy, insomnia, lethargy, and as an immune stimulator. 

 

Some of my cool ways to use tangerine essential oil are: 

  1. In a diffuser. Add 3 drops of tangerine essential oil per 1 ounce of water to your diffuser 20 minutes before breastfeeding. This will help keep mommy and baby awake. If you have ever nodded off while breastfeeding, you feel me on this! Tangerine aids in digestion, and stimulates the appetite, so expect your baby to have a healthy appetite while feeding. Bonus your house will smell amazing! essential oil diffuser
  1. Surface cleaner. In a 32 oz bottle, add ½ cup of rubbing alcohol, 1 drop of liquid dish detergent, and 32 drops of tangerine essential oil, fill the rest of the way with water. Shake to mix. Spray and wipe non-porous surfaces. 

 

  1. As a calming skin rub. Mix 4 drops of tangerine essential oil with 1 ounce of carrier oil (coconut, avocado, hemp, sunflower, safflower, argan, and olive oil are my personal favorites), and rub in a gentle circular motion at the temples, base of the occiput, neck, or wrists to calm anxiety, worry, or irritability. This same blend can be rubbed on the belly during pregnancy to help prevent stretch marks, or to massage babies feet and belly to soothe. 

 

  1. Flavoring for Food. Many people also use tangerine essential oil in their food for flavoring and to boost their metabolism, and immunity. Check out this recipe for Tangerine Paradise Punch. Or this cool granola bar recipe. 

 

  1. In the Bath. Tangerine essential oil can be added to the bath for a calming effect and for the yummy aroma. Add up to 8 drops to mommy’s bathwater, or 1 drop for baby’s bathwater. Mix in with the water prior to getting into the tub or placing the baby into the tub. 

essential oil bath

  1. As a DIY toner. In an 8 oz bottle, put 4 oz of witch hazel, add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, add 16 drops of tangerine essential oil, and fill the rest of the way with distilled water. Shake. Apply daily after washing your face to tighten pores, and increase glow by encouraging your skin to purge away dead cells. 

 

So brighten up buttercup, and smell amazing while doing so!

 

Brandi Bovell is a part-time licensed massage therapist, aesthetician, certified natural health coach, marketing coach, and a totally wonderful business owner.   She is a FULL-TIME superhero and mom.  You can follow her here. 

Brandi

Sending Smiles

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The Eagle Scout Project is often one of the most important experiences of teens that participate in the Boy Scouts of America scouting program. This year a young man looking for our help to create his Eagle Scout Project. He will be sending smiles to some of those that need it most. 

As we know, we are experiencing some of the largest hit areas of the nation when it comes to our long term care facilities.  Families are not allowed to visit loved ones and other than the folks who work there, there are no additional people allowed in or out of these locations, to reduce the spread of the virus.  It isn’t difficult to see that their residents and staff may be in need of some cheer! 

Joseph Ferry is with Troop 442 and his project is brightening the days of the many elderly folks who reside in our local nursing homes.  They are feeling scared and isolated since the outbreak of COVID-19.  Here’s where we come in.  We can send cards of happiness or have our children make drawings and homemade cards of encouragement to members of these communities. By sending a card for seniors we are making a difference and impacting our community one smile at a time. 

Here are some ideas for your card:

Just say Hi or Hello

Name * School * Age * Pets * Family

Your Favorite things!

Hobbies * Favorite Sports * Favorite Video Games * Favorite School Subject * Pets * Favorite foods * Favorite book/series/author * Art/Drawings

Tell them what fun things you have been doing during Quarantine

Tell them to stay safe * to stay happy * and have Hope

Sending smiles can be simple or complex – your project is entirely up to you. 

 

For those writing letters, remember, the more you include the more you can positively impact their day.

RVA Cards that Care

I’ve got my cards ready – now what?

As we know contact is difficult so Joseph is tracking his project through email and social media. To help Joseph track how many cards are being sent you can either:

  1. Take a picture and put it on @ (Cards that care) or RMB – Let’s see all of the pictures.

                  email him at [email protected]

                  email Richmond Moms Blog at [email protected] with Cards that Care in the subject

We’ll be tracking it here for him too! We can’t wait to see all of the different places you will be sending smiles. 

  1. Send out your card or drawing to one of the centers below. We can’t wait to see all of those drawings and cards.  What a great way to brighten someone’s day!!!

 

Please Choose from the locations below:

Lakewood Sr. Apartments

1900 Lauderdale Drive

Richmond, VA 23238

 

Glenburnie Rehabilitation & Nursing Center

1901 Libbie Avenue

Richmond, Va 23226

 

The Virginia Home

1101 Hampton St.

Richmond, Va 23220

 

Beaufont Health and Rehabilitation Center

200 Rioks Rd,

Richmond, Va 23225

 

Commonwealth Senior Living at Monument Avenue

501 N Allen Ave,

Richmond, Va 23220

 

Hermitage Richmond

1600 Westwood Ave

Richmond, Va 23227

 

ManorCare Health Services Richmond

2125 Hilliard Rd,

Richmond, Va 23228

 

Westminister Canterbury Richmond

1600 Westbrook Ave

Richmond, Va 23227

 

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In + Around Richmond

Being a Millennial Mom in 2019: What it’s Actually Like

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“I wouldn’t want to raise a kid today.” That’s what you’ll hear from most adults over the age of 50. As a 33-year-old “Millennial Mom”...