Must Know Tips For Disney With Kids

Be {In The Know} at Disney

Charlotte Family Photographer - Photography By Larisa

Ok Mom, are you ready for your close up? Why family photos are so important.

Potty Training

How to Use a Public Restroom with a Toddler in 45 Easy Steps!

Brews Cruise Charlotte

Dads About Charlotte - Brews Cruise!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ok Mom, Are You Ready for Your Close-up? Family Photography in Charlotte

As moms we have a tendency to avoid being in photos. We have a million reasons. We didn't do our make up, we don't like our outfit, we still haven't lost those x number of pounds - oh we just want one of the kids. Well moms, I'm here to tell you from a mom who didn't do her make up, doesn't like her outfit and still needs to lose x pounds, that it's time for YOUR close up - and time to get into your family photos.

Photo Credit: www.PhotographyByLarisa.com
Why should you get in front of a camera now and stop cringing? I submit to you throwback Thursdays (#TBT), you know what I'm talking about right? Thursdays are when people post old pictures of themselves on Facebook and Instagram and inevitably think - "God I looked so young, God I looked so thin!"

Photo Credit: www.PhotographyByLarisa.com
Moms - today is tomorrow's #TBT so get in front of that camera with your family and smile - for these are the photos we will look back at 20 years from now and cherish. Want to really love how you look in your family photos? The key is finding an awesome family photographer - one who can help with your outfit selections, get your family in comfortable poses and capture all of your radiating smiles, and not cost you a fortune. This year we used Larisa Black with Photography by Larisa to shoot our baby number 3 announcement and family photos.

Photo Credit: www.PhotographyByLarisa.com
I was already into my second trimester and she helped me to select colors and clothing that worked for my body type and coordinated with the rest of the family. We had our photo shoot at Romare Barden Park for the perfect Charlotte backdrop. I love our photos. She guided me so I didn't feel awkward about where to put my hands or how to stand, or which angles to turn my body to make me look my best. The photos she took were fun, energetic and beautiful - which is exactly how my family looks to me in my head and now on canvas. I have true photographic evidence that I am part of our family - and some great future #TBT content ;)

Photo Credit: www.PhotographyByLarisa.com
Check out the gallery from Photography by Larisa by clicking here. She specializes in family photography, maternity sessions, children photography, newborns and seniors. She offers photography services in the Charlotte, Fort Mill and Rock Hill areas.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

{FLASH Ticket Giveaway!} Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents - LEGENDS!

Join the excitement of the circus at the Time Warner Cable Arena January 28th-Feb 1st 2015. Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show –  Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and mysterious creatures of the past: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS! You can purchase tickets for this exciting event from ticketmaster here


WIN 4 tickets to the show on Sunday, February 1st at 11am by registering below. Winner will be drawn on 1/26/15. 
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Friday, December 26, 2014

How to Use A Public Restroom with a Toddler in 45 Easy Steps

If you have a toddler you'll inevitably endure the joy that is potty training, and better yet for advanced  level mommies - potty training in public restrooms. But never fear fellow moms - here is my guide to how to use a public restroom with a toddler in just 45 easy steps!

Image from: http://autism.lovetoknow.com/potty-training-autistic-children
  1. Upon arrival at restroom begin your 15 second interval reminder "don't touch anything!" 
  2. Begin negotiations with toddler that they are going to go potty. Yes here, yes - now.
  3. Pray the handicap option is open because you'll need to shove yourself, toddler, older child and stroller all in there together. 
  4. Begin lining toilet with copious amounts of toilet paper that will fall off at least once because your toddler is twirling causing it to fall off (but at least for these 5 seconds - isn't touching anything while twirling) 
  5. Re-line toilet with copious amounts of toilet paper. 
  6. Begin negotiations with toddler that they can't line the toilet with paper, because it's a mommy job. 
  7. View the look of the devil in their eye as toddler sizes up how mad you'll get if they knock said toilet paper off the toilet again and verbally warn them not to touch the toilet paper. 
  8. Pull down pull up and acknowledge toddlers excitement and pride that yes, his penis is still there and look mommy it's his penis. 
  9. Position child tenuously on toilet seat while toddler expresses concerns about their falling in, that you have found the one and only potty for GIANTS, and that they don't have to go potty anyway. 
  10. Once placement is confirmed monitor child's hand grip as to assure they not touch the bare (barf) toilet seat. 
  11. If a boy stuff large wad of toilet paper to deflect any mis-aimed urination. Pee on my shoes once, my bad. Pee on my shoes twice - clearly mommy hasn't caught on.. 
  12. Begin negotiations with toddler about what they will do on the toilet - poop? pee? the world is their oyster - digress to telling them they can do #1, #2 or #1 AND #2 - it's up to them. 
  13. Agree with toddler as they adamantly inform you only #1 is on the table for discussion. 
  14. Answer toddler questions about what every noise in the bathroom is. 
  15. Answer toddler inquiry about if you too will go potty, and if so - when and where and how. 
  16. Respond to older child's complaint that they now too have to pee - SUPER BADLY! and assure older child toddler will be done in just a moment and then they can go. 
  17. Begin talks with toddler to hurry up and go pee pee - to which sensing their siblings distress has decided to try for #2, which will no doubt take upwards of a century to complete.
  18. Strain to hear if any tinkling has taken place, which is hard to hear over the induced toddler grunting as they attempt for #2. 
  19. Check pull up for wetness, if wet reply to demands for a new pull up with a different character because the one your brought is the WRONG ONE. 
  20. Assure toddler all the Jake pull ups are in the car and you will change them into it upon arrival at the car. 
  21. Pray toddler will forget that promise. 
  22. Rip off old pull up, weave on new pull up all while being verbally chastised for your poor taste in pull up characters. 
  23. Begin additional encouragement to hurry the process along as older child begins to do the pee-pee dance. 
  24. Warn toddler they have only a minute to complete process and assure a treat if process is completed within the minute. 
  25. Begin negotiations on who will flush the toilet. 
  26. Explain to toddler through their now streaming tears and red face that toilets at the mall cannot be flushed by big kids - only mommies are allowed the honor.
  27. Decide toddler potty time is up and remove child from toilet completely unsure if toddler has completed said business. 
  28. Pull on pull up and acknowledge that it is, in fact, still the incorrect pull up. 
  29. Begin multi-attempt re-lining process single-handedly as you restrain toddler from trying to flush toilet. 
  30. Now use legs as well in this full body experience to guide toddler away from the tampon box can and back toward the bathroom door. 
  31. Set older child on potty. 
  32. Begin negotiations with toddler for washing hands, answer questions about how, where and why this event shall take place. 
  33. Direct toddler not to unlock the bathroom door or touch - anything. 
  34. Remove older child from potty, confirm adequate wiping. 
  35. Reassure toddler once again only mommies can flush toilet. 
  36. Direct toddler toward sinks. 
  37. Lift toddler amidst kicking and yelling that they want to push the soap themselves. 
  38. Attempt to soap up hands enough to disinfect them and dissuade your worries that they have now become carrier monkeys of some awful illness from somehow touching something you didn't see. 
  39. Lean toddler to the faucet amidst toddler doing 'the worm' mid-air because they want to turn the water on themselves. 
  40. Get splashed in the face as toddler enjoys the unexpected wildly inappropriate pressure of said faucet.
  41. Begin negotiations regarding how many pieces of paper towel toddler deems appropriate for drying off. 
  42. Begin negotiations with toddler for how to dispose of said paper towel - don't touch the garbage can - ugh - too late. 
  43.  Plop toddler in stroller as you help older child with hand washing and wash hands yourself. 
  44. Emerge from public restroom battle worn quite certain victorious isn't close to how you feel. 
  45. Remind yourself there is a reason you don't leave the house that often.

Friday, December 19, 2014

{Giveaway!} Monster Jam LIVE! #MonsterJam

It’s time for Monster Jam® at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte January 9-10 2015! Scroll to the bottom for a giveaway of 4 tickets to see Monster Jam® on Friday, January 9th at 7:30pm. 


Monster Jam® is the perfect sports and entertainment brand mixing racing, showmanship and the ultimate fan experience into one incredible, action packed live show. Matched by no other family entertainment property, Monster Jam electrifies crowds with breathtaking stunts and the awesome power of the world’s most popular Monster Jam trucks. Over 4 million fans fill the world’s premier stadiums and arenas to see the live spectacle with more than 350 performances each year, and with its rapid international expansion, Monster Jam continues to win over more fans in new countries around the world. Monster Jam fans are extremely loyal, and they enjoy unprecedented access to the stars of the show – the performers and their Monster Jam trucks. Unlike traditional sporting events or other family entertainment shows, every fan attending a Monster Jam event is given the unique opportunity to meet the stars of the show during the pre-show Party in the Pits and post-show autograph sessions. The stars of Monster Jam will stay until the last autograph is signed.

Check out Grave Digger and all the other amazing feats of monster truck mayhem by purchasing tickets at  Ticketmaster - Monster Jam



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Friday, December 12, 2014

How Much to Spend? Teacher & Daycare Gift Giving Survey


It's holiday time and I'm in my gift buying frenzy. Each year I tangle with the question of how much to spend on the AMAZING and wonderful teachers and daycare providers that care for our children.  These people are priceless in our lives. If I was growing a money tree in the back yard I wouldn't hesitate to spend bushels of cash on them. Unfortunately, until I get the money tree genes spliced properly (now that's a GMO I would actually condone..) our family budget does set a limit on holiday gift purchases across the board. So I'm stuck with the conundrum of putting a price tag on their gift.

I figured I couldn't be alone in my gift-giving plight, so I  put together an anonymous survey to find out what real parents in Charlotte, NC were planning to spend. I've tallied the results below to offer an overview of what parents are spending on gifts for teachers and daycare providers. 

Gift giving is a personal decision, but my geeky science mind likes graphs and data - so here you go ;) We had about 80 responses to the survey. This graph shows all data for all salary ranges, the y-axis is the percentage of respondents.

Teacher Gift Giving Data for all Salary Ranges

  • Pre-K 1-2 days a week had a gift giving mode of $21-$30. 
  • Pre-K 3-5 days a week had a gift giving mode of $11-$20. 
  • K-6 had a gift giving mode of $21-$30. 
  • Daycare Full-time had a gift giving mode of $21-$30. 
  • Daycare Part-time had a gift giving mode of $11-$20. 

Respondents had annual salaries ranging from $0  to more than $200K, however the largest number of respondents had an annual household salary of $100,000 - $124,999 (22%) with an annual household salary of $75,000 - $99,999 being the second largest number of respondents (18%). Interestingly, I found that there was not a large correlation with average household income and the amount of money parents reported they planned to spend for households making over $75,000 per year.

A huge holiday thank you to all of the wonderful men and women who educate and care for our children all year round. A survey can tell us what people are spending on gifts - but you are truly priceless!



Monday, December 1, 2014

Re-purposing Kids Toys

If your house is like mine we have summer and not summer toys. Here is an idea to re-purpose your room devouring water table for cold weather. Just add some rubber mulch for a clean and fun way to create a digging, hauling and dumping site for little ones. They'll spend hours moving rubber from one side to the other, and no dirt means no messy clothes. Score! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ballantyne Hotel's Gingerbread Lane

For 2014: Open for public viewing daily, at no fee December 11-28, 2014, open during hotel hours. Inquire at 704 248 4055. http://www.theballantynehotel.com/upcoming-events/


Our gingerbread house kits at home don't hold a candle to the gingerbread inspired works of art that line Ballantyne Hotel's Gingerbread Lane. Each year both professional and amateur confectionery artists compete for prizes by submitting their awe inspiring interpretation on gingerbread houses, mansions and villages. The frosting laden details are impeccable, and the price to visit (FREE) is perfect! It's a fun holiday must-see here in Charlotte.

The pictures below are from a few years ago, but the kids are excited to check out Gingerbread Lane each year.