Saturday, January 27, 2007

Restaurant Review: Smokey Bones

I'll be honest, we don't take the whole family out to dinner very often. There have been times, we thought we would have to leave right after ordering...our kids cried the whole time we was thrown...drinks spilled. In addition to risk of the kids being crazy, it is expensive, and we are on a tight budget. However, our daughter brought home staight A's on her report card and the reward for that is a dinner of her choice. And she chose to go out. Additionally, our 3 year old was great yesterday and took a nap so that he could go (we were not going to risk going out with a crabby kid, so the nap was required). So we tried a new bbq place in town...which also happens to be a national chain, Smokey Bones, barbeque and grill.

Although, not for the vegetarian, the menu has a nice variety of salads, chicken, fish, steaks, burgers and sandwiches, and basic barbeque fare (including pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, ribs). My husband had the buffalo burger, which he really enjoyed. I sampled the pork and brisket, which were nice, tender, and delicious. Most meals come with at least one side item of your choice...which include basics like baked beans, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, fries and healthier choices of broccoli, asparagus, collard greens, baked potatoes, and apples. The baked beans were great!

As for the kiddies, the kids' menu, for those under 10 years old, included your basics of mac and cheese, burgers, and chicken fingers but also included the pulled pork, bbq chicken, and a grilled chicken breast. The kids also got to select a side item. And the price ($4.29-4.49) included a drink. My kids ate their selections and really enjoyed them.

Since it was a celebration dinner, my daughter asked to get an appetitizer (something we rarely do). We had the potato slabs (their take on potato skins). They we thin slices of potatoes covered in cheese and bacon. I really liked them and so did the kids, even the picky eater. They were lighter that the traditional potato skin.

Overall, the service was good. We were seated immediately...we were there at 530pm. Most of the booths are large and easily acommodated our family of 5, with room to move. It was a tad slow for our family, since it took awhile for the appetizer to come out but once that happened things were their way and the waitress was very attentive...especially when the baby spilled that large cup of ice water on my lap. And my husband's Coke was refilled at least three times in the hour we were there.

An interesting feature about the restaurant was there are lots of TV to watch. I am not sure whether I like this or not. They seated us near a TV on cartoons (and other families). So my kids watched some TV, while my husband and I caught up on the day. My little ones lost interest once the food came but our 10 year old couldn't focus on the conversation at all (and after all, we were out to celebrate her). I also found myself looking at the TVs while I talked...they were very distracting however I could see how it might be nice if you want to have an adult conversation while out with the kids or there is a big game on while you are at dinner. The kids were also given a kids' menu and crayons to keep them busy.

Overall, it wasn't something terribly unique but still very tasty and reasonably priced (although, with tip, our bill was $50...for 2 adult entrees, 2 kids meals, an appetitizer, and a soda) and very family-friendly. We enjoyed ourselves and would go there again.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

What happened to my children?!

So, something has happened to my children...they are actually being nice, sweet, and cute to each other! Even hugging at times!

Now, its not like me kids hate each other but lately there has been lots of yelling, pushing, and hitting as each of them is finding their position in the household. Last week, we started our Family Fun Night with lots of screaming...culminating with me shouting 'everyone be quiet!'. There has been lots of competition of my attention as well. The boys were just hitting each other all the the point that the baby would flinch or start crying if our 3 yr old got anywhere near him.

So, after lots of talks about 'nice choices', emotions, and even some time-outs, all the sudden, everyone is playing together. My 3 yr old, in particular, is being especially nice. He helped our baby up after he fell and asked him if he was ok. Asked him to play with him (even shared his trains!). Holds hands while walking. Gives hugs and kisses. Says hello and good bye to everyone ('bye buddy!' to his brother in the morning and a 'walk safely' to his sister). When his sister came home from school yesterday he asked her about her day and offered her snack.

It is a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling...let's hope it lasts!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What can you learn?

As we were driving to drop off my son to preschool, my daughter asked me what they do there and if they learn anything. She asked if they had 'class'-type activities. I told her they learn through play. She was terribly confused by are lots of people. Of course, kids (and adults) learn as they do you think they develop!

So, I gave her an example. Imagine reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (a book I have have all the children).
Here is a list of things a child can learn while reading it:
*Early literacy...reading is good and fun! as well as parts of a book (e.g. pages, words, letters, title, author, illustrations, plot (beginning, middle, end)
*Science...metamorphesis of a caterpillar into a butterfly, what happens when you eat too much, hunger, moon and sun
*Days of the week
*Names of foods
*Size (a very little caterpillar into a big, fat caterpillar)
*Fine motor/muscle skills...turning pages, holding a book, pointing at pictures
*Language...ask them questions, identify pictures
* is he feeling at different points of the book
*Spending time with you! and others!
*and more!

Can believe you child can learn that much in ten minutes of reading!!! They learn through everything they do. A classic assignment in teacher education is to make a list of everything a child can learn while playing with blocks (a lot, by the way). Take a minute and think about all the things your little one does and figure out what they are learning. You may then see the great value in your child's preschool or daycare setting when they have lots of play opportunities for the kids (and not so much 'academic time').

Of course, I think cooking and eating with your kids is a great opportunity for development as well!
Here are some ways:
*Science...chemistry, engineering (structure, construction), invention, experimentation, colors, textures, tastes, research skills
*Math...Pattern, addition, subtractions, multipication, division, fractions, spatial relationships, time, budgeting, weights and measures
* history and traditions, cultural awareness, history, eating and socialization, time management and planning, manners, doing nice things for others, sharing, spending time with others
*Sensory...taste, texture, feeling, sight, hearing, temperature
*Hand-eye coordination (mixing, dumping ingredients, kneading, cutting)
*Nutrition and diet
*Self-esteem and accomplishment

So cook with your kids may both learning something!

Monday, January 22, 2007

What we are up to...

We have been busy over the past several weeks, this is what we have been doing...

Play things...
Snow! Snow angels, snowmen!
Train table and new trains
Cars and Toy Story toys
Barbie Dream House
New puzzles
Lots of ring-around-the-rosy and hide-and-seek
Family Fun Nights (movies from the library, pizza and ice cream sundaes)

the 16 mon old...Time for Bed, Thomas books, Sandra Bonyton books
the 3 yr old...Mickey Mouse books, Polar Express, the Street Sweeper
the 10 yr old...So Be It by Sarah Weeks, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
the husband...Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
the mom...James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series (1st to Die, 2nd Chance...), the Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, a couple Robert Parker novels

Holiday cookie trays included: Hershey Kiss cookies, Snowmen (made of white chocolate covered nutter butters), Cranberry nut granola, Butterscotch fudge, Chocolate truffles, Pumpkin Bread.
Christmas dinner included: baked ham with spiced cherry sauce, green bean casserole, stuffing.
New Year's Eve dinner included: ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, twice-baked potatoes, bread pudding.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'm Back!

Gosh, it has been awhile, I know. I hope someone out there is still reading. Honestly, with a toddler now (plus the other kids as well), my computer time has been extremely limited. The baby has a talent for turning the computer off...while the preschooler can find many interesting topics from the help menu. And from Thanksgiving to last week, the time flew by! I can't believe it is a new year already. Anyways. I will try to be back here regularly now.

So...what to talk about? If there is anything you would like to see here, please let me know. You can simply 'comment' on this blog or drop an email to

Talk to you all soon.