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Hello Again, Columbia Parents!

It's been longer that I like to say since we got a newsletter out, but we are finally rolling again. My apologies for the delays! I have been working with some programmers on some exciting new changes... but they are taking forever. No sense delaying any more newsletters, so we are back in action.

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Top Tips For Finding Other Mom Friends

It's time to get it together!

By Scottie Claiborne, ©2007 All Rights Reserved

Most moms have, at some point or other, felt alone in their role as a mom. Your work friends may not relate to parenting, or their kids may be all grown up. Your family is likely far flung and unable to offer that immediate support you need. Your day is so busy, you can't imagine finding the time to be chatty and cheery and upbeat long enough to determine if potential friends are going to work out.

It's Worth the Effort

Studies show that women who find other moms to bond with generally feel less stressed and strengthen their social network, which has many benefits. When you have friends with children about the same age as yours, you can trade kid-watching duties, share advice and tips on parenting a child of that age, and get a lot of positive reinforcement that you can't find anywhere else!

But reaching out can be scary! What if other moms reject you, or worse still... you end up with someone who won't leave you alone? A friend who takes advantage of you is no friend at all, but it can be hard to "break up" with another mom, especially if your kids enjoy each other. Then there are the "alpha moms", the ones who judge your parenting skills and see every childhood milestone as a competition. Who needs that kind of pressure?

Here's a list of low-risk ideas to try to help you get to know other moms and find friends that can enrich your life, and your familys'!

Finding Mom Friends:

  • Join a Mom's Group
  • We are blessed with many great groups in Columbia- those that share information online and those that meet in person. Here are a few to check out:

    With all these choices, you're bound to find a group that fits your style. Can't fine one you like? Start your own! It's easy and fun. Apologies to any mommy groups left off- feel free to send me your details!

  • Mall Walking Groups
  • Get out there with your stroller and get some exercise while meeting other moms.

    • Columbia Mall - Columbia Mall Walkers (started in 1992). Meets 1st Wednesday of the month, 8:30 a.m.
    • Richland Mall - Stepping In Style, (started in 1994). Meets 2nd Thursday of the month, 8:30 a.m.
    • Mallwalkers at Columbiana Centre. To register, stop by the Customer Service Center.

  • Newborn, Toddler and Preschool Groups at the Library
  • Both Richland and Lexington County libraries have special groups for small children- from newborn to teenagers! Sign up with your kids and meet moms with kids who are the same age range as yours. See our Events Section for lots of activities at the libraries.

  • Join in the Fun at the Forum!
  • With our local focus, you can find moms who are struggling with the same issues you are and can recommend a pediatrician, a hair stylist, a dry cleaner, party ideas or more! You can keep it all virutal, or arrange to meet your buddies or playdates with the kids or even a girl's night out!

When you find people you enjoy, don't be shy about setting up other times to get together, or offering to swap childcare. To make a friendship work, someone's got to be the first to reach out so it might as well be you!

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The Puppet Playhouse

The Puppet Playhouse Moves!

The Puppet Playhouse, a much-loved outing for families for 5 1/2 years in Lexington is changing. They will be closing their physical location on April 3, and moving into the Palmetto Athletic Center for playtime and public shows.

Owner Cheryl Goss stated, " As I have seen energy costs, rent and insurance rise drastically over the past several years, I have also seen more demand for our mobile travelling puppet shows. ... With much excitement for the future, we are pleased to announce effective April 3rd, we are going to be an exclusively mobile puppet team."

Worried that you can't drop in for a show anymore? Don't be! Public puppet shows and playtime will be provided at the Palmetto Athletic Center! Now playtime will be even more fun, with trampolines, inflatables and rope climbing. Beginning in April, the fun will change!

This move also means the Puppet Playhouse has even more time to devote to travelling shows! Want a show at your daycare, mother's day out, school or even a child's birthday party? Book it now and the fun will come to you. For more details, see the website at The Puppet Playhouse

The Palmetto Athletic Center is located at 1193 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC.

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Gina's Pizza- Gratzi!

Have you ever run into a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that well... you didn't expect much out of... and it turned out to be some of the most fantastic food you've ever had? If not, prepare yourself for Gina's Pizza.

Gina's Pizza & Italian Gourmet is a family owned and operated business, based on the authentic italian cooking of mama Gina. She's back in the tiny kitchen, usually covered with a light dusting of flour while her husband handles the customer service end of the operation. Their small daughter can often be found playing behind the counter.

When you walk into this tiny restaurant, you'll be lucky to find a seat. There are only 6-7 tables in the tiny storefront. If you're tempted to turn around and find somewhere else to eat... just take a big whiff. The delightful smellof baking bread mixed with a tangy, tomatoey smell and italian spices will cement your feet to the floor.

Grab a menu or read the menu board behind the counter, place your order, and grab a soft drink from one of the small coolers at either side of the counter. Then settle in for a bit of a wait- Gina is always busy and everything's made from scratch.

What to Order

I highly recommend ordering a large order of the garlic knots- not only will these melt-in-your-mouth rolls leave you craving more, they'll come out before your main course and help keep your appetite under control! The garlic knots are served with garlic butter and marinara sauce for dipping- they are heavenly. If you get the small order... you'll wish you had splurged on the large order.

My kids love the square pizza with the authentic hand tossed crust. It's served on a tall pizza server, New York Style, which leaves room on the table for plates and drinks.

My sister and I can't quite bring ourselves to order anything but the calzone. It's a pick-your-own-fillings affair and we always get chicken and spinach, which includes mozzarella and ricotta cheese. It's big enough for two, and it's fantastic. The bread makes all the difference- it's light and crispy and a little doughy all at the same time. When dipped in garlic butter or marinara sauce, it's absolutely perfect.

By the time we get there, Gina's signature lasagna is usually sold out. However, one night we were there late and received a wonderful gift... as we paid for our dinner, we were handed two oven-ready containers of uncooked lasagna to go. As they explained, it's made fresh every day so they'd rather give it to us than toss it out. Were we lucky or what? Ho boy... I cooked mine the next day for lunch and it was easily the best lasagna I've ever had. (Sorry Mom!)

A Few Caveats

Gina's is small, and run by a small staff. You will have to wait, although you can get a headstart on things by calling in your order ahead of time. It's not a good place for children who can't sit still for long, or who insist on exploring the bathroom at every restaurant they go to. (That may be all kids...) To get to the tiny bathroom, you have to walk through the tiny kitchen and right by the hot ovens, so it's a little tricky.

It's well worth the wait and the inconvenience, and Gina's plans to expand into the empty storefront next door soon to add more dining space and some video games for the kids. But don't wait til then- make time to check them out or order something to go!

The restaurant is located just off Woodrow Street in Irmo, near the entrance to the Friarsgate community.
Gina's Pizza & Italian Gourmet • 803-781-7800 • 107 N Royal Tower Dr, Irmo,SC
Map to Gina's Pizza

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Long Weekend- What to Do? Columbia, SC Events

A long weekend... aah! We've got some things to keep your out-of-school kidlets busy this weekend and get you out of the house!

WOW Weekend at Edventure
Come enjoy some Dental Health Month fun at Edventure! Brush your teeth, put on your tennis shoes, grab your friends and come out today.

Puss In Boots at the Columbia Marionette Theatre
Spend some time at the cool castle down by the river and watch the tale of that sneaky feline, Puss in Boots! Only $4.

Confederate Re-enactment Weekend in Downtown Columbia
Come relive those fateful days in 1865 when Columbia was captured, occupied and burnt to the ground. Fun for the whole family! See history come alive and feel a new respect for the events that shaped today's Columbia. Don't miss the display of the Hunley replica.

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Night at the Museum

Have you wondered whether or not to take your kids to see Night at the Museum? Wonder no more!

Night at the Museum is a wonderful kid's film aimed at the tween market. It's fun, it's zany, it's just a little scary- everything the average 5-10 year-old could want.

The story centers around a divorced dad played by Ben Stiller whose entrepreneurial spirit has left him without steady pay. In desperation, he takes a job as night watchman at the Museum of Natural History. Expecting to be utterly bored, he is taken by surprise when every exhibit in the museum comes to life in the wee hours of the night due to an ancient Egyptian tablet that's displayed there.

It's not only fun to watch Stiller's madcap antics as he tries to gain control of the situation, it's a little educational! Stiller has to study up on the exhibits to get a handle on how to keep them under control, so we learn little tidbits like Attilla the Hun was enthralled by magic tricks.

It all works out in the end (as a good kid's movie should) but along the way there are enough plot twists to keep teens and adults interested as well. Robin Williams is very entertaining as a motivational Teddy Roosevelt. Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney are a hoot as the retiring night watchmen... don't miss their performance during the closing credits.

Catch Night at the Museum in theatres now, or rent it on DVD later but don't miss it! You're sure to find something to like in the movie- there's a lot going on.

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Hot Threads at the Forum!

Join us at the Columbia4Kids Forum for some lively conversations.

The Children's Consignment Sales are Coming!
Yay! March is approaching fast, so if you have plans to sell any of your children's outgrown clothing, it's time to get busy! Mark these sale dates on your calendar so you don't miss all the summer bargains.

Peanut Butter Recall
Is your family at risk for this rare form of salmonella that seems to be spreading in Peter Pan peanut butter? Share your thoughts and comments!

Riverbanks Zoo and the Charleston Aquarium- Special Deal!
This year your Riverbanks season pass gets you half price admission at the Charleston Aquarium. What a great deal!

Rants and Raves About Local Photographers
Who's taking your family Easter pictures this year? This slightly older thread has been revived with some updated information about portraits with live bunnies for Easter.

Wrap Up

Wow, things have been crazy lately! The forum's been hacked not once, but THREE times in the past few months. We are on the latest release of the forum software now and have tightened all the security issues we can find and everything seems to be running smoothly again.

I'm not sure when, but sometime in the next few months we'll be transitioning from Columbia4Kids to the ParentsRoom, Columbia. It's part of the progress in taking this concept to a national level and it should be a good move! We'll have new features, more things for local members to add their comments on, and a better directory of local services. All of the same content will still be available and the forum won't change much, except for a new look. It's exciting and frustrating all at the same time because it's just not happening on my schedule. But, we'll get there and we hope you'll be a part of it!

Thanks for being a part of the C4K community. We love the feedback we get from our members so if you have a comment or suggestion, feel free to email us!

See ya next time! -Scottie

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