Sunday, September 30, 2012

Womble Park in Holly Springs - Not Great for Little Ones

So I have changed my tune about this park - but not its user-friendliness for toddler moms and dads. It's still loaded with big kids who will trample, it doesn't have a lot of swings and the equipment is pretty high in some places. But I will say this, for my preschooler and kindergartener -- this is a wonderful park! They also refurbished the playground surface so when it rains it's not so mushy. There's still a pond and creek nearby, but my kids love playing in the trees that surround them. I wouldn't recommend for super little ones, but preschoolers and older can really enjoy this park. And there are some benches for the grown ups to sit down & a mini track that surrounds the soccer park adjacent to the park. So if your big kid is playing soccer you can go for a walk or play at the playground with your little one.



I'm sure there will be a few moms who disagree with me, but Parrish Womble Park in Holly Springs is NOT an ideal place to take your toddlers - at least for me. The jungle gym equipment is way too high, as well as the steps, there are only two swings, both baby swings, and there's a creek that runs through the playground area and a small pond with not-so friendly but ducks and geese in it.
Maybe I was in a bad mood when I went, but the highlight for me was the volleyball court where my kids could play in the sand and I could take pretend pictures of my kids playing volleyball (I was a volleyball player and desperately want my girls to play when they're older).
Also, the Hunt Center is right across the street and offers a track-out program for school-age children who go to year-round school. The park was packed with older kids the whole time we were there, and every time we've gone, and they nearly trample my little ones. 
Either way, it's there and close to downtown Holly Springs, so if you're up for the challenge (or disagree with me) have fun! You won't have my kids to contend with, because this is not the park for me. It is, however, a great park for older ones, I'm sure.

1201 Grigsby Ave.
Holly Springs, NC  27540


HIGHLIGHTS: It's close to home if you live in Holly Springs, nice playground equipment for older kids, volleyball court, and it's beautiful and right next to a series of soccer fields so your younger ones can play at the park while your older ones play soccer.
LOW LIGHTS: Parking is a hike away from the playground, the creek runs right through it so you really, really have to be on your kids, the playground equipment is really high, only two swings, it seems to be packed with kids all the time - they tend to run over the little ones.
COST: Free!


Friday, September 28, 2012

It's a Park; It's a School - STOP You're Both Right!





I packed up the girls and a small lunch and headed out for a picnic at Middle Creek School/Park, which is in that part of Cary, NC that really could be Holly Springs or Apex, too. I was a little worried that I was driving to a school that wouldn't let you play during school hours. But this was a true park, and it wasn't an issue.

I really liked this park! I cannot believe how many times I've driven past it and never knew it was there. I don't think it's far from Crowder Park, which is Apex but could be Cary or Raleigh, too. As the crow flies, it looks like they're about 1-2 miles apart.
Of course, if it has a sandbox my kids love it, especially the 3-year-old. Also, there were two separate jungle gyms. Both were wonderful. The larger of the two had a bridge, several slides, monkey bars and slides. But I loved the other one because it was shaded by a large, permanent umbrella. The slides on the bigger one got a little hot so we cruised on over to the other one. There are lots of places for parents to sit that are really close to the equipment. There is a nice-size grassy area where you can kick around a ball or just play tag, and some people brought a little airplane and were flying it around behind us on what looked like a field. I wish I'd payed more attention to my surroundings. I think I was a little groggy. It really was a nice park. Also, something I hadn't seen until today, there was an actual rock for climbing. It was a huge draw for the older kids. J (3-year-old) had a little trouble with it but tried anyway, which I love.

I loved the shelter. It was very clean. I will definitely go back when I have more energy!

123 Middle Creek Park Drive
Cary, North Carolina 27539

HIGHLIGHTS: Beautiful play area, grassy spot to run around or kick a ball, shaded jungle gym, very clean sandbox, swings for big and very little kids, clean shelter, rock to climb (VERY COOL).
LOW LIGHTS: It got a little hot when we were there, and most of the area isn't very shady. Also, for my 1-year-old old, it's too easy to get to the parking lot quickly and since the school is nearby, there was a bit of "lunch break" traffic.
COST: Free!



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Just a Walk in The Park!

I slugged my way over to Apex Community Park for a fun morning, and quite a surprise I might add, with Stroller Strides.

This is kind of a first for me, reviewing an actual company rather than a park/farm/museum/activity. Stroller Strides is a workout group for mommies of children 6 weeks to 4 years old (and dads, too). I thought it was just going to be a walk in the park - literally and figuratively. IT WAS NOT! It was so fun. It was interval exercises, some strength, conditioning, aerobic, mixed in with a walk/run while the kids watch and take in the sights from their strollers. In fact, I have a bad back problem that keeps me from doing any impact workouts at all (doctors and physical therapist's orders). There were a lot of things I couldn't do, unfortunately. But I don't think the workouts were ridiculously strenuous or requiring top-level fitness either. It was the kind of class that you get out of it what you put into it - it works you as hard as you work it.

Let me just say, if it were not for my back problem, this would have been perfect for me! I loved it. It was a chance to socialize with other moms, who were very cool by the way. And it was a great way to think outside the box on my workouts. You can do it up to six days a week, too, including Saturdays.

The cost is $55/month for unlimited attendance at a number of different parks and locations, including Apex Community Park, Pullen Park, Crowder Park, North Hills Mall and more. Most urgently, though, is this week (Sept. 24-29) is free. Click here if you want to try it for locations and times.

Also, if you decide you want to join, Stroller Strides is offering 15% off the first three months if you mention this blog (The Not-So Stay-At-Home Mommy or www.wheretogowithyourkids.com)
Jennifer Kedrowski, who was my instructor, said most moms do a monthly unlimited membership option, $55/month plus one-time registration fee but some also do a 10-class pass that lasts three months for $110, which is more of a drop-in style membership.


HIGHLIGHTS: Really fun way to work out with your young kids, it's not just a stroller walk, you get to check out different parks and work out at the same time, meeting new moms and kids.
LOW LIGHTS: My little one (20 months) doesn't like sitting in the stroller very long unless she's moving, so it was a little hairy when we'd stop to do the interval work.
COST:$55/monthly or $110 for 10 sessions over three months. (Mention this blog for a 15% off discount for the first three months)

For the record, this is NOT an advertisement, and I received no money or special treatment to write this blog. As this is my first real review of a "mommy group" I thought you should know!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I made Play Dough - VERY EASY!

We took the morning off of traveling all over Wake County to make some play dough for my daughter's preschool. I am NOT Suzie homemaker, but I thought this turned out well.

My adorable assistant. 
I got this recipe from babyparenting.about.com. I will list the recipe as I read it and then tell you how I'd change it for next time.


RECIPE FOR PLAY DOUGH:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp powdered alum
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsps vanilla
food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients first, then add oil and water. Stir thoroughly and cook on medium until consistency is that of THICK mashed potatoes. Then add vanilla. Separate mixture in half and add food coloring, kneed until it looks like play-dough and the color you desire. Repeat with the second half.

Next time I will only add 1 tbsp (or less) of vanilla. It seemed like a lot, and I'm not sure what it really "does" for the recipe other than make it smell better. Vanilla is too expensive.

A little hint, it gets VERY clumpy while cooking. That's OK. It gets better as you play with it and kneed in the food coloring and vanilla. Also, I will wear gloves next time. I made orange play dough and my hands are red and orange now, although it is fading fast.




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MacDonald Woods Park in Cary - Very Shady (in a good way)


We ventured to Cary, NC to check out another park today. This time I heard about a park on Seabrook Avenue in Cary off of Cary Parkway from a nanny I met at the Kidstowne Playground in Apex. What a great place for a play date! It's called MacDonald Woods Park.

This is perfect for when it's hot out, as it is very shady from all the beautiful, grown trees that cover the area. I don't know what they call the material they put down, but it's a squishy flooring that's perfect for little trippers! My kids fall all the time, and they fell no less than five times each this morning, and NO BOO BOOS!

There were two separate jungle gyms (one for bigger kids and the other for littler ones), a little sandbox (very clean sand), a merry-go-round (pint sized), swings for both little and big kids and so much more. I'd recommend going on a play date there, as most of the moms seemed to live in the near vicinity and weren't very social with us or our kids. I think, though, it was just an off day. We met a great mom there, of twin 2-year-olds, who was incredibly friendly.

Also very cool, which we had no idea about when we were there: there is a great greenway that bisects the eastern side of the park and leads all the way to the US Hwy 1/64 pedestrian bridge, and that leads to the Kids Together Play Area at Marla Dorrel Park, which I LOVE!


HIGHLIGHTS: Shaded park, good for kids toddler and preschool age due to the variety of playground equipment, love the flooring on the ground. Also, there is apparently a basketball slab and picnic tables.
LOW LIGHTS: Parking was street only, from what we could tell, and we had to walk about a block to get there. The entrance to the playground is a bit steep, so you probably need to hold little one's hands walking down & it's a little bit of a hike for me.
COST: Free!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kid-friendly Bluegrass Show in Cary

Bluegrass Wednesday at Koka Booth was fantastic! It was $5 for me and my husband (each), parking was free and the show was great. I am not a huge bluegrass fan, but it was great music. Also, there were about 60 kids there, all running around and playing. Many people brought food for picnics, and even more people brought their dogs! I didn't even know they could do that.

Every Wednesday in September, only one left I believe, there is a bluegrass band at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, NC. It is just so much fun. I highly recommend it for families. It was really, absolutely worth it! And my kids were in bed at bedtime. Now, that's not just kid-friendly, that's mom-friendly! Also, it's just five minutes from Waverly Place, where we went before the show because we were a little ahead of schedule. And I love Waverly Place.

Tickets can be purchased at Etix.com or from the Koka Booth Box office. For more information, www.boothamphitheatre.com

8003 Regency Parkway
Cary, NC

HIGHLIGHTS: Gorgeous venue, sheltered or open/lawn seating, dogs allowed, kids are free, music was great, friendly people and friendly staff at Koka Booth.
LOW LIGHTS: Parking was a little hike from actually stage, but was perfect for a stroller!
COST: $5 per adult and children are free, as well as parking!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Veterans Park In Holly Springs

The Jungle Gym
Half Mast on 9/11
Veterans Park in Holly Springs is convenient, new and cute. It was built in 2009, and is a very classy little playground, fitness trail and paved trail that loops around a little pond. 

The flags were at half mast when we checked it out Tuesday, as it was 9/11. I thought visiting the park was an appropriate way to honor the victims and the veterans who served our country during and after the Sept. 11 attacks. I just wished I'd planned it that way. It was an impromptu visit on my part.

The park has a 4.3-acre pond, picnic shelter, and a paved trail between Veterans Park & Jones Park. Jones Park, which I found today also, is just a park that sits behind one of the schools and has a couple ball fields from what I can tell. If I'm wrong, don't hesitate to let me know!

Veterans Park didn't entertain us long, but it was fun for about an hour. I plan to take a walk with the girls around the pond (about a half-mile trail). I think it would make for a pretty walk this fall!


600 Bikram Dr. 
Holly Springs, NC  27540

HIGHLIGHTS: Clean, newish park, nice jungle gym for little ones, clean & paved trails, nice view.
LOW LIGHTS: There's really not much to it. It's a short adventure at best.
COST: Free!

The Pond

Checking out the fitness trail equipment.


Spirit Halloween open at Beaver Creek in Apex









I am a self-admitted Halloween junkie. If I had more money, my house would look haunted year round. It's my favorite holiday, my favorite time of the year and simply the best day EVER!

So when I heard Spirit Halloween was already open at Beaver Creek in Apex, NC (near the movie theater and just a few doors down from Old Navy) - we made a day trip out of it. If I could stay over night I would - ha ha ha.

There were hundreds of costumes, fun decor and, of course, super scary stuff - especially for a 3-year-old! My 19-month-old loved it. It was a bit scary for my 3 year old but she got over it fast - not until we left the store though. (see her hiding behind me at the store in the upper right photo)

The store has got so much to look at, it can keep you busy for at least an hour. I highly recommend checking it out. I noticed they don't open until 11 a.m. on weekdays, so it's more of an afternoon activity.

Beaver Creek Commons
1541 Beaver Creek Commons Dr
Apex, North Carolina 27502


HIGHLIGHTS: AMAZING for Halloween lovers, very scary/cool decorations, great costumes. I LOVE THIS STORE.
LOW LIGHTS: It's pretty scary for 2- to 4-year-olds, and it doesn't open until 11 a.m. on weekdays.
COST: Free to walk through. But NOT free for Halloween lovers who HAVE TO buy stuff when you get inside.




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Attention Garage Salers: Braxton Village Community-Wide Garage Sale

This large neighborhood in Holly Springs is having a community-wide garage sale! It starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday, September 15.

Braxton Village is located off of Avent Ferry Road in Holly Springs between Holly Glen and Holly Point.

DRIVE SAFELY! This neighborhood has a lot of young children.

This is a 600-home neighborhood and so far at least 26 homes have declared they will be having sales. Usually that means there are about 50-60 participating!

Blue Grass at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Raleigh

Acoustic Manner to Play Sept. 12

This sounds really kid friendly! I think I'm going to go with some great neighbors tomorrow. On Wednesday (throughout the month of September), Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary has a different bluegrass artist perform. It says at the "Crescent Deck" but I've never been there so I'm not sure what that means. It's from 5:30 to 8:30, and you can eat their food or bring your own cooler with food and beverages (no alcohol).

Tickets are $5 for adults and kids under 12 are FREE. Now that's Kristin & Kid Friendly.

Tickets can be purchased at Etix.com or from the Koka Booth Box office. For more information, www.boothamphitheatre.com 

8003 Regency Parkway
Cary, NC

 

I might BUG my kids this weekend

This Saturday (September 15, 2012) is Bug Fest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!
All four floors of the museum will "be filled with buggy fun!" from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (With an "Insectival from 5-7 p.m.) This year's theme is Mantids. I am not a "bug" expert at all. I'm really thinking both of my girls would love this! Dani (19 months) points out every bug we see at the park, "Bug! Bug! Bug!" she screams.

I have never been there before, so I cannot validate its greatness. I love the "Evening Insectival" - live bands, bug stations and a nocturnal bug tour takes place from 5-7 p.m. on the first and second floors.

(The information in red came directly from the Museum's Website on Bugfest)
  • Enjoy the entertaining displays, exhibits and activities — both inside and outside the Museum.
  • mantis closeupLearn about arthropods, which make up three-quarters of all animals on Earth, during fascinating presentations.
  • Taste delectable dishes featuring creepy crawlers as a major ingredient at CafĂ© Insecta.
  • Join the moths, fireflies and katydids for an exhilarating evening of nocturnal activities at the Evening Insectival.
  • Learn how to keep your own hive at a Beekeeping Workshop
  • Bring an unusual bug to the Stump the Experts table

http://www.bugfest.org/

See www.bugfest.org for more information.

Monday, September 10, 2012

De Plane! De Plane!



Observation Park at RDU airport is wonderful!! I had heard about it a couple times, but never thought to take the kids. It is really a park!

There are picnic tables with umbrellas, little runways for the kids to play on, a sandbox full of toys people have left behind and a little jungle gym in the middle. Then there's the observation deck, which allows you to watch the planes coming in with great visibility. The stairs are a little dicey for the little ones, but there is a ramp (which we notice after humping up the stairs - with a 3-year-old and a toddler). If all that activity wasn't enough, a plane would take off or land and all the kids would stop and stare at the planes. Some would scream AIRPLANE and others would just freeze until the plane passed by or stopped. It was hilarious!

My kids played for 2 hours at this place! That's just unheard of for my girls. It was so fun. Next time I'll pack a lunch, and we'll eat there.

The major drawback I saw was a rookie thing. It was a bit hard to find. After you pass the first terminal (and before you get to terminal 2) there is a park and ride turn off (on the right). I missed it the first time but noticed after it was too late that there was a sign for Observation Park. Then, as we left, I followed the airport exit signs and ended up on 540. So we had a bit of a detour. Also, there were landscaping flags all over the place. My kids would NOT leave them alone. In fact, we had to leave because they wouldn't stop (and they're a little sharp on the ends). I told them we had to leave if they wouldn't listen. But even that was after 2 hours of playing very well!

I would definitely go again, even though it ended up being a 35 minute drive. It's open every day 8 a.m.-6 p.m., too! LOVE IT.



Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Morrisville, NC 27560

HIGHLIGHTS: Free, new experience and a little different (I've never been to an airport park!), get to see the planes take off and land, sandbox.
LOW LIGHTS: If your kids are a little noise sensitive, this may not be the place for you. My kids love loud noises and airplanes, the stairs on the observation deck were pretty narrow (but there's a ramp) and it's a little difficult to find if you've never been there before.
COST: Free!



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Farmer's market fun

It was my oldest's birthday, and she was sick. We wanted to do something fun but didn't want to expose kids to her illness. So we went to the state farmer's market. She loves the muscadine icee and the fresh squeezed juice drinks.
We didn't last long. She spiked a high fever. Poor baby.
We got her a few samples and drinks and we never fail to enjoy ourselves. Although i think we pushed it a bit today. We just love it there.!
By the way, I LOVE HALLOWEEN. And they already had pumpkins!

1201 Agriculture Street  
Raleigh, NC 27603

HIGHLIGHTS: Great, inexpensive produce, free samples, NC products.
LOW LIGHTS: It can be really crowded and hot in the summer. In the winter it's a little smaller with less to choose from.
COST: Free!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kids Towne: Never heard of it





Due to construction of 540 through Apex, I came across a park off of Kelly Road - appropriately named Kelly Road Park. I was surprised, however, at this spectacular play area I discovered called Kids Towne. (Mommy triumph: my best mom friends new nothing about it).

You walk up and it looks like you're approaching a castle. There is a tire swing, regular swings, slides and all the other standard park accessories. It was the (I don't even know how to describe it) zip-line like thing that my 3-year old managed to work. There was a little boat with a hand-painted dolphin on the side, seats and a steering wheel - my kids screeched when they saw it. There were sandboxes (yes, more than 1), bridges, rope walks, monkey bars ... it was incredible! What's more, I met a woman with her granddaughter who said it was built by volunteers (adults and kids), and there are more like it throughout the area. It turns out, also, she was one of the many volunteers. What a great park!!

It's located behind Olive Chapel Elementary.

Kelly Road Park
1609 Kelly Road
Apex, NC


HIGHLIGHTS: Wow, there are so many - a 25-acre park with tennis courts, Kids Towne, softball field, shelter (with sumwhat clean bathrooms).
LOW LIGHTS: This was the only drawback I saw - it's right behind the school so when the school let out, the after school programs brought probably 100 kids there. My little ones got lost in all the bigger, school-age kids, so we had to leave. But before school lets out, this wouldn't be an issue.
COST: Free!