Monday, October 29, 2012

Getting tangled up before school

My daughter has horrendous bed head in the mornings. I used to chase her around the house to brush her hair. I still chase her but now it's easier when I catch her!

Her hair cut lady at Snip-Its recommended Johnson & Johnson No More Tangles Spray Detangler. This stuff is wonderful, works beautifully on tangles and doesn't dry funny.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Activities That Give Me Shivers!

I wanted to share all of my favorite upcoming Halloween events in the area, but OH MY there are so many. I got overwhelmed at the thought!

However, I did find a great link from WRAL that had tons of activities. I have a couple issues with the link, though. It's not organized by date of the event. The activities are listed in alphabetical order according to the location of the event, and some of the events have already passed. So, I picked out my favorites for your convenience. This is truly just the tip of the iceberg, so I recommend visiting their site anyway.

Family Fun Night Spooktacular at Marbles is an event exclusively offered for special needs kids. It's designed to offer a calmer, quieter version of Marbles. This event is free for kids with special needs and their families and kids are encouraged to wear costumes. It's from 5-8 p.m. Oct. 25 at Marbles in downtown Raleigh.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary has been showing night time scary movies since Oct. 23 and will continue through Oct. 27. Movies start at dusk but the gates open at 6 p.m. and the cost is $3 per person. Kids under 12 are free. Some of the movies are Rated R, so they're not all kid friendly. Visit their website for more information. The Spiderwick Chronicles shows on Friday, Oct. 26 and is PG.

Gobblins Groove Family Dance is at Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex on Friday, Oct. 26 from 7-9:30 p.m.  It's a family dance party! Youth and teens must be accompanied by adults. Costumes are encouraged. The cost is $5 per couple and $2 per additional child. There will be a dance contest, and snacks and punch will be provided.

Trick of Treat in Downtown Fuquay-Varina is Friday, Oct. 26, from 2-5 p.m. on North Main Street in, you guessed it, downtown Fuquay-Varina. The downtown merchants will hang signs that say, "Trick or Treat Here!" and will pass out treats along the business district. Want to enjoy Halloween early, this is a great way to kick off the trick-or-treating fun.

Boo at the Zoo is Saturday, Oct. 27 & Sunday, Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the NC Zoo in Asheboro. There will be trick-or-treat games, a kids' costume contest and live entertainment throughout the park. The cost is $12 for adults and $8 for kids 2-12.

My little pumpkin at Marbles.
New Hope Valley Railway's Halloween Express is a Halloween-themed train ride on a real diesel train and is on Saturday, Oct. 27. Trains depart starting at 4 p.m. and are about an hour. The last train runs at 7:45 p.m. The cost is $10 per rider. Click the link above for more details. Tickets must be purchased in advance, click here for their website.  

The Kooky Spooky Halloween Party at Marbles is Saturday, October 27 from 6-9 p.m. Advanced tickets for non members are $10 and at the door they are $12 per person. Wear your costumes to Marbles Kids Museum and enjoy family fun, including wrap mommy or daddy like a mummy, a Monster Mash Dance Party, hide-and-seek maze fort, Potions fun and so much more. 

Natural History Halloween is at the Natural History Museum in Raleigh on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free for all, but designed for those 2-12 years of age. There will be a costume contest for the kids, live spooky animals, face painting, crafts, games, prizes and more. The Natural History Museum is located at 11 W. Jones Street in Raleigh.
Hays Halloween House Drive by in Cary and Halloween Light Show in Holly Springs are incredibly decorated homes (or so I've heard) you can drive by and check out most nights through Halloween. They're already decorated and ready to go, so you can visit tonight! The Hays Halloween house is located at 4309 Hawksong Place in Cary and can be viewed from dusk to 10 p.m. on weekends and dusk to 9 p.m. on week days, weather permitting. The other is at 804 Linden Ridge Drive in Holly Springs. I haven't had a chance to do this, yet, but the website shared that if your radio is on 93.5 FM, the lights sing you a couple Halloween songs. I'm not sure what that entails, exactly, but it's worth checking out!

Also of note was the Raleigh Living Dead party on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 4-11 p.m., and the Tricks and Treats Halloween Bash in Cary on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 5-9 p.m.

Have fun and enjoy what our area has to offer this Halloween! I know I will!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marbles Kids Museum - AMAZING!

Marbles Kid's Museum in Raleigh is incredible; there's so much to do there sometimes my kids and I don't even make it upstairs.

We always go to the pirate ship, in the Splash exhibit, first and play there and at the submarine area for an hour, sometimes more. Then we get trapped in a huge play area full of imaginative play sections called Around Town. There has to be a dozen or more sections, including an ambulance, boat, a stage for putting on shows, a veterinary section and so much more. By the time that's done, it's time to go home (for my kids who still take naps)! I feel like I could skip nap time for my girls, and we still wouldn't get to all the fun.

So here are a few photos of what your kids can do there, but there is so much more. This is easily a top 5 activity in the Raleigh area, if not top 2 (everybody knows I love Pullen Park). If you haven't been there, GO! If you've been there, remember how much fun you had last time? It's just as fun if not more than the first time we went. I want to try to go once a month. My kids had so much fun, it was well worth the drive in and the $5/person.

Last weekend was butterfly weekend, and they had butterfly wings for the kids to wear around, live butterflies and staff helping the little ones. This coming weekend there is the Marbles Kooky Spooky Halloween Party from 6-9 p.m. I would absolutely go, if I were not going out of town.

201 East Hargett Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601

HIGHLIGHTS: Indoors, so perfect for bad weather or hot weather, there's so much to do and it encourages imaginative play, there are tons of kids to play with, indoor and outdoor activities, water play, dress up and I cannot name them all.
LOW LIGHTS: It's in downtown Raleigh, so it's a hike for me, parking is extra (but there's a parking garage you can park at for free on the weekends), and it's not free. Pack a lunch, because Rolly Polly's nearby has OK but not cheap. Cannot eat in Marbles (that includes snacks).
COST: $5 per person for everyone 1 and older (parents, too). There are membership options available, also that vary.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Falcon Park in Fuquay-Varina: I'll definitely go back

Our kids saw the park, looked at each other and giggled. Falcon Park is a keeper, although not in my top 5.

 Falcon Park in Fuquay-Varina is pretty easy to review. This is a good park. It's not bad; it's not great. It was fun to go, although I think our kids were pretty worn out from a lot of activity, and we didn't last long. The equipment is at a good height for toddlers and preschoolers, my kids ages, it's challenging but not too challenging, there's lots of space and running room and it's not too close to the road.

Falling on the bridge.
The equipment is a little old, however. And the bridge is pretty steep, my 3-year-old fell on it twice. But she didn't get hurt. In fact, the second time she laughed because she fell into her sister. The swings were just fine, although there were only two. There's a second part of the playground for smaller kids, which mine also enjoyed. The bathrooms were really gross, though. They smelled terrible and looked even worse.

I liked this park, and I will definitely go back, maybe on a hot summer day when we need a little shade.

611 E. Academy Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC

HIGHLIGHTS: Shaded park, close to the middle school, two separate play areas for kids with short attention spans, swings, bridges and tunnels and nice people.
LOW LIGHTS: Horrible smelling and looking bathrooms, and the water didn't work so we couldn't wash hands (EW!), the equipment is a little old, bridge has a steep drop off and there are only two swings.
COST: Free!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Honeycutt Road Park in Fuquay-Varina - Fun, but not for all ages

The scary slide!

 My play date buddy, Amanda, who is always up for an adventure, joined me at Honeycutt Road Park in Fuquay-Varina. It's right behind Club Worx Gym on Old Honeycutt Road.

We got out of our cars and said, "Wow, this place looks great!"
My mind changed quickly when I walked up to the scariest playground slide I've ever seen.

The playground looked great, but it was not ideal for really little ones. Amanda and I both have 20-month-olds, and let me tell you, we were terrified of this jungle gym! It is sort of sectioned off in two parts, one for the little ones and one for the big ones. But they're not separated. There's a tunnel/slide, which was a challenge but not impossible to maneuver for both our little ones, that connects the two parts. The section obviously designed for older kids is so high, and the slide was so steep I wouldn't even go down it. Not only that, but there were several openings in the equipment where a little one could just walk off the side. This is not such a big deal, if your 3-4 feet off the ground. I didn't have a tape measure with me, but I swear that slide was 15 feet off the ground. My 3-year-old walked up to the top of it, looked down and turned around. "It's too scary!" she said. There were kid there at least 5 or 6-years-old and they wouldn't even go down.

We left after about 40 minutes, which I thought was about 30 minutes longer than I felt comfortable staying there - thanks to the swings, which were nice. It's beautiful equipment. The place is well maintained, nice swings, great soccer field right next to it. The parking is close by, and there's a shelter. But I will not go back until my oldest (3) is at least 5 and the little ones are 3ish.

Maybe I'm being overprotective, but my youngest is fearless and at that stage where she doesn't understand consequences or listen to safety warnings. I have to physically remove her from most dangerous situations versus giving verbal warnings. (pretty standard stuff at that age, I think) Also, we met a wonderful mom who was playing their with her kids for the first time, too. She, too, was concerned about the openings in the jungle gym and the ridiculous slide. So I don't think our concerns were out of nowhere.

Interestingly enough, we went to a second park as we were not ready to go home yet. My oldest told me in the car on the way home, "I liked the first park mommy. You know, the one with the scary slide."

101 Fitness Drive

Fuquay-Varina, NC 

HIGHLIGHTS: Nice, well-maintained equipment, clean benches, shelter, climbing walls on playground, also some imagination play areas with "steering wheels," nice soccer field next to it, parking was close by, section for little kids and big kids.
LOW LIGHTS: The equipment was just too high for the really little ones, and it's connected to the section designed specifically for little ones. The swings are separated (little kids on one side and big kids on the other) so I couldn't push my 3-year-old and 1-year-old at the same time. Lots of openings in the playground, very challenging equipment, and it looks like the rubber flooring could be replaced. Also, I didn't see bathrooms.
COST: Free!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jack Marley Park in Angier - I LOVE THIS PARK! Totally worth the drive!!!

Jack Marley Park is the reason I started this blog! I wanted to find the parks that were beautiful, well-maintained and offer a lot for the little ones to enjoy. Places like Kids Together in Cary, Kids Towne at Kelly Road Park in Apex, Pullen Park in Raleigh and Music Time at Brueggers in Apex are absolute child-rearing treasures in this area, and I believe they should be shared. Jack Marley Park is in this class! 

Skate park at Jack Marley.
There are two jungle gym areas, swings, a beautiful pond with a water fountain in the center and lots of ducks, a .8 mile walking trail, workout stations, volleyball courts, softball fields and a skate park. Truth is, I didn't get to see it all my kids had so much fun playing and running around. It is clean (except the bathrooms), they let you feed the ducks and one of the playground areas is fenced in to keep the kids off the running trail and out of the pond.

As Pullen Park is my favorite, it is the park I measure all others against. So here is where Jack Marley falls a tiny bit short. Again, the bathrooms were not very clean. There are three sets of bathrooms at this park, which is pretty spread out, and only one set was unlocked while we were there. We could have had an accident, as the potties were at the other side of the park. We didn't, but I think it's good to know ahead of time anyway so FYI. Also, part of the .8 mile trail is right next the street and the parking area - there's not even a curb on part of it so my toddler had to be picked up so she wouldn't run in front of cars. She's a bit of a wild child. But that area is not really close to the playgrounds, so it was just an issue as we were walking from one end of the park to the other.

My kids have a short attention span, but they played nonstop for almost two hours. This park is in Angier, and I will not hesitate to make this drive in the future. It's worth the trip!

245 East Williams Street
Angier, NC 27501

HIGHLIGHTS: Two playgrounds (one which was fenced in to keep the kids off the running trail and out of the pond), volleyball courts, skate park, gorgeous view of pond with water fountain, ducks, walking trail, tennis courts and more!
LOW LIGHTS: The bathrooms were a little rough and some were not even open, walking trail passes right by the road and water.
COST: Free!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Upcoming: New Hope Valley Railway's Halloween Express

I have wanted to do this for so long! There is a train in New Hill that runs a couple times a month on Saturdays and Sundays. I am a Halloween junkie, can't get enough of it, so I found this!

The New Hope Valley Railway has a Halloween Express ride Saturday Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 27 with multiple runs throughout the late afternoon. Each ride is about an hour, and you must purchase tickets in advance. Tickets for all age riders are $10. You must purchase your tickets in advance. Also, this week they have a 10 a.m. run on Friday (Oct. 19) that is not Halloween themed.

Saturday, Oct. 20 trains depart at 4:00 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:45 p.m. The website encouraged young riders to participate in the earlier runs as the 7:45 run will be pretty dark. All the trains running on those days are diesel powered.

5121 Daisey St
New Hill, NC 27562

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Action Park in Fuquay-Varina

Action Park in Fuquay-Varina was not without merit, but I am not sure I'll go back there anytime soon. There was broken glass and trash all over this park, not to mention the profanity and obscene drawings on the interior of the jungle gym equipment. The only place that seemed to be clear of the debris was the softball fields and press boxes that overlook them. (This is the park located off of Wake Chapel Road as you head into downtown Fuquay-Varina off of Hwy 55 - if you look off to your right).

The jungle gym at Action Park was fun, but it was a little high for the really little ones and didn't hold their attention for long. So we (my friend who also has a 1 1/2-year-old) had to be pretty hands on. There were batting cages the kids loved to run up and down; we ran the bases on the softball fields a couple times, sat in the dugouts and checked out the press boxes. (Mommy used to be a sports writer so I wanted to give my girls a little taste of mommy's profession.) We had fun, but after my 3-year-old picked up food off the ground and ate it while I was chasing the little one and about a dozen more trash incidents, it was time to go. I feared they would want to pick up the pretty green broken glass or worse!

Until the trash is picked up at this park, I wouldn't recommend it for toddler or preschool age kids. And beware the profanity for the older ones. After a quick call to the Fuquay-Varina Parks and Recreation Department, I learned they clean the park every day and often send someone out to paint and repaint due to graffiti. I'm not sure how thorough a job they do or if the nightly softball games at this park produce that much daily trash. Either way, I would steer clear of Action Park with little ones.

609 Wake Chapel Road
Fuquay-Varina, NC 

HIGHLIGHTS:The jungle gym was OK, lots of places to sit and well-maintained softball fields. The tennis courts seem to be filled, too, so I'm assuming they're nice. 
LOW LIGHTS: LOTS OF TRASH, including broken glass, jungle gym is a bit high, it was hard to find (cannot see the park from the road and you have to drive pretty far back to see it).
COST: Free!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Upcoming: Fall Arts Fair at Pullen Park (Oct. 20)

Honestly, I'm not much of an artsy-fartsy person. My sister and step-mom (both artists) would laugh at the thought of me going to an art fair. But I am the sort of mom who knows my weaknesses. I am thinking of going to Pullen Arts Center on Saturday for the Fall Arts Fair to expose the girls to something new. It's free and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It's supposed to feature local potters, jewelers and painters in addition to kids art activities.

I am a little scared to bring my 1-year-old, though. I have visions of her running in to a large ceramic something I'm going to have to pay for! We'll see.

105 Pullen Road
Raleigh, NC

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Green Acres Was the Place to Be! For Pumpkin Patch Activities, that is

Green Acres Farm in Cary was a fantastic fall activity. Admittedly, though, the pumpkins at this "pumpkin patch" were not! Although, I'm pretty sure they don't claim to be a pumpkin patch, for some reason I was under the impression it was. If you're looking for a great deal on pumpkins, this is not the place to go. They didn't look great, nor were they priced very reasonably. But we didn't care; we didn't go to buy pumpkins. We went to have fun, and we did just that!

It was a wonderful time! There were three bounce houses for the kids, a petting area with goats, pony rides (for $5 in addition to the $10 admission fee per person for 4 & older), hayrides, tractors to climb, a sand area for the little ones to dig and play, a corn maze, wagon rides (I believe these were also $5 per person) and so much more. They had food, drinks and picnic areas for birthday parties. I will do this again and again! It was not inexpensive, but it was worth every penny. Our whole family had a great time, as well as my best friend and her family.

Also, on the way there was Phillips Farm (Cary), which has a haunted hayride and corn maze. If only my kids were older I could tell you how that was! I don't think you can miss with all the great pumpkin patches in the area. I also heard about Mrs. Ruth's Pumpkin Patch (in Apex, NC), DJ's Berry Patch (Cary), Green Level Gourd Farm (Apex), Hill Ridge Farm (Youngsville, which is a hike but comes highly recommended by my mommy friends),  The Maze at Hector's Creek (Fuquay-Varina), Ganyard Hill Farms (Durham) and Vollmer Farms (Bunn).

Here is a great link for the area's pumpkin patches, hayrides and corn mazes:

1132 Morrisville Carpenter Rd
Cary, NC 27519

HIGHLIGHTS:Too many to name them all - but hayrides, bounce houses, pony rides, horses, goats, petting area, sand pile for little ones, swings, mechanical bull, corn maze and more. 
LOW LIGHTS: My allergies went nuts there, as well as my toddler (ha, ha). There were a lot of people, parking was ridiculous and there was a police car just up the road to help direct traffic, it wasn't cheap and the pony ride was $5 extra.
COST: Children 0-3 free, $10 per person otherwise, $8 for seniors, $5 pony rides, $5 mechanical bull, $4 face painting.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Haunting At Harris - Missed the Hayride, but Still Pretty Fun

If you didn't get to Harris Lake County Park early on Saturday, you probably didn't get to enjoy the free hayride. The activity started at 2 p.m., and I think we got there at 3:30. The hayride tickets had already sold out!

It was OK for us, because we went to a pumpkin patch earlier in the day (Green Acres in Cary) where there was a hayride, but some kids threw absolute fits when they found out they couldn't go. I suggest you get there early next year.

The bulk of the activities were crafts and learning stations. My 3-year-old and I went, and it was pretty fun. There were several things that were way over her head, but others were perfect for her. Oddly, the preschooler that refused to play the bean bag toss or dig through the sand for treasures, stood next to the snake and spider lady for 20 minutes, asking question after question and man-handling the corn snake. This was not a small snake either. There were also live spiders and a dead wolf spider, which she asked me if she could kiss! UGH!

There was an obstacle course, which the little ones loved, and the playground was absolutely packed the entire time we were there. I would say it's geared toward kindergarten and older children, but it was still wonderful, and we will absolutely go back next year.

The hayride had an Indiana Jones theme, "Raiders of the Lost Park," and those who got a ride said it was very cool and true to its theme. The only casual complaint I heard was from a mom who would have liked to know there was a man with a chainsaw in the woods who chased the hayride. Go figure!
For those who missed the hayride, there will be hayrides again at Harris Lake on October 28 at 2 and 3 p.m.

Click here for the Harris Lake calendar of events.

2112 County Park Drive
New Hill, NC

HIGHLIGHTS:If your child didn't like one event/craft, there were dozens more to choose from, the hayride sounded pretty fun, Harris Lake is beautiful and has a nice playground and great dock. Also, they gave away "prizes" which was the biggest hit for my little one. 
LOW LIGHTS: The hayride tickets were gone before 3:30, so you have to get there early to participate. Harris Lake is known for ticks. We didn't have any on us when we got home, but you definitely want to check yourself and your children.
COST: Free!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Haunting at Harris Lake - Coming Oct. 13 from 2-6 p.m.

Another one of my favorite parks, Harris Lake County Park, is having an activity on Saturday, October 13. I am pretty sure I will be going with my 3-year-old!

It's called Haunting at Harris. A friend of mine happened upon it last year and told me I "had to go." Of course, I didn't. I had a pretty little baby at the time and couldn't fathom leaving the house. I have a little more energy this year!

The Haunting at Harris is Saturday from 2-6 p.m. there is a hay ride adventure, games and activities at Harris Lake in New Hill. Games include an obstacle course, archaeology dig (in the Indiana Jones theme) and a lot more. Hope to see you there. Did I mention it's free?

Click here for more information. 



2112 County Park Drive
New Hill, NC

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

South Park in Fuquay-Varina - A Nice Change of Pace

She's pretending to be upset. :)

Want to spend some time with really nice moms? Well this is the place to go in Fuquay-Varina.South Park is off of Main Street in Fuquay-Varina. There are softball fields, a little running track that goes right by the playground, jungle gyms (one for the toddlers and another for brave toddlers and older) and swings (both baby swings and big-kid swings).

I really enjoyed my morning with the girls. My smallest is just getting over a cold and got a sinus infection, so we've been sort of cooped up at home since Saturday. But we sneaked out for about 40 minutes to hang out at a new park and enjoy the sunshine. I am so glad we did. There's nothing special about this place, except maybe the track for runners/walkers that is in plain view of the playground for moms and dads who want to get a workout in while their older ones play. But the people were so nice.

We had a pretty good time considering it was right before lunch time, and my toddler is still a little sick. Don't judge - it's just a cold.

We will definitely go back, and we found out about another park in Fuquay-Varina that is great to go to in the evenings. Can't wait to check it out.

900 South Main Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC

HIGHLIGHTS:Awesome moms and dads! Maybe I just got lucky, but the people were so friendly - Adults & Children! It's not terribly crowded, and there's a cute little running/walking track around the nearby softball field so your kids can play while you work out (if they're at that age). Nice shelter nearby.
LOW LIGHTS: I didn't see a bathroom nearby, although that doesn't mean there isn't one. It's pretty small and doesn't have the newest of equipment.
COST: Free!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yates Mill Pond - Very Scenic, Educational Too!

It didn't start off this way, but Yates Mill Pond Historic Site turned out to be a wonderful activity for the kids. There are no jungle gyms, no swings and no sandbox. It's the site of an historic gristmill, which is incredibly scenic, but not quite the best place to bring a 1 1/2-year old and a 3-year old. In fact, with steep, stone steps and slopes at the mill itself, a very old structure (built in the 1750s), a creek with snakes and a waterfall, I wondered what the heck I was doing there in the first place.

Then, on our way out of the park we stopped at a building so mommy could cool off and take a break, and that's when we found the kids stuff! There was a dress-up station, a coloring area, cranks for the kids to turn and play with and see how the mill used to work and a very friendly, helpful staff.

Also, over the pond is a long bridge where you can watch the turtles, see a beaver nest and more. We had a great time after my heart stopped racing from the "dangers" of the historic mill trip.

4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC 27603

HIGHLIGHTS:Wonderful education center, beautiful scenery, lots of opportunities to learn and see something new, great bridge over the pond where people can fish and enjoy the pond and wildlife!
LOW LIGHTS: I was terrified my kids were going to slip and fall on the stone steps, steep slope or run into one of the huge spider webs/spiders or fall in the water (SNAKES, even if they are in the water).
COST: Free!