Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adventure Science Center Friday, July 27

Looking back at our schedule for the summer, you can see we haven't managed to stick to our original plans.  I guess that's the beauty of planning something like Fun Jar - you just change the plans to suit your needs!

I have a stress fracture in my ankle that makes walking difficult, so this week's choice was limited by walkability.  Kate's first suggestion of Cheekwood was quickly dismissed.  Her sisters joked that I would have to say, "OK.  I'll be by the lake if you need me." I replied that it would probably take me an hour to hobble TO the lake from the parking lot.  Anna and Bekah responded by doing a mommy dance where they hobbled around our living room.  Sadly, I did not get it on video for you.

If you are so inclined, we are going to the Adventure Science Center this Friday.  While it does require walking, I often pick a spot to sit and read while my children play.  I equip them with watches and have them check in with me periodically so that I can keep track of them.  The selection of the Science Center has the added benefit of being air-conditioned, which is helpful given the heat and humidity outside.

Here are the details for Friday, July 27:

Place: Adventure Science Center (click here for directions)
Time: 10ish to 1ish (we will probably buy lunch at the Subway onsite)
Who: All ages - just know that you may need to hustle to keep up with younger children here

While MNPS schools start up next Wednesday, I hope to do a few more Fun Jar events throughout August.  If you start school later, homeschool or have preschool children, feel free to join us!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Lake this Friday

A 2001 summer day at Percy Priest Lake

We've had a busy summer, so this will be our first Fun Jar trip to one of our favorite places: the Anderson Road beach area at Percy Priest lake.  In my opinion, it's as close as you can get to the beach when you're 400 miles inland.  There's sand, there's shade, there's water.  And this Friday, there will be friends.  So mark your calendar and join us!

Here are the details:

  • Driving directions can be found here or by mapping directions to 4010 Anderson Road, Nashville
  • Friday, July 6, we'll arrive between 9:30 and 10:30 and will stay until 2ish
  • Pack a lunch - there are no concession stands (but there are restrooms!)
  • Bring $4 cash for parking
  • Bring a blanket and/or chair for sitting, along with any sand or water toys (shovels, pails, floats, etc.)
  • Bring lots of sunscreen and reapply often.  My daughters invariably come home with red faces after having the water reflect the sun back onto their cheeks all day long! 
If you have any questions, leave me a comment or e-mail me directly.  Hope you can join us for some post-4th of July fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friday, June 22

A few months ago, I bought a Groupon for Blue Heron Cruises.  Now it's time to use it and we'd love for you to join us.  We're doing a 90 minute nature cruise through the Cheatham Wildlife Natural Area.  Here are the details:

Friday, June 22
Depart at 1 pm
$9/Children 2 - 12
Children under 2 are free

There is space on this boat for 14 more passengers, so we'd love for some of you to join us!  Let me know if you're interested or call Blue Heron directly and give them the date and time of the cruise.  You can reach them at 385-7007.

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Week's Fun

Sweet Treat Tuesdays
Join us tomorrow around 4:15 at Pinkberry.  It's our favorite frozen yogurt place in town (and we've sampled nearly all of them).

Friday Fun Jar
Anna will be dancing.  Kate will be in Alabama.  So join Bekah and I at Cumberland Park for the morning.  There are fountains to play in, a sandbox to get messy in and other assorted kid things.  We'll arrive between 9:30 and 10:00 and will pack a lunch to eat there.

Click the links above for locations and directions.  And e-mail me if you have any questions!  Hope you can join us for one or both of these outings...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Zoo Tomorrow

While I still have a few arrangements to finalize, here's the tentative plan for tomorrow:

Meet at the zoo at 9:00
Pack a lunch for picnicking
Hang out until between noon and 1:00 (or whenever the girls or I get tired)

Let me know via a comment here or on Facebook if you're planning to join us so that I can wait for you.  By shortly after 9, we'll go into the zoo and wait for others who might be a little late near the monkeys.

In case you're new to Nashville or aren't regulars at the zoo, here are directions and admission info.

If you don't have my cell number, let me know and I'll get it to you before tomorrow morning.

Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This Summer's Schedule

Much to my daughters' collective chagrin, we made lists today and drew one per week of summer to determine our Fun Jar activities for upcoming Fridays.  While they far prefer the old school method of drawing an activity at the beginning of each week, summer feels so short this year that I insisted we plan ahead.

Here's the tentative schedule:

June 8 - Nashville Zoo
June 15 - Adventure Science Center
June 22 - Percy Priest Lake
June 29 - Dragon Park or Beaman Park
July 5 or 6 - Berry Picking
July 13 - Cheekwood
July 27 - Brushfire Pottery
August 3 - Frist Center
August 10 - Percy Priest Lake

For each of these activities, I'll post details including a time to meet as the date approaches.  (This Friday, we'll meet at the Zoo at 9ish.  More to follow in a post later this week.)
Mark your calendars and join us when you can!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Family Trip Tips

As you may have read on my other blog, we've been on a family vacation to Philadelphia this last week.  There are a few things we did that worked... and a few things that didn't.  For the sake of future family trips (both yours and mine), I thought a quick recap might be in order.

Things that worked:

Play License Plate Bingo
The night before we left, I created three license plate bingo sheets for our daughters.  Each was different, with some states that overlapped and some that were unique to their sheet.  The rules were similar to traditional bingo - when they saw the license plate from one of their states, they marked it off on their sheet.  When they got a bingo, they got a prize (in our case, one piece of Rollo candy).  A super bingo (all 25 squares) yielded a bigger prize (which I never had to decide since no one achieved it). 

The girls loved this game.  It made them engaged instead of bored, helped them see and enjoy the scenery instead of staying stuck in a book and made the time pass quickly.  Even after days of travel, they were still looking for that elusive Washington, DC plate.  For another trip, I might do a Car Make and Model Bingo or a Businesses Bingo.

Pack Snack Bags
I packed each girl's lunch box with a variety of snacks and treats before we left Nashville.  If your children are like mine, they require regular snacks and there's no way we're pulling over every time they get a hunger pain.  So I filled their bags with granola bars, baggies of dried fruit, peanut butter crackers, fruit strips, jolly ranchers and sprees.  When they asked for a snack, I almost always said yes, unless we were stopping imminently for a meal.

Limit Electronics
Each girl was allowed to bring their iPod and we gave about an hour of iPad time to each girl over the course of the drive up and back.  But there were no movies, no DSIs.  Just License Plate Bingo, books, music, Mad Libs, graphic novels, taking photos of the scenery and talking.  Since we limit electronics at home, this method works much better for our children than spending a long ride watching movies.  TV tends to wind them up and make them restless, whereas these activities engage their minds.

Do What Your Kids Love
Before we left home, I checked reciprocity with some of our favorite Nashville memberships.  Cheekwod's website listed botanical gardens by state that offered reciprocity and when I went to the Morris Arboretum website, I knew it was a place we would love to visit.  I also checked for what our zoo membership and museum membership offered, but I think it works well to prioritize.  My girls would choose Cheekwood over the Nashville Zoo or the Frist Center most days, so it seemed right to me to make a comparable place a top priority.  This is not only good financial sense (since reciprocity normally offers a discount or free entrance), it's a wise use of your time.

Be Flexible
Philadelphia is a long way from Nashville.  Had we pressed on, packed lunches and driven through the night, we might have taken an hour or more off our drive.  But I don't think it would have been worth it in the long run.  Instead, we stopped for lunch and ate at a hole-in-the wall local place, picnicked at a rest area, took a driving tour of  a college campus and visited a Tractor Supply Co. store or two (for Jason, of course).  These stops made Virginia more than just a state we drove through to get to Pennsylvania, let the girls burn a bit of energy and kept everyone relatively interested and engaged on the ride.  As someone who grew up in a family that stopped only for fuel and restroom breaks, this is something I've had to learn works best for my family.  The quickest drive is not always the best one for us.

What Didn't Work:

Stacking Activities
I have a tendency when traveling to want to be efficient in our sightseeing.  We'll be downtown?  Let's see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House before we go to dinner with friends and after we've attended service at Christ Church.  This does. not. work. Children get tired.  They get cranky.   Then everyone is unhappy.  I needed to remember that vacations are not about efficiency so much as enjoying yourself.  For the record, we never did make it to the Betsy Ross House...

Eating Out Three Meals Per Day
Thankfully we rented a town home via VRBO, so once we got to Philadelphia we were able to have breakfast and some dinners at home - and even pack our lunch a few times.  This certainly helps your vacation budget, but it's also simply what our family prefers.  We don't eat out a lot, so by the time we were on day 2 on the way up to Philadelphia, we ate a picnic of hummus, carrots, apples, etc. instead of having sandwiches or burgers.  This may not work for the drive home since a week of vacation left me tired and not in the mood to pack a lunch for the drive back.

For Next Time:

Candy Money
Our girls don't get a lot of junk food, so when we stop at gas stations on road trips, they are in awe of the assortment of candy available.  This time around, Jason and I made a stop-by-stop decision about whether to let them each select something.  Next time, I'd like to give them each $5 at the start of the trip and let them decide how and when to spend it.  This gives them more control while simultaneously limiting the amount of junk food they can consume to $5 worth of gas station items.