Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mad Science Means Mad Fun

Today we celebrated my son's 5th birthday with a Mad Science party for he and 15 of his friends. In addition to birthday parties, Mad Science does camps and school programs as well as occasional public shows. If you ever get a chance to see these guys, don't miss it. They are the real deal as far as entertaining scientists go. Our scientist did such a good job keeping the kids entertained and interested at the party. I lost count of all the cool experiments and demonstrations he conducted during the show. The kids were able to participate in most of the experiments and some of it was pure magic for them. They all made slime and he ended the show with the sweetest science experiment of all... cotton candy making. I can't recommend these guys enough for a birthday party. We paired up the science show with some carnival games, pizza, science cake and decorations, chili, ice cream and presents for a fun 2 1/2 hours. I can honestly say this was the most fun I've ever had at one of his parties. It was very gratifying to see all those little faces staring out with wide eyes and rapt attention. I think the parents enjoyed it as much as the kids. And I'm pretty sure somebody somewhere learned a little something. Check out the Mad Science offerings for yourself.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grandfather Mountain trip

My family recently drove to the Boone/Blowing Rock NC area and spent part of the day at Grandfather Mountain. If you're planning to spend some time in the area, GF Mountain makes for a nice 2-3 hour stop. Admission is a little pricey at $15 for adults, $7 for kids (free for 4 and under), but if you have a AAA card, you can can save a few bucks per ticket. Be warned that on busy weekends, the wait to get into the gate and to drive up to top of the mountain can be trying, especially with little ones in the car. Thank goodnes for Leapster! We walked around the Split Rock area and found some great photo opps. The kids loved exploring the rocks and trail areas. We made our way to the Fudge Shop where we found some of the most delicious apple cider I've ever had. The kids also enjoyed apple slices with warm caramel sauce. That was yummy! I was in my own little happy place with my chocolate coconut fudge. It was like a 1/4 lb Almond Joy! Next, we visited the animal habitats. The bears were my favorite. We also enjoyed the habitats for otters, cougars, deer and eagles. There are quite a few picnic areas on the property for a relaxing snack or meal with the family. We got back in the car and drove up the very steep and slow road towards the mile-high swinging bridge. We decided to park at the lower level and hike up the half-mile trail to the bridge, avoiding the long car line to get to the top. We had four and five-year-olds with us and the trail up was a little challenging for them, but with our help they were very excited to have completed their first "real hike" as they called it. Walking across the swinging bridge was a lot of fun. It doesn't feel like it really swings. The vistas were breathtaking and the cool breeze blowing through the trees felt divine after that hike. All in all, a fun and adventurous day that the kids won't soon forget. BIG naps on the way home!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kersey Valley Adventure

Today a group of about 20 mommy's and preschoolers visited Kersey Valley attraction in High Point. The day started out a little slow with a very long line at the ticket booth. We were in line for 30 minutes. Antsy little ones kicking dirt and swinging on fences made it feel like three hours. They definitely need more staff on busy days. Once we got out of line prison, everything looked up. The kiddos enjoyed the cow train ride, pumpkin patch, tram ride, gem mining, and ABC maize (a special maize for ages six and under). The kids took off into the corn rows in a flash to search out the alphabet letters. They ran out squealing and clutching their A-Z findings! After a picnic lunch and a gorge-fest on delicious kettle corn, the kids mounted the jumping pillow- a huge bouncing mound that was enormously fun! The hit of the day, by far. We went on small group day and it cost us $19 per person to do all the things we did (usually $23)- but we think it was worth it. A day at Kersey Valley = Happy and Tired Kids. It's a very unique fall experience that kids will adore! Check it out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preschoolers Invade Restaurant

Thanks to the folks at Tripp's restaurant in Greensboro (New Garden area) for patiently serving our wild group for a multi-family dinner out last night. Even on a really busy night, the staff was extremely tolerant of spills, squeals, seat-switching, changing orders, a menagerie of checks, special crayon requests and flying shrimp. Our little ones and their parents enjoyed the food and the noisy atmosphere--- all the better to hide preschool misbehavior! It was relaxing in an odd way. Wait.. maybe that was the fish bowl margarita. There is a reason they call it the "perfect margarita." It's HUGE!! The hit food of the night with the whole crowd was Firecracker Shrimp. YUM!!! A little bit spicy and completely delectable. The kids devoured bowl after bowl of it on those cute little wooden skewers. Shrimpfest indeed! We will definitely put this on our family friendly places.

Bur-Mil Park Fun

I am so impressed with Bur-Mil Park. My son and I went to the Fall Festival today. Almost everything was FREE, except for plethora of concessions we consumed. We played games, sampled vendor tables, rambled around a fire truck, practiced putting and tennis, enjoyed some music and found a great photo background in the pumpkin patch. It's an annual event that you should check out if you've never been.

Bur-Mil Park offers so many great activities for the family all year--- fabulous aquatic center, tennis, volleyball, golf course, playgrounds, trails, picnic areas, fishing ponds/lessons, camps, wildlife classes, golf lessons and tennis lessons- and that's just off the top of my head! Nick is considering taking advantage of some golf lessons soon. We are very fortunate to have this jewel in our community. Go out and explore Bur-Mil!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top Picks for Fall

Here are some of my top picks so far for fall activities.
  • Thru November 1st- Maize Adventure at Kersey Valley, pumpkin patch, cow train, giant jumping pillow, fossil dig, gem dig, Web site.
  • Sept 18- Oct 31- Corn Maze, Haunted Forest, Hayride, open Fri-Sun, J. Razz & Tazz Farm, 466 Peeden Drive, Gibsonville, Web site.
  • Sept 26- UNCG Children's Festival/FallFest, Kaplan Commons on the West Lawn of the Elliott University Center, FREE festival area open 11am-3pm and includes games, activities, info booths, food available for purchase. Big Bang Boom children's band plays 11-12:30pm, Spartan Parade of Chariots is 3-3:30pm, Breakfast Club 80's band plays from 4-5pm and 5:20-6:30pm, Web site.
  • Sept 26- Amaizing Pet Adventure at Kersey Valley Farm in High Point, pet shows, demos and pony rides, benefits Guilford County Animal Shelter, Web site.
  • Oct 2-4- Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem presents "Blues Clues Live", Web site.
  • Oct 4- Art in the Arboretum, 1-6pm, Greensboro Arboretum, artisans, crafts, live music, Art Bark, ArtQuest, food court, FREE, 401 Ashland Dr., 373-2199.
  • Oct 10- Fall Family Fun Night at Lake Cammack in Burlington, 3:00 pm-9:00 pm, $5 per person, 3 & under free, carnival type games, coloring contest, candy apples, hot chocolate, hot dogs, chips, drinks, hayrides, marshmallow roasting and more. Families can also enjoy a movie on the big outdoor screen. Bring a blanket. For more information call 421-3872. Rain date: Sunday, October 11th.
  • Oct 10- Fall Festival at Bur-Mil Park in Greensboro, 10am-4pm, hayrides, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, wildlife exhibits, crafts, FREE,
  • Oct 17- Lake Higgins Halloween Trail, Lake Higgins Watershed Park, 4235 Hamburg Mill Rd, Greensboro, 6-7:30pm, kid-friendly trail adventure, $1, 373-3739.
  • Oct 24- Ghoulash! Halloween event in Downtown Greensboro, 5-9pm, safe and fun activities, Cultural Arts District, Festival Park, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro, FREE, small fee for some activities, 373-2733.
  • Oct 25- Sundays in the Park at Center City Park, 2-5pm, 200 N. Elm St., Greensboro, FREE, the Children's Halloween Parade - A perennial Park favorite, this parade brings out adorable ghosts, goblins and princesses from throughout Greensboro! Music by Big Bang Boom and Kuumba African Dance and Drumming.
  • Oct 25- Paws in the Park, bring your dog and a leash to enjoy this event at Country Park’s Bark Park, 3902 Nathanael Greene Dr., free, 373-3648.
  • Oct 31- Fall Harvest Festival, 7am-1pm, vendors of the Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market will move to the Greensboro Coliseum Pavilion for this one-day event, free, 373-2957.

You can check out other event listings on If you have other school or community festival favorites, please let me know.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Great Day in the Park at High Point City Lake Park

My son and I ventured forth today to experience our first Day in the Park Festival at High Point City Lake Park, which is actually in Jamestown, btw. This is the 39th year of this annual festival that includes rides, crafts, food and entertainment. We got there right as the festival opened as is our custom for the best parking, best giveaways and shortest lines. In spite of the recent rain, the park grounds weren't muddy at all. The coolest thing about this festival was that a $6 ticket got us all-day access to the train, miniature golf, rock climbing, bounce houses and slides, and carousel. We started out learning some colonial-style games-- ring roll and ring toss. My little one played two rounds of golf and actually achieved four hole-in-ones (real ones)! He was over the moon about that and then ready for the bouncy zone. He jumped and slid until he was delightfully exhausted. He did great at the basketball shoot (also included) and then headed for the rides. We rode the carousel and the cute little train which took us all around the lake. After listening to some jazz music we did a little shopping and browsing at the vendor tents. The library staff was on-hand giving away free books and toys and offering coloring sheets for the kids to enjoy. We sampled some yummy rock candy and locally made salsa and then he chose his one event "treat"-- a little gemstone tree that has really cool quartz, ruby and other stones. He loves rocks and gemstones! He was also eyeing up a beautiful mosaic stepping stone when I lured him away with an ice-cold Sierra Mist and a promise of a Chick-fil-a drive by on the way home. We filled three absolutely delightful hours and spent less than $25. Now that's a good Saturday out with my little man. We'll definitely do this festival again next year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Find Playspaces and Parks in Your Neighborhood

A friend just turned me on to a great Web site. If you are looking for parks or playspaces in your neighborhood, go to this site and enter your city for a very detailed map of play areas. Cool!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day at the Fair

We took my son and his cousins to the Central Carolina Fair today at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was pricey as usual, but we all had a good time. The fair seems to have more rides for little ones this year and the ride attendants were very personable. The wristband is definitely the way to go since the kids often find a ride they like and want to ride it over and over again. My son also enjoyed the many games at the fair and we came home with a bag of multi-colored stuffed animals to add to the the Myers Zoo. We also found a vendor selling slushy art. For just $3, the kids can layer their own slushy (like sand art) with the different colors of flavored icee mixture. One of the highlights of the day since it also quieted the "I'm thirsty" whines. I will admit that I was thrilled when darling son threw his slushy away before he got to the yellow layer-- which just happened to be the energy drink flavor choice. Labeled clear as day. Good move, Mom! Even though it was pretty hot today, the fair got me in the mood for fall. I'm starting to get excited about all the upcoming fairs and festivals.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tumblebees Offers Crazy Fun for Kids

If you've never played at Tumblebees, you're missing a real treat. In addition to the great weekly classes offered they have a variety of open gym opportunities where parents supervise kids as they enjoy the gym equipment. They can jump and roll until they're completely exhausted (and ready for a nap!). My son and his friends love playtime at the gym. Check it out!

Bee-Cess Playtimes are held each Wednesday for all ages from 10am-12:30pm. $7 per hour for members, $10 per hour for non-members.

School Year Open Gym is one Friday each month.
Preschool: 3:30-4:30pmSchool Age: 4:30-5:30pmCost: $7 for members, $10 for non-members
2009/2010 School Year Dates:
September 25
October 30
November 20
December 18
January 29
February 26
March 26
April 30
May 21

6904 Downwind Rd. Greensboro 665-0662

Friday, September 4, 2009

KCE Library Provides a Fun Afternoon

My son and his friends just love the KCE Library and Price Park in Greensboro. We usually start our visit with a picnic on the lawn and then a walk down the nature trail. It's a terrific trail for little ones. Easy walking and not too long. Nick has used their shape identifier system to learn about the different types of trees in the woods. We walk and talk about the trees and whatever else is going on in his 4yr old world. After we walk the trail, we play in the big open fields. Great place for kite-flying! Once our outdoor tank is filled, we meander over to the library to hunt for some new bedtime stories. My little man simply has to have a few minutes to play in the big playhouse located in the children's section. The house has little seats, a window and a thick door that makes a slamming noise which thrills all the munchkins. The most amusing part of it to me is the sign posted on the outside of the house that says "No running, loud noises or door slamming." And of course, that list of taboos is the undeniable attraction. So, while the other moms "shhh" and hush the kids, I just giggle quietly. Regardless of the oxymoron of the loud house placed in the library, KCE and Price Park is a magical place and worth a visit.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cleaning Out the Toys Can Be A Family Adventure

We are getting ready for the St. Paul consignment sale in Greensboro and the first step is always cleaning out and rotating all of our son's toys. We spent most of the morning pulling stuff out, playing with it and reminiscing on old "baby" toys. That little boy acted like he'd never seen some of this stuff before. He hasn't played with his Little People toys in forever, so before I sell it all, I decided to set up a Little People town in our great room--- putting all the toys on their own little Pergo real estate. He actually played with and thought it was Way Cool. He requested that we leave the Town out until his cousins can see it on Sunday. Heck, I'll leave it out until Christmas if he'll play with it. Next, I'm going to build a town out of Hot Wheels. Who knew....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our First Drum Circle Experience

We tried out the drum circle at Ten Thousand Villages tonight. Of course most of the people in the drum circle were teenagers and adults (and really good), they were so sweet and welcoming to my son and the other children. They were delighted that so many little ones showed up to play and enjoy the store. The kids and adults got to try out many beautiful drums. I think my son's favorite part was walking around the store and picking out several of the hand-crafted items that he wants to purchase when he saves up his allowance. He has his eye on this one particualar bejeweled dragonfly. What a terrific store and fair-trade concept!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kids in Heaven at Toys & Co

At least once a month, my son requests to go play at Toys & Co toy store at Friendly Center in Greensboro. They have everything a child could dream of and some very unique toys. The best part is that there are toys out all over the store for kids to play! My little man prefers the race tracks and marble runs. Of course, while the kiddies are being entertained, I usually gather an armful of goodies and start making a pile on the checkout counter. Birthday presents, school supplies, cute stuff I just couldn't pass up.... and my son adds at least one item to his Santa list during the visit. At this rate, I will not only know what he wants for Christmas but have actually seen him play with it. It's a fun place to go and the staff is great. You can tell they are very excited to have kids come in and play.

After we play for 30-45 minutes, we usually head over to Coldstone Creamery. My son chooses some concoction with blue sprinkles and I often indulge in my favorite secret vice--- Chocolate Cake Batter Ice Cream. You gotta try it!

This all makes for a fun outing for mom and kid. You might also be able to sneak in some of your other shopping before the ice cream mood wears off.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Playgroups for older kids

My son is in a playgroup that has been together since most of them were infants. Many playgroups fizzle when kids get older so we're going to mix it up a bit and hopefully keep that from happening. Once a month we are doing family playgroup for the 5-6 families in the evening. We are inviting the daddies to join us and everyone will bring a dish to share. By adding this new family social component to our playgroups, I am confident that not only will our children continue to cement their bonds with each other, but the families will also grow in their friendship. Wouldn't it be great if we still had a social life after our kids are in high school????

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reflecting on a Family-Friendly Summer

School has started, pools are closing and summer is almost officially over. I consider Labor Day the real end of it all. My family has had a whirlwind fun summer. My 4 yr old has truly enjoyed the warm weather months. And, boy have we done a lot! Here are some of the highlights that get the Family Fun thumbs up!
  • My son and his pals bowled a lot thanks to the coupons! I hope this promotion was a success so they'll do it again next summer.
  • The Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort in Cocoa Beach Florida was a kid mecca! My little one and his cousins enjoyed multiple pools, on-site mini golf, arcade games, hot tubs, lazy river, water slides, delicious and kid-friendly restaurant that offered room service, movie theatre, planned kids activities, outdoor sports, expansive beach, and this huge indoor play area that was like the play areas of Chickfila, McDonald's and Jump N Fun all rolled into one.
  • Boating with friends in beautiful Beaufort, NC.
  • We found Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN to be surprisingly fun! They had a very nice kids ride area, lots of yummy regional food and top-notch entertainment. If you haven't tried it, I recommend you add it to your travel agenda.
  • Gatlinburg, TN was heaven for my son and his cousins. They enjoyed endless amusement parks, arcades, unique attractions, mini golf galore and junk food everywhere! We especially enjoyed Ober Gatlinburg--- beautiful views from the ski lift and the air tram, carnival rides, 'slalom' rides, live music and lots of mountain relaxation spots.
  • Smith Mountain Lake is always a favorite! We spend many weekends there each year with family and friends---boating and swimming. Of all the places we go, this is where summer feels like it should. The kids fish and chase fireflies and just enjoy being young. Our new favorite thing to do is beach the pontoon on Christmas Tree island and let the kids play on the "beach at the lake." They have discovered very powerful water shooters.
  • What's summer without Myrtle Beach! Kingston Plantation was beautiful and I always love Broadway at the Beach. If you can sneak out for some adult time, I recommend Collector's Cafe for dinner and the Crocodile Rocks piano bar for some nighttime fun.
  • Of all the daytrips we took, SciWorks in Winston-Salem was a favorite.
  • Vacation Bible School at Westminster Presbyterian in Greensboro was a wonderful experience for my little one.
  • Tumblebees Open Gym times offered an indoor energy burn for the little ones. Open bounce at Jump N Fun, Bounce U and Pump It Up were also big hits.
  • Who knew that a sprinkler positioned under a trampoline could be the favorite summer yard activity!
  • Center City Park Tunes at Noon provided us with some great music, playtime, killer hot dogs and, of course, fountains. Tuesday music in the garden at Greensboro Children's Museum was also a fun time.
  • Our favorite summer camps were Science Camp at Natural Science Center of Greensboro and Kindermusik Summer Camp with Julie Davidson.
  • We took lots of nature walks--- Bog Gardens, KCE Library, Bur-Mil and nightime walks in our own backyard with flashlights.
  • Backyard camping.
  • Bur-Mil Aquatic Center and Wet N Wild offer crazy water fun if you can stand the crowds. Go early or late for best time.
  • We spent a glorious afternoon at Krispy Kreme eating their new soft serve ice cream (slurp!) and those mini donuts with sprinkles. Top it off with a donut-making demonstration and our pre-schoolers were thrilled.

That's the list of favs. I hope it will provide some fodder for your next year's summer fun calendar. Now off to bed... school awaits us in the morn.