The Story of the Sea Turtle

For as long as I can remember, sea turtles have been my favorite animal. And there were actually several years as a tween when I thought for sure I'd be a marine biologist, even visiting Coastal Carolina University for a college visit. Living in Ohio, though, most of my learning came from books and documentaries.

When we visit Bald Head Island each summer, we know there is a chance that we will either see a nesting female turtle or a hatching. Chances are slim on either, but there IS a chance.

I saw a nesting female many years ago, and it was awesome. But only this year did I finally get to see a precious baby. The first nest of the season hatched while we were there, and three days later, a team does a public excavation.


They gingerly dig up the nest to count eggshells, find unviable eggs, and maybe, just maybe, find a "straggler". Those babies that didn't quite make it out with his or her siblings.


Does it seems kind of sad? Like they left her behind in their mad dash toward existence, following the reflection of the moon on the night ocean. One little one, not quite ready, maybe not even hatched. Counting on a village to release her when it is safe for her to come out.

What you may not know is that only one in a thousand of these babies will make it to adulthood. During their sprint to the ocean, they are defenseless targets to birds and crabs. That is if their nest even survives the egg-eating foxes. I have watched this clip many times throughout the years, and if you can make it past the annoying ad, it is spectacular.

This is why the BHI Conservatory has a turtle patrol, out all night on ATVs, watching for new nests. They cover it with mesh and clearly mark the nest. So many people caring about the littlest members of our community. And look how excited they are for this one tiny baby.



Do you see where I'm going with this? My girl is about to be the littlest one in her community. A kindergartner! She is that baby, waiting for the others to go, making sure all perceived dangers are out of the way. And I've been worried about it. She doesn't dive right into the water like her brother, but she will slowly get in and love it, even as she struggles through her anxieties.





But maybe she is onto something. Maybe by hanging back, avoiding the dangers at first and learning by watching, she will be just fine. This little baby who didn't make it out of the nest had hundreds of people cheering her on. She had safety, love, and a little help from kind strangers.

I hope that is what is in store a few weeks from now, when my little one leaves our nest.


PS- The team ropes off an area for the baby to crawl on her own out to sea as we all watch from a distance. She made it, of course. 

Getting there is half the fun

We've done quite a few road trips with the kids, but our annual trip to Bald Head Island is my favorite. Though it is the longest and involves several modes of transportation, getting there truly is an adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Take coffee and have a glass of sangria and cookies ready when you arrive.

We left with my mom on Saturday morning, driving to my sister's house to stay overnight. It is a little out of the way but I always like to rest there and see other family before we head out the coast. The cousins only see each other once a year, but when they do, they have a great time. Every time we leave there, my heart hurts a little.



Everything was fine on the 9 hour ride; much improved from our Chicago screamathon in March. Of course, we didn't have Peppa Pig DVDs on that trip.

After our overnight in Charlotte, we headed out. I drove this part of the trip by myself with the kids and it was actually the easiest four hours. I think it was because it was from 12-4, so NAPS for all. Oh, I love iPads and DVD players (thanks Jill) for lulling them to sleep on the road. It was SO hard not to stop at the billion peach orchards on the way and get some while the kids slept. I actually still regret it.

When we made it to Deep Point Marina, where we catch the ferry to Bald Head Island, we had some mixed emotions. Some of us were excited to see the boat. Some of us were not (loud noises).




With some encouraging words from our family, who met us there, we got over it (sort of). It was nice to see old friends who have relocated to the area, and share our cold Hardee's entrees while we tried to keep the boys from climbing into the harbor.





Nothing like a little walk along the dock to take our minds off of the impending loud ferry arrival.







Guess who rides inside with Nana and who wants to be out with me?








Thirty minutes and one gorgeous sunset later, and we are on the island. Get ready for beach photography overload. Sorry?




The Perfect Spots for CBus Toddlers

For my first child, this post could have included anywhere. She never ran from me, squealing with glee as she ran toward a street or a pond. My son, however?  No fear. This summer, I have struggled to find great places to take him and actually enjoy ourselves. Eryn of 614 Mom and I are in the same boat and have shared many rolled eyes and sighs as our boys tear through strawberry fields and toward electric fences (note: NOT toddler friendly but it was turned off).

Of course, OF COURSE we all supervise our kids, but let's be honest, some of the best places in Columbus are not designed for toddlers. It is no fun to constantly be worried about their safety when you take them out of the stroller, because not all toddlers will sit at story time!

If we felt this way, we thought some of you might feel the same. Thus, the toddler-friendly Columbus list was created.

To be on this list, we considered:
  • Either a fence or walls around it OR
  • It is very far away from streets/parking
  • No water to just casually fall into
  • Little-people entertainment or perfectly-sized play equipment 

Outdoor

Little ones love to gather at the clean and engaging sandbox here. There is plenty of shade and a fun little train that is fun for them. The main play structure is too big for toddlers, but perfect for big siblings while toddlers try the other options. 



Schiller Park, German Village
We love parking on one of the perimeter streets and running to the playground, which is gated with one opening. There are shaded swings and 3 nice play structures. And if they are up for the walk (or you brought the stroller), you can walk to the duck pond on the southwest corner (or to Jeni's?)



Fancyburg Park, UA
One of our first and favorite playgrounds, Fancyburg has two play areas. One is an adaptive playground, so it has small steps and ramps, perfect for toddlers. 

Shaker Square Park, Worthington
Worthington moms love this park for it's seclusion and privacy. The entire park is bordered by homes and a split rail fence with one opening. Bonus--TONS of shade!

Monterey Park, Dublin
Once you park, Monterey is across a small bridge and safely away from parking lots. There are a few play structures and baby/toddler swings, and if they lose interest, it is fun to roll down the grassy hills.


This playground, right on First Avenue across from the cutest strip of restaurants, is toddler perfection. They have the spongy surface instead of mulch, as well as many smaller structures rather than 1-2 large. There is a gate around the whole park, keeping them away from the street. 




Jeffrey ParkBexley
When I see the word "tot lot", I know we are in good hands. Fenced, no mulch to throw or eat, and smaller equipment, all surrounded by the beautiful Jeffrey Mansion grounds.

Huber Village Park, Westerville
There are 2 areas of this fenced-in playground; one just for 2-5 year olds. This is an easy drive, located just off of 270.

Shale Hollow, Delaware
No fences here! But we find that when toddlers and preschoolers are allowed to walk around in mud and shallow creek beds, they don't need one. The nature keeps their attention, and the shorter gravel  trails are a perfect walk together. 



I absolutely love the zero entry toddler pool!  This is one pool where water-shy kids can take their time getting in, they could choose the fountains instead, or they can even try the small slide. There is a toddler swim time each morning as well. 

Ballantrae Splash pad (The Bunny Park)
Most splash pads are created equal, but what sets this one apart for me in regards to toddlers is that it is far from streets/parking, it is spread out to avoid getting run over by big kids, and there are small fountains that will entice the little ones to give it a try. 


Indoor


This is arguably one of the best spots in Columbus for toddlers. Kidspace is safely monitored by COSI staff, who make sure that you leave with the same number of kids you came in with, so no accidental runners. The space is filled with many opportunities for imaginative play.  Toddler size kitchen, barn, ambulance, doctors office, and many more but you get the idea. It also has a water play area, an art area, and a small room with a light table and magna tiles. See what I mean?  It wins the award for best toddler space in Columbus.   

My little guy loves to run around no matter where we are - even when we are trying to eat dessert. Graeter's on Bethel is the perfect spot for us, there is a huge indoor playground for him to run around in when he gets bored eating his ice cream, and then I get to finish his ice cream.  Pro Tip: Bring socks - they can’t play without them. 

This is the perfect place for the little ones who love to run, tumble, and explore by being active.  They offer FREE intro classes, and for the kiddos 3 and under, the classes are parent/me classes (the perfect time to play and explore with your child).



Play Space, Shops at Worthington 
Usually, mall play areas freak me out - the germs, the crowd, all of it. The play area at the Shops at Worthington is the exception, it’s always clean, rarely crowded, and a fun small jungle gym for them to play on.  My favorite part is being able to see them from wherever I am, with two kids and one being under 3, I find it very important to be able to see both kiddos at all times. 

The Columbus Museum of Art is a family favorite and my little guy’s favorite room is the Wonder Room.  The room is dark and mysterious with lots of opportunities for learning through creativity and hands on activities.  You can get into the museum for free on Sundays.  


A huge warehouse filled with swingsets and trampolines is any toddler’s dream.  The young ones will love the swings and the bright colors and the older toddlers will enjoy climbing and going down the slide.  Pro Tip: Don’t go on a school holiday - it’s a little too busy for the toddler age group.  Also, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9-11 is Charitable Play, $2 per family for up to 3 kids. 


Goldfish Swim School, Dublin/Westerville
Heated indoor pool, tons of pool toys safe for all ages, and lifeguards to make sure everyone is safe.  There are two locations, Dublin and Westerville, and they each have a daily family swim time. In Westerville M-Th 12:30-1:30 and in Dublin 12:00-1:00. On Fridays they have open swim from 6:30-8 at both locations.  $5 per person, max of $15


Play Cafes - Designed with toddlers in mind, Columbus play cafes like FireflyTreehiveLittle SkippersLittle Green House ZenKidsPiccadilly keep children safe under your supervision or the paid supervision of a staff member (Treehive). New, novel toys are everywhere to explore, often small play structures help them practice their playground skills, and all between four walls to keep everyone in one place. Little Green house is set up like a little town, with a Fire Station, Grandview Street Market, Animal Clinic, and so many other fun ways for role play. Firefly has a bounce house, and Zen Kids has an entire art room-- need I say more? 


Thanks, Eryn, for helping me create this list and giving us the indoor spots you love. Hope the list helps, and let us know if we missed a place that you love taking your wild toddler. 

Millions of Peaches

You win if you remember that weird little song from the 90's.

Anyway, who loves them!?  I do, I do! The only kind of cooking/baking I get excited about is seasonal, and peaches are the taste of July. I got 25 pounds of them from The Peach Truck today and wanted to share a few of my favorite ways to use them. I know you don't come here for recipes, but remember that creating in the kitchen with kids is a fabulous way to spend time together, so it technically is an adventure.



Peach yogurt parfait
This is my favorite summer breakfast. Sliced peaches + honey yogurt + granola. Eat and repeat.

This one brings me right back to my mom's kitchen. The smell of it is amazing, and it is good served hot and even better the next morning served cold. The peaches and cream with cinnamon? Boom. (also one of my very first blog posts six years ago. Hi, red font that refuses to change!)

Grilled Peaches
So easy. Bobby's recipe is the best, and you can top them with ice cream and pecans for dessert!

Sparkling peach sangria
This is a fun, easy crowd-pleaser. I usually omit the Triple Sec because I don't want to buy it, and it is still good! And with sangria, the rule at our house is anything goes. So add whatever fruit you want.

via memeinge.com

Peach Blueberry crisp
This combo is amazing. It's one of the only ways I'll eat blueberries. It is good hot with ice cream, or cold as you sneak bites out of the fridge for the next 24 hours. And then you and your husband blame each other for the empty dish.

Peach pecan salad
Oh man. A salad I actually like. I make this one a lot with apples, and now am excited to try it with peaches! And I actually add bacon to mine, which really balances it out. You can use any tangy vinegarette or make the simple dressing she lists.

via greenvalleykitchen.com

Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler
I trust Caroline's taste, and everything she makes looks amazing. This is her mom's recipe and the first thing on my husband's "please try" list. Do you follow her blog for reviews and recipes? You should!
via columbusculinaryconnection.com

Peach Syrup 
Use it in lemonade, iced tea, or put it on your ice cream and pancakes.

Peach ice cubes
Another way to flavor your drinks or infuse your water.

via mennonitegirlscancook.com

  • If you bought a ton of peaches like me, you'll probably want to freeze them ASAP. Here is a great tutorial for that.

  • And if you missed The Peach Truck, check out local peach orchards for some picking fun. In Central Ohio we have: Branstool or Legend Hills. Always call first to confirm they have peaches that day!

Summer: Week 4 AND 5

Whoops, about that week number four... Summer is getting real, friends! What did you guys do this week? Are you trying some new things?

And have you signed up (do it here) for our email newsletter?  I was amazed that we got 73 subscribers in the first day alone. THANK YOU!!  I hope it helps you organize your month. I know I love to sit down with a blank calendar each month and plan it out. Even if that means leaving some days blank, of course.

Food Truck Food Court at the Commons
I know, I just posted about food trucks. But here is where we got to try all of them! Get there early and ride the carousel (trade your $1 for a token to ride) and be ready when the food trucks open at 11:00. I literally think of this Paddy Wagon sandwich every day, and I can't wait to reunite with it. I also love that there are ways to keep the kids entertained while waiting in line!












sometimes we like to act like tourists

Play time with Julie
It was hard for me to give away Larkyn's baby clothes, but when I see them on Julie's babies, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. Oh, to play in a yard without dog poop is such a luxury, and she even made the dinner. I am spoiled by and grateful for good friends.








Red White and Boom
I thought Larkyn would love the sight, but not sound of fireworks. So with a little help from our loving friend Mara, we set up a viewing for her (and my mom) as the four of us ladies watched it from Mara's parent's in the Short North. Of course, a little walk in her favorite part of town was included. Thanks Mara--it may have been my favorite 4th of July activity on record! Nothing like seeing your child witness something awesome for the first time.






New playgrounds and carryout breakfast
In an effort to find parks close to home, we checked out Linworth Community Park. But first, we stopped at The Hills Market for a chocolate chip pancake breakfast. $5 for 2 big pancakes, sausage, and coffee!  Larkyn liked the new playground, but like everywhere else we go, Rhys had no interest in the equipment (except for this slide ONE time) and just wanted to run as far away as he could. What is this? Is this a phase or a boy thing? I don't like it, and Larkyn has always been very playground-motivated. Never once thought to run from me. Advice is welcome.



July 4th
The weather was unpredictable at best and I wasn't feeling the need to force the kids to watch a parade this time when neither of them like parades. So...their favorite thing to do is take a walk. We had 3 family cookouts and to pretty good at throwing together burgers, brats, and patriotic desserts.














Slate Run Metro Park
My friend Leigh and I took the kids to a story time on the farm (with The Little Red Hen). Rhys had never been to Slate Run, but Larkyn and I came for maple syrup tapping, and she loved it. The sweet farm ladies read the story, gave some background info on the farm, and the kids were invited to come try some bread in the farm house (to go along with the story). However, Rhys was OUT of the story time after page 2 and just wanted to take a self-guided tour of the farm. He was in heaven, running around place to place, the only thing slowing him down were a few bee stings.

You thought I was going to sit for a story?

My kids + buckets and water = hours of entertainment


New favorite game, making' it rain with straw.






Dublin Slider Challenge
We love supporting the city where I grew up and where I teach whenever we can, so I happily accepted tickets to the slider challenge (hosted by Dublin CVB). Five of the historic district restaurants served up a unique slider, and we got to vote on the winner. There is little more that I love than a food tasting (I'm not kidding, can it be a job?), and Larkyn and my mom joined in too. We loved our first stop (Mezzo) the most. My first time with short ribs and NOT my last. We walked around Old Dublin trying each and doing some kid activities in between. Of course, you can't really walk a five year old past an ice cream shop without stopping, so that happened too. But her biggest reward?  Seeing Elsa and Anna at the end of the event! #fiveyearoldlifegoals













In a week, we are taking off for a trip I've been making my whole life. I am dreading the car ride but cannot WAIT to see my family and my second home!
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