Summer is finally here

Near the end of June, we went to Fountainside at the Scioto Mile and it was our most fun day of the summer. Then came unfortunate life events and summer was on hold for a few weeks. And, it was not warm at all here in Cbus!

We were so excited to head downtown again this week, this time with my mom. Rhys is not a fan of the fountains, so I need an extra pair of hands to wrangle him. And this time, there would be lots of lots of animals!

We love the Turtle Lady, as I've said before. We actually got some accidental 1-1 time with the turtles the day before at the Dublin Library, but we were excited to see her family of reptiles again the next day.

And Bring the Farm to You brought out the CUTEST farm animals for the kids to pet and "oooooh" over. Rhys adores animals, so he was actually trying to climb in and be part of their exhibits. The farm staff is friendly, welcoming kids to come pet the animals while telling them a few facts about each. 

As usual, the fountains were a hit. She's getting a little braver each time, and I appreciate the Columbus Parks and Rec staff being right there to make sure no one (especially Larkyn!) is running or doing anything unsafe. I am much more comfortable with my kids at a splash park than a pool, but they aren't without risk if kids are going nuts. 

Both kids enjoyed peeking over the banks at the construction and taking a walk over the Rich street bridge to watch the diggers planting trees. It will look so nice when it is finished!

We also enjoyed this guy. Anyone know who he is??

If you haven't made it out to Fountainside yet, put it on your list and get there by at least 10:30 to enjoy fountains before the crowds. And if you're really stealthy, keep your eye on the Meijer treat truck to be there right when they start serving the free ice cream bars and popsicles. That line forms in a minute! 

Katalina for kids

When I was expecting Larkyn in 2011, my friend Julie and I did brunch a lot. One of my favorite cravings was at Katalina, and I hadn't had the chance to ever take the kids there. On the first morning of Comfest, we met our friends Mara and Maggie there for a Columbus "must".

Situated on the corner of Pennsylvania and West 3rd Ave, it can easily be accessed by taking 315 to Olentangy River Road to 3rd. If you are lucky, there is a teeny parking lot adjacent to the restaurant, otherwise you can turn right onto Pennsylvania and find on-street parking. There is also a lot nearby that you must pay to use.

The patio is where it's at! The big picnic tables, fun street views and colorful umbrellas keep the kids engaged while waiting for food. The chalk markers are genius for a little temporary graffiti as well.

There is seating inside and there is one high chair available. If you have a portable high chair, maybe stow that away in case some other lucky baby has the coveted high chair. There is fun merchandise, artwork and decor, making Katalina's former gas station exterior all the more eclectic.

Inside, you'll order at the counter. Check out the menu before you leave home so that you can prepare yourself for the innovative choices. We don't even have to prepare for ours, though. Pancake balls and bacon for life.

Pancake balls. The "real" name for them is ebelskivers, and after watching a Food Network show about street vendors serving them, I immediately went and bought an ebelskiver pan that has been used exactly two times. They are not difficult to make, and you can fill them with anything really!  At Katalina, they can be filled with strawberry preserves, apple butter, or Nutella. I'll give you a moment to guess what we got.

The perfect pairing for Nutella-filled pancakes is obviously bacon, and we chose the unspicy kind. The kids got a big helping of scrambled eggs (actually Larkyn wasn't "hungry" and then stole Maggie's) and milk was served all around.

We didn't have to wait long on our food at all, and the kids were kept busy by watching friendly city birds, people trying to parallel park, and playing with the chalk markers.

The menu is much more diverse (lots of latin influence) than just pancake balls, and because I have the palate of a 5 year old, I probably won't stray from those. But the Southern Fried Salata, Pulled Pork Tacos, and Southern Brown Betty Biscuit Balls all sounds amazing. Who's up for brunch?

The details:
1105 Pennsylvania Ave.
Columbus, OH 43201
Open 7 days a week, 8-4

Diamonds Ice Cream

On the way home from the Bunny Park fountains today, I realized we were in the area of a place I'd been wanting to try all summer. I have a funny little alarm that goes off in my head when I realize things like this, so we HAD to stop at Diamonds Ice Cream.

It is located on the corner of Bethel and Sawmill roads, in the same center as Panini Opa and the bowling alley. You can't miss the bright purple signs!

I was pleasantly surprised that I know the owner. His beautiful children went to my school and I had the pleasure of teaching one of them. Such a sweet family, and I am so happy that they opened up their own store. They also own the adjacent Tacos Locos, which we will certainly try another day.

First, the location is huge. You don't have to worry about finding a seat and could bring a whole soccer team here after a game. And the CHOICES!  I am certain that I got hyper and annoying as I looked at and sampled everything.

First up, popsicles (paletas). There are 70 flavors. 70. They (like everything else) are made in-house with fresh fruits. Next time, I am bringing a cooler to bring a billion of them home with me. They come in fun flavors like cappuccino, mango, watermelon, and unique variations like condensed milk and cucumber chile.

Next, the ice cream. Like I said, made in the back with amazing and unusual flavors. My kids went out on a limb and got Oreo and vanilla. I however, sampled pine nut (YUM--try it!) and saw about 50 more that I wanted. I love the flavors that have toppings piled on, like the Lemon Pie with vanilla wafers on top and chocolate marshmallow with a sprinkle of colorful marshmallows on top.

But my search ended when I found Ferrero. She said "It's like Nutella" when she saw my face. "Oh, I know." It must be mine. 2 scoops of it. It was light, not too rich at all, with crispy pieces of Ferrero Rocher in it. How will I ever try anything else off the menu when this exists!?

After we ate and my kids showed their wackiest post pool-ice cream behavior, I had to ask about the Aguas Fresca. And by ask, I mean try 3 kinds. If you are unfamiliar, Wikipedia can explain it better than I can. I define it as iced damn delicious water with a cream base. There are again, several choices. I asked for the "favorite", which was Eggnog. I also tried mixed fruit. You pick your base and then add in whatever fruit you like. I'd like a gallon of the Eggnog with bananas, I think.

Diamonds also has other latin specialities like spiced-up corn on the cob and "crazy" fruits/vegetables. Take a look at their Facebook page to see what happens when they make a Crazy Pineapple. They also have Crazy Cucumbers and for customers who aren't into "crazy", there are nachos and a variety of bagged chips.

I wouldn't even say "next time you are in the area", I'd say "next time you get in your car", head to Bethel and Sawmill for a treat you won't find anywhere else. And while you're there, sample a bunch of things you've never had and let me know what you think! (PS- guess who kept trying to steal bananas?)

Diamonds Ice cream
5461 Sawmill Road
Columbus OH 43235

There is shopping center parking lot, and it is accessed via Sawmill road at the Bowling Alley. There is a restroom, but no changing table or high chairs yet.

A big old happy photo fest

Life has had me down, friends!

But if you have ever tried to be mopey with a family at home, you know it ain't happening.  Dad would not allow me to have much time in any sort of mopey state, and I am trying to readjust to regular life now that it has been two weeks since the accident. Actually I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing exactly 2 weeks ago....and there I go down the rabbit hole again.

Before I get too far in, I thought I'd share some images that take me to another place when I am missing dad.

 We were at the zoo on 7/1, so I am finally seeing the photos today

Totally different reactions to the passed out kangaroo

And now, change gears. Play this song while you look at these. You have to. 
 We always talked to dad about writing his life story. I had planned to record it this summer, but I think I have said that every summer. I just always liked to hear him tell the story himself. When he retired in October, he started writing it for us. Here is where he left off, about selling his Navy sweater to get a train ticket home.

I am so fortunate that my uncle shared these photos with me. I think my dad was a knock-out, don't you!?
 My grandpa with the twins. Dad is on the right.

If he were here, he'd tell you everyone's name and where they lived. This one gets me every time.

 Forever the big brother, oldest of 6
 Grandpa with his hell-raising boys. My uncle spoke at the funeral, saying they were very poor but didn't realize it because they were happy. And they had enough. 

Look how fancy grandma had them dressed. And there is more than one story featuring these twins and those boots throughout their years, most not ending well at all.

Taps. They played and did the flag ceremony in the pouring rain, not even hesitating.

 These two, together again. Ridiculous binkies unite.

And what are the chances?

What images are making you happy this week?  And take this opportunity to talk to your parents or grandparents about their life story. Go visit with them several times to write it for them, like I should have. 

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