A Visit to Stratford Ecological Center

Have you ever wanted to take the kids (or yourself?) to "the farm"?  If you live in Columbus, Stratford  is your opportunity, and I highly recommend you visit and bring your camera.

I have been taking students to Stratford for many years, and it is always the best day of the year. This is a working (meaning not a petting zoo) farm and their mission is to educate children and adults on the relationship between living things and their environment. There is so much to see that you could certainly make a day out of it. There are kid-friendly trails through the woods, a barn (usually holding pigs and/or sheep), a greenhouse, a chicken yard/orchard, fields with cows, llamas, and goats, and a fishing pond. And in between each, you'll see farm equipment and lots of cats (which are always the favorite...go figure). There is a covered picnic area with tables and a huge grassy area for picnicking.

Over the weekend, we gathered for our first meet up to try the Stratford Harvest Fair. The purpose was to get parents and children to try something new, and I think everyone loved it! Check it out...

You don't have to wait until the next Harvest Fair to discover Stratford. You can go any time and explore on your own. There are also counter opportunities, kids' camps and story times. And Gabby's Place is just down the hill if you'd rather try some of their famous stromboli instead of packing your lunch. Enjoy!

 A little background music outside the education center

 I picked some fabric and my mom made these cute little bandanas for the kids who joined us. I was shocked that they all kept them on, although Larkyn's did get a little Pope-ish in the wind.
 He's saying "Yayyyyyyy"
 Unsure what to think = hands immediately in mouth
 I loved this area! We should bring straw bales everywhere to contain our children.
 Getting to pet the feisty llamas. Remember each animal at Stratford works and has a purpose. The llama protects the sheep from coyotes. You're welcome.
 My new favorite thing at recent festivals? Local library branches setting up a reading area. This was the Delaware branch. 
 Zinnias for days
 Oh hey, my little dirty faced farmer
 What's this? We can collect our own eggs and package them? Let's do it!
 Check out this swanky rain barrel!
 Ah ha. The hen boxes...
 Um. What?
 The greenhouse was bursting with vegetables like peppers and okra.
 She just pile-drived him from that bale. It was so thoughtful of Stratford to have a photo booth!
 Whatcha got there? Rocks? Oh, you eat those too? #soulmates #spiritanimal
 Must...pick up...every...rock...in existence...
 The day she stops noticing and picking "wish flowers" will be a sad one.
 We didn't actually do the tractor ride, but it looked like everyone enjoyed it!
 Larkyn is terrified of sheep and then wants one as a pet literally 2 minutes later. This is a chronic problem.
 Here. Eat the straw. 
(This is a giant straw caterpillar that is so fun for the kids to climb and run on)
 Yeah. That just happened. 
(The bubble station was a favorite)
 A bean box in a teepee. Childhood perfection.

Nothing cuter than a kid with a kite.
 They had a blast stamping art with vegetables with The Arts Castle. I hope you looked at that link. It is a REAL castle in Delaware. Sweet!
Some of the products they make and sell at Stratford. There was TONS of honey and there are Apiary programs at Stratford if you are interested in bees. 

My kids love any adventure where they can run around, throw things, eat things, and see animals. I think Rhys could work here in about 15 years. We didn't even get to the pond or trails and had a FULL day. Let me know if you try it out one day!

The last weekend of summer

This was one for the books. A little of this, a little of that. Perfect weather, happy kids. Summer, I can't quit you.

 seeing minnows and ducks at Goodale with Nana
 Obsessing over lily pads
Her first rose from a street "vendor" shouting, "There goes Taylor Swift!"
I love Girls Night. Especially in the Short North, especially with Nutella, and always with this girl.
 Love, love, loving this unicorn whale at the Independents Day Fest
 Bursting with pride that our city is bringing forgotten and tattered parts of town back to life
 "Cheers"ing our popsicles. That's PB and J and Fresh Strawberry from Rime Time Pops. Amaze.
 Seeing art everywhere, even strung between two warehouses (and yes, that's a urinal).
 Her new favorite phrase: "You'll never catch me!"
 Introduction to graffiti
 A little custom hand-lettering by Cheer Up Press
It makes me happy just looking at it, and I love that it was made with love by a local artist.
 Playing and playing and playing in our backyard and realizing we didn't have s'mores all summer!
 What IS this magnificence?!
Of course this one was not cool with just having one. I had to hide the ingredients. 

Well, summer. I feel like I have said goodbye about 10 times now. But the calendar and meteorologists say it's for real this time. We sure loved you!

The Guild House with kids

I put the question out there earlier in the week...where should we take the kids for breakfast on Saturday? I haven't reviewed in a while and wanted a new idea.

I got a lot of responses, but one sounded slightly "Are you crazy?" and slightly "That sounds amazing."  The Guild House, a Cameron Mitchell restaurant surrounded by lots of buzz in the past year, nestled in the ground floor of The Joseph Le Meridien Hotel.

I knew we would need to be on our A-game with behavior, but was up for the challenge of taking them to such a nice place. And their breakfast options sounded great for our family, so off we went to The Short North this morning.

Parking was easily found at the meters on the street. I love that we can use credit cards now!  Both my kids LOVE downtown, so they were happy to see the all the buses, cyclists, and even Segway tours.

We were happily greeted and taken to our table (no reservations were needed for breakfast) with a highchair ready to go. Our server, Desmond, took an interest in the kids and even caught Larkyn as she slid right off the (gorgeous) bucket seat. Good save.

He brought out our pecan roll first, so Rhys was happy. It was warm, not dry at all, and put everyone in a good mood.

My fresh squeezed orange juice was just what I hoped for, and my mom enjoyed her coffee. Larkyn of course loved Desmond for refilling her milk as needed. She's a milk junkie at this point.

While we waited for our food, we took a walk to the restroom, which was so pretty! I love when there is a private restroom instead of stalls, and I noticed a changing table and awesome Candle Lab lemon candle in there. On the way out, we got to see the food being prepped in the kitchen and took a look at the eclectic decor (and now I want a green glass chandelier).

The kids' scrambled eggs were brought out next, and those were devoured by both Larkyn and Rhys. Sometimes Rhys' eggs just end up on the floor, so it is safe to say he liked these.

Next, my mom's Eggs Benedict and my oatmeal came out. We ordered Larkyn a yogurt parfait but by the time it came, she was full. Not a problem, the rest of us ate it and enjoyed every bit of the bright, fresh berries and crunchy granola.

While we were there, Desmond checked in often and our beloved binky was picked up when tossed from the high chair. We felt welcomed with the kids and I would go back again for the pecan roll and juice (and maybe try an omelet...those looked fantastic.)  There is a full Kids' Menu with many choices that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.

A little hint: If you cross the street and go West on Lincoln, you will run into Goodale Park in one block. Don't come all the way to the Short North and skip Goodale!

The Guild House
624 North High Street
Columbus OH 43215

Please call to see if reservations are recommended for your desired time.

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