Thanks for your questions. They are diverse and were fun to answer!
Q: What are some creative birthday party spots around Columbus?
A: My favorite topic in life. Of course, play cafes are my favorite because they offer a spot for food as well as for play. Here are some places you may not have considered: Moxie's, Franklin Park Conservatory, COSI, Goldfish Swim School, Wendy's Gym, Central Ohio Fire Museum, The Glass Slipper, and if you are lucky enough to have a birthday at the right time of the year, most local pumpkin farms have a party room and include all the farm activities. Check out this list for places that come to your house! I will never forget when my mom had a tea party brought to our house. My dream party for the kids is having Bring the Farm to You come visit. Keep in mind that often, the more awesome the place, the more it is going to cost you. If my kids had summer or fall birthdays, we would definitely rent a shelter at a local park for a very low cost, have a free playground, and either save the money or go all out on the food and decor.
Q: What kind of camera do you use?
A: Oh, another love language of mine. Actually, I have learned that camera choice is not nearly as important at lens choice, and I am the weirdo who spends free time reading lens reviews for months. Anyway, my camera is a refurbished (warrantied) Nikon d3300 I got from Adorama. It was economical and got fantastic reviews. And again, you'll want to save on the body and spend your money on lenses. In less than a year, I have traded in the 18-35mm kit lens, bought and traded a 35mm prime, bought and love my 50mm prime, and just got a 35mm Sigma Art, which I love. It is perfect for environmental portraiture, which is my thing. If you are more into landscapes (which I know you are, question-asker:), you won't want a 35 and may want a zoom. Stop in Midwest Photo Exchange and talk to them about the best lens set-up for you. The d3300 is fabulous for anyone, though.
Q: I have a monthly get-together with girlfriends of mine and am always looking for awesome new restaurants/cafes/treat shops to try. What are your top 5?
A: If it is just a mamas day/night out (YES!), I love:
- The Wine Bistro (3 locations), my favorite is in Clintonville: There are so many great entree and app choices, and everything to drink from wine flights to mules (PS- look at the Valentines Day package!)
- Figlio (2 locations): My go-to for a fancier, excellent dinner with the ladies.
- Fox in the Snow: Every bakery item is great and the iced NOLO coffee is amazing.
- Dough Mama bakery cafe: There is a big table for gathering and much more than pie on the menu! The Thunderkiss coffee hits the spot and I love the cheddar scallion biscuits.
- Cambridge Tea House: Always a hit every time. Love the black vanilla tea, sausage casserole, and chicken salad.
- Places I want to try: Meza Wine Shop, Veritas Tavern, Zen Cha Tea, Skillet, Basi Italia
Q: Any tips to make the transition from one child to 2? And fun things to get out and do with a toddler AND a newborn?
A: Congratulations! The first month was hard for us because we didn't have a few things in place. Larkyn was just shy of 3 years old and was still (happily) in the crib to sleep. As the hospital discharged us, they said "No lifting anything heavier than the baby, including big sis". Uhhh. That meant we had to transition her out of her crib with a newborn at the same time. BAD. So, get your other child set with any life transitions before the new baby. My friends set up a Meal Baby service for me, which was great. I cried at the thought of fixing dinner. And always, always have a second pair of hands around when you go out in the beginning. Nothing is scarier than the first few times you go out and don't know how to hold a toddler hand AND a baby carrier. Speaking of that, get a front carrier you love NOW. I used the Infantino sash ($35!) and that helped me with household chores. Grocery shopping was the hardest because there isn't physical ROOM to put everyone. Giant Eagle pre-ordered curbside is the best $5 you'll ever spend. Don't jump into the double stroller thing. They are enormous, don't work well, and your 3 year old will probably be done with the stroller soon. In the beginning, we did toddler in the stroller and baby in the front carrier. Eventually, she started walking alongside (with help from another person) and the baby got the stroller. Good luck:)
It's also important to note that I realized I am very unorganized as far as going out with the kids. It is good to have friends who are always prepared, because I am always borrowing wipes or toys to entertain.
And the second part, fun things to do. Well, not grocery shopping! I'd say any place you can go where it is stroller-friendly, go there. I email or call places to ask if their trails or areas are flat for a stroller or if they have steps. We did a tour of playgrounds that first summer, and it was great. The baby just slept in the stroller and Larkyn played her heart out at a new playground each time. Go somewhere with safe, easy parking (not High Street) and a quick escape (not the mall). Playgrounds and play cafes, I'm telling ya. Maybe try each of the Metro Parks this summer, and don't forget the Park of Roses! Your biggest concern will not be the baby, it will be your 3 year old running off while you're getting situated with the baby. Some parks have good buffers from traffic/bikeways and some are awful. Monterey in Dublin, Schiller in German Village, and Goodale (Victorian Village) are all safely away from traffic.
Thanks for the questions! I love answering them and I hope they help.