Easy Breezy Summer Play Dates

We are so far into summer and it is so hot there aren’t enough popsicles in the world to keep us chill. Even though I am working part-time now, we are still doing our best to keep Luna busy (and exhausted) this summer. Our days at home are spent trying to find and do creative, outdoorsy, social, crafty, not expensive toddler-friendly activities. We’ve managed to keep busy at the house, but lately all I want is to be OUT. The past couple of weeks I’ve compiled some ideas of not only fun away-from-the-home activities, but also FREE away-from-the-home activities!

  1. The pool!

Okay, this first one is debatable…some pools are free. We are lucky enough to have friends and family with pools and a pass to the local rec center that was gifted to us from Grandma. If you know people with pools or have a neighborhood pool, use it! Jumping in a pool of water is just about the only relief you can get in August. Also, invest in a puddle jumper for your littles. We love ours!

little fish
little fish

2. Splash Pads!

There are two splash pads around Nashville. (The second best form of relief in the August heat.) The one in Spring Hill has dozens of interactive sprayers, squirt cannons, fountains and showers. It’s a kid’s summer wonderland. Plus, there is the coolest and newest playground right next to the splash pad – complete with artificial turf and a crazy climbing tower.

The splash pad in Spring Hill, TN
The splash pad in Spring Hill, TN

The second splash pad is actually in Nashville. It’s new, it’s on the Cumberland River right under the Pedestrian Bridge and it’s awesome. There are interactive features, rain curtains, a sand play area, a playground with a rock-climbing wall and more. We can’t wait to go back!

The Nashville spray park
The Nashville spray park

3. Playgrounds!

Luna loves playgrounds, but she is OBSESSED with slides! Or, “shlides” as she calls them. We hit up playgrounds all over the city, but you can find us in Brentwood most often. My child will be the one hogging the slide and piling mulch on the steps.

Luna's favorite piece of playground equipment, "shlide".
Luna’s favorite piece of playground equipment, “shlide”.

4. The public libraries!

The libraries in Williamson Country freakin’ rock. We have story times, craft times, preschool hours, oh and let’s not forget the free books and DVD’s. It’s heaven for both me and Luna. I hope her love of books stays with her for life.

The Brentwood Library
The Brentwood Library

5. Whole Foods! (And other free classes for toddlers.)

Our local Whole Foods has a free kids’ hour every Wednesday at 9:30. It’s a really good hour with local performers, music and dancing. Unfortunately, I’ve started working on Wednesdays so we’ve had to miss our kid’s hour. Whole Foods isn’t the only local place hosting free activities, especially in the summer. For all my local readers, check out Nashville Parent for LOTS of free activities for all ages. And, for my non-locals, check out the local libraries, parks, rec centers, gyms, museums and mom groups. I promise there’s more going on than you think!

What are you doing to keep busy this summer?

Cheers!

Father’s Day Adventures

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Yeah, it’s been a while. I know. I’ll explain that later, but today it’s Father’s Day. Dad’s, thank you. Thank you for setting a good example, being brave and strong, killing bugs, teaching how to dream, encouraging, supporting, loving, raising, disciplining, playing and being a little crazy with us. I hope you all got some extra love today.

We celebrated Dad’s day today with a little adventure, because that’s really the only way to do it for Luna’s Dad. First stop. The Treetop Adventure ropes course at Nashville Shores! While everyone else did ziplines, Tarzan swings, cargo nets and obstacles, Luna and I headed to the water park for some Mommy Toddler time. They climbed, sweated, swung and crawled while we splashed, sunbathes, snacked and swam. Not bad. (Although, I should add that spending the day with a baby by yourself at a waterpark can be a little challenging.)

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The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.
The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.

After wearing ourselves out in the the very hot sun, we had a late lunch with friends at Panera and THEN a movie date with more friends and dads to see Inside Out!

woohoo! movie time!
woohoo! movie time!

So good, so emotional, so sweet and funny and so Pixar. I’m always in my head anyways, now I feel like I know my head slightly better, or at least have characters to refer to now. Peter and I both cried…which maybe had a little to do with the fact that we have a little girl of our own. That, and we are both saps.

The night ended with sugary bowls of cereal in bed, topped with video games and trash TV. Honestly, it was such a good day, it may as well have been Mother’s Day. The only thing that would have been better was getting to spend it with my own Dad. Thankfully, we at least got to video chat. Love you and miss you Daddy!

Me and my Daddy... a few years ago.
Me and my Daddy… a few years ago.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cheers!

Newsies on the Road

Newsies_(musical)_poster

I saw Disney’s Newsies the musical for the first time during opening week on Broadway in New York. I never knew much about the show and it blew me away. What I remember most about the show was the phenomenal dancing, all male dancing. There is something very powerful and mesmerizing about all those guys spinning, leaping and flipping in unison. The dancing is what I looked most forward to when I got the invite to review the show at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

It did not disappoint.  I can’t tell you how many times the choreography gave me chills. It was honestly better than I remembered. Seize the Day had me wanting to run from the theater to start changing the world for the better, while simultaneously completing insanely difficult dance moves and acrobatic tricks. However, the dancing wasn’t the only part of the performance that had me moving. This time the lead girl, Katherine, truly resonated with me.

I’ve been slacking on work lately…. Even after 16 months I can’t seem to juggle stay-at-home Mom/blogger/tutor/what have you. (Although, I have discovered many other bloggers secret: a babysitter. I should really look into those…) In any case, the female star of Newsies, Katherine played by Stephanie Styles, is a true hardworking, witty, stand-up for what is right, seize the day kinda gal. She’s basically a Lorelei Gilmore for the 19th century, and I adore her. In fact she’s this week’s #wcw.

playbill

Her character, which doesn’t even exist in the movie, is a super cool girl that you not only want your daughters to look at as a role model, but that you yourself will look up to and love. There are a few notable changes between the movie and the musical, and in my opinion, they improved the show, especially with Katherine’s character. It’s nice to have the strong woman who can hold her own in the almost all male cast.

play

Speaking of the male cast, they are bursting with talent. Yeah, they can dance their asses off, but they can also sing as well as any other musical cast, act and entertain an audience that ranges in age from preschoolers to senior citizens. Husband and I were both impressed and entertained from beginning to end.

date night

If you want to see Newsies in Nashville, you have a few nights left to catch it! For those of you outside of Tennessee, don’t forget to check out their tour schedule. AND, for all the locals you MUST take a peek at the line up for next year’s Broadway season! I am stoked!!!

Cheers!

Making the Best of Any Situation

foam glow
Our before pic

Another weekend, another run. We typically do one glow each month, but May is special so we did two runs! The Disney Expedition Everest Challenge (blog to come) and the Foam Glow 5k in Nashville. Saturday night was the Foam Glow run and we had our biggest group yet! We ran with 9 of our friends, and while the race was a complete disappointment, we still had the time of our lives.

The start
The start

Let me do you all a favor: do NOT sign up for the foam glow run when it comes to your town! It was such an unorganized mess. It was impossible to actually run because of the crowds, mess, darkness and a myriad of other issues, and it was not nearly what they advertised. Having said all of that…we still had a great night.

lined up under the black lights and ready to go!
lined up under the black lights and ready to go!

Here’s why, we were with awesome people and we made the best of a disappointing situation. We went all out with our white clothes and glow gear, and I’m always happy when I get to dress up in some form or another. While waiting in the crowd of 15,000 people, we started a trend of breaking our glow sticks open and splattering them all over our clothes. (BTW, it burns if it gets in your eyes.). We walk/jogged/skipped through the dark course while tripping over strollers, children and holes. A couple of us may have peed in the bushes to avoid VERY long port-a-potty lines. We sang, danced, finished the race with a myriad of new inside jokes. Next, was the foam party.

This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.
This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.

There was a DJ, a mosh pit and several colored foam machines. There was foam up to our knees and thousands upon thousands of bubbles showering us from above. We jumped around and danced like college kids again, but we were done after about 20 minutes. Of course, we then realized we were drenched and none of us brought towels or a change of clothes. Woops.

foam party

It was a good time, but honestly, the best part of the night was probably our very late and long dinner at iHop, because where else do you go at midnight when you are covered in neon foam?

The view when you looked up.
The view when you looked up.

I won’t sign up for this even again because I prefer more organized 5k’s, but I will definitely be spending more time with these crazy people who know how to make anytime a good time!

And, the after shot.
And, the after shot.

Cheers!

Spreading Some Love

A couple of weeks ago, I had a mother daughter photo session with Dottie Beasley. A friend of mine told me about a “pay it forward” payment plan Dottie recently started offering, and after reading about it and Dottie’s bio on her site, I just had to reach out to her. I knew instantly that Dottie was someone I would want to be around, so I emailed her, asked her to be friends and booked a photo session.

Her “pay it forward” plan is simple. You book a session, do something nice for someone (anything!), take a picture of you and said person, send Dottie the pic with a few sentences describing your “pay it forward” experience and voila! Your photo session is paid in full! Isn’t that incredible? It’s Dottie’s way of spreading love around and making this crazy world we live in a happier place. It’s genius and beautiful.

For my “pay it forward” fee I decided to treat some new friends of mine. You can read about my story here, but to sum it up, I wanted to let my new “mom friends” in my life know I appreciate them. They have given me support, company, sanity and a lot of laughs over the last several months and I am oh so so thankful for them!!! New moms, trust me, you need a great group of Moms in your life.

And, NOW I can share the outcome of my photo session! I love them and I cannot thank Dottie enough for capturing such beautiful candid moments between me and Luna. We literally just danced, sang and played in one of Nashville’s coolest coffee shops, Atmalogy, while she snapped away. Here are some of my favs.

HZ-16
Romper from Rags to Raches

HZ-1 HZ-3-BW HZ-11 HZ-12 HZ-15 HZ-18-BW HZ-19-BW HZ-23 HZ-27

Dottie says she wants to take photos of us that hold up a mirror and say ‘Look! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful! And you are loved’. Well, Dottie, that is exactly how these photos make me feel. Thank you for doing what you do and spreading love around as you do it! People like you make this world a happier place.

For any of you locals looking for a photographer, I highly recommend Dottie and suggest you check out her work here and here and here!

Cheers!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have mothered, longed to mother or helped mother others. You are heroes!

Zoo Buddies!

We LOVE going to the Nashville Zoo, but we recently had an extra special trip because we went with Luna’s best baby buddies!

buddies

Seriously, it doesn’t get cuter than this.

house

We showed up before the zoo opened with our wagon and a bag full of snacks. The weather was overcast and 70 degrees. It could not have been a more perfect day to visit the zoo. I was the only Mom who brought a real camera so I snapped away all day and got some adorable photos. Luckily, I transferred a few of my favorite photos to my phone as soon as I got home, because, long story short, EVERY photo got deleted off my camera before they were uploaded onto my laptop! (My own fault, BTW.)

Baby loves he wagon.
Baby loves he wagon.

Whatevs. At least I have the memories of Luna and her friends riding the train, playing in the best baby play pace, petting baby kangaroos, having a picnic and being stinkin’ cute all morning.

sleepy kanga

Lucky tots!
Lucky tots!

Can’t wait for our next play date!

bff

Cheers!

The MOOsic City Run

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She loved running all over the park with her purse!

 

Another run and another sunny and warm weekend is in the books! This spring weather in Tennessee is wonderful. I don’t mind the rain a bit, and I’m soaking up as much outdoor time as possible before the unbearable summer heat hits. Plus, this was probably one of the most pleasant races we are going to be able to run until fall. Saturday morning we (our growing team!) ran the Purity’s Moosic City Dairy Dash benefiting Our Kids.

Always the entertainer... Luna stood on the winners' podium and dance for the crowd.
Always the entertainer… Luna stood on the winners’ podium and dance for the crowd.

Can you guess what we dressed as for this race?

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Cows, of course! Our official team name was “Bellarie’s Bovines”. Unfortunately, there was no costume contest, but we did run at a 7.48/mile pace! I’m especially proud of that time because we have only been running once a week lately. I guess Insanity Max 30 is doing a good job of keeping my cardio up.

me and my little farmer
me and my little farmer

Aunt Amy (the newest team member) ran her second race with us and beat her previous finishing time by 5 minutes. That is incredible! I am so proud of her, and super excited about running more races together.

5k's are exhausting for babies
5k’s are exhausting for babies

When we finished the race we were treated with milk, chocolate milk, juice, popsicles, ice cream, mac & cheese and meatballs! I think Luna, our farmer, enjoyed the treats most. Her first sip of chocolate milk was definitely a hit.

And, THEN it was time to get naked!
And, THEN it was time to get naked!

We completed our race day tradition with breakfast and Starbucks. Then, we took a sunny 6 mile walk, played at the park, did our Saturday Insanity Max workout, worked in my flower bed, made dinner and got in bed by 8pm! That was not only a very busy very fun day, but the earliest I have gotten in bed in probably 15 years. It. was. wonderful.

It was the perfect day to run around the yard naked and play in the water.
It was the perfect day to run around the yard naked and play in the water.

Bring it, Monday.

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Cheers!

P.S. WARNING- if you let your baby run around naked there is a good chance they will poop on your porch.