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Summertime

Summertime

2016: My Summer of Love

May 26, 2016

Last day of work last day of pre-k

 

I’ve heard that once you write down a goal, you’re much more likely to follow through. The closest thing I keep to my own journal (besides this blog) is the one I have been writing in for my daughter, Lucie, since before she was born.

So, a month ago, I opened up her journal and I wrote this.

I can’t work full-time anymore. Well, with your dad and I both working full-time, with demanding careers, it just isn’t working. Something has to give. And we certainly don’t want it to be you who falls to the wayside. So in a few weeks, I will put in my notice at work. I will take the whole summer off with you. We’ll do so many fun things together. Then when you start Kindergarten, I will try to find work freelancing or working from home.

It’s scary stuff, making that leap…but I’ve talked it over (and over and over) with your dad and close friends and family, and everyone seems to agree that it’s the right move. So we are just going to trust God on this one, and in the meantime, enjoy our awesome summer together!

Love, Mom

Somehow, there was no turning back after that moment. Today was my last day of work, and Lucie’s last day of Pre-K. I am the crazy person who left their job with nothing else lined up. But, something tells me I won’t regret it.

I’ll use my newly found freedom to blog more regularly (hey, I wrote that down, so now I have to do it!)

In the meantime, please give me ALL of your ideas for entertaining a rambunctious 4-year-old.

And, um, if you’re ever looking for a freelance writer, let me know?

Kids Outdoors Parties & Celebrations Summertime

A Piedmont Park Birthday Party

August 19, 2015
Splash Pad Birthday Party

My baby girl, Lucie, is turning FOUR in exactly one week. Not only that, but she started Pre-K on the 10th. It just doesn’t seem right to see my little not-quite-four-year-old walking up and down the halls of an elementary school, with kids that look 3 feet taller than her! I’ll write more about our Georgia Pre-K experience in a later post.

We aren’t planning on having a big birthday party for her this year, since things have been so hectic for us and she just switched schools. However, since her Piedmont Park birthday party last year was absolutely epic and I never blogged about it, I thought I’d relive that day now.

Piedmont Park Birthday Party Invitation

Invitations by Shutterfly

We really wanted to do something where we could invite all of her friends from preschool, and their families. It’s a little tricky finding a venue for an August birthday in Georgia. Since it’s sweltering outside, it either needs to be indoors or somewhere that guests can cool off in the water. I detest indoor playgrounds and arcades, and we didn’t feel like forking over the big bucks to rent a pool, so we decided on Legacy Fountain (the “Splash Pad”) at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park .

Piedmont Park Splash Pad Map

After we sent out the invitations, I was a little nervous for a few reasons (besides the fact that I’m just a nervous wreck in general). The space around the splash pad can’t be reserved, so we’d have to get there super early to claim a spot. The parking in the deck (near the Botanical Gardens) can also be unpredictable, since they sometimes close it off for a private event. Of course, weather is always a wildcard, too.

But the birthday party ended up being all-around awesome. The kids loved playing in the splash pad. We kept the decorations and food pretty simple, with Publix platters, beach balls, and a few balloons. Almost all of her friends showed up, which is still the biggest thing I remember from that day.

I’d recommend the location to anyone who’s looking for a cheap and convenient location to host a kid’s birthday party. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Arrive early. I dragged my poor sister out there at 6 a.m. to start setting up, and make sure we reserved a table. That may have been a little extreme, since no one else showed up for a few more hours. But there was one other birthday party there that day, so I was glad we did arrive a few hours so we could get a spot.
  2.    Bring trash bags (and probably cleaning gloves). While there are cleaning crews that occasionally pick up trash around the splash pad, there will likely be lots of debris left on the ground from yesterday’s party/crowds. They don’t clean it all that thoroughly. You might want to do a sweep before the party starts, to make sure the area looks presentable.
  3.    Have extra sunscreen, swim diapers and fans for guests. There isn’t a ton of shade, even under the awning. We picked up some dollar store sunscreen to have available for anyone who might have forgotten theirs, and left some battery-powered fans around for guests (again, the party was in August). They also require babies/toddlers to wear swim diapers, so go ahead and bring some in case anyone forgets.
  4.    No dogs. The guards at Piedmont Park won’t allow dogs in the splash pad area. You may want to let your guests know, in case they’d planned to bring their dog along for some dog park fun afterward.
  5.    Bring a wagon or cart to haul your stuff. It’s a little bit of a walk from the parking deck over to the splash pad. Not a bad walk in itself, but you won’t want to be hauling everything by hand to and from the party. Bring a cart of some sort. That said, if you have young kids, be sure to bring the stroller.
  6.    Bring TP & hand sanitizer. Conveniently, there are public restrooms right there at the splash pad. But as you might expect at a public park, they aren’t always stocked with toilet paper or soap. Bring some for you and your guests.

piedmont park birthday party

 

We loved Lucie’s birthday party at Piedmont Park. We came away with lots of memories, awesome photos, and our budget still intact.

Have you done an outdoor birthday party at a park? What other tips do you have?

Parties & Celebrations Summertime

A Christmas in July Pool Party (in August)

August 10, 2015
Christmas in July Shower: We Heart ATL

I’m beyond excited for my friends Alli and Michael, who are finally gettin’ hitched in less than a week! If you knew this wonderful couple, I think you’d be pretty excited too.

The other bridesmaids and I wanted to throw them a couple’s shower that wouldn’t be too stuffy, girly,  or formal (considering the groom is quite the guy’s guy).

Well, the bride-to-be happens to be one of those people who’s obsessed with Christmas. This girl could give Buddy the Elf a run for his money. Seriously, I think her Christmas countdown starts on December 26.

Buddy the Elf

What better theme for their shower than “Christmas in July” (well I guess technically it’s Christmas in August, but who’s keeping tabs?). We could decorate using stuff we had in our attics. Since the theme is naturally corny, it helped keep the mood casual. And it would make for some great memories.

Location: The pool at our friends’ townhome complex (read: FREE!)

pool noodle candy cane

The Invitations:

We decided to send out Evites to save a little money. But to give it a personal touch, my friend Holly (clearly the artist of the group) designed the invitation, and by paying a little extra, we were able to customize the Evite with her image.

Christmas in July Party Invitation

Artwork by Holly Adams

The Delightfully-Tacky Decor:

  • Candy Cane Pool Noodles (see instructions here) leading to the pool entrance
  • Flamingo lawn ornaments (from Five Below) wearing tiny santa hatsflamingo wearing santa hat
  • Wreaths and ornaments (from our attic)
  • Light-up palm tree (procured from a bridesmaid’s parents garage)
    Light-up palm tree: Christmas in July pool party
  • A giant, lei-wearing Santa (also procured from a bridesmaid’s parents’ garage…apparently they have some killer parties, too!)Santa wearing lei
  • Paper snowflake decorations and cheesy santa headbands from Oriental Trading Coheadbands

The Refreshments:

  • The shower was at 2 p.m., so we decided to go with a light snack. A nacho platter from Willy’s! Can’t go wrong with queso and guac.
  • We made some margaritas using a recipe we’ve bee using since college (which includes tequila, beer, and frozen limeade mix). We re-named it “Grinch Punch” for this occasion.grinch punch
  • We ordered the cupcakes from Piece of Cake. They don’t do custom designs, so we customized them ourselves with snowman and umbrella toppers. They turned out super cute.

Snowman cupcakes from Piece of Cake

 

Activities:

I personally am not huge on typical “shower” games, especially when it’s a co-ed shower. But we set up a cornhole and ladder ball which was a big hit with the guests.

This year is flying by so fast that before we know it, we’ll be celebrating the real thing!

What about you? What’s the wackiest party or shower you’ve ever thrown, or attended?

Kids Outdoors Summertime

Ultimate Guide: Top Free Playgrounds in Atlanta

July 17, 2015
The Best Playgrounds in Atlanta

6. The Playground @ PDK (Peachtree Dekalb Airport)

What kid wouldn’t love a continuous show of planes taking off and landing

Why kids <3 it: What kid wouldn’t love a continuous show of planes taking off and landing, while enjoying a recently-constructed playground complete with swings, slides, monkey bars, & more?

Why parents <3 it: In the airport office park/hangar right next door, you’ll find a “dive” restaurant called Downwind Restaurant & Lounge that’s perfect for catching lunch (and maybe a drink), complete with a cool view of the PDK runway. There’s also a covered structure close by with picnic tables, perfect for gatherings or parties. If your kid (or you) is a total aviation geek, you’ll love that there is a speaker where you can hear communication between pilots and air traffic control.

Tip: Downwind doesn’t allow kids on Friday evenings after 7 p.m., and they’re closed on Sundays. For the full experience (lunch with a view + playground time), go on a Saturday.

Free Parking? Yes.

Restrooms? Yes, located inside the office building next door (same building as Downwind), on the second floor.

Get there: 2000 Airport Road, Atlanta, GA 30341

 

5. Riverside Park in Roswell

During peak months, there is always something going on here

Why kids <3 it: This is a sprawling park with tons of things to do, from the multiple playground structures to the huge splash pad area.

Why parents <3 it: During peak months, there is always something going on here during the weekends. Hit up this park on most weekends, and you can expect to find a festival, food trucks, and more. During the summer, Roswell hosts its free concert series here, and patrons are welcome to bring coolers with food and beverages (yes, adult beverages too).

Tip: Admission to the splash pad is $2 per person. It’s a closed off area, and pets/food/drinks aren’t allowed.

Restrooms: Yes.

Get there: 575 Riverside Road, Roswell, GA

 

4. Noguchi Playscape at Piedmont Park

The only playground in the WORLD designed by world-renowned artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi

Why kids <3 it: Lots of funky shapes, colors, and textures to explore (and climb all over). And since it’s Piedmont Park, there are lots of doggies to see, too.

Why parents <3 it: The architecture. This is the only playground in the WORLD designed by world-renowned artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Combined with the beautiful city skyline, it makes for wonderful scenery and photo ops.

Tip: The playground is also very close to The Nook, a kid-friendly and laid-back spot to grab some grub and perhaps a bloody Mary (trust me, you’ll want to try this one: it has all kinds of goodies).

Free Parking? Depends on how far you want to walk. You can park for free in some of the neighborhoods surrounding Piedmont, or pay about $5 to park in the paid lot adjacent to the Botanical Gardens, which is also a little bit of a walk.

Restrooms: Yes, but just warning you – they’re “squatty potty” style, not always the cleanest, and there isn’t always TP available. Be prepared with some wipes and hand sanitizer.

Get there: Piedmont Park, 1432 Worchester Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30306


3. Abernathy Greenway Playable Art Park

The most whimsical, imaginative play structures you’ll ever see.

IMG_2342

Why kids <3 it: These are the most whimsical, imaginative play structures you’ll ever see. It’s technically art, but it only looks like you’re not supposed to touch it.

Why parents <3 it: The same reason the kids do!

Tip: For us, this playground is right on the way home from Sope Creek park. We like to do a little hike in the morning, and then stop by here to let our daughter play.

Free Parking? Yes.

Restrooms: Yes.

Get there: Abernathy Greenway, Abernathy Rd. NW, Sandy Springs

 

2. Brook Run Park

A concrete ‘stream’ encircles the park.

Why kids <3 it: This playground is huge. They have several different sections, with something for every age (from young toddlers to teens, who can enjoy the skate park next door). During the summer, they turn on the water feature – a concrete “stream” that encircles the park.

Why parents <3 it: This park will keep your kids busy for hours. Even if you have a younger kid (or one who’s timid, like ours), there are smaller structures that are more at their comfort level. There are also plenty of shaded areas.

Tip: There is an awesome dog park close by! Let Fido play for a while first, and then hit up the playground (your fur baby can join you here, too, on a leash).

Free Parking? Yes.

Restrooms: Yes.

Get there: Georgia Way South, Dunwoody, GA 30338

 

1. Historic Fourth Ward Park

This is a playground outing that you can really make an afternoon of.

Why kids <3 it: This park has so much going on! The playground offers new twists on play structures, including swings shaped like giant saucers. During warm months, kids of all ages can cool off at the free splash pad, with neat water features.

Why parents <3 it: This is a playground outing that you can really make an afternoon of.

Tip: When the kiddos are tuckered out from playing, take a stroll through a beautiful park and residential area to the new Ponce City Market, and grab lunch or a gelato at the food hall (opening soon).

Free Parking? Yes, but it’s street parking.

Restrooms? Yes.

Get there: 680 Dallas St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308