Parky’s Wetland Adventure

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Looking for an affordable, kid-friendly outing on a hot summer day in Cincinnati?  Consider a trip to Parky’s Wetland Adventure on the Eastside.  It’s in Woodland Mound Park which is part of the Hamilton County parks system.  It’s $3.50 each for kids ages 2-12.  Isabella was six years old when we went and she loved it.  Ivy was too old to play here.  She and I had time to chat while Isabella played with kids her age.  The view of the river from the benches at the back was amazing!

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Kite Flying in Kentucky

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We were trying to find a good place to go kite flying.  We came across A.J. Jolly Park in Alexandria, KY while searching online.  It’s a beautiful park with large open areas that were perfect for flying kites.  There is also a large lake and tons of trails.  We had a picnic under a large tree.  The kids played on the playground. The park was clean, easy to find, and as you can tell from the photo, not too crowded.  Looking for a low-key family outing in Northern Kentucky?  Perhaps A.J. Jolly is what you are looking for.

New Perspectives

We are a month into our project, “Dedicating one year to life.”  I am shocked by the difference a month has made.  The family has made huge progress toward our goals.  The kids are adapting to the changes.  We have been trying to make the changes at a slow pace to give us all time to adapt but sometimes I feel like we are on a freight train barreling down the tracks to a completely different life and there is simply no stopping now.  Maybe this is a good thing.

I have high-functioning anxiety.  I have for as long as I can remember.  It got much worse after becoming a parent.  It is something I hide and never speak of.  I even tried to hide this in the middle of a paragraph with a disclaimer at the beginning when I wrote this.  I have gotten very good at avoiding things that make me uncomfortable.  I have big dreams and I am honestly afraid to live them.  Just admitting this to myself was an issue.  Writing this is giving me palpitations.  I am trying to be brave.  I keep telling myself that I don’t have to hit publish.  I could just delete this and nobody will ever know.  I know I need to confront my fears.  I know that many of them are irrational.  I am afraid that if we continue to do this project that I am going to be confronted by some big things.  I am more afraid that if I stop now that I am going to be a bitter old lady that let fear ruin her dreams.  I have overcome some of my fears over time and it has always been for the best.  I have a list of excuses about why I can’t live my dreams that I have been hiding behind.  This project is breaking down those hurdles. 

I have grown as a person as I spend more time thinking about what I truly want in life and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t.  I always read these articles or hear these stories where the people “gave it all up” to travel the world.  I will admit that I am down right envious of those folks.  I often feel like I “gave it all up” to live the American dream.  You know the one.  A nice house in the suburbs full of crap that you don’t need.  The two cars, two fulltime jobs, kids in a good school kind of life that you didn’t know came with fun add-ons such as debt, stagnation of dreams, an ever-expanding waistline, and boredom.

I have spent a lot of time getting to know what I really want.  I have always known that I have some very big dreams.  I also always knew that there was no way that I was ever going to do any of them.  It was just one of those unspoken things between my husband and I…or so I thought.  Because of this project I found out that when my husband said that he would do any of those things with me and he thought that we could do them, he was being…SERIOUS!  I had no idea.  This information has been a bit of a shock.  I took the time to go over all the crazy things I have tucked away for someday.  I am planning, truly planning, my five-year plan based on things that I actually want.  Our list of things stopping us from living our dreams gets shorter everyday.

I’m still scared but I’m ready.

Whataburger

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No trip to the south is complete without a trip to Whataburger.  I love this place!  They have great onion rings.  Their burgers aren’t half bad either.  This particular stop was near Destin, Florida.  This place is good for families and extremely budget friendly.  It’s a great place to stop for lunch.  We ate there and enjoyed the break from the heat.

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Isabella was happy to find out that her kid’s meal included a cookie.

Crabs We Got ’em

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Crabs We Got ’em in Pensacola Beach, Florida was a fast family favorite.  It is the epitome of the kitschy seafood restaurant on the beach.  It was a must on many lists that I read while planning our trip.  The moment I looked up photos of the place I knew it was for us.  From the crab related art work and the caged birds out front to the beach playground and beach front outdoor tables, this place was made for families.

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Isabella at the playground on the beach

I normally spend some time picking accommodations and planning a couple of restaurant options.  This is especially important if we go out for seafood because one of our girls has food allergies.  With a little advance notice you can work around allergies sometimes.  I called ahead and we were able to make arrangements for her to be served macaroni and cheese before the rest of us got any food.  She then played at the on-site playground while we ate at a neighboring table that they had saved for us.  We were very impressed with the service.  They were very accommodating and our waitress was super friendly.

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Fried Crab Claws

There is something amazing about eating seafood while listening to the waves crash and staring out over the tranquility of the ocean.  The food here was amazing!  The hubby and I had a couple of crab traps (their signature drinks).  We lingered over appetizers and dinner as the sun went down.  The fried crab claws, calamari, and the tray of gulf blue crabs were our favorites.

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While I typically am very budget conscience, this place was expensive.  The food is great and the atmosphere is even better.  If you wanted to do this on a tighter budget, I would suggest the Gulf blue crab tray steamed in beer.  It was local, well priced, and big enough you could share.  You could skip the drinks.  The appetizers were so delicious I have trouble telling you to skip them.  Maybe just one appetizer.  I’ll be honest.  We really love food!  Sometimes you just have to splurge on a good meal.  It’s good for the soul.

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Just a pile of crabs! YUM!

This place was an easy walk down the beach to our hotel.  We took our time walking back, enjoying the beauty of the beach at night with the crabs scurrying around.  Isabella would scream every time one went running near her.  Ivy loved them.  The girls are very different with things like that.  We passed an area that was blocked off for a sea turtle nest.  Both of the girls were excited to see that.

Have you been here?  What did you think?  Have suggestions for our next trip to Florida? Please leave them in the comments below

Boone County Library- Burlington, KY

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This photo was taken in the play room in the Children’s area at the Main branch of the Boone County Library located in Burlington, KY.  This is a great library.  The first floor is more for grown-ups.  The second floor includes the children’s area and event rooms.  There is a small café that serves lunch. We have not tried this yet but I will update you when we do.  We have attended a free classical concert, art shows, a Lego show, and many children’s classes/activities at this location.  Best of all, they were all free!  They hold children’s events in the room pictured above so it is not always available for play space. There is another play area which includes a puppet theater and computers loaded with children’s programs.  There is typically puzzles and coloring sheets out.

I always make it a habit of getting to know every library in the area we are living.  I will start by looking them up online and seeing if they have any events that we are interested in.  Often we visit during events or during rainy/cold days that would keep us in the house.  The kids and I get sick of being in the house.  I have been known to drive for up to an hour to spend a day in a library.  We revisit our favorites.  I have made friends at libraries.  I have volunteered at libraries.  The whole family loves to read.  Ivy and I will sometimes bring our own laptops or tablets to take advantage of the wi-fi.  They really are the perfect public place to spend a day with your family on a budget.

STARLITE DRIVE-IN

Do you want to feel like you have stepped into a family night from the past?  You can do just that at the Starlite Drive-in!  We enjoyed an old-fashioned night out recently with our kids.  I was trying to find a place for a family night that the girls would enjoy but that would be a good option for a newborn.  Octavia was only a month old at the time.

I stumbled upon this while searching options in the greater Cincinnati area. The Starlite Drive-in is located in Amelia, OH.  This is an extremely affordable option for taking a family to the movies. They do a double feature.  Prices are currently: 12 and up is $8.75 and kids 4-11 are $5.25. Three and under is free. You can buy a food permit for $5 and bring in outside food.  I stopped at the grocery earlier in the day and picked up some favorite snack food.  We brought a cooler for juice and water bottles. The entire outing cost me under $50.

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We took the minivan for this trip. We turned the backseat around and laid out blankets in the back.  The kids had a blast.  I didn’t have to worry about where to feed the baby.  Best of all we got to spend some time together snuggling and it gave us a great memory.  Your kids only stay little for a short time.  Make as many amazing memories as you can!