November in Review: Amy’s Donuts, Louisville, Toddler Theater and More!

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As I’ve gotten older, fall has started to lose its charm. Especially since I became a parent, fall has been overshadowed by the reminder that winter is coming. As a mom, to me, winter means finding indoor activities, braving the cold to leave the house, dark nights after dinner, watching the clock crawl backwards until bedtime. Winter means a lot of extra effort to get out of the house, battling bulky coats and losing gloves. It means getting out to the car and then realizing you forgot to allow time to defrost and scrape icy windows. It means standing outside in the cold while my kids build snowmen, staying at home when the roads get bad. UGH. I’m depressing myself just writing this paragraph. BUT the point I’m getting to is that this year, fall was amazing!

Sure, November was rough in a few ways: the Indians lost the World Series in a rain-delayed, extra inning Game 7, the election craziness, the loss of sleep due to staying up to watch both events unfold on TV! But there were a lot of great things about November too: abnormally high temperatures, the leaves staying full of color throughout the month, the beginning of the holidays! We had a lot of fun in November, soaking up the extra unanticipated month of warmth!

Today I wanted to share about some of the things we did in November in hopes that you might take away an idea or two!

The first weekend in November, my husband and I met my parents at the Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville, OH! I had been wanting to take the kids to eat in this train car for some time! I knew they would love it and I also wanted to personally experience it before including in my MEGA Train List!

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The diner is decorated with an OSU theme . . .

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there is a train playground outside . . .

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and they have huge burgers!

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This restaurant is about an hour drive from downtown Columbus and you could combine it with a trip to Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.

After dinner at Buckeye Express, we actually sent the kids back with my parents and my husband and I had a weekend away in Louisville – which is only 3.5 hours from Columbus! We were attending a benefit for Thistlebend Ministries, an organization that hired my husband to design their website (shameless plug), and we turned it into a little getaway to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! The two things I remember most from our trip are the walk across the Big Four Bridge:

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and Joella’s Hot Chicken:

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We checked out Tanger Outlets, Columbus for the first time! Our main goal was shoe shopping and we did succeed – new shoes for both boys! They were still wearing their rubber summer shoes made for getting wet and going in the washing machine and the warm November had lulled me into forgetting that all it would take was one cold day to freeze off their toes!

The playground at the outlets is really cute, completely closed in and my kids had a lot of fun playing there! However, it is NOT toddler friendly, there are several really high drop offs!

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While we were there, we had lunch at Rise Pies – a cheese pizza was under $6 and was pretty tasty!

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The kids and I went on a tour of Amy’s Donuts with a couple of other blogger friends from Columbus Moms Blog! It was a short, fun tour where we watched the donuts get cut, friend and iced. Each kid got to decorate two donuts at the end! You can read Helen’s post on her blog, Diaper Bag Diaries for more info and pictures! Tours are done every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Just give them a call (614-641-7721) to schedule.

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Mayson and I attended our first Toddler Theater at the Abbey Theater of Dublin with Miss Marlene – Dance and Sing! Clifford the Big Red Dog was in attendance and Mayson had absolutely no interest in getting anywhere near him! These Toddler Theaters are $2 per child and take place on select Wednesdays from 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (see the link for dates).

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One of our favorite annual November activities is Model Railroad Days at COSI. Always the weekend before Thanksgiving, the displays here are a hit with my kids! There are several large models set up across two rooms and each room has train tables for playing as well!

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I also took my kids on a blogger tour of Downtown Powell! Hosted by Storgē, the tour included stops in Espresso 22:

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Cute as a Button:

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And Storgē:

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All three shops were beautiful, the owners were friendly (and gracious, as I was the only one toting around two kids . . . haha), and there were kid friendly items for sale at each location! Keep these places in mind for unique Christmas gifts!

We finished up November with a Thanksgiving trip to my brother’s house in Barlow, KY! It was a long drive, but we survived with a lot of new library books and DVD’s. When we visit them, we love to go see the Christmas lights at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand Rivers, KY.

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It’s almost December! I love our Columbus Christmas traditions and I’m looking forward to trying some new things as well! There is a lot to enjoy during the holiday season, but I think it’s also important to pace yourself and choose your activities wisely. I can tend to cram too much in, but having kids has made me more realistic in what I can accomplish and what I should even attempt! I still overdo it (just ask my husband) but I’m looking forward to a busy yet peaceful holiday season and I wish you the same!

***I’m working on a new feature spotlighting my readers and their favorite places! Would you take a minute to tell me about YOUR favorite places to take your kids in Columbus? Pretty please?! You will be entered into a drawing for a free family play pass at Recreations Outlet! Click HERE to participate! *******

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ICYMI: MEGA Train List for Central Ohio and Beyond (MORE items have been added!)


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5 Things to do with Your Kids this Summer in Columbus

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There is no shortage of things to do during the summer in Columbus! In fact, I compiled a huge list for Columbus Moms Blog! But there are so many things, it can get overwhelming to try to keep track and try them all, so I thought I’d do a short list of some of the things we’ve actually done this summer to give you some tips and ideas if you need them!

1. Attend a Free Program at one of the Metro Parks

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In May, we attended the Pre-K program at Darby Creek Metro Park about seeds. The kids got to hear stories about planting and then plant their own seeds in a cup. It was exciting when one day we discovered our seeds had actually bloomed!

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We also attended a story time at the Scioto Audubon. Most of the Metro Parks have some type of program for kids (and for varying age groups), and except for a rare occasion, they’re free! There are so many great opportunities to take advantage of at our Metro Parks! Click the link here to search for upcoming programs!

2. Splash at FountainSide at Bicentennial Park

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FountainSide takes place most Wednesdays from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM at Bicentennial Park. (Check the schedule in the link for the dates.) We attended the first one in June. The fountain area is really large and there are activities that take place in tents around the park. We got to blow bubbles, pet turtles, see chameleons eat bugs, crawl through tunnels, do a scavenger hunt in a pretend stream and plant seeds in a pot to take home!

Donatos sells slices of pizza for $2 and the Lazer Kraze Treat Truck is on site to pass out free ice cream bars! It was a really fun time. I recommend bringing a blanket and staking out a spot on the lawn. My kids aren’t into splashing in fountains (though they will certainly go out of their way to splash in any muddy puddle they see, thank you, Peppa Pig.) but there was plenty to do anyway! If you can’t make it during the week, the fountains are available for play from 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM daily.

3. Tour the Velvet Ice Cream Factory

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We didn’t actually tour the factory, but we did attend the Utica Sertoma Ice Cream Festival on the grounds of the Velvet Ice Cream Factory on Memorial Day.  Since it was a holiday, the factory was not in operation, but we did get to see videos and take a look at the factory from the viewing window.

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The grounds of Velvet Ice Cream have a playground, a sand box, a pavilion, a gift shop and museum area, as well as restaurant and an ice cream shop, of course! It was about a 50 minute drive from downtown Columbus. 30 minute tours of the museum take place on the hour from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekdays. The tours are not offered on weekends, holidays and some Fridays.

4. Ride the CBUS

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The CBUS is a fun and FREE way to get around downtown Columbus! Not only will it save little legs from walking (or more so, your back from carrying) long distances, it’s an exciting way to see the city! The bus runs every 10-15 minutes, every day! We took the CBUS on Mother’s Day when we had dinner at Northstar and then ice cream at Jeni’s (is that the perfect Mother’s Day or what?!). Note to self, it stops at 6:00 PM on Sunday! We didn’t realize that small fact in time! Luckily it was a short walk back to our car – but something to keep in mind if it happens to be Sunday and you don’t want to get stuck at the other end of town!

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Maybe it’s because my kids are boys, but they were very excited to watch for and ride the bus! Jaden kept wanting to know how the bus knew where we wanted to go! 😉 The great thing is that it goes in a loop, so you can’t possibly miss your stop! Just wait at one of the specific CBUS signs along the route (see the link), and then pull the cord above the window when you want to get off. Take the CBUS to and from the Short North and the Brewery District, getting on and off wherever and however many times you want. Use it to get to a specific destination or just ride it for fun and enjoy the sights! (FYI, you can bring your stroller and fold it up when you get on the bus!)

5. Visit Ohio Village at Ohio History Center

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Ohio Village is open for the summer and it has been updated to represent the 1890’s! You can try out an adult-sized tricycle at the new bike shop, take your photo 1890’s style, talk with the residents about their everyday life or play old-fashioned games on the Village Green.

We attended on Opening Day and the streets were bustling with activity! We got to try hand-cranked ice cream and take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon. Ohio Village is only open through Labor Day and is included with your admission (or membership) to Ohio History Center. (You can read our review here.) Saturday, June 18th is Storybook Village and your kids can meet with their favorite PBS Kids friends! (There is usually a line for this event and it is very popular so come early!) On June 19th, the Ohio Village Muffins play vintage “base ball” on their home field!

I plan to do this kind of post a few times this summer so keep an eye out! Enjoy your summer!

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ICYMI: Day Trip: Downtown Mansfield


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