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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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$2 Tuesdays: Recreations Outlet, Columbus Zoo and Tacos!

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I know, this is crazy, right? Who does two full-fledged outings in one day, let alone one morning? But hear me out, because I think you might want to, too!

You know what else is crazy? I actually arrived at Recreations Outlet around 9:15 AM! Usually, it’s a good day if I’m getting out of the house at 10:15! It’s amazing how much that extra hour adds to your day – enough time that you would actually consider going to the zoo afterwards!

I heard about Recreations Outlet last year, but I just felt that my newly one year old was not a good fit for large playground equipment. Then summer rolled around and we spent a lot of time exploring outdoor parks. When the temperatures dropped, and my now 2 year old was a steady-enough climber, I put it back on my list of places to visit. In full disclosure, my family received a pass to visit for free, but it was 100% coincidence that I already had the playdate on the calendar with a friend for the coming week! Serendipity!

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So what makes this a $2 Tuesday? On Tuesdays (AND Wednesdays and Thursdays) from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, Recreations Outlet has charitable play, where admission is $2 per family (that includes up to 3 children). Additional children are $1 per child. Not only are you getting a major discount, but 50% of the price you pay gets donated to a charity chosen by Recreations Outlet! All other play times are $6 per child during the week, and $8 per child on the weekends.

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My kids LOVED it here!  My 5 yr old has asked to go back multiple times! It is a really great place for kids to run around and get out all of that extra energy! Besides the many sets of playground equipment, there are basketball hoops, soccer goals, trampolines and a log cabin!

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My kids are really into sports this year, so they especially liked playing in these areas!

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I’m pretty sure if kids dream of heaven, this is what it looks like!

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While our kids were playing, my friend Katie casually mentioned that it was $2 Tuesday at the Zoo. “Whaaatt is that?” I asked. When she listed off the food deals, my wheels started turning. I might have been out the door before 9:00 AM, but don’t trick yourself into thinking I had managed to have lunches packed (or the dishwasher emptied, or a load of laundry in the wash or dinner in the crock pot)! I was on time, but not SuperMom! 😉 Okay, actually, I was late for a 9:00 meet up. But I digress . . .

On to the zoo . . . Okay, $2 Tuesday only counts if you’re a member. But you’re a member, right? If you live in Columbus, the Zoo membership is a must have amiright? Also, the Zoo is 3.1 miles away from Recreations Outlet. (Actually, a lot closer than I realized, considering that I haven’t spent much too much time in downtown Powell, and I usually come to the Zoo from Sawmill Rd!) Oh! Wow, there it is!

What will $2 get you at the Zoo on Tuesday? A hot dog, or a bratwurst or a bag of popcorn (butter or kettle) or a pretzel! The three of us ate for $8! Yay! This deal is going on until December 13, 2016!

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What’s new at the Zoo this fall? Mums. Pumpkins. Boo at the Zoo. Christmas lights. I recently read on Facebook that it takes them 10 weeks to put up the lights for Wildlights! Normally I’m not a fan of Christmas decorations before Halloween, but I guess we’ll let it slide . . . 😉 It turned out that the lights were my 5 yr old’s favorite thing about the zoo that day! Maybe because Mighty Machines were involved in putting them up. (“Working for you doing mighty things . . ” (anyone, anyone?))

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Another thing we’ve been enjoying lately is taking the shuttle from the entrance to the Polar Frontier. Seriously, why has it taken me 5  years to do this? If you’re kids love the petting zoo and you don’t, this is a great way to avoid it. (cough, cough)

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You know what else is new at the zoo? Starbucks! (No, they don’t take the Starbucks Card. 🙁 I asked so you don’t have to.)

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A few more pics from our day:

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Yes, I do make my child wear a shirt that says, “My Mom’s the Bomb” – the years of picking out their clothes are short, we might as well make the most of them! 😉

Seriously, you can do this! The charitable play at Recreations Outlet ends at 11:00 AM, so you have to leave anyway. You might as well drive 3.1 miles to the zoo and have a hot dog!

Now I could just end this post right now, but there is one more way to spend $2 on Tuesday! TACOS!! Here’s a non-official short-list of places that have $2 Tacos on Tuesdays!

Local Cantina – $2 Tacos all day

Condados Tacos – Tacos are $1 off from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM, which makes most of them $2

Whole Foods – Easton and Dublin locations

Dos Hermanos – in the North Market

Balboa – Half off all Tacos

Hadley’s Bar and Kitchen – $2 Tacos

If you’re looking for more daily deals, you might enjoy my post Cheap Family Outings in Columbus for Every Day of the Week!

Know Before  You Go:

Recreations Outlet, 484 W. Olentangy/Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065, 614-792-3700
Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
(Charitable Play: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)
Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, 4850 Powell Rd., Powell, OH 43065, 614-645-3400
Fall/Winter Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (special hours for Boo at the Zoo and Wildlights)

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ICYMI: 3 Can’t Miss Pumpkin Patches Near Columbus

9 Things to Do With Your Kids this Fall in Columbus

*Please be aware,  information is gathered from multiple community sources.  Times, dates and locations are subject to change. There may be a fee to participate in a featured activity.  Please call ahead or check links to confirm activities.  Enjoy what you do today!*


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Exploring Downtown Powell with Kids

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You already know this: my kids hate splash pads! This was my last ditch effort of the summer, I swear! And now with the outbreak of that really long “C” word going around, I do solemnly swear to stop torturing them! I met up with some other mom friends from my MOPS group at the Powell Splash Pad a few weeks ago and it was definitely still a no-go for my kids. The picture below shows you exactly how close they got to the spraying water. 😉

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From a mom’s perspective, however, I liked this one. There is a playground in the same area, so kids can go back and forth between the splash pad and the playground easily. Near the splash pad is a covered pavilion with picnic tables and a large grassy lawn, so there is a ton of space for picnicking or laying out your beach towels (though shade is a bit hard to come by).

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5/25/18 Edited to ad: Unfortunately the Cruz Candy shop is no longer open.

After we hung out with our friends at the splash pad, we took a walk around the block to Cruz Candy. It’s a cute little shop with all kinds of fun treats! You can fill a bucket full or buy it by the piece.

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My kids can spot a vehicle anywhere!

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I let my kids pick out a few pieces each and then we headed outside where the game Candy Land was sitting out on the picnic table!

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In the space upstairs, above Cruz Candy, Wonder Creative does art classes for kids and they have created a wishing tree outside the store.  Jaden wished that his stuffed puppy was real and we hung his wish on the tree!

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We (I) spent a lot of time reading the wishes on the tree. There were hundreds of them! It was at the same time, hilarious, inspiring and heart breaking. I wanted to share some of the wishes with you here:

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One thing you should know about me is that I have a really hard time lying. Even to my kids about silly little kid things. I’m totally dreading the conversation about the tooth fairy! I can be very literal with them but I’m working on trying not to be a kill joy! So when Jaden asked me, “will my wish really come true?” I felt sad because, no, sorry buddy, you are not getting a puppy! But how could I crush his little heart? Even though my brain screamed, “no!” my mouth is learning to say, “what do you think?” in those moments! Sometimes it also works to just say, “I don’t know!” cause even if you DO know, it’s not worth crushing their spirit over something they’ll forget about in a day or two.

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After we finished with the wishes, it was still hot and mama needed a cold snack! We walked across the street to Rita’s for water ice (well, Italian ice, but after living in Philly I can’t help but call it water ice 😉 ) . This is how it goes: both of them choose their flavor based on their favorite color. Jaden: blue. Mayson: yellow. And I pick the flavor closest to chocolate.

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On our way back to the car, we went in Nicole’s for Kids on a whim. To our surprise, we found a play house and I could barely get the kids out of the store! Nicole’s has a lot of cute baby and toddler clothing, and this little play house is enough to keep your kids busy while you shop, and then some !

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We all had a fun morning out in Powell. All of these places are easily within walking distance of each other and there is a large public parking lot in front of Village Green Park. We even did all of this without a stroller – that’s how close everything is! There are just a few more weeks to check out the splash pad this summer as it closes for the season on September 6, 2016. Enjoy!

Know Before You Go:

Splash Pad – in Village Green Park
47 Hall St
Powell, OH 43065
614-885-5380
Open 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Memorial Day through Labor Day

The Santa Cruz Candy Company
27 South Liberty St., Powell, OH 43065
614-396-8945
Monday-Thursday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday – Saturday 11:00 AM –10:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Wonder Creative
27 S. Liberty St., Powell, OH 43065
614-318-5490

Rita’s Italian Ice
50 S. Liberty St., Suite 150, Powell, OH 43065
614-515-7482
Monday-Sunday 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Closes October 30, 2016 for the season

Nicole’s for Children
50 W. Olentangy St. (Powell Rd.)
Powell, OH 43065
614-433-0503
Monday – Friday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday – 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

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ICYMI: 8 Reasons to Take Your Kids to the New Albany Classic


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