There's a park in our neighborhood we've frequented since Tory was old enough to crawl. It's great because we're within walking distance of our house should an emergency arise (like last week, when Aden had a poop-plosion out his shorts and up his entire back) and we can get there without much preparation. The one downside of our neighborhood park is it's hot -- there's zero trees and no shade, which is especially tough for Aden. I usually end up parking him in the stroller under one of the play structure's slides which does /or doesn't work depending on who else is there.
|Tory playing at the park @ 13 months old|
A few weeks ago when Andi was traveling for work and I was solo parenting for a gazillion days straight, I loaded the kids into the car and drove to French Regional Park near Medicine Lake. I had to get out of the house - had to - and I had blissful visions of Tory, Aden and I enjoying the gorgeous afternoon together, walking the wooded trails or going to the beach to play by the water. You see where this is going ... of course, our outing was basically a disaster. Aden had a major meltdown about 15 minutes into our park time and screamed the entire (long) walk back to the car. I must've looked pitiful because an elderly couple out for a stroll stopped and asked if I could use some help. YES! PLEASE! The woman pushed my Sit N' Stand double stroller (you know, the stroller my kids refuse to ride in) out of the park while I carried Aden in one arm and directed a very slow-moving Tory with the other. Thank goodness for people who offer to help! I learned two valuable lessons that day: never go for a walk without a pacifier clip (so you don't lose your baby's pacifier in public and have no way to shush him) and be careful what you roll into a gigantic park with (stroller; two kids, gear, etc.) because you'll inevitably be carrying it all back out.
Our school-year ECFE preschool class set up weekly play dates at various parks this summer and last week Tory, Aden and I joined up with the group at Plymouth Creek Park. This place is a hidden gem in Plymouth's park system. Plymouth Creek Park has several sets of playground equipment and swings to accommodate a large number of kids and a big sand box which Tory absolutely loved. There's a few trees for shade and even a picnic shelter. Awesome find! We've been back to this park a few times since then and I love how there's always other kids around to play with Tory.
|Digging in the sand at Plymouth Creek Park|
Next month, our ECFE group is meeting at a splash pad in Robbinsdale and I'm super jazzed to check this place out. I've always wanted to take Tory to a splash pad, which is basically like a giant sprinkler park. I think she'll love it, especially on a hot summer day. There's another splash pad in St. Louis Park on my bucket list to check out this summer, too.
Yesterday, the weather was 80 degrees and beautiful outdoors, so I decided it was the perfect day for a picnic at the park. I packed a lunch for Tory and I (which I've learned is key to keeping the fun times rolling and avoiding meltdown mania induced by hunger) and we set out for a fun morning. Picnics are one of Tory's favorite things to do this summer -- sometimes, I think she enjoys dining al fresco more than playing in the park itself. Last year, I purchased these Easy Lunchboxes and they're perfect for lunches on the go. Paired with my favorite JJ Cole park blanket and we've got ourselves a festive lunch outdoors. We had a ball at the new-to-us park by our house, which offered nice playground equipment, a sand box and big trees for shade. Extra bonus points in my book because it's set back from the road giving the park a nice, quiet woodsy feel.
I put together an essentials kit to keep in the back of my car, so we're always ready for fun wherever the summer may take us. The kit includes: sand buckets and shovels, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a ball, picnic blanket, sunscreen and wet wipes. Having extra toys to play and share with new friends makes our weekly park adventures all the more fun.
Three cheers for summer - it's finally here!