Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Play House Toy Store

A note from Sarah C.:

It seems like locally owned toy stores are becoming more and more rare which made this discovery very exciting.  Some of our readers might know of The Play House Toy Store in Durham, but it was new to me as it's in an area of Durham I'm not too familiar with. It's a small store packed with fun sure to delight any age.


Besides the wonderful assortment of items to purchase, there are a few small areas such as a train table where little ones can play while you shop.  What really grabbed my attention though were some of the special details: free gift wrapping, birthday party trunks available to borrow, and a lending library for video games and cds.  They also have a gift registry
available for baby showers and for children's wish lists.

Finally, the friendly staff make this visit a special one so look for the bright yellow door and stop in.

This pairs well with visits to Blue Corn Cafe and Ox & Rabbit: Soda & Sundries - both are located just down the block.

The Play House Toy Store
http://www.playhousetoys.com/
702 Ninth Street
Durham
919-286-1317
Hours: Tu - Sat 10am to 6pm

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Hope Valley Railway

A post today from the blogger that brought you the Talking Trees Trail information. Thanks, Marney!

I am continually surprised and excited that really cool activities exist just a short distance from my house. This is how I felt arriving at the New Hope Valley Railway (NHVR) for a kids birthday party and train ride. How could I not have known about this place?

When you walk in, you can’t miss the G Scale model railroad. The fenced-in layout has over 1,000 feet of track, with tunnels, bridges, buildings, plants and trees. As you walk around the layout you can see houses, churches, an engine house and people just like you would at a real railroad. There is also a Thomas the Tank Engine” model which was a big favorite of our toddler group.

After exploring the model, we walked past several different trains that the railway operates (diesel, steam and a historic caboose) and on to the ticket booth before boarding the train. The ride from the station in Bonsal to New Hill and back is a scenic 9-mile trip lasting about 55 minutes. Kids of all ages (and the adults) seemed to love riding through the woods, listening to the wheels chugga chugga and the whistle choo choo. The conductor gave a lot of history about the area and the train but it was difficult to hear over the train and the chatter.

The New Hope Valley Railway has been in operation as a living railroad museum since 1984. They offer train rides on the first Sunday of each month from May to November and both Saturday and Sunday during the first two weekends in December. Special trains are operated for Halloween on the evening of the last Saturday in October, and with other themes throughout the year. A bluegrass or country band plays music on ride days and cool fact, everyone that works here is a volunteer!

After the ride, there is so much more fun to be had. You can learn more about the railway at their museum, an outdoor exhibit of historic and heritage railroad equipment. Admission is free and they’re open weekends from 9-5. They also have a gift shop with a good selection of railroad-themed mementos and toys.

If you have a really big railroad fan in the family, the NHVR also has an Operate-a-loco program where you can run a diesel or steam locomotive under the supervision of a train engineer. Apparently, there are only about six or seven places in the country where you can do this.

Logistics:

Tickets prices are $10 adult/$7 child and may be purchased online one month prior to the ride. You can also purchase tickets on site the day of the ride but they don’t guarantee you will get on if it fills. If the online system says “sold out” call the railway because they hold a small amount of tickets to sell one hour before each train departs.

Group Rides are available and operate on the third Friday of each month from May to November. Contact the railway for more information.

You have two options for a party here; rent out their stationary caboose or have your friends buy tickets and ride the train together. Check the website for additional information.

There are several picnic tables where you can have lunch or set up party food + cake.

There are no restrooms on the train so be sure and go before you hop on.

New Hope Valley Railway
http://www.nhvry.org/
5121 Daisey St
New Hill, NC 27562
(919) 362-5416 Yard Office
Email: info@nhvry.org

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Janie + Jack

Back to Crabtree Valley Mall on this rainy Monday...but I bet you all already know about the high-end kids clothing store Janie+Jack. We mentioned them in our Favorite Websites post and it sits upstairs at Crabtree Valley Mall. If you want cute, high quality (yet they aren't cheap) clothes for your kids, head to Janie+Jack.

Janie+Jack has boys and girls clothes from newborn up to size 8. Their new clothes are sold in "themes." For example, there is a whole Autumn Timber theme right now that has pants, sweaters, shirts, hats, socks, vests and onesies all within that theme (check it out online at www.janieandjack.com).

I personally find it hard to shop that way, so luckily the online shop also lets you browse by type of clothing (i.e., sweaters, pants, layette).

The best though is to get in the store and shop. You can see for yourself the high quality of clothes here. They are made to withstand the rough and tumble life. If you try them on your child, you will see how well these clothes fit, too. And you will probably oooh and ahh over some items. If you have older kids be careful since I found myself dreaming of having a newborn again when I saw those cute little onesies...danger...

I think these clothes are expensive for kids clothes, but for a special occasion or a gift Janie+Jack clothes are a winner every single time. Also stay tuned to clearance, since you can hit a really good deal.

Something else I love about Janie+Jack clothes? Their shorts come with adjustable waist bands. Having a long, skinny boy, he has problems keeping his shorts up. I love this feature.

Janie+Jack
www.janieandjack.com
Crabtree Valley Mall

4325 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh
919-783-7599

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Take a Child Outside week

Take a Child Outside Week ("TACO") is September 24- 30. For a Sunday evening's read and something a little different, we are reposting (with permission) an article from fellow blogger GetGoingNC.com that made us think. Also has some great links to activities and calendars celebrating this event! Hope it is useful to you.

This week, Take a Child OutsidePrint This Post
By JoeMiller
from GetGoingNC.com
Fri, Sep 24, 2010

This week, Take a Child Outside

It was a telling commentary on the times four years ago when Liz Baird came up with the idea for Take A Child Outside Week. The simple notion that you needed to dedicate a week to encouraging kids to go outside and play would have been preposterous just a decade earlier. Yet with the proliferation of video games and parents increasingly fearful of threats real and perceived, kids were staying inside — and being kept inside — in record numbers. The dilemma was chronicled by author and advocate Richard Louv in his 2005 bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” an account of how our kids had gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room in less than a generation.

Perhaps because of the incredulity of the fact kids now had to be pushed outside to play, Baird, director of school programs for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, initially had a tough time pitching Take A Child Outside Week. That has since changed. Helped in part to the awareness created by Louv, that has since changed.

“I recently compared it to a ball rolling down hill,” says Baird. “We just gave it a push and it continues to spin faster and faster. I now have people seeking me out to become a partner.”

To date, Baird says TACO has been embraced by more than 400 partners — various agencies with a stake in kids, the outdoors or both — in all 50 states and four foreign countries. In North Carolina alone, Baird says there are “hundreds of events” planned for Take A Child Outside Week, which begins today.

Baird is particularly pleased with the breadth of TACO programs. There are the bread-and-butter educational programs designed to get kids outside, your Hopper Herdings, your Carnivorous Plant Hikes. But there are also programs with a more interdisciplinary bent.

In Chatham County, for instance, high school art students will work with Museum of Sciences exhibit project coordinator Jane Eckenrode to “get out and draw the outside world.”

“It’s a way of helping students make better observations,” says Baird. “A way of better understanding the natural world.”

And there are programs that get at the gut of why kids really want to go outside. In Virginia, says Baird, they hold an “Earn Your Bath Day.”

“They go out and create a big mud pie,” says Baird.

“When we first launched this it was very unique, there were not many organizations pushing people to go outside,” says Baird. “In the past four years there’s been increased awareness of the benefits of being outside.”

The latest case in point comes from a National Wildlife Federation survey this past spring of 1,900 educators. Among other things, it found:

  • 78 percent said kids who spend regular time in unstructured outdoor play are better able to concentrate and perform better in the classroom,
  • 75 percent said students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and are better at solving problems in the classroom.

In the back-to-nature movement of the 1970s people were encouraged to get outdoors on the assumption that they would be more compelled to protect and preserve what they were intimately familiar with. Baird says that motivation remains, but with our kids becoming increasingly sedentary and obese, the impetus to take it outside is even greater.

“We don’t just get kids outside to appreciate nature so they’ll want to save it, we need to get them outside because it’s healthy.”

* * *
More on Take A Child Outside Week

Baird says hundreds of Take A Child Outside Week events are planned across the state. Here are three places to find them:

Are you a parent who frets over letting your kids explore the great outdoors? Richard Louv offers advice in his recent article, “Hummingbird Parents: Seven Actions Parents Can Take To Reduce Risk and Still Get Their Kids Outside. Read it here.

What’s the No Child Left Inside Act? Read about it here.

The Tumble Gym Open Gym

Updated 1/2012:  The Tumble Gym has added Mon- Thurs 12-1 pm for Open Gym times and weekend times have changed to Fri 12 - 4:30 pm and Sun 12 - 5 pm.  Also, the cost has gone down to $8 per child for an hour of play.
 
Is anyone else ready for the fall yet? Ugh, since it was still so hot last week I was looking for indoor play opportunities and tried out The Tumble Gym's Open Gym.

The Tumble Gym is in Southern Village. A la The Little Gym and Gymboree, they offer classes in movement, gymnastics, and dance for kids of all ages. However, The Tumble Gym is locally owned and in Chapel Hill. Also, unlike some other spots, you do not have to be actively enrolled in a Tumble Gym class to go to Open Gym.

C had a great time here and it was a really good way to burn off energy.

Here is what we loved: The gentleman running the Open Gym was very nice and interactive with the kids. He would bring out toys and suggest activities for the kids to do, even playing games with some of the older kids. The equipment was in great condition and very clean. The room was very safe.

Open Gym is open to all ages provided that kids are at least 1 and walking. If there are a lot of children of different ages, part of the room is blocked off for younger kids so that they don't get trampled by the exuberant and more mobile older kids.

You must stay with your child as there is no unattended play at Open Gym. Bring socks or plan to go barefoot (both of you!). But the gym is adult-friendly too and the other parents there seemed to be having a good time playing with their children on the equipment.

The two negatives I found were: The limited time it is offered, which is only Fridays and Saturdays and even then with limited availability. And the price, which at $10 per hour per child is a little steep. And they do hold you to that hour.

They have a Parents Night Out the last Friday of every month from 5-8 pm. It is $25 for the first child, $15 after that, and includes pizza. Which is a great option for parents as there are plenty of restaurants and a movie theatre in Southern Village.

Call ahead to confirm hours since they offer birthday parties and Saturdays are popular days.

The Tumble Gym Open Gym
www.thetumblegymsv.com
Open Gym Hours: Fridays 12 pm to 7 pm and Saturdays 1 pm to 6 pm.
601 Market Street
Chapel Hill
919-942-7687

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flash Giveaway Winners

Two winners this go round.
The giveaway is the brand new "Once Upon a Hill" Children's Book.

Winners are:
Kristy and
Anu (we promise she didn't get special attention because of her nice comment-- all entries were picked from Random.org-- although we do like the nice comment)

If the winners could email mominchapelhill@gmail.com, we will get you your beautiful, keepsake "Once Upon a Hill" book.

Have a great weekend every-Blogger.

Buy Buy Baby Nursing Lounge

To complete our trifecta of Nursing Lounges, here is the Buy Buy Baby one we heard so many rave reviews about:


The nursing lounge is at the front of the store, near the registry desk. The women's bathroom is in the rear of the store. So this is set up differently from the "Other Place." There is a separate and distinct, and also quite lovely, changing room next to the nursing lounge.

The Buy Buy Baby lounge is obviously new, and is very clean. There are two large, cushy, new gliders that are way nicer than what we have at home. And the walls are cutely decorated. It is cozy in here.

And, as noted with the Babies R Us post, so many go in and out of this store that you shouldn't feel obligated to buy anything with a trip in.

Buy Buy Baby
http://www.buybuybaby.com
5430 New Hope Commons Dr
Durham
919-489-4095

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Border's in Chapel Hill & Storytime

In a nationwide epidemic, Border's in Chapel Hill closed their doors April 2011.

We have posted about the Border's in Cary, and I had taken pictures of our Border's in Chapel Hill months ago. But then I realized that they had a storytime, too, and decided to wait til I could get the scoop on the storytime and give you all the information at once! Isn't that nice?!

So here's what we've got:
Border's is a great place to pass time. Let's be honest and say that the book area has, over the past year or so, become full of more and more toys and non-book things. But overall, I tend not to mind given the books that are there. And while it is hard to pull C away from the stuffed Elmos, it is nice to have options I suppose.

In the kids' reading area, there is a great little wood table with chairs (which I have seen many adults perched at during my visits) and a second activity table with a bead run. These are the same as at the Cary Border's. But it feels cozy in here. Note that this area is most definitely not partitioned off from the rest of the store. So a case of Runaway Babies is possible. Right to the espresso bar.

For the storyime, this is a great idea being at 10 am on Wednesdays. But for some reason this wasn't well attended when we went. Back to school time would be my guess. Regardless, we had fun here.

The woman who read was very sweet and good with the kids, but the book selection didn't seem to fit the audience. Since school is back in, the audience is certainly going to be younger. And the book that we read was geared towards older kids (kindergarten is our guess) as it was a lot of words, a complex story, and very few pictures.

Either way, it is a great service they offer and completely free. It was nice that we could spend some time at storytime and mama could leave with a nice skim pumpkin spice latte. (C'mon fall.)

Border's also has other fun events for kids. Check out their calendar on the website below.

Border's in Chapel Hill
www.borders.com or here
1807 Fordham Blvd
Chapel Hill
919-929-8332
kids storytime every Wednesday at 10 am

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flash Giveaway: "Once Upon a Hill" Book

We here at Mom in Chapel Hill were lucky enough to get 2 hot-off-the-presses brand-new beautiful "Once Upon a Hill: A Chapel Hill Story" books.

This new book, all about Chapel Hill of course, is written and illustrated by the same team that brought you the treasures of "Polly and the Forbidden House: A Hillsborough Story" and "A Weekend in the Paris of the Piedmont: A Carrboro Story." Both of these we love and have posted about on our blog.

This newest book is a story about a little girl who discovers the history of Chapel Hill and all the wonderful things here (I learned some things, too). This is more of a book for older kids, but it is certainly a keepsake.

So here's how our flash giveaway works:
Just post a comment telling us what you love about Chapel Hill to gain an entry. We'll pick the two winners through Random.org.

This is a short window of opportunity. This closes Friday at noon, and the winners will be announced Friday evening.

Chapel Hill Community Center Indoor Play

The Chapel Hill Community Center has restarted their Indoor Play for Toddlers. I am going to first tell you my thoughts about this Indoor Play, then I will tell you how I think you could best use this service.

My thoughts in a nutshell: I was disappointed. I was expecting something similar to the Carrboro Century Center's playtime, I suppose. At Carrboro's playtime there were a slew of toys, children's music, different stations for play, and generally just a fantastic set up. However, at the Chapel Hill playtime there wasn't any sort of organized playspace established. I showed up with C to find an indoor place to play to get out of the house but avoid the lingering heat. I had a slight argument with the woman at the front desk about where I lived and if I had to pay, then was let in to the gym.

The gym smelled. They had just cleaned the floor, so it smelled strongly of chemicals. Which, as I had just read the HappyBaby book, I was very sensitive too. There also weren't any toys. The woman at the front desk came back in after about 5 minutes with 1 kickball and a plastic bin with some large blocks in it. C played with the kickball for about 1o minutes, then we were ready to go.

Note that you can not use the climbing wall, which makes sense for safety reasons.

All that said, here is how I think you could use this: if you and some friends want to plan a playdate and are looking for a large, indoor, contained space for the kids to play together, this is your spot. Bring toys and plan to meet here to let the kids run together (perhaps call ahead and see if they have cleaned the floor recently to gauge the smell factor). But I would certainly plan this with friends and I would come with toys. Think of it as a large room to use, which could come in handy!

The charges to get in to Indoor Play are $3 per adult and $2 per child for families who don't pay Orange County taxes (so if you are in that area of Chapel Hill that has a Chapel Hill mailing address but you pay Chatham Co. taxes - you know who you are - you do not qualify for free indoor play). If you pay Orange County taxes it is free.

The good news is that this Indoor Play is available Mondays through Fridays 10:45 - 11:45 am. Yup, every weekday!

So, despite my personal disappointment, I still think that there is a use for this. It is a nice thing to know about and resource to use. Just make sure you use it smartly!

If anyone else has any tips on getting the most out of this Indoor Play, send them along my way.

Chapel Hill Toddler Indoor Play
Chapel Hill Community Center
120 South Estes Road (near University Mall across from the Post Office) http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=814
Mondays through Fridays September - May, 10:45 am - 11:45 am

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Fairy Godmother Shop

Updated 12/2011: Well we can't find anything official out there, but all our sleuthing leads us to believe that My Fairy Godmother is closed.

When I posted about The Children's Store in University Mall, reader Cate mentioned the brand-new My Fairy Godmother store across the hall. Having just a boy here in our household, I never really thought to head in. But tired of passing up all the cute pink and toille, I went in to scope it out. And how cute?!!?

This place has been open 5 months and specializes in making your little girl (or boy if you want) into a princess, ballerina, or anything sparkly and shiny. And with Halloween around the corner, this is a good place to know about!

There are tutus all over in here. Of all colors, shapes and sizes. Prices aren't discount, but they weren't too terrible either.

There are also books, toys, butterflies, angel wings, feather boas, sparkly hats, nailpolishes, make up and more.

For $8 you can get your little one a mini-manicure. There is a special manicurist's table in the back and the shop owner does them. There is also a dressing room and outside a large 3 piece mirror. It is the ultimate dress up spot.

This is such a cute place. Just wish some of those tutus fit my hips!

My Fairy Godmother
Starting in October: open Monday - Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday 1 pm to 6 pm.
Facebook Page
201 S. Estes Drive
University Mall
Chapel Hill
919-265-0201

Monday, September 20, 2010

Burwell School Historic Site

This was such a fun little stop for us. C doesn't know anything about school yet. He is blissfully unaware of school, and books, and teacher dirty looks, but I really enjoyed this historic school.

The Burwell School was one of the first schools for women in North Carolina. It was established in 1837 and operated for 20 years. It is named for the Burwell family, who founded the school. Mrs. Burwell taught the women, and kept many records, diaries, and other logs of activities here. So when establishing the museum it was easy to recreate life as they knew it.

The main house served as living quarters for the Burwell family and the Boarding House for some of the students. And it underwent a significant addition during the school years, changing it's layout, so it is fun to see. It is decorated inside with goods from the time period, even if they weren't originally in the Burwell house.

Outside there is the school house, complete with a classroom set up. Part of the school house has copies of the diaries from the girls, and a neat interactive station where you pick up a phone and hear a young girl reading a letter she wrote while a student at Burwell School. As C is into making anything into a phone right now, he truly loved this portion.

There are also beautiful gardens, and the original outhouse (all cleaned up and unused, but still kind of weird nonetheless).

We talked to the docent on site for a little while, but mostly meandered ourselves. You can do a docent-led tour. It is free.

I didn't want to put C down inside the house for fear of wandering Toddler curiosity, but he was fine roaming the school house and the gardens.

This isn't a large place, so it isn't going to take too long to go through. But it was fun for us.

I would also recommend checking out the events they host throughout the year. They have art shows, Colonial Days where kids get to dress up in period costume, and their biggest event every year is the Easter Egg Hunt.


Burwell School Historic Site
http://www.burwellschool.org/
319 N. Churton Street
Hillsborough
919-732-7451

Open Wednesday - Saturday 11 am to 4 pm; Sundays 1 pm to 4 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Child Passenger Safety Week

From Sarah C.:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "3 out of 4 parents do not properly use child restraints."  As a parent, that is a scary statistic, but one that we have the power to easily change.  September 19th - 25th is Child Passenger Safety Week.  Here at Mom in Chapel Hill, we wanted to make sure you are armed with the information to help make that change and keep your child safe through all 4 stages of car seat safety.

Did you know that you can get your child's seat (infant, car and booster) properly installed for free?  It's as simple as visiting your local fire department or inspection station.  You can do a quick search online at http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm.  I've visited our fire department twice myself - once for D's infant seat and, once that was outgrown, for his car seat.  The first visit, I confess, was partly due to that new parent syndrome of "everything needs to be perfect."  But really, if there is one thing to obsess over, I think car safety is a good one.  I was impressed with the politeness of the fireman who assisted me and how he explained the process which left me feeling very capable when my husband and I installed the second base into his car.  The car seats in our cars don't budge which is a good sign - they shouldn't move more than an inch otherwise they are too loose.

The second important step is being certain your child is properly restrained in their car seat.  For rear-facing, the straps should be placed at or below the child's shoulders.  For forward-facing, the straps should be placed at or above the child's shoulders.  Make sure the belt is buckled and the clip is secured and located at chest/armpit level.  You should not be able to pinch the straps.  If you can, they are too loose and need to be tightened.

For additional information, check out the NHTSA's website (listed below) or join in on our local Child Passenger Safety Week Event on Saturday, September 25th.  Even if you child's seat is installed, you can have it checked for free by a certified child passenger safety technician to be certain it is installed correctly and have a little peace of mind knowing your child is safe. 

Child Passenger Safety Week Event
Buckle Up NC
Khols
1301 Beaver Creek Commons Dr.
Apex, NC 27502

Counties Served: Wake
From 09/25/2010
Until 09/25/2010
Hours: 10am- 2pm

Phone: 919-362-4001  
Contact: Jason Nesbit
Event information from http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/FindFitting.cfm

The NC Museum of Life + Science in conjunction with Safe Kids NC and The Governors Highway Safety are also hosting a Child Passenger Safety event at the Museum on Wednesday, September 22nd from 1-4pm.  See the Museum Events Calendar for more details: http://www.ncmls.org/visit/events

For additional details on child passenger safety:
NHTSA Child Safety - http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS
Ad Council: Child Passenger Safety - http://childcarsafety.adcouncil.org/

To find a certified child safety seat inspector anytime, visit one of these websites:
NHTSA Child Safety Seat Inspection Locator - http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm
SeatCheck - http://www.seatcheck.org/

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill: Giveaway Winner

The winner of free donuts for one year is.... "McGurkus!" We think it was all her additional entries for reblogging the post that gave her the edge on Random. org. Congratulations. This mom is jealous (who wouldn't want free doughnuts for a year?). Reader "Pilar" has won the fancy Krispy Kreme tshirt and hat.

If McGurkus and Pilar could kindly email mominchapelhill@gmail.com, we'll get you your winnings.

Thanks everyone for entering, showing support of our wonderful community, and being such fantastic readers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spence's Farm

As C is obsessed with making animal noises right now, I went on the prowl to find animals for him to see. Like, in real life. Not just in a book. Searching the handy-dandy The Big, Fun Guide to Tar Heel Country, I found Spence's Farm on page 90.

Visiting Spence's Farm is a little tricky. The place is very laidback. Because of that it is hard to figure out when you are welcome to show up with your toddler (and toddler is defined very loosely, pretty much any age will do). I was told Wednesdays "at 9, or 10, or 11, but no definitely before 10:30"; and Fridays, "11, no, wait, 10." The gist is: open Toddler Time on Wednesdays and Fridays in the morning. Just call ahead to let them know you are on your way, make sure the time works, and they will accommodate you.

Toddler time is GREAT. Spence's farm is all about hands-on learning. So bring anti-bacterial wipes and shoes that you can hose off afterwards.

We started by getting in with the chickens. Literally, we got in the chicken pen. We fed them, chased them, laid our hands on warm eggs fresh from under a nesting hen, and petted them. C was a little apprehensive of the turkeys, but I would be, too, if a turkey twice my size was wandering around.

Then we went to the bunnies. We tried to feed them, but they weren't so interested. So we petted them, and watched a loose bunny hop around enjoying his freedom.

We pet and fed the goats. And we brushed and groomed a pony. Spence's Farm offers pony rides as part of the Toddler Time. So at some point in your visit you get to put your child on a pony, and they walk him around. We opted not to do this this time around simply because we were so busy chasing chickens....and brushing the pony (which was a huge hit).

C and I also wandered the garden. The garden is mostly for educational purposes. Spence's does offer a CSA, though, if you are interested. I left with some fresh mint. They encourage all visitors to bring home handfuls of mint since it grows like a weed, and they have problems controlling it. I'll be having a mint julep tonight.

It isn't cheap to visit at $15. But that is $15 total for your family, not per visitor. The Toddler Time is said to last 45 minutes but we were there well over an hour without any complaints. And we were accompanied the entire time by 2 very enthusiastic and fun workers. I personally felt as though it was money well-spent to get up close with the animals.

Spence's Farm is full of whimsy. There are signs all over, pottery shed, haymaze, swings, and lots of color and art. So it can seem a little disorganized. I was completely confused upon first arriving. But the staff here is absolutely fantastic and willing to help. They clearly love children and what they do.

Spence's also offers after-school activities, summer camps, mini-camps, horseback riding lessons, organized field trips, birthday packages, and who knows what else (Toddler Time just showed up on their website and they don't even list the Friday time, but I know it exists).

Right off of Eubanks right, kinda near Timberlyne (Orange Leaf anyone?), we had a great hour at Spence's Farm.

Oh, and make sure you charge your camera battery before you go. That's a good tip.

Spence's Farm for Kids

http://www.spencesfarm.com/

6406 Mill House Road

Chapel Hill

919-968-8581

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dual Supply Co. in Hillsborough

My days in Hillsborough are numbered. In a few short weeks I will be back in the Hill city. So I am trying to get everything out of this great little town I can (send me suggestions if you have them). And one surprise find? Dual Supply Co. in downtown Hillsborough.

This place has been around forever (or 36 years, same thing). It is a neighborhood hardware store that has far more character than Lowe's or Home Depot. And not only will they help you out with your home improvement needs, but they sell some kids stuff here, too. Their most impressive offering: Radio Flyer items. There are a couple of things in here to choose from but these are mostly ride on toys (although they do have the John Deere wagon), and the prices are reasonable. You have to dig through all of the random things that this place has. They keep more stuff than you could dream in this place, and given that some of it has been there for years and years, it isn't the most organized shop. But shouldn't you have to dig through decades-old gear in a classic Mom & Pop shop to buy your Radio Flyer? Much more authentic than what Santa did at our home this year (ordered it from Target).

Other goodies for kids, besides the oodles of oddities they can take in, are galoshes (adult sized, too), wooden kid-sized rocking chairs that are super-cute, some John Deere tractor toys, and who knows what else you will find when you get to digging.

They also sell local produce here.

For parents: this is one of the few hardware stores that will make lawn mower repair housecalls and will sell you just 1 bolt if you need it (instead of a pack).

Take a trip back in time. Head to Dual Supply.

Dual Supply Co.
115 W. King Street
Hillsborough
919-732-2442

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shangri-La

It ain't just a place in a book. In fact, it is in Prospect Hill about 15 minutes outside of Hillsborough down 86. You didn't know that?! Neither did I until quite recently. And I have driven by this place countless times.

On the side of 86, right next door to the Prospect Hill Volunteer Fire Department, is a man's work of passion. Starting in 1968 a retired Tobacco Farmer named Henry Warren embraced a new hobby: building miniature stone houses. Using salvaged materials (like old sewing machines and door knobs), white quartz, bricks, and cement, Warren created an entire miniature world.

This is completely free to get in, by the way. It is just in someone's yard on the side of 86. Which means it was a little awkward traipsing around someone's private property, but I have read that they really don't care. Their goal is to continue to share Warren's art. And no one bothered us.

C had a blast here (actually threw a bit of a tantrum when we got back in the car to leave). I could have stayed longer too. It was a beautiful day and the details on these buildings deserve lingering.

I include a picture here with him in it so you can get a sense of scale. It is toddler perfect in size. Older kids will probably appreciate the detail and identifying buildings. Apparently there are many different buildings: jail, farmhouse, inn, motel, school, theater, church, fire station, bank, outhouse, doghouse, dance hall, mill, and more like an ABC Store and Watergate hotel.

I didn't do a good job figuring it all out, but I did appreciate both the oddity, beauty, and art of this.

This could be a bit of a drive for you: about 15-20 minutes from downtown Hillsborough. But it is through some gorgeous countryside.

Henry Warren spent all of his free time until his death in 1977 on his Shangri-La. Makes me question what I do in my free time....blog??

Shangri-La Stone Village Highway 86 (3 miles south of the intersection with Route 119) - Look for the Prospect Hill Volunteer Fire Department
Prospect Hill

No website, no hours, no fees. Just show up and enjoy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crabtree Valley Mall Play Area (and More)

Since we've reviewed and mentioned the play areas at many of our local malls (such as Southpoint, Triangle Town Center, and Cary Towne Center) we would be remiss in not reviewing the play area of the the largest Triangle mall: Crabtree Valley Mall.

For the largest mall, the play area is small. It is nicely carpeted, with good benches around. It is mostly walled, with an open entry door that can not be closed shut (pretty standard for mall play areas). Again, though, this is not a very big space. Southpoint Mall's Kidzone is larger.

Outside of the Crabtree Mall play area, there are some candy vending machines and pay-to-play rides. A lot of pay-to-play rides, as a matter of fact. And many of these rides were themed with favorite cartoon characters (although apparently I have a lot to learn since I didn't recognize all of them). These rides take up a lot of space, and there were just as many kids running around and climbing on these rides as there were in the padded play space. C was intrigued by all the lights and sounds.

We were there on a weekday afternoon, and it was getting a little cramped. I would guess that you have to beware of weekends.

Honestly, C and I had just as much fun at the Disney store watching the huge tv there and at the LEGO store building things. But I appreciate that this play area is available and that the mall offers it.

By the way, there is also a Build-A-Bear workshop at Crabtree Valley Mall. And don't forget about Magic Kids Care if you want to shop solo for a few hours.

Crabtree Valley Mall
http://www.crabtree-valley-mall.com/
4325 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh
919-787-8993

Sunday, September 12, 2010

R.S. Dunham Park

From Sarah C.:

Thanks to a tip from my neighbor, K.T., I recently took D to play at R.S. Dunham Park in Cary. The park isn't large but features a nice toddler play space. There are bucket swings, a sandbox, 2 teeter totters and a small climbing structure with a double slide. Truthfully, I think he had just as much fun searching out and picking up pinecones as he did playing on the equipment!


The park also has a play area for older kids with a larger structure and swings, basketball courts, and a grassy field all immediately adjacent to the toddler area.

Set into the back of the park are 5 tennis courts. There's a great winding path between them which also made for fun exploration with a toddler (just had to keep an eye out that the rocks he found didn't make it into his mouth!). The path ends at a building that housed the restrooms. Unfortunately, it is currently boarded up and has evidence of a fire. There are 2 porta potties available in the parking lot.

R.S. Dunham Park
http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Parks__Recreation___Cultural_Resources/Parks_and_Greenways/Parks/R__S__Dunham_Park.htm
519 Walnut Street

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Babies R Us Nursing Lounge

It's a bonus post for you! We at MiCHill don't normally post on Saturdays but since we had so many wonderful readers contact us, in response to the Nordstrom Lounge post, about the Babies R Us Nursing Lounge, we are slipping this one in! Surprise!

Located near the bathrooms at Babies R Us (pass the bedding sets, if you can tear yourself away, for me they are a black hole), there is a separate room that is a Mother's Lounge. It has a large changing table (no changing pad) and there have been wipes and some diapers in the cabinets when I have been in the past. In addition to the sweet glider that you see in the photo, there is also a small couch in this room.

This is a great stop if you need to nurse or change your child. There is plenty of room, and it is very comfortable. Obviously this is set up with a mom in mind.

You may have to share this spot with another mom or kid or two, but it is a mothers-only place so I haven't ever experienced awkwardness. Also, with Babies R Us, so many people come to browse that even if you don't plan on buying anything you can still sneak in and use the lounge. Of course, if you can pass those cute outfits without buying one, you need to give me a tutorial.

In summary, based on your responses and comments as well as MiCHill's experience, this is simply a great resource to know about!

Babies R Us Nursing Lounge
Babies R Us near Southpoint Mall
www.babiesrus.com
7001 Fayetteville Road
Durham
919-544-9024

Friday, September 10, 2010

Downtown Apex

A local day trip suggestion from Sarah C.. It is a nice reminder that so many of our Triangle towns have vibrant, historic centers.

We have a multitude of wonderful small downtowns in the area and Apex is home to one of those. Strolling along North Salem Street takes me back to my small town roots. It's very easy to spend a relaxing Saturday with family here.

My recommendation is to start at the northern section near the Depot by visiting the Apex Farmers Market. You'll find a selection of fresh local grown fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of other unique finds from honey to crafts. During our visit we even picked up some BBQ for my husband (sorry, folks, it may be a sin in the South, but a BBQ fan I am not). If you are planning to get a bit of the latter (which my husband says was quite delicious) be sure to bring along your cooler to keep it chilled while you enjoy the rest of your visit.


Take a stroll southbound on North Salem Street, past the Fire Department and you'll find quite a nice selection of shops and restaurants. For those with little ones or looking for baby gifts, Green Pea Baby has a great variety of baby and toddler items. Those with a love for the books will enjoy All Booked Up which sells used books.
Inside visitors will find an inviting atmosphere with spots to sit down and thumb through their selections. The children's room has shelves and boxes overflowing with everything from board books to chapter books. The store currently does not offer a storytime.

Moms be sure to walk around the corner onto West Chatham Street for a visit into My Girlsfriends Closet. You'll find a large selection of new and consigned clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Finally, if your visit times well for a lunch or dinner break, stop in to one of the many restaurants. You will find a bit of everything from baked goods to pizza to enchiladas to ice cream.

Ample parking available along the streets (be certain to check time limits, of course) and in a parking lot just to the west adjacent to the Apex Police Department.

Apex Downtown
http://www.apexdowntown.com/

Apex Farmers Market
Saturdays, April - November, 9am - 2pm
220 North Salem Street (at the Depot)

All Booked Up
http://www.AllBookedUpSalemStreet.com
104-B North Salem Street

My Girlfriends Closet
http://www.mygirlfriendsclosetnc.com/
104 West Chatham Street

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blue Corn Cafe

If your kids are anything like my child, even Mexican (or Latin American) food isn't made quick enough for him to withstand the torture of sitting at the table for a full sit-down meal. So when a friend told me that Blue Corn Cafe expanded with a play space, we went to check it out. They still have quick service and quality food, but with a designated kids play-space in the back this Durham institution is now a place to go with antsy kids!

Located near the bar (perfect) towards the back, this spot has chalkboard paint on the walls, a television unit streaming cartoons at times and on-demand, a big couch, a rug, and buckets and buckets of toys for kids of all ages.

You know how we love restaurants that cater to families on our blog, but a couple of things to note. When we visited, there were some children who were obviously related to someone who worked at or owned the restaurant. They were very nice and well-behaved, but they were older so the tv and the space were certainly being used the entire time. And it isn't a terribly large spot.

Blue Corn Cafe has food that people in Durham rave about, but kid's plates aren't cheap. It is $7 - $8 for an entree off of the kids menu. This is the same price as some of the adult entrees. We opted for getting one adult entree, a few sides a la carte, and sharing.

Also, this is right by the bathrooms and entrance to the kitchen. So don't let your runaway babies get too far out of grasp.

The staff here was incredibly nice. And they had no problems at all with our toddlers running around, "speaking loudly" (known to non-parents as screeching), and ruling the roost.

We stopped at Ox & Rabbit for some milkshakes after our queso dip.

Blue Corn Cafe
http://www.bluecorn-tosca.com/
716 Ninth Street
Durham
919-286-9600

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill: Review + Giveaway

Once again, Sarah C. sacrifices to give our readers scoop on Krispy Kreme:

You aren't seeing things, there is indeed a "Hot Now" sign on Franklin Street.  Krispy Kreme opened it's newest location there last month just a bit down the block from Kidzu making this an easy stop for a treat. 

The store offers the same menu options of the newly renovated downtown Raleigh location - donuts, coffee and ice cream.  The donuts themselves are actually made in Raleigh, then shipped to the store where they are heated and given their signature glazing on site.  And, also similar, there is a window where fans of all ages can watch the process.  We took a family visit over the weekend and sweet little D left plenty of excited handprints on that glass.

Fortunately, we picked a slow time of the day to visit and nearly had the place to ourselves.  The front features a line up of barstools along one wall and a nice seating area with comfy couches and chairs on the opposite side.  D had a blast walking around and patting the tables as they were just his height.


Honestly, my one complaint was the lack of a diaper changing station in the bathroom.  I understand though as the main traffic will probably be from college students, but as a mom of a toddler, I am always on the lookout for these things.

Now that you have the details on the new shop, let's talk donuts.  Free donuts.  Those are the best kind, right?

As part of the continuing grand opening festivities, Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill is hosting a "Seek & Find" event this week.  Starting today, there will be hints given on their Facebook fan page.  Each hint leads to a Krispy Kreme t-shirt.  The person who finds the most t-shirts wins donuts for year! 

Here's where this post gets more exciting - you can also win right here.  That's right, the kind folks at Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill are offering one of our local readers a chance to win free donuts for a year.  And a second person will win a Krispy Kreme t-shirt and hat.

Here's how to enter: you must become a Fan of Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill on Facebook and leave a comment here telling us that you have done so along with your name.  Also, be sure to either leave a valid email address along with your comment or check back on Friday, September 17th when the winner is announced to email it to us then.

To gain additional entries:

1- Follow Krispy Kreme on Twitter.

2- Visit Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill and check in on FourSquare

3- Become a Fan of Mom In Chapel Hill on Facebook.

4- Follow us through Google Friend Connect.

5- Follow mominchapelhill on Twitter.

6- Tweet about the giveaway with a link to this post (2 additional entries).

7- Blog about the giveaway with a link to this post (5 additional entries).

For each additional entry, please post a new comment. Ie, if you tweeted or blogged about the giveaway, come back and post a link. Thanks and good luck!!

Giveaway is open to residents of the Triangle area only, 18 years or older. Ends Thursday, September 16th at 9:00pm EST and winner will be announced Friday, September 17th. Winner will be picked by Random.org. Winner will be contacted by email address.

Note: this giveaway is being sponsored by Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill.  We are not receiving any compensation.  All opinions are our own and not influence by any products or companies.

Krispy Kreme Chapel Hill
http://krispykreme.com/
157 East Franklin Street
(919) 929-3466

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rainbow Play Systems

** Updated 5/15/12: open play hours. **

Rainbow Play Systems is a rainbow of opportunity (ok, as cheesy as that line is, it is still true & I stand by it). This is a company that sells playground equipment, cribs, beds, dressers, changing tables and more. But, a la Play Nation, they encourage parents and kids to come out and actually play with their gear.

Located off of Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, it might be a little haul for the Chapel Hill-ians out there, but it was a lot of fun for our little gang. We just recommend going when it isn't so hot. There is an entire outdoor area full of beautiful swingsets and gyms. But due to the heat and sun, we weren't able to use these. If you can, plan on going on a nice day to take advantage of this mecca of playgrounds.

Inside, Rainbow Play Systems has a large party room in the back. The floor is padded, there are some tables and chairs, and along one wall are some arcade games (quarters needed to play). In the center is a very large playgym.

The Rainbow Play Systems gym equipment is all wood, and very high quality. Our boys had a great time exploring the indoor area. There are some elements that are for the older kids, so we got a little nervous with our toddlers trying to climb the open ladder, but our toddlers also had a lot of fun making us nervous. There were the toddler-appropriate elements, too.

You have to pay to play. Kids under 2 are free, kids over 2 are $5. You can play as long as you want. Hours are limited for open play, though: Mondays - Fridays 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

No food here, but you are welcome to bring items in.

They do offer party packages, and there is a plain party room available in addition to the large indoor play gym area.

Rainbow Play Systems says that they are going to be adding trampolines to the items they sell. Is there a trampoline showroom in the future? Part of me hopes so, and part of me is scared of the craziness that will ensue if there is. We'll just have to see.

By the way, Brier Creek is right down the road, so we paired this outing with some Maggie Moo's ice cream. The boys and the mommies highly recommend that!

Rainbow Play Systems Showroom, NC
http://www.rainbowplayofnc.com/
8732 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh
919-420-0005

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kids Everywear

From Sarah C.:

Just a reminder that the Fall/Winter Kids Everywear sale starts this weekend! See details below or check their website (listed at the bottom of the post). For a review on the last time MiCHill hit Kids Everywear, see our post here. Happy shopping!



Kids Everywear
http://KidsEveryWear.com/ | Event Schedule
Morrisville Outlet Mall
1001 Airport Boulevard

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Orange County Public Library

Orange County Library is a relatively new building in downtown Hillsborough. It is gorgeous on the outside, and in a great location.

Because this spot is still new, though, I think they are growing. There are some good books in here (of course, it's a library), but the children's area isn't as impressive as some of the other libraries MiCHill has hit for you (like Durham's Library).

The good news is that kids' storytimes start again after Labor Day weekend. In what seems counter-intuitive to me, they offer the occasional children's event during the summer but no storytime. So starting after Labor Day select Wednesdays are storytimes for children ages 1-5 (make sure you check in the online schedule, see below, before you go).

It is a shame there isn't more here yet for kids. C and I stop in to escape the heat on our jaunts to and from downtown a lot. Even though this may be more modest than some of the other libraries in the area, it is still a great resource and teaches children to love reading.

One thing that certainly makes this worth a visit are the worksheets for kids. Located in the children's section on the main floor, there is a large shelf that has a lot of activities for kids. Mostly for the older kids, they looked like fun and they are free!

Orange County Main Public Library
http://www.co.orange.nc.us/library/about.asp

137 W. Margaret Ln

Hillsborough

Phone (919) 245-2525


Friday, September 3, 2010

Souper!Salad

This is how all family dining should be. Cheap, fresh, healthy, and kid-friendly.

Souper!Salad is a very large and well-stocked (MEGA) salad bar. There are a lot of choices on this bar. Well, really, bars. There is a hot bar in addition to the salad bar that has some pizzas, baked potatoes, and other goodies on it.

It is cheap, too. Kids under 3 eat free, kids 4 -10 are $3.49 (99 cents for a kids' beverage), and adults are $6.79 for the buffet. This is an all-you-can-eat place, and I certainly took advantage of going back as many times as I could. The food was high quality.

We loved Souper!Salad when we went because they obviously think of families. Ok, so, yeah, there is a changing table in the restroom. But there is more than that here. The high chairs roll. Which means that you put your child in the high chair and easily maneuver them through the buffet line with you. So you are almost hands free while you work the bar. Brilliant!

On the bar, there are a lot of healthy fruits and vegetables and other salad options for parents, but things are in bite-sized pieces for kids. The bar even has goldfish on it! There is mac & cheese on the hot bar! (And for kids of all ages there is a soft serve ice cream machine.)

No special designated play-place here, but when the dining itself is the experience it works.

The place is large inside, and the staff was very friendly. So get on in there, load your kids' plate up with all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables, and let them enjoy. For this price point, it really doesn't matter how much food your toddler throws on the floor. Just pick it up before you leave because that waitstaff is sweet.


Souper!Salad has take-out options.
Sundays are Kids Day and kids eat even cheaper.


Souper!Salad
http://www.soupersalad.com/
202 W Nc Highway 54
Durham, NC 27713
919-544-4655

Thursday, September 2, 2010

LEGO Store

As a Mom in Chapel Hill I don't often make it out to Raleigh. But when I went to Crabtree Valley Mall the other week for a brief stop, C and I made our way in to the LEGO store.

The LEGO store is loud, bright, full of things to look at, and otherwise perfect for indoor entertainment for kids. C is still too young to really appreciate LEGOs, or create anything to speak of out of them, but he loved watching the other kids, having mommy help him, and seeing all of the finalized products. I did have visions of spending hours in this store in upcoming years... And it also brought back memories of my own childhood play...

There are a couple of stations in the store for active, hands-on play. There are LEGOs in buckets and you get to build what you want. They even have all the little people-parts at one of the stations.

There are computers available. These computers are stations where you can work on LEGO designs.

There are fun facts and LEGO history lessons located around the store.

The first Tuesday of every month LEGO stores host a Mini Model Build workshop. You bring your child in, and the LEGO staff teaches you how to build something (September's project is a boy with a backpack) and you get to take it home with you. The best part: it's free! The session starts at 5 pm and they do run out of supplies, so get there on time. This is only open to children ages 6 to 14, though.

But this brings me to the point that yes, LEGOs are small. So if your child is still in the "must taste test everything I see" phase this might not be the right stop for you.

The LEGO store does birthday parties. They aren't cheap, but they look fun.

So on a rainy day, or the next time you are out running errands, swing by the LEGO store and let your kids get creative. Or maybe you decide that you want to drop your kids off at Magic Kids so that you can play with LEGOs alone for as long as you want... hey, we're not judging.

LEGO Store- Raleigh
Crabtree Valley Mall
www.lego.com
4325 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh
787-5771