Friday, August 31, 2012

Charlotte Brody Discovery Gardens at Duke Gardens

This new addition to The Duke Gardens is having its Grand Opening Celebration on September 8 & 9.  Read below for a full review about visiting during daily hours as well as the link to the grand opening events.

We already love Duke Gardens for families.  Wide open fields for lounging, picnicking, playing sports; ducks for feeding; and easy trails for walking.  There is a music series here in the summers and in general this spot is a wonderful compliment to the Triangle.  We are pleased that there is now another draw for families: The Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden.

This garden up on the hill a short (jogging-stroller accessible) walk from the Visitor's Center.  At this beautiful garden a myriad of vegetables and herbs grow.  It is a work of art to look at but also fun.  C loved discovering and guessing what the various plants were (and luckily for mom I had the answer handy as everything was labelled).
This is organic growing at its finest.  In addition to the plethora of flora there is a reconstructed tobacco barn, some water cisterns, a chalkboard giving you pertinent garden information for the day, a chicken coop (but we couldn't see anything and access is limited to staff), and an orchard.  It really is beautiful.

You can go meander here whenever the Gardens are open.  Since this is a garden there isn't a ton of shade here during the hottest of days but there are picnic tables under the arbor.

Classes and events will be offered in the Discovery Garden throughout the year so stay tuned to their website (below) to stay abreast of that.

For information on the Grand Opening Celebrations Sept 8 & 9, 2012 click here.

Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden at Duke Gardens
Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden Information Education & Events
Sarah P Duke Gardens
420 Anderson Street (on Duke campus)


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Moon Painting & Homemade Space Playdough

We have so many more adventures to bring to you but we know you'd miss the A.C.T., especially from those crafty ladies of My SweetArts, so here you go.  A moon/space one, which we are already excited about in this house.

In honor of tomorrow night’s Blue Moon, we have two fun crafts for all ages to enjoy! Moon painting and Space Playdough! These crafts are easy to do and enjoyable by all ages (see edible version of the recipes below). Our households are a bit obsessed with space after Notes From a Mom in CH recommendation to see One World, One Sky at the Morehead Planetarium so this was a very popular craft at home and in our classroom earlier this summer.
Moon Painting

  • White crayon or chalk
  • Bowl (to create the shape of the moon)
  • White paint (or can mix in some black to make a more realistic gray moon)
  • Flour
  • Paint brush (or just use your fingers)
  • Empty bottles (water bottle, spice bottle, baby bottle, small cup – try assorted sizes)
  • Star stickers and/or glitter + glue (you can find inexpensive star foil stickers at your local dollar store)
  • Black sheet heavy paper, cardstock, cardboard or mat board


1. Take your bowl and trace it on to your black paper, cardstock, cardboard or mat board with a white crayon or chalk.
2. Mix together white paint with flour until it is the consistency of cottage cheese.
3. Using the mixed paint, have your kids paint the circle shape (or for the younger kids, let them just explore, while talking about the circle shape). Kids can use their fingers or paintbrushes to paint. Touch and talk to your kids about the texture of the paint. How does it feel? Are there lumps from the additional flour? What do you think the moon looks/feels like?
4. While the paint is still wet, have your kids create craters and texture by pressing the bottle tops or caps on to their moon. Use different sizes and discuss the circular imprints.
5. To make it more space-like, work together to embellish the surrounding black paper/board with star stickers and/or glitter (apply with glue or use glitter glue pen)
6. Let the masterpiece dry and display! It will turn into a cool, textured piece!

*Edible version: If you would like to try this craft with younger artists, make your own white finger paint with equal parts flour, salt, and water (start with a ½ cup of each). Add an extra tablespoon of flour to make your paint thicker and have more texture like the cottage cheese consistency described above.

Homemade Space Playdough

Playdough is another fun activity we love. We always have a fresh batch on hand for our students. To change up the activity and add a little fun, try making your own space playdough. The contrast of the black playdough with the shiny glitter makes it fun for kids of all ages.

  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 cups of plain flour
  • 1.5 cups of salt
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp of cream of tartar (or if you don’t have that on hand, try a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 2 small squirts of hand lotion (to make the dough pliable and soft; note you can also use glycerin if you want to get fancy)
  • Black food coloring
  • Silver glitter
Combine ingredients in a pan over low to medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until it starts to come away from the sides of the pan. When it forms into a dough ball remove from heat. After it cools down, knead (can add more flour if too sticky or a little more oil if too dry). Place the dough into ziploc bags and then add black food coloring. Knead dough through the bag to keep your hands clean. Add in silver glitter to make your intergalactic playdough sparkle! This recipe makes a large batch of playdough. Cut it in half if you just want a small supply.

For some musical fun, try this fun, catchy original song from Michelle Schooff. Go to to hear the tune! It has become a bedtime ritual in my house. 

Blast OFF!
10, 9, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
Blast Off to the moon we go
Blast Off to the moon we go
Blast Off to the moon we go
Up to the sky we go
And back down again
Up to the sky we go
And back down again
My SweetArts is a new kind of enrichment class that uniquely combines music and art/sensory exploration for infants, toddlers, and families. All classes are conveniently held at University Mall, Chapel Hill.

This Fall, My SweetArts has 8 classes to choose from!
You can choose an age-specific class or classes open to all ages.
• Sweet Potatoes (2-3 year olds) @ 9:20 AM
• Sweet Berries (14 – 24 month olds) @ 10:45 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 10:45 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM
• Sweet Peas (4 – 14 month olds) @ 10:45 AM - FULL
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 10:45 AM

Sign up today and all registration fees will waived, plus you will get a lower price per class – a 25% discount!
Fall 2012 Enrollment form:

Find out more:
Twitter- @mysweetarts
Email us at:


Monday, August 27, 2012

Maple View Agricultural Educational Center

Aren't these cooler temperatures making you dream of fall?  And farms?  Us, too.  We were actually able to get our first farm trip in this season last week.  We were part of a group trip to the Maple View Agricultural Educational Center.  We had a blast, friends!

Now you may recall we've mentioned Maple View Farms before.  We talked about how you could head out to the country, get some delicious ice cream, and rock on the front porch. But we warned you that you couldn't get up close and personal with those cows here.  The Ag Center is where that happens.

Maple View Ag Center is by appointment only and you have to have a group of at least 10 kids to go (although call them to work with them because they are fairly flexible and certainly nice).  You do not have to be associated with any organization to go, just get a playgroup and your friends together.  The Ag Center loves birthday parties, too.

When you make your appointment you will be given a couple of different topics and packages to choose from.  Our group had picked milk-making and cows for our topic and the package with just 1 learning lab. 

We started with a talk, complete with visuals, to explain to the kids how milk making (and ice cream making) works on the farm.  We then went on a hayride, checking out the grounds and the cows.  From there we were led through the barnyard portion.  The kids were able to pet cows, goats, see chickens and llamas up close, and feed a donkey.  The gentleman who led the children through this section of the visit was particularly fantastic. 

After that we were set loose on the huge playground facility on the farm.  Our group had elected to pre-order scoops of ice cream for an additional fee of $2 per scoop (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry sorbet available) but you can instead choose to stop at the general store after your visit if you would rather.

In addition to the ice cream cost, a visit will be $9 per child and $5 per parent/teacher/guardian for the 1 learning lab option.  Prices are $10 per child and $5 per parent for the 2 learning lab option. Note that they offer a special for the fall months, too.  The farm visit costs a little more but includes a pumpkin to take home.

Strollers are not permitted on the hayride or during the petting portion, but jogging strollers can be pushed by the playground and picnic area.

The inside of the Ag Center is very nice and clean (and air conditioned) and bathrooms are available.

We particularly loved the opportunity to see the cows up close (including calves that were 2 days old!), the hayride, and how wonderfully friendly and happy all the staff were.  Considering that our children had varying degrees of interest and attention span during the different parts of this visit, the Maple View farm folks still treated us so patiently and friendly.

So get your friends together, get a picnic lunch, and go enjoy this fabulous place!

Maple View Agricultural Educational Center
 3501 Dairyland Road

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Yogurt Pump

You all know we LOVE frozen treats.  And with chains popping up all over the Triangle it is nice to remember the "old school" Franklin Street institution The Yogurt Pump.  While all these newcomers try to impress, The Yogurt Pump has been serving students and Chapel Hill families since 1982.

Honestly, I tend to pass by The Yogurt Pump.  He's Not Here draws me in afterhours while parking at a strip mall is always easier than parking on Franklin Street, especially with strollers.  Yet when students had not yet returned and my haircut at Moshi Moshi was done, I strolled down there on a beautiful evening.

The Yogurt Pump is not a self-serve and they don't have oodles of flavors "on tap."  But customer service is nice, the flavors they carry are diverse (and ever changing), and I thought it was delicious.  There are mix-ins and toppings galore.  Due to the age of the spot it doesn't have fancy bells and whistles and tvs and funky lights.  But it does deliver good, cheap yogurt.

Prices are very reasonable.  A child's cup is $1.50 and a small cone is $1.87.

Very little seating inside but there are steps outside and all of Franklin Street (which makes for great people-watching).  You can also carry your yogurt over to UNC's campus to enjoy.

It isn't a very stroller-friendly spot.  Either drag your stroller up the steps or send a friend in to get yogurt for all (just give them some cash).

The spot is a little hard to find but look for the Caribou Coffee and the NY Pizza - it's in an alley between them.

If you want a local spot with a sense of humor (it has named itself YoPo to keep up with trendy times) and Chapel Hill flavor, don't forget The Yogurt Pump.

The Yogurt Pump
106 W. Franklin Street
(next to NY Pizza)
Chapel Hill
Hours : Mo-Th 11:30 am - 11:30 pm; Fri-Sat 11:30 am - midnight; Sun noon - 11:30 pm

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Pirate Spyglass

From Sarah C.:

Allison shared a post about Oval Drive Park earlier in the week and how we set out to explore the pirate ship. Like her son, D is also loving pirates right now and pretending to be one. Naturally, all little pirates need a spyglass. Here's how to make your own.

  • plastic or paper cup
  • toilet paper tube
  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • glue (if desired)
  • scissors (adult use only!)
  • any decorative material you might like (stickers, buttons, etc) 

Start by cutting a hole in the bottom of the cup that is equal size to the toilet paper tube diameter. You can trace the tube outline to help. Note it doesn't have to be perfect.

Cut a few small slits along one end of the toilet paper tube. Have your child fold each of these sections outward.

Now slide the tube into the cup and out. Stop when the folded sections hit the bottom of the cup. Tape and/or glue in place.

Tear small sheets of aluminum foil. Wrap the tube and cup. Use tape and/or glue to adhere. We stuck entirely to tape using masking tape mainly in "hidden" areas and finishing off with black electrical tape. These could be decorated even further by adding stickers, gluing buttons or rhinestones, etc.

When complete, let your pirate imagination run wild as you search for treasure using your new spyglass!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cedar Hill Horse Farm

You may recall that a few weeks ago I cashed in on a LivingSocial deal and took C to ride a horse at Dead Broke Horse Farm.  I've been holding out on you all since, prior to that, we had the good fortune to try our Cedar Hill Farm on the other side of the Triangle - outside of Pittsboro in Moncure.

A friend of mine organized a private tour of Cedar Hill and since this had long been on my to-do list I was thrilled to check it out.  Alas, private tours are not the norm for Cedar Hill (although always feel free to call and ask as the owners are quite nice and accomodating) but there are other ways to enjoy this beautiful spot.

Cedar Hill is smaller but that also makes it more accessible.  Plus it is beautiful with white picket fences and rolling green fields.  Cedar Hill offers riding lessons and boarding, of course.  Yet one of the things that makes this spot unique is that they welcome younger children (as I mentioned when talking about Dead Broke it is difficult to find farms that will allow children under the age of 6 to try out riding).  In fact, Cedar Hill offers pony camps during the summer for kids 3-6, which is a rarity.

If you have a child under the age of six Cedar Hill will welcome you to their farm to try it out once or even sign up for ongoing riding.  Just call to make appointments.  Cost can be anywhere from $15-$35 for 30 minutes depending on what you elect to do.
C loved this spot (including the mini-playground they had), the staff was very friendly, and the horses proved they were well-trained as a slew of toddlers fought to brush them.

Cedar Hill Farm
5763 Highway 87 South

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oval Drive Park - Durham

Even though you are indoors-bound today (check out our list of indoor play places for ideas there), cooler temperatures are coming.  In fact, we're looking forward to fall, so let's hit a park today, shall we?

My boys and I met some friends out at Oval Drive Park in Durham and had a fantastic time here.  The main draw for us?  The "pirate ship."  C loves to pretend he is a pirate these days so this park beckoned.
Oval Drive Park is buried in the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood.  The vibe here reminded me a lot of American Village Park in Durham.  It felt well-loved, there were toys that were clearly donated by neighbors, and the area was cute.

This park was pretty big with a lot of nice features: swings (traditional and toddler swings), a climbing wall, a turtle to climb on, a pirate ship, a slide, ride on bouncing toys, a jungle gym to climb on, and more.  The park is split in two by Club Boulevard but given it's size and fencing was very safe.  All of the activities that attract the children (including a nice, flat paved path that is great for little bikers and an ampitheater of sorts) is on one side.
Ground cover is mulch and there isn't much shade here on the playground although there are trees all around if you need a break.  There also weren't many benches and picnic tables to enjoy, however, there was plenty of space to sit on some beautiful grass surrounding the playground area.  And who are we kidding?  We generally have to run around after our kids whenever we are outside.

There are a bunch of fields to play ball here, too.  In short, a really wonderful park with a surprising amount of space.

  • Adult Softball Field
  • Basketball Courts(1)
  • Grills(3)
  • Picnic Tables(3)
  • Playground
  • Picnic Shelter(SMALL)
  • Tennis Courts(2)
  • Water Fountain
Oval Drive Park
West Club Boulevard & Oval Drive
(for GPS: use 1100 Oakland Ave)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Spud Stamping

Another vastly more creative and special A.C.T. today than our adventures in paint-smearing here -from the ladies at My SweetArts.
Spud stamping is one of our favorite activities at My SweetArts. The materials are easy to find, all ages can participate, and it is so versatile!

At our houses, we always have at least one potato that is destined to the composter – too green or beginning to sprout a beanstalk. We have the perfect way to reuse those old spuds – stamping. You can make your own stamp shapes or use your cookie cutter shapes to create fun, whimsical shapes for everyday art, fabric printing, or even to create holiday cards (based on what cookie cutters you have on hand).
• Potatoes (you can try other fruit, we also used an old apple past its prime, living in the fridge).
• Cookie Cutter (optional) or paring knife
• Heavy paper stock, mat board, cardboard, thick paper plates, fabric
• Paint. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own with equal parts flour, salt and water and add food coloring.

1. Cut your potato in half. (We cut the length of the potato to accommodate our large cookie cutter)
2. Press the cookie cutter deep into the potato

3. Cut into the side of the cookie cutter, running the knife around the potato until it hits cookie cutter. The cookie cutter maintains and protects the shape of the stamp. 
4. Pull off the slice of potato from around the outside of the cookie cutter.
5. Pull out the cookie cutter and voila you have a perfect stamp! 

If you do not have cookie cutters on hand, you can make your own geometric shapes. Cut the potato in half and then make a shape with your paring knife. Remove the side pieces by slicing inward along the side of your shape.
We recommend making the stamps when little hands are not nearby. You can always prep during naptime and then store the potato stamps in a tub of water in the refrigerator.

For some musical fun, sing the playground classic One, Potato, Two Potato

One Potato, Two Potatoes
One potato  - Two potatoes
 -Three potatoes 
- Four!
Five potatoes
 - Six potatoes
- Seven potatoes - 
My SweetArts is a new kind of enrichment class that uniquely combines music and art/sensory exploration for infants, toddlers, and families. All classes are conveniently held at University Mall, Chapel Hill.

This Fall, My SweetArts has 8 classes to choose from!
You can choose an age-specific class or classes open to all ages.
• Sweet Potatoes (2-3 year olds) @ 9:20 AM • Sweet Berries (14 – 24 month olds) @ 10:45 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM • Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 10:45 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM • Sweet Peas (4 – 14 month olds) @ 10:45 AM
• Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 9:20 AM • Sweet Mix (open to all ages, great for families) @ 10:45 AM

 Find out more:
Twitter - @mysweetarts

Sign up today and all registration fees will waived, plus you will get a lower price per class – a 25% discount!

Fall 2012 Enrollment form:

Like My SweetArts for a chance to win a full term of My SweetArts classes! Earn additional entries by liking and sharing posts. Go to
Winner will be announced Monday, August 27th.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kultured Kidz

From Sarah C.:

Katie has shared with us some of the tasty delights that await in North Raleigh's Lafayette Village (ie, Upper Crust Bakery and Simply Crepes), but here is another good reason to visit - Kultured Kidz. This is a free event offered each Wednesday morning.

D and I stopped by last week to see what it was all about. We quickly spotted the kids and adults milling around the stage area in the Village Green. We had to detour to explore the fountain in the center of the Green first (3 year old priorities!). As we approached the stage, we were warmly greeted and told about the day's project - making a hat. To tie in with Lafayette Village's European atmosphere, all the projects are designed with that theme in mind. For the hat, each child was given a picture of the Beast from Beauty & the Beast to decorate, cut out and adhere to a paper band. The supplies included glue, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, poof balls and crayons. Each child was encouraged to explore the options and make their hat any way they chose.

The children we saw were mainly 2-4 years old but there were a couple of older children. This is a "weather permitting" activity as it is outdoors. It happened to be overcast while we were there which made for very comfortable weather, but there is an awning over the stage to help keep things a little cooler on sunny days.

You could certainly make a full outing of this by visiting some of the shops and/or restaurants afterward. Bring some spare change to toss into the fountain (all proceeds are donated to animal rescue). And if your little one still has energy, encourage them to run a few laps around the Village Green. We spotted several kids having fun running circles and hoping around on the stepping stones that lead to the fountain.

Be sure to check this out soon as the 2012 offering only runs through September 25th. I was told that they are considering adding a 2nd day to the schedule next year to add more opportunity to attend.

Kultured Kidz provided by Kidz Go Nutz
Lafayette Village | Events - Kultured Kidz
8450 Honeycutt Road

2012 Schedule: each Wednesday May 2nd - Sept 25th, 10am - 12pm


Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Explorium & Family Rhythm Jam

My friend and blog-contributor Stacey attended a birthday bash at Music Explorium which she and her son both loved.  So she recommended this spot for C (who loves to bang drums as you may remember from this article here).  When we were in town for one of their 2nd Saturday Family Rhythm Jams we went with some friends.

This was so fun!  Music Explorium is a small space off of 55 in Durham.  It is an easy drive from I-40 and the space, while not huge, is very nice.  The main focus of Music Explorium efforts is percussion and electric violins.  Kind of odd but these are the talents of the owners, who are also the instructors.  I have to say that Cathy, who led the Rhythm Jam we attended, was great.  She had a wonderful way with kids of all ages - encouraging them to learn and be students but never pushing too hard.  She had a great spirit and clearly enjoyed what she was doing.

When it comes to kids, there are 3 main ways to use Music Explorium: 1) rent the space for a birthday party(ages 3 & up) which will last around 90-minutes and include puppets, crafts to make instruments, and a lot of music; 2) Drum Club for Kids ages 5-8 which is sessions based (parents can either stay and drum, too, or leave their children for lessons); or 3) 2nd Saturdays Family Rhythm Jam.

Family Rhythm Jam is for kids ages 3 and up and is meant to be done as a family.  Note that if you have a child smaller than 3 they are certainly welcome to come but they will not be active participants or truly benefit from the Jam session.

Cathy leads the group in activities to encourage rhythm and group drumming.  There were so many drums here, too, that despite the large group we had there were enough drums for everyone, parents included.  After group work each child was given an opportunity to lead the group in a call/response activity.  We then moved on to using other percussive instruments to tell a story and ended with Cathy performing a puppet show.

The cost for 2nd Saturday Family Rhythm Jam is $10 per family, cash or check, and the session is 1 hour.

Music Explorium
5314 NC Hwy 55
Suite 107

Friday, August 10, 2012

Morehead Planetarium Show: One World, One Sky

A few months ago now a gang of us moms took our preschoolers to see the Sesame Street show at the Morehead Planetarium: "One World, One Sky."  To be honest, I was not going to do a blog write up about it since we try to keep content as evergreen as possible.  Yet there has been so much buzz and I have been asked about it so often that I was clearly wrong - you all want to know!

This show is directly from Sesame Street Workshop and, as such, it is great quality.  Big Bird and Elmo are the main characters and bring a long a new friend for the adventures in space.

Just seeing a show at the planetarium is a treat.  It is a dome that goes all the way around (note this for kids that might get vertigo easily) and all planetarium flicks take advantage of that so this one is no different.  My son and his friends were thrilled and awed to watch Elmo go 360 degrees around them.  The content was easily accessible and appropriate for their age.

As I mentioned, we had preschoolers but there were children up to young grade school level who were intrigued (recommended for ages 3-6).  After the show the staffers led a Q&A and discussion session related to constellations, finding them in the night sky, and other topics.  Our kids were uninterested in this and wanted to take off (especially after dancing in the aisles to the Sesame Street songs).  But the thing I have always loved about Morehead is how laid back they are, so no one minded that we left at all and, in fact, we were instructed before the show even began as to where the quick exits were.

Many of us moms as "littles" along for the ride and strollers fit quite nicely and without problems.  Volume can seem a little loud at times so if you have any kids with noise sensitivities bring headphones or something to help them.

Note on scheduling: you can see this show in the mornings up until August 17th.  At that point the planetarium takes a little break until after Labor Day, when showings resume again.

It does cost to see this show.  Kids ages 3 and up are $6.  Worth it, to me, to hear my toddler saying "Mommy, remember when we saw Elmo and he was on the moon in space?"

Morehead Planetarium's "One World, One Sky" Sesame Street Show
Currently playing through 2012- check website for times

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Arts & Crafts Thursday: Olympic Rings

My son has been very in to the Olympics.  This has been a bit of a surprise to me but I have to say I have loved it.  It turns out that Olympic viewing can be a wonderful 3 meter springboard event for learning.  My son and I discuss all things patriotic as well as learn about other sports, sportsmanship, and various countries.  That's why I was thrilled to come across an idea to paint the Olympic rings.  As you know, paint "manipulation" is always a favorite around here and given the topic this was a winner.

  • bowls
  • paint: red, yellow, green, blue, black
  • paper cups
  • paint
We also had a picture of the Olympic rings on the computer in front of us while we did this (see a Wikipedia link about Olympic symbols and meaning here).  It helped C to see the logo even though he didn't necessarily recreate it.

Start by putting one of each paint color in to a bowl.

Take 1 cup and place it upside down in each bowl.

Roll the top of the cup around in the paint to cover, then stamp.

Keep stamping all of the different colors until you have as many beautiful Olympic rings as you want!

Simple, simple, simple!  Yet wonderful entertainment to keep your kids in an Olympic state of mind.  I'll admit, I even did one, too.

Next Thursday, no more Olympics.  I'll have one very sad child but luckily I am feeling "Citius, Altius, Fortius."  So I'll make it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dead Broke Horse Farm

We've been all about horses here lately (watching equestrian events in the Olympics has fueled those flames, too) and lucky for us Dead Broke Horse Farm in Raleigh offers a spot for the entire family to try their hand at horse riding.

Dead Broke Horse Farm is, first of all, large.  Over 90 horses live on the premises complete with a miniature horse for petting, bunnies, chickens, roosters, dogs, and who knows what else around for seeing.  Most of the animals are free range except for the chickens and bunnies, which are kept in a very large pen for safety.  In short, this is a child's dream.

The Farm is also beautiful.  Sure, it's a farm so there is dirt and manure around but I found this farm to be well-run, friendly, and completely functional.  We pulled up for our ride time right when summer camp was saddling their horses so it took my breath away.  So many gorgeous horses out, set against the NC summer greenery, kids all was fabulous.
With over 116 acres Dead Broke is primarily about trail riding, not ring riding.  However, unlike a lot of horse farms in the area, they cater to all ages.  This was one of the few places where C could get on a horse.  But here's the deal: kids 2 - 5 years of age are going to be tandem rides on horses.  This means that parents are going to have to ride, too!  You get a big ole horse, an extra large saddle, and the horse is hand-led.  I was a little surprised by this turn of events when I arrived since I had purchased a *pony* ride. (This hand-led horse ride is what Dead Broke calls a 'pony ride.'  DBF believes that horses have better dispositions and are safer than ponies.)  Luckily I hadn't worn flip flops as originally intended but jeans sure would have been preferred over shorts.  The saddle had plenty of space for both of us, though, and it was actually really comfortable. Western style, of course, for those interested.

The prices for kids to do hand-led horse rides are $25/child for 15 minutes or $40/child for 30 minutes.  No charge for ridealong guardians.  It isn't cheap (keep a look out for Living Social and Groupon deals like we did) but also isn't exorbitant.  Also, since the guides are very nice we were able to ride longer than 30 minutes.  Tipping your guide if they do well is appreciated so bring cash.

Dead Broke has a full playground and picnic tables on the premises for visitors to enjoy as well as well as a heated clubhouse.

DBF does full family rides and group rides, too, if the whole gang wants to go.  See their website (below) for details.  They also have birthday party packages as well as a slew of camps (summer and trackout) that look like a lot of fun.

One of the things I really like about DBF is that they have a horse rescue program and have saved and rehabilitated over 50 horses.  A big MiCHill hug for that.

I could talk loads more about this place but overall we really enjoyed our short experience here.  C got to feed our horse when it was done, loved his helmet, and still talks about Nick, our guide.  Thanks to DBF for making his first horse ride fun.

Dead Broke Horse Farm
6921 Wildlife Trail

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kidzu's Busy Babies Bees Class

I have been doing "dates" with each of my boys lately.  It's been great to do somethinge age-appropriate with them and to just have 1 (that feels like a break now).  The Bug usually gets dragged around to various C related activities so I was excited to try out the Kidzu Busy Baby Bees just for him.  We've already talked about Kidzu (in its new location) as well as the morning toddler art class they offer.

This class is offered before the museum opens on one Wednesday a month.  The class is limited to 8 children and pre-registration is required yet you only sign up 1 class at a time - no session requirement.  There is a $4 fee for this.  Each month there is a different theme to the activities.

The class is advertised for ages 4 months - 24 months but, really, the older kids are going to get the most out of this.  In fact, walkers seemed to be the best target age, in my opinion.  There were obstacle courses, music, stories, and more within the 45 minute period.

What I really appreciated about the class was that, unlike a lot of these other tot and infant classes that have music and movement like Kindermusik, Music Together, and Music with Mar, the leader of this session provided a lot of information to parents about developmental milestones and how we could integrate activities at home to encourage our children's movement.  I appreciate how hard it must be to modify a class for such a wide age range!  The leader did well!

The class content ended early so we could have time to enjoy the museum before it opened to the public.  That seemed worth it to me - to have a wee one who was barely crawling in there before having to fight the incoming summer crowds was great.  Note that if you want to stay after class when the museum opens you have to pay the full museum admission fee.  The $4 only covers the class.

Alas, my terrible summer cold of 2012 prevented me from getting this out before August's class (best intentions....) as it was last night but do tag this and put it on your calendar for September!

Kidzu's Busy Babies Bees Class
Kidzu Museum
123B West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill