Our adventure today was a Tinkergarten class, held at Cradle Creek Preserve in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Tinkergarten is an outdoor learning experience held at local parks, where kids 18 months – 8 years learn through play and exploring the outdoors. They have it set up in 43 states so far, so check out the website to find a class near you. They offer a free trial class, so we signed up to give it a try and ventured out on a cloudy drizzly Wednesday morning to go get our nature on.
We arrived nice and early and then discovered there were no bathrooms. As soon as I learn there are no bathrooms somewhere, I always suddenly, urgently have to pee. I wasn’t up for squatting in the woods (at least not this time) so we took a quick detour to the gas station and headed back. Our class leader Sara said she was looking into moving it to a different park with better amenities and parking. There were only maybe 4 spots in the lot, but you can park on the side of the street.
We got started with a little song and then read a story that just happened to be my favorite book from kindergarten, Stone Soup. After the story, the kids got to participate in making their own version of stone soup using dirt, sticks, leaves and whatever else they could scavenge. My favorite part was when they added the “seasonings” from a bag of lavender that smelled heavenly.
The age range for our class was about 2 – 5, so it was hectic but fun. There were wanderers and the occasional tantrum breakdown, but overall all the kids seemed to enjoy it. Keelan wasn’t sure at first, but after a few minutes he got really into making his “soup” with water and dirt and even went back for extra seasonings.
I’m waiting to hear if the class is going to be moved to a park with bathrooms before we sign up. I really did like getting to visit the nature preserve location because there weren’t any other distractions around, but I can’t be peeing in the bushes. I mean, I just met these people and it’s not exactly a kegger in the woods. 😆
Check out their website Tinkergarten.com to see if there is a class near you, and if not, you can also sign up to be a class leader in your area. I’m actually looking into that myself since I’d like to get paid to play outside with the kiddo!
Back in April Bay and Bee offered a “buy two months get one free special,” so I thought it would be a great chance to check it out and really let us get to know it before committing to a regular monthly membership. It’s a Montessori inspired, eco-friendly indoor play space for children under 5, located in Jacksonville, FL.
They have a great play space with tons of toys, a wooden train set that you can use to build different tracks, a play kitchen area, lots of blocks and creative toys, and a little jungle gym in the middle.
I was really looking forward to trying all the classes they offer from Sway and Play Yoga to sign language. Unfortunately Keelan lasted about 30 seconds in yoga and ran out of the room, and I couldn’t get him to sit still and pay attention to any of the demonstrations. He participated a tiny bit in the art class. But as usual it was not the amazing mom and son activity time I had imagined. He mostly just wanted to run off and play with the dump truck.
It is a great place to go on a rainy day or when it’s too hot or too cold to play outside. Other than that I want to wait until Keelan is more interested in classes before getting a membership again. I feel like you need to do those to really make the most out of the cost of the membership which starts at $48/mo.
If you are interested in checking it out, your first visit is free!
Bay & Bee
13475 Atlantic Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32266
One of my favorite big conventions is almost here – San Diego Comic Con! I went the year I got pregnant and haven’t made it back since I had my son, but we have done a lot of other conventions together. In fact, he attended his first con at just 6 weeks old! I look forward to taking him to SDCC one day, but until then, we’ll be hitting up cons a little closer to home.
Attending a con with a kid was a whole new experience for me. My usual plan was just show up, take a lot of pictures and basically party all day and night. Now I have to plan around nap times, changing diapers and having no choice about being up at 7AM every morning.
So here’s my Top 10 Tips List for Attending Conventions with Kids:
- Try something local first. Short trips are best. You can search sites that list cons by state like UpComingCons.com & Cosplayconventioncenter.com, but if you just put “cosplay conventions” or “comic conventions” along with your location into Google, you’re going to find something!
- If you aren’t going to be local, be close enough so you can easily walk back to the hotel for naptime. Believe me, this will make things SO much easier.
- Check out the event ahead of time and plan your day. Make a list of events and things you want to attend with time and location.
- Forget about actually making it to any of those things. Just kidding. A little.
- If you have a baby, make sure you have something to cover your costume with. Nothing like ruining all your hard work with a bunch of spit-up.
- Plan your costume around being able to pick-up and hold kid, feed kid and change diapers. If you are not able to do this, make sure you have a “baby handler” with you for assistance.
- Go easy on the kid costume. They are probably just going to fall asleep, drop food on it or rip it off after two minutes anyway. A good easy costume is a t-shirt that matches your general theme. When I do Wonder Woman, I often dress my son in a Superman t-shirt. He’s had an impressive collective since he was born. He never went a month without one in his size. I actually just printed out a bunch of ink jet iron-ons and would make whatever size I needed at the time.
- If you start taking them when they are young, then they will love it as they get a little older and you won’t need to worry about them being afraid of the characters and costumes. My son loves getting up close and touching the costumes.
- Pack more than you think you need- extra food, diapers, clothes, drinks…extras of everything! We went to ConJure and after a 2 hour car ride my son started projectile vomiting. We went through a LOT of clothes. You never know what you are going to run into. Be prepared.
- Do a kid-friendly cosplay group. I had a great time as Princess Parfaya in a Sesame Street Star Smores group at Star Wars Celebration and the kids and parents totally got it.
And most of all, just have fun, soak up the experience and share every moment with your little one. This is your chance to share your fandom and geekiness as a family affair.
Our toddler adventure for today was at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Jacksonville, FL. I went in expecting it to be on the science-y side, but it ended up being more like a museum of real life. There was a grocery store, bank, veterinarian, cafe, theater, etc. I’m not really sure where the “museum” part comes in… maybe because it has been there for 17 years? Lol
Everything was a little old and beat up, and it was hot and some stuff was stinky, but you know who doesn’t care about any of that? A two-year-old. So I just took a step back and let him go crazy and play with everything. We’ve got to kick that immune system into high gear for our impending date with preschool anyway!
It’s definitely worth checking out if you live in Jacksonville. We were there a couple hours and K didn’t want to leave! I think it’s odd that parents have to pay $5.50 to sit and watch their kid, so essentially that made it a $9.50 visit. But overall worth the trip since I had a tired baby afterwards!
We had a great time as Sesame Street Star Smores at Star Wars Celebration! It was Keelan’s first time as a part of a big cosplay group. We got off to a bit of a rough start with our little Luke Piewalker, who was promptly renamed “Luke Crywalker”:But then there was an attitude shift after we managed to get everyone dressed and out the door. He stayed in his stroller for the first half, just taking everything in, and then wanted to get out and run around for the next bit. He high-fived wampas, took pics with Chewie and didn’t seem to mind all the crazy costumes around him one bit. Guess this means he is ready for Disneyworld!
Celebration is always a great event for Star Wars fans and I was really excited to get to share it with my family. This is my third time, but their first! It was also husband and son’s birthday weekend so it was a celebration all around 🙂
And to top it off, my friend Bridget and I made it onto Entertainment Weekly’s coverage of the event!