Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Day in Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs is a small village close to where I used to work in Springfield, Ohio, and not far from Dayton. It is best known for being home to Antioch University and comedian Dave Chappelle, but it attracts tourists from all over the area for its one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants, too.

We hadn't been there for at least seven years, so this past Sunday we decided to make the hour trip. We walked along Yellow Springs' streets for a while in the morning, but we were really visiting for the food and for the nature.

We had planned to go to lunch at Ha Ha Pizza, thinking that it would be kid-friendly. But its 1 p.m. Sunday opening time was not kid-friendly, so that was out.

Instead, we went to the Winds. I'd been wanted to try that place for years, but I was under the impression that it was too fancy for the kiddo. Maybe it is in the evening, but she wasn't the only toddler at brunch (and they even gave her toys and crayons to play with during the wait). I got a fancy croque monsieur, and Paul and Edith both enjoyed his spicy chickpea stew topped with a fried egg and breadcrumbs.

Not far away was Glen Helen, a park I had heard raves about. It was beautiful, but hot -- and even hotter when you're toting a kid in a carrier. Add several mosquito bites and an ever-nearing naptime, and we didn't stay too long.

Edith fell asleep about as soon as she hit the car seat. Luckily our stroller reclines nearly flat. So we spent an hour at the Yellow Springs Brewery with her asleep in the stroller, shades down. Perfect.

Next up: Young's Jersey Dairy. This farm and ice cream shop is just outside of Yellow Springs, in Clark County. Of course I had to get a cone, and Edith had to get up close to the goats.

This was the first day trip we've taken since we moved back to Ohio, and it went very well. Can't wait for the next!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Parenting an 18-Month-Old

In our backyard on Sunday.

Being the parent of an 18-month-old -- which I officially am today -- is bittersweet, but certainly more sweet than bitter. Yes, there's the where-did-my-baby-go sadness, but each day is exciting and new as I see Edith exploring new things and learning new skills. It truly seems like she is a little different every day.

She can walk, scoop with a spoon and follow simple directions. She can blow kisses and even plant one on your cheek if you are lucky. She can climb a ladder to go down the slide -- but she doesn't care to slip down that slide without a bit of help.

She has favorites -- food (graham crackers), books ("I Love You, Good Night"), toys (magnetic letters, spread out on the floor), games (peekaboo) and songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider). And she has a mind of her own.

She can say only a few words, but she understands many, many more. You can practically see the gears turning when we speak to her -- and the frustration when she can't explain what she wants.

I'm glad to have such a fun, happy, healthy girl -- especially when, almost every day, she's eager to sit on my lap and read book after book after book. That might be when I feel luckiest of all.

Finally walking!

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Night Out at 'The Book of Mormon'

It was a toss-up as to which I was more excited about: seeing "The Book of Mormon" at the Ohio Theater in Columbus, or having only my third kid-free night with Paul since Edith was born.

Paul and I tried to get "Book of Mormon" rush tickets through the lottery system in New York more than two years ago with no luck. When a couple of our friends earlier this year asked if we'd be interested in getting tickets with them to see the travel production, we didn't hesitate.

As for the kid-free night -- it's totally our own fault that we don't have more. Paul's family on the west side of Columbus is always willing to watch Edith, but we just don't often taken them up on it. On Friday, however, Paul's mom occupied a happy Edith while we went out to dinner with our friends and saw the show.

"Book of Mormon" is a raunchy musical centering on two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to spread their teachings and convert residents to their faith. It wasn't the best musical of all time (I largely prefer the classics, like "South Pacific" and "Anything Goes"), but it was far from the worst and I would certainly recommend it. A good time was had by all!

As much as I enjoyed the show, it was almost just as nice to eat a good meal in which I didn't have to worry about anyone's manners, what or how much they were eating or whether they were properly using a spoon. An evening in which I could actually relax.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Indianola Park, aka Dinosaur Park

I had heard tell of a mysterious playground in the northern reaches of our fair burg, known by the name of Dinosaur Park. Alas, I knew very little else, other than that one must travel north on the thoroughfare known as Indianola Avenue.

How far away it was, I knew not. Nevertheless, Edith and I drove north looking for dinosaurs.

We found them shortly after Indianola Avenue -- one of Clintonville's main streets -- became little more than a local road just past the Columbus boundaries, into Worthington. Two green plastic dinosaurs greeted us before I saw the sign announcing the park's real name: aptly, Indianola Park.

I liked this park. The equipment looked shiny and new, but even better -- there was a special little-kids section that wasn't as tall (or as ominous for us nervous parents). That's always a plus in my book, and something that you don't find at all of the parks.

The section for the older kids looked especially fun, but we'll have to wait a few years before Edith can truly play over there. She tried though, and we explored a little when we had the equipment to ourselves.

The park also had tennis courts, I believe some basketball hoops, and, of course, swings. The bucket swings were better than the ones normally found at parks. They were higher, which made it easy for underdogs.

And don't forget about the bouncy dinosaurs. Not yet Edith's cup of tea, I guess.

In summary, I liked Indianola Park just as much as Clinton-Como Park, but it's distance from home means we likely won't come often. However, this is one park I'll keep in mind for a change of scenery -- especially as Edith grows older and gravitates more toward the big-kid playground equipment.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Delicious Donut Burger of DK Diner

I always think of New York as the place that pretty much has every food I could ever imagine, and even more that I couldn't. After all, it was in New York that I first heard of a donut burger.

It was an occasional special at a burger joint in our Bay Ridge neighborhood -- a slab of beef with a glazed donut acting as the buns. I was eager to try it, but it was never on the menu when we ate there.

Then we returned to Columbus. DK Diner in Grandview, just west of downtown, had been on my list of places to try, particularly for its donuts and patio. When I read that they, too, served a donut burger ... well, it just begged to be eaten.

The DK Diner donut burger was every bit as grand as I anticipated. The burger was topped with cheese and three crispy slices of bacon, but of course the highlight was the glazed donut bun. It provided just a tinge of sweetness -- I actually would have been perfectly fine with a stronger donut taste to my burger.

The only downside -- the donut was split lengthwise, with half acting as the bottom bun and the other half on top. That made the bottom bun a tad soggy, but delicious nonetheless.

I often say how good a meal is and then forget to return for weeks or months or years. But Paul and I are already planning a return trip to DK Diner for the donut burger ASAP.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Saturdays at the Clintonville Farmers' Market

One of the many reasons we love where we live is the location of the Clintonville Farmers' Market -- it's just down the street, a few minutes' walk away. We went to several of the outdoor Saturday markets after we moved in last summer, but we'll go to even more this year. My mother-in-law is one of the vendors.

She has sold produce and flowers in past years at markets in Worthington and Hilliard, but this year she opted for our neighborhood. And I'm doing a lot of the Facebook marketing, so be sure to like her Red Brick Farm Facebook page!

Edith helping Grandma.

But that's not the only reason the market is so much fun. There's a lot to like at the market (meat, bread and coffee -- for Paul at least) and quite a few pastries and desserts, too (those are for me). I'm also anxious to get some real maple syrup. Each vendor tent includes a sign that explains where the items are from and the distance from Columbus. It's interesting to see how much comes from so near.

The market runs through November, so this is the very beginning.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Clinton-Como Park & Tuttle Park Playgrounds

One of the big perks of living where we do is the number of playgrounds within walking distance. Off the top of my head I can think of five within two miles, with three of those being significantly closer.

So as the weather got warmer, Edith and I began exploring. Within about a week of each other we walked south on the Olentangy Trail and visited two parks and playgrounds: Tuttle Park and Clinton-Como Park.

First up was Tuttle Park, which is one of the further away playgrounds, near the Ohio State University campus. Since the park is on the Olentangy Trail, however, it's a pleasant stroll along the river.

Tuttle Park: A playground mostly for big kids.

The playground as seen from the trail.

Like many of the area playgrounds, this one seems mostly geared toward older children, but there were at least some bucket swings. We were the only ones there aside from some construction workers and I think one guy in the outdoor hockey area. But I expect the area will be hopping when the adjacent pool opens for the summer.

Closer to home but still on the trail is Clinton-Como Park. I believe the playground equipment was installed just a few weeks before we visited this spring, so we were one of the first to try it out.

Of the several parks we have visited, this has been my favorite. It has bucket swings, of course, but it also has a play area for smaller kids, with a few slides and a kind of tilted climbing wall that even Edith could use.

Clinton-Como Park playground: Stuff for the little ones.

And Edith even had fun with some of the big kid toys.

Like our trip to Tuttle Park, we visited Clinton-Como in the morning. Clinton-Como, however, was pleasantly busy -- several kids and even a dog, although it was a blustery day.

So Clinton-Como Park will be on our playground rotation, and I'm excited to check out a few more throughout the spring and summer.


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