Kids Band “Sandbox” playing Fred Fletcher Park (9/2/2012)

Fourth of July has fireworks, Labor Day has Concerts in the Park. Right? The lovely weather of September makes it perfect to pack up a blanket and a small cooler and head out to Fred Fletcher Park. If you live downtown and this does not ring a bell, boy, you’ve missed something. Scenery-wise, Fletcher it is probably the nicest, and certainly less crowded than Pullen Park. It does not have a lot of playground equipment, other than a sandbox and swings. And speaking of a sandbox, that is also the name of the band that is playing at Fred Fletcher on Sunday night. Lawn chairs and coolers welcome, alcoholic contents not. Sandbox has a nice website that gives you an idea about their style.

What I like is that they play a combination of traditional children songs as well as their own work. Some of their songs can be previewed on their website.

Sunday, Sept-2, 6pm. Fred Fletcher Park (820 Clay Street, Raleigh NC 27605)

Independence Day 2012

Here some ideas to celebrate Independence Day:

Best fireworks for kids: First, if you can’t wait until tomorrow (or want the kids to see the fireworks and sleep in the next day), don’t be uppity and head out to Garner tonight. Their fireworks are earlier, the symphony is playing, and it is probably less crowded than “The ‘Works” in Raleigh tomorrow. Garner Independence Day Celebration, 5p-8p, July-3rd.

Best neighborhood parade: If you’re lucky enough to live in University Park, you have your very own Independence Day Parade right in your heighborhood. Firetrucks and Locopops; need I say more? University Park Independence Day Parade, 9:45am, July-4.

Best children’s parade: A bit out of the way, but specifically dubbed a children’s parade: Wake Forest Independence Day Children Parade, 10:30am, July-4.

Best parade that includes a splash-down from a fire truck: The Apex festivities include karaoke, inflatables and street performers in the morning and end with a parade and an opportunity to “cool off under the spray of the Apex Fire Department’s fire hose“. Town of Apex Olde Fashioned Fourth of July, activities 9a-12p, parade 12:00pm, July-4.

Best “let’s turn Independence Day into a three-day-festival”: As every year, Durham is hosting the Festival for the Eno with tons of activities. Festival for the Eno. Wed July-4, Sat. July-7, Sun. July-8.

And of course, there is also the Independence Day Celebration of the City of Raleigh which, following the overall trend, has moved from the fairgrounds to downtown and will take over Fayetteville Street and surrounding areas. Everything will be there, from a Reading of the Declaration of Independence to Arts Vendors to Circus to Music to Beer Tasting to, of course, at the end, Fireworks. This year, the Rotary Club will release 100 firefly lantern as a special treat at 9:30pm just before the fireworks. The ‘Works, 11am-10pm, July-4.

Also note that while the downtown museums (Science, History, Marbles) are open, the Art Museum is closed.

Fireworks Finish Up Raleigh Wide Open by abbyladybug, used under the CC BY-NC license


Father’s Day (6/17/12)

This is going to be a great one for The Daddy, since there are now two kids wishing Happy Father’s Day!

“The Perfect Father’s Day” is a personal choice, and to not make this based on just my perspective, I reached out to a couple other dads and Daddy Weekly readers. Here the compiled results of the non-scientific, non-representative Father’s Day survey:

The Day: Two common attributes were “outside” and “relaxed“. Whether grilling in the backyard, sitting by the pool or taking an easy hike: Dads like to get out, and “relaxing” can get quite active when kids are involved. (However, few would turn down a cold drink and a game on TV once the kids are in bed.

The Gift: Hmm, socks? a tie? One thing to remember is that guys like things that can be used. (Socks are worn, not used. An automatic fairway range finder with built in golf ball detector, that’s something you use.) So something practical is always a winner. And with 67% of dads doing at least some of the cooking these days, this just might be a cookbook. Another theme was a personalized gift from the kids. Believe it or not, but a coffee mug (practical) with a photo of the kids (personalized) may be all that daddy is hoping for. (And I can personally attest how nice it is to have a kids’ photo in the office.)

The Hike: But enough lofty talk – here comes my practical tip for the day: Pack up the kids and go for a hike in a nice park. Here are three options, complete with maps – so dad can relax and mom as well. All three are at lakes and at least partially in the shade:

0.80 miles in Oak View Park – what a nice park!
1.12 miles in Yates Mill Park – what a nice mill!
2.36 miles in Bond Park – yes, Cary has park too!

For directions to each park, just click on the P symbol and then “directions”.

Mother’s Day – Two Quick Outings (5/13/12)

Opinions differ about how Mother’s Day is best celebrated: Dad takes care of kids, and Mom has a relaxing Sunday? Or the family spends time together celebrating their beloved mother?

Both versions can work, and the two events below fit that program; they are “quick and easy outings”, that to keep the kids occupied while mama is at the spa. Or they can be family outings that keep everybody together without being too stressful for the parents.

One option is the Mother’s May Day Hike at Yates Mill park. A one-hour stroll (11am-12pm) around the lake, with a focus on baby animals and their mama in this park.

The second option is Open Bounce at Pump It Up, the indoor party place with the inflatable bouncy houses. (From noon – 2pm, a short drive out to Brier Creek. I recommend buying advanced tickets for that day, you can get them on their website.)

Both event are early in the day, and leave plenty of time to come home and cook a yummy dinner for mommy!

Mother’s Day – Last Minute Gifts (Sat 5/12/12)

Yes, it is definitely Mother’s Day this Sunday, May-13.
No gift today? No problem!
No gift on Sunday? Big problem!

For some unique gift ideas that are NOT Made in China, let’s head to our local markets:

First I’d like to mention the Saturday Market which has become a Boylan Heights institution during its first season last year. They have food and drinks, some of it “giftable” (not the tacos though), but there are also some crafts available.

For a much wider selection of crafty gifts, go to the Designer’s Downtown Market. It has moved to the parking lot next to the Clarion (that would be the big round hotel) on Hillsborough and Dawson.

Finally, if that does not help either, head on over to Sadlack’s Heroes Arts and Crafts Sale. Among others, Johnny Swank has announced that he will be there, and you’ll never be wrong with one of his NC-themed T-Shirts.  However, it will be entirely up to you to explain to your wife how you headed out to buy her a gift and ended up at Sadlack’s Heroes!

Saturday Market: 9 am – 2 pm (Dupont Circle & Kinsey Street)
Designer’s Downtown Market: 9 am – 3 pm (Hillsborough Street & Dawson Street)
Sadlack’s Heroes Arts and Crafts Sale: noon – 6 pm (2116 HIllsborough)

Earth Day 2012 (4/22)

You are here

Sunday, April-22 is Earth Day, a day to celebrate how far environmental consciousness has come since 4/22/1970, and to reflect how far we still have to go. We all know that two-year-old kids are nature-lovers and environmentalists by default, and here are some activities for this Sunday, ranging in hue from a neon-tinted light green to a very somber, earthy, through-and-through dark forest green.

The lighter route may lead you to the IMAX at Marbles, where you can watch “To The Arctic 3D” and after the movie participate in a “family learning lab”. $7-$9.

Not on Sunday, but probably the biggest “earth day event” is the grand opening of the Nature Research Center on Saturday, see separate article.

If you take environmentalism seriously and want to meet others who view it as a religious maxim as well, head out to the Buddhist temple on Tryon Road. The (older?) kids can watch “Dirt! The Movie” and do arts and craft, while the adults can take classes in composting or organic vegetable gardening. Vegetarian food is also available. Make sure you pre-register. Sunday, 4/22 10-3:30.

Picture courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio