Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fun in the sun

What's the difference between a boring summer and a fun summer? About 50 miles.

Ever since we freed ourselves from our little townhouse in Clarksville and moved to La Vergne (house pics to come later; still unpacking, er, decorating), it's become much easier to find family-friendly activities around the area, spontaneously take a trip to Nashville or simply go outside.

In La Vergne, we're 10 minutes from Murfreesboro (where I work) to the south, 20 minutes from Nashville to the north, 20 minutes to Franklin (wealthy part of Nashville) to the east and plenty of other stops along the way.

In Clarksville, we were 40 minutes from Nashville to the south, 70 minutes from Murfreesboro even farther south and right on the border of southern Kentucky (what the hell were we supposed to do there?).

Simply put, there is much more to do as a family near our new home, and we are taking full advantage of it before the dog days of summer arrive and Erin goes back to work. We've made an effort to get Jacob (and Dolly) out of the house every day, whether it's going to a specific place or just playing outside for a few minutes in the backyard or in the cul-de-sac.

And of course Erin plasters a thick coat of SPF 5,000 all over Jacob's ghostly body.

Here are a few of the things we've done thus far:

• Became members of the Nashville Zoo (have already been three times)
• "Swam" in the inflatable kiddie pool in our backyard
• Splashed around the splash pad in Smyrna (adjacent to La Vergne)
• Attended Books and Babies at the Smyrna library
• Went to the Science Center in Nashville
• Went to a free after-hours Father's Day session at the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro
• Shopped and walked around The Avenue outdoor mall in Murfreesboro
• Play with Dolly in the backyard. Jacob loves to laugh at her fetching tennis balls.

Activity details:, One of the best part about living in La Vergne is we're only 15 minutes from the zoo. It's not the world's best zoo, but it has a lot of room for growth and improvement. We decided to buy a membership. We've already paid it off and then some. We've been three times, although the second time we had to cut it short because of an unexpected storm. But, hey, that's when memberships come in handy. The past two visits were spontaneous. We just decided that morning to pack up the baby bag, let the dog out and head down to the zoo. Jacob enjoys looking at the animals and we get exercise. We've had to start in a different spot each time because Jacob falls asleep about half-way through. One day he'll get to see everything in the same trip.

Murfreesboro is a great town. It's smaller population-wise than Clarksville, but there's so much more to do. The Discovery Center is a building full of hands-on exhibits and learning stations suited for little kids, including Jacob's age. There was a firetruck, an early 1900s pickup truck, music stations, coal mining, arts and crafts, reading circle equipped with rocking chairs, tire-changing station and more. I tried to learn something from that last station long after Jacob lost interest. There's also an area called Tiny Town where little ones can go grocery shopping, build and paint at Home Depot, play music and climb in a tree.

The Avenue is this ginormous, beautifully developed outdoor mall. It's great to walk around on a nice day. Erin's already obsessed with it. In front of Maggie Moo's ice cream and Great American Cookie is an open turf area for kids to run off their sugar high. Jacob was no stranger. Man, that little squirt must run on Energizer batteries 'cause he keeps going and going and going and going... Just outside the 'Boro is the Renaissance Festival fairgrounds. Can't wait to feed Jacob his first giant turkey leg next May!

This blog post was paid in part by The Avenue, Maggie Moo's, Great American Cookie and Energizer batteries.

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