Norfolk Tides Baseball

Both my husband and my father are huge baseball fans. Actually, huge may be an understatement. Baseball cards, bats, jerseys, "figurines" (aka toys), and magazines decorate every inch of our guest room. Our rehearsal dinner for our wedding was at Harbor Park. My dad can be found at Harbor Park, where our minor league team plays, most of the summer. The Tides are great at doing promotions for kids. Look out for kids' hat night, Star Wars night, even Princess night. I'll let you know. We went on Princess night this year, and I've never seen so many little girls in huge fluffy dresses. I might have cried a little..... 

Some things to be aware of:
01. If you know someone with unused season tickets, you can trade them in for FREE tickets any game of the year except the fourth of July.
02. Norfolk Public Schools partners with the Tides. Students complete a reading log in the spring that allows them to get free child tickets with the purchase of an adult ticket.
03. There is a bounce house located on the third base side, and a speed pitch game located on the first base side. Both are good for kids. There are also several clowns who paint faces and create balloon animals for only $1.
04. There is a restaurant and bar called "Hits at the Park" that has an all-you-can eat buffet. If you're looking for a feast, this might be the place for you. The adults can even get wine or beer for take out.
05. Check the website for all of the promotions. They have "Bark at the Park" twice a season where you can bring your pups, $.50 popcorn and drinks night (and hot dogs if you're into those.. R and I are not!), fireworks, Paw Patrol Night... the list is endless.
06. After the game, kids 12 and under can run the bases. They line up on the first base side and you meet them back on the third base side once they have crossed home plate. About once a month, they let the adults run too if you're feeling jealous, and on the pups night, even Fido can run the bases.
07. Subway is a partner of the Tides. Often, during the summer, they do a 4 for $20 deal where you can buy four Subway combos and you'll get four Tides tickets. You can't beat that.
08. Even if you don't love baseball (ME!) there are lots of things to enjoy around the field. The park overlooks the river and tugboats pass often. There are also train tracks near the field that can be seen. The music is good, the food is tasty, and Rip Tide, the mascot, participates in all kinds of shenanigans. If you get there early and your family is brave enough, ask about some of their on-field games for in-between innings. Some of these are especially for the kids.
09. If you live in Portsmouth, consider taking the Ferry over for the game. On game days, it stops at Harbor park too! The Tide also has a stop at Harbor Park. Parking for cars is $5.00, so it might save you some money and be a cool extra activity. If you find yourself at a Tides game, look for us. I have a feeling that between the two, my husband and dad will have us out at even more games next season.
P.S.... proof of us on the field as babies ourselves at our Rehearsal Dinner the night before we were married!
We are like... batting and pointing at the ball? I don't know...?

Children's Museum of Virginia

On the last day of summer vacation Auntie Chelsea (who you'll notice is in a ton of our adventure pictures) accompanied R and myself to a day at the Children's Museum of Virginia, which is in Portsmouth. I hadn't been there since I was a child, when my grandparents used to take me, but Chelsea recently took a class field trip there. I wasn't sure if R would be too young to enjoy himself, but he had a blast. They have a model train room, fire trucks and police motorcycles, toy supermarkets, a vet office... tons of professions that kids might work in.

R's favorite room was easily the bubble room. (Chelsea's too!) Because we went so early, it wasn't crowded and we were able to stand inside the bubbles, blow our fair share of bubbles, and sit and watch the bubble wall. The look below is one of pure excitement about a bubble.

There is also a 0-3 room where R played for a while, but mostly everything downstairs caught his attention. I do think that next summer when he's a little older he will enjoy it even more. Upstairs is for older kids and is made to match the Virginia SOLs. (That's the teacher coming out of me.) The exhibits include simple machines, the water cycle, a space exhibit, and more. 

Some tips: 
  1. There is free parking on nights and weekends in a garage near the museum. If you're there during the week, circle the block to look for two hour street parking. 
  2. The museum has discounts for seniors, military, and AAA customers. Teachers get in FREE although it is not advertised. There is also reciprocity with the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
  3. Get there early. The museum opens at nine; once the field trips arrive, it can get crowded. 
  4. The museum also has a planetarium. If your child is a little older, he/she may like that. 
  5. There is a wonderful little bakery down the street called Delightful Deserts where everything is made from scratch and you can buy a little of this, and a little of that. The man working behind the counter is friendly and helpful. We stopped in for a treat on the way back to the car... I'll let R's face tell you what he thought. If you go.... try the lemon cupcake.

VA Zoo

The Virginia Zoo is one of the best deals in Tidewater. In addition to all the animal exhibits, what most people don't know about the zoo is that they host all kinds of social events too. The zoo recently hosted their Breakfast with the animals, and they are about to have Zoo Grooves, which is a series of concerts. They also have Zoovies, which are outdoor movies. When I was a kid, I went to Zoo camp and loved it, so I'm excited for R to enjoy that when he gets a little older. For now we have enjoyed several warm summer days walking through the zoo.
What's also great about the Virginia Zoo is that they have two water areas. The first one is at the zoo entrance where big kids usually can be seen running around from fountain to fountain getting soaked. The second, and lesser known one, is in Asia, near the tigers and otters. R likes these the best because they are perfectly sized for him. There is also a bathroom and changing station right by this area.

The zoo also does Zootales and Garden tales, which are for kids. They bring out an animal or talk about different types of plants. When we went, R and his cousins made "people" out of different vegetables that either grow on top of the soil or under it.

Some tips for the zoo:
01. They have a huge playground outside of the zoo which is great for picnics and playing.
02. Check for groupons for discounted tickets.
03. Be on the lookout for Free Zoo Day, where admission is F R E E !
04. If you have a membership to the Children's Museum or the Aquarium, be on the lookout for reciprocity months where you can use your membership at the zoo. Our zoo membership has easily paid for itself. If you are going to go even for a handful of events, it's worth it to get the membership!
05. Check what other places your membership gets you into. The North Carolina aquarium is one that has reciprocity with the zoo. The Association of Science and Technology Centers have 50% reciprocity.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

I'll preface this post by saying that when my mom told me she bought us a family pass to the Gardens, I thought to myself that I would never use it. I have to admit that I was so wrong. Out of everywhere that we have gone this summer, this is our most frequented place and my favorite. Without exaggeration, every time I go I find something new.
The Botanical Gardens is a 175 acre garden near the airport in Norfolk. On Sundays during the summer you can bring your dog inside, and from 4:00-7:00 you can ride a bike. There are several highlights that we always hit. One is the butterfly house, which opens in June and is an enclosed area that is full of butterflies. The surrounding gardens are made of all kinds of plants that attract butterflies and although they are not enclosed, they are everywhere. 

R's favorite part of the Botanical Gardens it the children's garden, called World of Wonder, where they display different ecosystems from all around the globe. They also have three splash pad areas for kids to play. Some other highlights here include the bongo drums in Africa, the treetop play area, and the play houses in the wooded forest. The teacher in me likes that the habitats are perfect for third grade curriculum and the Virginia grown plants and explorers are fit for a fourth grader.

There are several other awesome exhibits. There is an area where children can play on a sand mountain and tunnels to crawl through, a Japanese garden with impressive bonsai trees... I literally can't say enough! One of our new favorite areas it the airport overlook where you can watch planes take off and land on the runway. A cool aspect is that you can hear the pilots talking on the radios. If your kid is into planes, be sure to check this out! 

The daily prices are a little expensive, at $12.00 a day for an adult, but the membership prices pay for themselves. There is also reciprocity with the American Horticultural Society. We have the two year family pass, and we can bring up to six people when we go. I'm so sad that as summer ends the splash pad will be closing, but looking forward to fall bike nights very soon.

Bluebird Gap Farm

I lived in the Tidewater area most of my life before I learned of Bluebird Gap Farm. It's a little farm in Hampton near the Bass Pro Shop. They have farm animals that you can feed and pet (Warning! Some may nibble!), picnic tables, gardens, a playground, and a little snack stand.

The best part.... it's completely FREE! They have special events pretty often, and on Tuesdays during the summer they have a free story time for little ones. There are sometimes magic shows, dancers, and other entertainers also. This is a spot we will definitely be returning to as R gets older.

Adventures with R

Over the course of the summer, I've posted way too many pictures with the caption "Today's adventure..." and several people have asked me where I find all of the activities that R and I do. Some of them I've found from blogs, magazines, and researching hours and hours online. Others I've stumbled on by word of mouth or just being in the right place at the right time. Either way, I know that I would have loved to find a blog that is dedicated to just little people in my area. I've found that there is lots of information for preschool aged kids and above, but it's harder with the ones who are not yet in preschool. So, this blog was born. It's partly a help for friends of mine who also have little guys, and partly a digital journal where I can post my thoughts and pictures to remember all of our adventures.

I hope you enjoy them too.