Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Clifford, Junior League of Atlanta, and Super Why

Saturday was a big day for us. We started off at Barnes and Noble to check out a special event featuring Clifford. After a Clifford reading and a visit from the Big Red Dog himself, we scored Clifford's "autograph". Somehow my kids just weren't in the mood so it was kind of a bust for us, but other children enjoyed it. And we did get Clifford's paw print "autograph", which is going to show and tell with my oldest son this week.

On to the Junior League of Atlanta's Building a Better Community Week Fire Station Ice Cream Social. Held each year at the Moore's Mill/Howell Mill fire station in September, this event was started post-9/11 as a way to honor our community's fire fighters. Kids have a chance to check out the fire engines up close, interact with real-life heroes, and enjoy tasty ice cream. The firefighters get really into it and even put on a little demonstration for us where they extended their ladder all the way and climbed to the top. I was volunteering for this event and my kids arrived just after the trucks had to leave on a call, so they missed the truck action. But my oldest informed me that since his last birthday party was at the fire station, he was really just there for the ice cream. Which he enjoyed immensely. Event was a hit.

Last stop of the day - Happy Healthy Kids Day at Georgia Public Broadcasting. This free event was open to the public and featured storytellers, bands, magicians, face painting, crafts and games. We went because my kids are HUGE Super Why! fans and the gang was making an appearance, along with Word Girl, Curious George, Clifford (on tour in Atlanta that day, apparently), and Princess Presto. I'm not sure if this event has been held before or not, but I kind of thought it would be us and 5 other people. Instead, half the city of Atlanta was there. The place was packed and we even ran into several people we knew. By the time we got there, Super Why! had long since gone, but we did wait in line 40 minutes to see Curious George. It was a little crazy since the event was spread across 4 floors of the GPB building and almost everyone there had a stroller, but there were fun crafts and activities for the kids. Probably more appropriate for pre-school/early elementary kids than older school-aged kids. A major shout-out to all the GPB staff and volunteers - they were unfailingly polite and helpful and really made everyone feel welcome. I hope this event repeats next year and I hope they move it to a bigger/more horizontal venue. Thanks, GPB!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baby Faire a Bust for Me

Promised an update on Baby Faire, but thanks to my own personal baby, the past week has been so crazy that I am waaaay overdue for a post. No time for a ton of details, but here's the upshot:
  • There were less vendors than I expected and frankly, less free stuff. I paid $8 to get in and I'm actually not even sure if I got $8 worth of free stuff.
  • I did get one cool thing - check out my product review post on Baby Bunching for Toddler Bites, a nifty gadget I picked up at the Faire.
  • I was a little miffed because they fooled me into registering on a computer up front, claiming that vendors would "scan" my bar coded name tag and automatically enter me in drawings to win free stuff. Instead, only two vendors actually had scanners. So I ended up filling out cards at the places where I wanted more information and every other vendor got my information whether I wanted them to or not. Plus I paid $8 for them to get it. AND I didn't win any free stuff. Bummer.
  • There was some kind of anime convention going on at Cobb Galleria at the same time as the Baby Faire. Weirdos dressed up in costume + babies = sketched out parents.
The verdict: Graco, Chicco, Babies R Us, Medela, Playtex, Avent, Dr. Browns, and others all had extensive booths with tons of products. Great event for first time moms looking to get info for registering. Not so much for third-time moms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun for Mommy and Baby?

On Saturday, the wee one and I are planning to attend the American Baby Faire. Let me say in advance that I am not endorsing this event, as I've never attended. But it's another one of those things I've been meaning to do for years. Friends of mine have been in the past and raved about all the freebies and good info.

Given that it is 10 minutes from my house and hubby is willing to watch the big boys, the little one and I are going to give it a go. Freebies, baby toy testing stations, a designated nursing area - what could be more baby and mom-friendly?

I'll post a review after the fact, but just wanted to give y'all a heads up in case anyone was interested in going!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Trying Something New, Part II

On Saturday, I attended a book signing for Sleep is For the Weak that was exciting for two reasons:
In a sad twist of irony that is the perfect ending to my Decatur Book Festival saga posted earlier this week, it turns out that some of the contributors to Sleep is For the Weak were actually AT the festival last weekend when I was there, so I could've saved myself an extra trip. Ugh. But hey - at least I finally got to see Beehive Co-Op!

The upshot of the excursion was:
  • It was nice to leave my house, where I have been holed up with my new baby for the past 6 weeks. As a bonus, the weather is a little bit cooler than it was 6 weeks ago - fall is on the horizon!
  • It was exciting to meet rock stars of the mommy blogging world.
  • The book is cute and worth a read - an entertaining compilation of essays on parenting from a host of mommy bloggers. My favorite section was the last one, entitled "Personal Growth Blows".
  • Beehive Co-Op is awesome and worth a trip - tons of unique, one-of-a-kind locally made clothing (children and adults), accessories, and home decorative items. Unfortunately for me, I had my baby in tow. He HATES the car, so when he woke up halfway through the excursion I had to haul ass home because I knew I was living on borrowed time before he freaked out. So I definitely plan to return without him some day.
All in all, my second attempt to try something new this week turned out WAY better than the first. Probably because I had two fewer kids with me.

Trying Something New

This week I had the rare opportunity to do TWO new things in Atlanta that I have been meaning to do for several years.

Last weekend we packed up the crew and made the trek across town to the Decatur Book Festival. I've seen advertisements in the AJC for this for years and it's always looked interesting, but I never made it in my pre-baby days. Once the boys were born in rapid succession, we pretty much avoided any event that contained any combination of the words "Decatur" (across town), "Book" (who has time to read?) and "Festival" (frequently not stroller-friendly).

But we were desperate for something to do besides the pool or the same old parks we hit every weekend, so off we went. The verdict: if your family is like my family (i.e. two high energy pre-school aged boys), wait a few years to check it out.

The festival purports to be family-friendly and while I would not say it was family UN-friendly, there isn't a whole lot to do for small kids. For some reason, I was hoping there would be an army of children's literary characters that my kids could talk to, like Arthur (whom I find annoying as hell when I have to read him but awesome when he is live and in person and entertaining my kids), or a Harry Potter magic show or something.

Instead, there was a craft tent sponsored by Target and a children's stage with children's authors. Which would've been cool except the author that was there when we were there seemed to target tweens and not preschoolers. There was a children's parade and children's authors/musicians earlier in the weekend, but we failed to check the lineup so we missed those. There were several booths selling children's books, but they were crammed in close proximity to each other and had high traffic flow, making it difficult to find a way to navigate the stroller containing our youngest so the two oldest could check out books. Of course, it was hotter than Hades, so my middle son proceeded to show signs of a heatstroke almost as soon as we got there, and we had to stop and feed and water him. So at least I can attest that the Decatur Book Festival has great food vendors.

There was a whole section of book vendors that my husband and I (both avid readers in pre-baby days and even now, when we can squeeze it in) both gazed longingly at. But alas, it was not meant to be - our bunch was ready to go home, so we had to bail.

All in all, the outing was a pseudo-bust. I say "pseudo" because on the bright side, our newest addition, who has barely slept since he was born 6 weeks ago, sacked out in the car and slept through the whole thing. Ahh...blissful silence from him so we could focus on the incessant yammering for treats of the other two.

To add insult to injury, when we got home my husband checked his email and saw that he had gotten one about a super-family friendly event involving bouncies, kid-friendly freebies, and tons of family-friendly vendors - the Family Festival at the Labor Day 10K Classic. Which is held less than 10 minutes from our house. Ouch. Oh well. Maybe next year.

This post turned out to be longer than I intended, so stay tuned for details on my other Atlanta excursion later this week...