Easy Family Activities For the Summer

I am always amazed by my friends’ abilities at scheduling summer camps and activities for their children.   My calendar is a complete mess, I could really use some white out with the activities that are scratched out, rescheduled, cancelled, added, etc.     And I only have two.     But there are two programs I really love because they allow you to commit to a short period of time (only one morning), are ala cart so to speak, are inexpensive, and are family-friendly, meaning I get to participate and spend time with the kiddo and if I need to, the two-year old little brother can join us.

The first program we actually did last year.    It is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Junior Ranger, Jr. program.    I wrote about it here.  Each session is two hours and is $8 per child.

For details on this year’s programs, visit http://www.nps.gov/cuva/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

The second I just found out about.    It is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Family Discoveries.  Programs are 90 minutes long and cost $15 per person (Zoo members $10 per person).  Program fee includes admission to Zoo and RainForest.

You can find all of the info on the various programs here:  http://www.clemetzoo.com/education/familydiscoveries/

Are you aware of more programs like this?     If so, please share the info below in the comments section.

Until next time,



New Elephant Crossing at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

As I write I can’t believe how much the the kiddo and I, with toddler in tow, have already done this summer.   Then when I think of how active they both are and what an even bigger mess my house would be if I kept them home everyday, I realize why.   

We often go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo several times during the year.  First I feel that I should point out that the zoo has free admission on Mondays to residents of Cuyahoga County and Hinkcley Township with photo ID.   Second I should point out that if you do not need to take advantage of this (you have a zoo membership for instance), I recommend visiting the zoo on another day of the week.   I’ve been told there is often a line to get into the parking lot on Monday mornings during the summer.

And now, onto our latest zoo visit.   Last week we finally got out to the zoo to see the new African Elephant Crossing exhibit.  It’s impressive, beautiful and large and you can’t miss it as you enter the zoo.   Unfortunately, we didn’t spend a lot of time exploring it as the kiddo had been too busy chasing a young girl around in the maze that’s near the Palava Hut Pavilion. 

We did however take part in nearly ever zoo activity that involves spending money.   All were a lot of fun and inexpensive so I can’t complain.   We rode the train and fed the Lorikeets, both of which we do every time we go to the zoo.   But then, we discovered a new activity, and I may have been more excited than the kiddo…feeding the giraffes.   Yes, for $1 you can get a large piece of lettuce and hand-feed the giraffes, provided it is giraffe feeding time.   It’s great that our zoo continues to add more opportunities for interaction, as the kiddo (and mommy) absolutely love feeding any animal.

And lastly, I’m thrilled that the toddler really enjoyed the zoo.    He loved watching the animals and couldn’t stop smiling and giggling.   This was probably the first time he’s been to the zoo and had a concept of what was going on and it was so fun to watch him experience it in this way.  I can’t wait to take him back there!

When the kiddo is officially old enough for day camps, I’m going to have some serious trouble choosing, as the zoo also offers Summer Camp. It’s for ages 5-14 years old with openings still available and special discount pricing for the week of July 4th.

Actually, what I really can’t wait to do is a Family Overnight in the Rising Waters Safari Camp.  Maybe someday, when both boys are old enough to enjoy it.  

Until next time,


Dress Like a Princess, Meet Some Frogs

Warm up at the Zoo’s Newest Amphibian Event

On February 15, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo invites you to dress up as a princess, prince or frog and hop on down to The RainForest for Fairytales & Frogs. This magical event will immerse Zoo visitors in fact and fiction about frogs and frog legends. Kids under 12 will receive free admission to the Zoo and The RainForest that day. (Please Note: Adult residents of Cuyahoga County will receive reduced admission to The RainForest and free admission to the Zoo, following regular Monday admission rates).

You’ll have opportunities to meet little frogs, big frogs, real frogs and frog mascots. The Zoo’s frog keepers will also be on hand to answer frog questions and dispel frog myths. Hear the story of “The Frog Prince” and take part in frog games and crafts. And keep an eye out for a princess or two. They might be hanging out with the Radio Disney Road Crew. Watch our Fairytales & Frogs video sneak peek.

This Week’s Adventures

In the past week the toddler and I have visited a small handful of Cleveland attractions.  Here’s the low-down on each.

Last Friday was rainy and turning cold, so the toddler and I gave the neighbors a call.  The group of us, my neighbor, her nearly two-year old daughter and five year-old son all ventured out to The RainForest at Cleveland Metrtoparks Zoo.   It’s interesting now when these kids get together, as the toddler seems to bridge the gap between the two siblings.  The daughter is now old enough that she can keep up with the toddler, and the toddler is old enough to roughhouse with the son.   So it worked out well and we all had a good time.  The boys particularly enjoyed the spiral staircase up the inside of a tree trunk leading up to a large animal observation room (think Diego’s animal rescue center for those whose children watch Diego).  They also had fun watching the orangutans, snakes, turtles, assorted monkeys and birds.   Total time spent entertained was about 1.5 hours.  Considering me and my neighbor both have family memberships, we didn’t have to pay admission.

Saturday we dragged the hubby out to see “rocket ships” at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Visitor Center.   This is one place I’m looking forward to bringing the toddler when he’s older.   Lots of physics, engines, how things work, etc.   I was particularly fascinated by how much goes on at NASA here in Cleveland.   I knew about the work done on the Mars Rover here, but not much else.   The Visitor Center was interesting, and most of the people utilizing the interactive exhibits were more in the 8-12 year old range.   There was one exhibit in particular that the toddler loved however, that allows you to raise and lower a box mounted with a scale and a brass weight.   There is a small video camera that monitors the weight on the scale as it is being raised and dropped down onto a bed of foam.  Through buttons and a level, you control the raising and dropping.  As the scale free falls, you can see on the video monitor that the weight is demonstrating weightlessness in reference to the scale.  It is a very interesting experiement.  Two amusing points to this.  One, as a 12 year-old boy began to do the experiment, the toddler chimes in, “This is how you do it.  now you push this.”   I already have a know-it-all.  Second, this gravitational experiment was referred to, by the toddler, as the doyng-doyng machine, referring to the bouncing action of the box as it lands on the foam.   In all, the toddler was probably happy for an hour here.  But, if you have older children, or children of varying ages, it might be interesting to stop by.  Especially because it’s free!

Last but not least, on Monday morning we met up with my friend and her 3 year-old daughter at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  The kids enjoyed playing downstairs in the Smead Discovery Center, playing in an excavation box, doing puzzles, coloring and observing a gecko using a magnifying glass.  The toddler loves using the magnifying glass, I definitely need to invest in one before the warm weather hits.   Plus, the toddler did a pretty good job sitting and eating his lunch upstairs in the cafe before checking out the dinosaurs.   So all in all, another successful outing.   We spent about 1.5 hours there, plus lunch, and this time around got in free with my friend’s guest pass.

As it relates to the stay-at-home part in SAHM, I had my second trip to Home Depot yesterday.  Fixed the screen on our side door and checked out some outdoor light fixtures to replace the ones currently on our garage.  And I have to figure out how to fix a broken garage door.

Hopefully next week we’ll do the indoor water park while the hubby’s on vacation.  

Until next time,


New Year’s Eve at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Noon Year’s Eve Returns to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Celebrate the arrival of 2009 before dark at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s third annual Noon Year’s Eve bash. The family-friendly New Year’s Eve party features fun activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, December 31.

Noon Year’s Eve features a countdown and ball drop at noon on the Zoo’s Welcome Plaza, allowing kids and parents to ring in the new year together without staying up too late. Zoo admission during Noon Year’s Eve is discounted to $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children under 2 and Zoo members.

Kids will have the opportunity to make eco-friendly noisemakers during Noon Year’s Eve, and the first 2,500 kids under 12 will receive complimentary refreshments including Vitamin Water, Fuze beverages, bagels and chips. Other highlights include ice carving demonstrations, opportunities to make New Year’s ReZOOlutions and special new-year performances of Dr. Z’s Wild Animal Show at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the Zoo Auditorium.

Radio Disney’s Road Crew will host its “MOVE IT!” youth and family fitness program to the top family hits of 2008 and give away lots of prizes to kids.

Visitors to Noon Year’s Eve are encouraged to arrive early as traffic delays around the Zoo may occur before the noontime countdown and ball drop. The Zoo’s gates will open at 9:30 a.m. on December 31. More than 10,000 people attended last year’s Noon Year’s Eve celebration.


Free Touch Exhibit at Zoo

In case you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids while the weather is still warm around here in Cleveland, the Touch Stingrays and Sharks exhibit is now free with regular admission through Sept. 28th at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.     Our two year old was still a bit too short unfortunately to actually be able to reach any of the stingrays, but he enjoyed watching them swim by.    Besides, now that it’s a bit cooler, the rest of the zoo animals will be more active and interesting to see as well!

TOUCH! is Now Free at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
TOUCH! Amazing Rays & Sharks will be free for everyone for the rest of its run at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo is celebrating the end of a great summer by waiving the special admission fee for TOUCH!, which closes for the season on Sunday, September 28.

So far this summer, more than 235,000 people have experienced TOUCH!, a seasonal attraction that allows visitors to reach into an 11,000-gallon saltwater pool and feel the smooth skin of small sharks and stingrays. Now in its third year, TOUCH! features dozens of cownose rays, Southern red stingrays, nurse sharks, bamboo sharks and horseshoe crabs.

Regular Zoo admission is still required.

Northeast Ohio’s most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 per person, $6 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children under 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 77, 90 and 480.


Outing to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Lorikeets

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Lorikeets

Saturday morning we realized that it was the first time all summer that the hubby didn’t have a church softball double-header which meant we had the day free to take the toddler somewhere fun.  We hadn’t made it to the zoo since June, and the toddler seemed excited, so we got things packed up and headed out.  

The zoo is a short 10-15 minute drive from our house.    In that time, I managed to:

  1. Hit a dog that ran out on the freeway (I’d slowed down enough/managed to stop so that when I backed up it ran away as if nothing had happened)
  2. Got a flat tire from said dog (this morning we discovered the smell that was coming from the Rav4 since then was actually doggie doodoo on the tire, to which the hubby replied, “I guess you scared the crap out of that dog!”)
  3. Almost broke the hubby’s foot because I forgot to put on the parking break before he jacked up the car to change the tire.

So, I’ve learned the hard way that I need to engage the parking break before changing a tire, and also that some animals aren’t smart enough to not run in front of a car going 60 miles an hour.

Despite all of this, we made it to the zoo in one piece, though the hubby has been teasing me about this ordeal since.    I’ll gladly take teasing over anger any day.    The zoo, as always, was a hit.   We typically only go for two hours at a time.   The weather the past week has been great, Saturday was no exception.   For the first time, we let the toddler feed the Lorikeets.    For $1 you get a shotglass worth of nectar, and the birds lick it out of the cup.    What a treat for our son!

We of course also had to ride the train through the Australian Adventure area, and headed uphill to the primates, cats and aquatics building.  He loved running around the building, seeing the various fish, monkeys and the snow leopard.   The best part may have been when looking at the baboons with their red behinds and our son telling us, “they need some cream.”     On the walk down to the stingrays exhibit called “Touch” we took the terraced walkway that allows you to walk down the hill through the shade of the trees.  One of the things I love about this zoo is the amount of space dedicated.    It is more like a huge parkspace with animals dispersed throughout.    Before our son could even appreciate the zoo much we bought a membership just to go and enjoy walking around and being outdoors with him.    

I think he enjoyed the stingrays, though his little arms are still, unfortunately, too small to reach down and touch them.    By this time, nearly two hours had passed and it was time to head home for a nap!     But, I can’t wait to go again soon.   Maybe when the grandparents are in town in a couple of weeks.

Until next time,

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