Lulu & Rocky in Nashville

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Do you have kids and love Nashville? If so, you NEED this book! “Lulu & Rocky in Nashville” follows two fox cousins as they explore some of the exciting things our city has to offer.

Written by Barbara Joosse and illustrated by Renee Graef, this book is a treat for locals and visitors alike. The main characters of course stop by places like Broadway and the Ryman Auditorium, but they also make their way to some lesser known attractions that we locals love. From biscuits at Loveless Cafe to bowling at Pinewood Social to treats at GooGoo Cluster downtown, these little friends see some of my kids’ favorite spots! I was particularly excited to see that the author included Dragon Park and the puppet show at the Nashville Public Library in the book.

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This book is beautifully illustrated and portrays the places it mentions so well! We loved flipping through the pages and finding places we know and love depicted so accurately. My bigger kids enjoyed looking at the illustrated map at the beginning of the book and finding our favorite hangouts. We truly love this book, and it’s already moved into our favorite bedtime stories rotation.

Whether you live in Nashville, have visited Nashville, or just have it on your travel wish list, this book is so fun! I think it would be a perfect baby shower gift, birthday gift, or the sweetest token to give a family visiting our town.

“Lulu & Rocky in Nashville” can be purchased starting Sunday, March 15th on Amazon. For those who enjoy supporting small businesses, it will also be available at Parnassus Books in Nashville.

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Note: this book was gifted to our family by Sleeping Bear Press.

Opryland Soundwaves Party Room

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We finally had the chance to check out Soundwaves (the indoor/outdoor water park) at Gaylord Opryland Nashville, and we had an absolute blast! Because it was winter we only experienced the indoor portion,  but there was more than enough to keep us entertained for the day. We loved the five slides (42 inches got you on 3 of them with an adult), the two lazy rivers, the lily pads, the wave rider, and just playing together in the pool! There was a large little kid area with a padded splash pad and a play structure, which felt safe for our 20-month-old but also was fun for our older kids to hang in for a bit. As a parent, I loved that the park felt super clean and offered towels and comfy life jackets.

There are two ways to get access to Soundwaves: 1) spend the night at the hotel and purchase a Soundwaves package or 2) rent a party room. I think staying the night and going to the park two days in a row would be awesome, but with seven people in our family we needed to book two rooms, which felt a bit expensive. Instead, we opted to rent a party room for our family, which was perfect for locals!

Here are some tidbits that we loved about the party room, as well as some tips we learned:

  • We booked the room from 10-1, but on the day we visited the park didn’t open until 11. We opted to play for an hour then come back and eat the pizza that came with our room rental, but if we did it again, we would eat before going to play. It’s not super easy to go back and forth from the room to the park (do-able, just not ideal) as you have to exit the park with your bands and go downstairs to your room.
  • The party room came with pizza and sodas, and it was honestly really good! The fact that the room included one of our meals for the day made the room an even better value for us.
  • The party room can be booked for as few as 6 people, so just one or two families can easily use this option. Since we weren’t spending the night, we didn’t have to worry about things like a dog-sitter.
  • The party room was very clean and had a TV with cable, so if you wanted to watch a ballgame you totally could!
  • We loved that our wrist bands gave us access to the park all day, not just during the party room hours.
  • The party room came with free parking, which also added to the overall value!
  • If you do book a party room, don’t forget to bring some cash to tip your room host.

We loved our day at Soundwaves Nashville and can’t wait to go back when the outdoor area is open! I would highly recommend it for both out-of-town visitors and local families looking for a stay-cation.

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615 rocks!

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With rain settling in for the long weekend, we wanted to share one of our favorite activities that includes both indoor and outdoor fun–rock painting! You have likely heard of “kindness rocks” or “615 rocks!” or some of the other names these little creations go by, but no matter what you call them, the overall gist is that you paint rocks, seal them, then leave them somewhere in your city to bring someone a smile down the road.

If your family has not done this yet, we HIGHLY recommend it for all ages (or we recommend doing it again!). There are so many reasons we love this activity. It incorporates fine motor skills, planning, creativity and art. Depending on where you want to hide your rocks, you can sneak in some hiking and outdoor exploration. And, potentially best of all, at the end of the activity you leave the rocks somewhere else–no additional art projects lying around your house!

This really takes very little preparation, though a short trip to the craft store may be in order depending on your current supplies. Here’s what you do:

  1. Get some rocks. You can find them outside or buy them. We chose to buy them at the craft store so that they would have a smooth surface and be easier for young kids to paint.
  2. Use acrylic paints to decorate your rocks. We got a giant box of mixed colors for less than $10, but we also got some medium point paint pens. The paints with brushes were fun, but the paint pens allowed for a little more precision.
  3. Decide whether you want your rocks to be part of a bigger group. We did ours as part of “615 rocks!”, a Facebook group where people often post pictures after they find a rock. To be part of a group like this, you just request to join and post pictures if you are lucky enough to find one! Also, you write the Facebook symbol and “615 rocks!” on the back of your rocks in the hopes that someone will one day post yours. About a week after hiding, one of ours was posted on the group page, which was incredibly fun to see!
  4. Seal your rocks. We used Aleene’s Acrylic Sealer Gloss Finish, and it dried very quickly and seemed to protect our creations.
  5. Go explore and hide your rocks! Don’t make them too hard to find (the whole point is to bring a smile to someone’s face when they find it), but do use this as an excuse to explore a new area or walk around one of your favorite parks!

squeezing out summer

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our visit to Cotton and Snow, Nashville, Tennessee

Guys. We are just ten days from Labor Day. Flip flops are being packed away, and boots are making their initial appearances. So as August draws to a close, it’s time to help our children squeeze the last bit of summer fun out of these next few weeks.

You may have had a summer bucket list. Hopefully you were able to take advantage of the high temperatures and sunshine to do some major exploring with your littles. Or maybe summer was crazy for your family and you feel like it slipped away before you could even make it to the park. Either way, you still have time for some fun, classic summer adventures. Today we’re sharing ten ideas for some last minute summer exploration.

  1. Go get a snow cone! What kid (or adult) doesn’t love some finely-shaved, flavored ice? While some snow cone vendors may be open a little past Labor Day, many are seasonal and will be hibernating soon.
  2. Take one last (or one first) trip to the pool or water park. Most of these venues will be closing in just ten days, so get one more swim in with your kids. Pool toys are on major clearance at all stores right now, so maybe even pick up a new gadget to try out. Grab some new sinking rings and pretend you are pirates searching for lost treasure!
  3. Visit your local splash park or spray ground! Many local parks and recreation departments have opened these amazing places around the country, and they are ALWAYS a hit with kids. Most will be closing on Labor Day, though, so if you want to try one out you need to do it soon. If you have very little children, go during the week when most big kids will be at school if you can. It will be less crowded and intimidating, and thus far more fun!
  4. Cheer on your local baseball team. Most minor league teams have a few games left, and nothing says summer like an afternoon at the ball park (with ALL the concession stand treats, of course)!
  5. Shop at your local farmers’ market. Most markets are seasonal, so check to see when yours closes. Kids love the adventure of shopping in a market instead of a grocery store! You can even make a game of it, seeing who can find the most colors of fruits and vegetables!
  6. Catch fireflies one evening. My children have always been a bit scared of bugs, but these are great introductory critters! They fly relatively slowly and are easy to catch without squashing. They’ll disappear soon, so take your kids out one night in their pajamas for some old-fashioned lightning bug chasing!
  7. Do you live near a regional or small amusement park? If so, try to fit in one last visit! Many smaller parks are seasonal and will soon close or be operating at significantly reduced hours.
  8. Watch a movie outside! You may need bug spray, but there’s something magical about an outdoor viewing. Check for a nearby drive-in (which are hard to find), see if your local parks are screening anything, or just take a TV or projector into your own backyard.
  9. Grab dinner from a food truck. Buying from a food truck can be such an adventure that your child may even try a new food! Take a blanket, make a picnic, and make a fun summer memory.
  10. Try something new outside. The outdoors clearly won’t be closing at Labor Day, but as school picks up and sports begin, it’s harder to find time for a family outing. Try a new park, hike a new trail, visit a State Park you haven’t yet explored, go canoeing. The possibilities are truly endless!

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mermaid breakfast

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Ever wanted to touch a mermaid’s fin? This morning our littles got to do just that, as well as hug them, take pictures with them, watch them swim, and listen to them talk about keeping our oceans clean. Friends, this was a huge hit for our kids, and I think it would be with almost all very young boys and girls, as well as with older elementary school girls (many of whom I saw in attendance).

The breakfast was at the Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, and I’ll be honest–it was not super cheap. It was, however, very well done, and we felt it was worth the price tag. When your family walked in, you met two mermaids and had a chance to hug them, grab pictures, ask questions, and even touch their fins (which felt thick and rubbery). Then we were shown to our table while one mermaid swam around in the large center tank around which the restaurant is positioned. Breakfast included a buffet of eggs, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon, biscuits, pastries and fruit, and while the food was not exactly five-star worthy, it was quite tasty with plenty of variety.

For the main show, two mermaids were in the tank, and it included a portion where they “talked” about keeping the ocean clean and about what they enjoyed doing. Before the show, my sweet girl asked me if the mermaids were real. This is always a tough question, and I try to respond consistently with an “I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to see what we think.” Well, the talking convinced my whole crew that they were definitely real, and they found the show to be quite magical.

The mermaids were really great. We’ve been to shows where the characters were questionable, but these girls really sold it. They went to the surface about every 30-40 seconds to get oxygen, but while underwater they flipped, hugged, moved their mouths, smiled, waved, and never seemed phased by the crazy fish around them. If you were little, you really believed. If you weren’t little enough to believe, you were still impressed. I noticed girls as old as 10-12 shimmying around the tank for a better look!

If you want to check this out, go to the restaurant’s website. It looks like there is another breakfast in Nashville in October and one in Denver, Colorado in November. There are also Aquarium locations in Houston and Kemah, Texas.

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