Saturday, April 10, 2010

Howard County Green Fest

Mark your calendars now for GreenFest 2010!
Greener Choices, Greener World:
One Person At A Time
April 17th from 10am - 4pm
Howard Community College

Have you heard about this event?  There will be over 100 vendors and displays to learn about greening your lifestyle. There will be live animal displays for the kids and lunches available for purchase from Great Sage.  There will also be speakers and demonstrations on site!  Check out the schedule of events for more info!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lake Elkhorn

If you've never been to Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, you need to go.  Now.  The walking trail around the lake is just as big, if not bigger, as the one around Centennial Lake.  At the far edge of the lake, the path goes off in about a million directions which leads me to wonder where exactly would you wind up if you followed one of those paths? 

But, I digress.  We parked off Cradlerock in the Dockside neighborhood, near the playground.  The Pea was thrilled!  Not only do they have swings (big boy and baby!), they have two jungle gyms, a sand box (with toys!) and two bouncy sports cars to bop around in!  The playground is mostly in the shade, too!  There are a few picnic tables here and there is a McDonald's across the street, so you can have a lazy picnic, too! 

Next up, we walked around the whole lake.  Lake Elkhorn is much flatter than Centennial, so it will be a good place to bring the kids' bikes once the Princess gets the hang of steering and pedaling at the same time!  Speaking of cyclists, there are lots of them at Lake Elkhorn.  Some were really nice and gave us a little ding-a-ling warning from their bike bell, but some were down right surly and practically yelled at my kids to get out of the way!  I think walkers have the right of way, but I could be mistaken!

Anywho, there is another arboretum here and an Exer-path!  Yup!  We had to stop at every station to see how woefully out of shape we are!  But, the kids loved it!  We also saw tons of squirrels, turtles, geese and ducks, both real and not real.  (Hint, the fake ones are near the boat launch.)  The lake is currently being dredged, so we got to see some cool looking heavy machinery as well!  There are also several places to stop and play Pooh Sticks along the way.  In addition to the ginormous waterfall you can see from Broken Land Parkway, the Pea found a teeny tiny waterfall where he declared he would build our new house.

One of the things I love about Lake Elkhorn is the rhythm of the different neighborhoods that surround the park.  When you first come in, there are townhouses.  Almost all of them have a kayak or canoe hanging under the deck.  Many have lawn chairs out near the water.  I keep thinking how fantastic it must be to look out your window and see that gorgeous lake every day.  Many people were out grilling on their decks,  listening to music or talking on the phone.  There are also apartments, large single family homes way up near the "mysterious paths" and some adorable little cottage-y looking houses that I'd never seen before.  Then, you're back at those cool townhouses again!

If you go to Lake Elkhorn, be warned that the parking lot off of Broken Land is currently closed.  Also, because of the dredging, the bridge at the far end of the lake will be closed as of April 1, 2010.  We were there on April 3 and it was still open, but I suspect it will be closed soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Piney Run Nature Center

Yesterday we went with some friends to the Piney Run Park and Nature Center.  Technically, the center is in Carroll County, but it's very close!  The kids had a blast!  First, we checked out the Nature Center.  There were some super cute turtles and lots of snakes.  There is a whole room just for kids!  Puzzles, books, coloring books, so much to do and look at.  In the main room, there is a touch table and more exhibits.  There is also a small gift shop with some take along nature books that I had my eye on, but I showed fiscal restraint!

The staff was super friendly, and even showed us where the snakes like to hang out!  We enjoyed our picnic style lunch on the patio in the sunshine.  The boys enjoyed playing in the woods, climbing in and out of the dugout canoe and finding gigantic sticks! 

After lunch, we went on a short nature walk--I had even made a little scavenger hunt style game for them, but the fun of running through the woods with friends won out! We played on one of the playgrounds for about an hour before hiking back to the car and heading home.

There are more things to check out at Piney Run Park.  There is a boat launch and boat rentals during the summer months.  There are over 5 miles of hiking trails, including a cool boardwalk like trail that starts near the boat launch.  There are tennis courts, two playgrounds, a cool looking new climbing rock, lots of picnic tables and lots of bathrooms.  The Nature Center offers camps and classes throughout the year.

There is a ten dollar charge to enter the park for non-Carroll County residents during the season, which begins April 1.  The Nature Center is open Wednesday to Sunday.  Check out their website for more information!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Centennial Lake

My friend, ChrissieMarie, tells me I should write about Centennial Lake.  It's an obvious place to go, she says!  Obviously, judging by the number of cars, people, and dogs that were there over the weekend!  On Saturday, the kids and I met a friend for a leisurely walk around the lake. 

I always park near the maintenance shed.  Then I head to the left, towards the pavillion, amphitheatre, bathrooms and concessions.  And, the big playground.  This way, everyone gets a little walk and the kids get to play and everyone is happy!

The walk around the entire lake is very long, but totally worth it!  (Umm...we didn't do it this time, however!)  There is a cool arboreteum on the farside of the lake that the kids love, love, love!  They run from sign to sign, shouting, "There's one!  There's another one!"  We always comment about how naughty those people were to write all over that one tree! 

The Living Colonnade is in full bloom right now!  Why go to DC to see blossoms when we've got our own right here?  There's also a cool boyscout path you can take through the woods near the boat ramp.  And, did you know that there's an upper loop of trail just past the arboreteum, near the information bulletin?  I didn't?  There are also basketball courts and two playgrounds--the red one is perpetually crowded, but the old brown one, notsomuch!  So, get out there!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lucky Leprechaun Hunt

Today the Princess, the Pea and I went on a Lucky Leprechaun Hunt at the Glenwood Community Center.  This was a totally adorable and fun activity.  First, we received a goody bag to decorate with shamrock stickers and a gold coin.  We used the coin to buy a map from the Leprechaun.  The map told us where the Leprechaun had hidden his coins around the center. 

We ran from room to room searching for gold! 

When we were done, we enjoyed some juice, pretzels and cupcakes.

Then we played a coin toss game and a balloon race and won more prizes--pencils, bracelets and lollypops!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Duck Pond

The Duck Pond off MacClintock Road, officially known as Warfield Ponds Park, is one of our favorite places to go.  There is a playground, tennis courts, covered pavillion, volleyball court, and a walking path that goes around, what else?, a duck pond.  We love to go and feed the ducks, fish and turtles that live in the pond.  On warm, sunny days you can see turtles basking on reeds at the far end of the pond.  After dinner on summer nights, we like to ride bikes around the pond (we always stop and walk our bikes across the far end of the pond, though.  When you go, you'll see why!  There's a boardwalk and the sides are made of cables.)  The kids love to dig in the sand volleyball court, which kind of grosses me out, because, really, who knows what kind of animals use it for a bathroom?  The only drawback to this park is that there are no swings.  But, all in all, this is a great park to go to for some nature spotting and exercise!

(apologies for the non-rotated pictures--blogger is not letting me rotate them!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Okay, so IKEA is not exactly in Western Howard County, but it just happens to be where the Pea and I went today and we had a blast!  And, it's only about forty-five minutes away, which isn't far considering everything is about twenty minutes from my house!  Plus, the Ruler HATES IKEA with a passion, so we picked the absolute best day to visit!

We went through each of the display showrooms, checking out all the sofas and chairs.  Then we hit up the children's section for more storage bins and art supplies!  We strolled through the Marketplace and picked up several bags of clips.  We ate lunch in the restaurant.  There are some seriously good choices for kids and I had to try the Swedish meatballs.  $10.38 for both of our lunches--so cheap!  I even picked up some yummy cinnamon rolls for our breakfast tomorrow.  On the way out, we checked out Smaland, the play area for kids.  The Pea wanted to go in, but since the Princess wasn't with us, I knew that would not work out.

So, IKEA, definitely, two thumbs up.  Or, four, if you count the Pea's thumbs, too!

10100 Baltimore Ave.

College Park, MD 20740