A Day Out at the Pumpkin Patch

This post was written in partnership with Honeysuckle Hill Farm, which provided free tickets for my family to attend their annual fall festival.

Field of Pumpkins

As a new mom, I was introduced to the concept of the pumpkin patch. No longer were Halloween pumpkins purchased at the store or the local farmers’ market — now pumpkin picking was a full day’s event, including a drive to the country, photo ops, petting zoos, and mazes. When my boys were small, we learned we preferred small, working farms to the big festivals, needing smaller distances to walk and fewer activities to do. This year, I suspected we were ready to go big.

Kids sliding down a hill

Honeysuckle Hill Farm invited us to attend their fall festival for free this year. As we drove up to Springfield, Tennessee, I realized how little time my kids spend out of the city as they exclaimed over the cows and goats we drove past. A pumpkin patch may not seem like a cultural experience, but as my kids watched piglet races and crawled through a hay maze, I felt like they were experiencing a part of our state that is missing from our daily urban life.

Child walking on a log

One of my favorite things about Honeysuckle Hill Farm is the range of activities for all ages. There’s a petting zoo and a small playground for the littles, a junior zipline and treehouse village for elementary age kiddos, and a giant corn maze and a haunted forest for the older crowd (we skipped that part). We enjoyed some competitive family fun by pumping water for rubber duck races and climbing into giant, plastic wheels for a hamster run. My kids might have spent all afternoon on the big, bouncy “Corn Popper” if we hadn’t dragged them to the giant slide and the hayride.

Carnival swings

We spent over three hours at the farm, and easily could have stayed longer if it weren’t for the 90-degree heat on the day that we went.  I recommend doing your research on the available activities before you go, as there are several ticket options. While most attractions are included with $14.95 general admission, there are additional fees for gem mining, apple blasting, the pumpkin train, and the adventure course. You can add the $5 super saver option to your ticket to ride the pumpkin train, pick a small pumpkin to take home, and receive a souvenir cup. If you want to skip the pumpkin train (you can still do a hayride) and buy your pumpkin at the store or elsewhere, you can go with the Farm Pass with no add-ons.  You’ll enjoy your experience more if you know what you plan to do and prepare your kiddos accordingly.

Thanks to Honeysuckle Hill Farm for helping our family kick off fall with lots of fun! Is  a pumpkin patch part of your fall traditions? What is your favorite experience?

 

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Pilgrimage to the Home of Country Music

I hate country music. As a Nashville native, it’s my duty. Somebody has to keep the balance around here.

So you can imagine my surprise when, during my recent trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, I found myself in tears.

The kids and I started our visit with the Nashville Public Library’s String City production. It was an excellent precursor to touring the museum, since I — hating country music — had neglected their education in this area. The kids enjoyed the show, which alternated between straight-forward songs and hilarious skits. I, however, found myself entranced as memories of my childhood came flooding back.

I grew up in the shadow of the WSM tower, watching The Mandrell Sisters with my parents and listening to the Oak Ridge Boys as we ran errands. That was “real country,” my parents would tell you, not the pop music of today. And, of course, there was Dolly.

Dolly was right there in the puppet show, too, singing “Coat of Many Colors” and “I Will Always Love You” with a costume change at the end. And right then, as puppet Dolly brought all the intensity and beauty to the song, I burst into tears. At a children’s puppet show.

My boys, who were not particularly surprised to see their mom doing something weird, were eager to get on through the museum. They had things to see. Namely, Elvis’s Gold Cadillac, featuring 24K gold details and a TV in the backseat.

We picked up a scavenger hunt in the Taylor Swift Education Center. My little guy loved matching the memorabilia to the artist, and it helped him stay engaged. My oldest, however, wanted to breeze through the museum and get straight to the Hall of Fame.

What started with a plan to quickly tour the museum turned into a four-hour trip as my boys discovered interactive touchscreens with details on costumes and listening booths with clips from hit songs. The kids were fascinated by the old gramophones and guitars as well as Webb Pierce’s gun-festooned car, while I loved seeing displays from the artists I had watched as a child. As our time grew short, we ended up racing through the second floor to the Hall of Fame Rotunda, assuring ourselves that we would return for another visit soon.

So here’s the cool part about visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame — for families in Davidson County, and students in the surrounding area, the CMHOF is now FREE thanks to the Community Counts program. Students 18 and under can receive free admission when they bring proof of residence such as a library card, report card, or school t-shirt. Adults can check out a passport offering free museum admission for up to two adults at any Nashville Public Library branch; the number of passports is limited, so I recommend calling ahead to see if any passports are available. Additionally, families in Davidson and surrounding counties who receive SNAP benefits are eligible for $5 family memberships to the museum.

Things to Know:

  • Plan parking ahead of time. I’m still not used to Nashville’s It City status and figured I could park in a nearby lot for $15 or $20, tops. Imagine my surprise in finding I had to pay $30 when we left. A little planning would have saved me a lot of money.
  • Pack a lunch. Since we stayed at the museum longer than I anticipated, we were all hungry and grumpy after only seeing half of the exhibits. We grabbed food at the museum’s way-overpriced snack bar, spending about $40 for lunch. Since museum tickets are good for re-entry all day, next time I’ll pack a picnic lunch and take a midday break in Walk of Fame park across the street. There also are two sit-down restaurants at the museum, but I would recommend them for kid-free outings.
  • Study up. If your family isn’t familiar with country music, a little prep work will make the visit more meaningful. Try to catch the String City puppet show or create a playlist of some of the featured artists.
  • If you have Taylor Swift fans in your family, yes, the sparkly silver guitar is there as well as some lovely dresses.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum reminded me of my heritage as a native Nashvillian, but their inclusive Community Counts program makes me proud to live in Music City today. Visit this Nashville treasure, and spread the word about the affordable programs that make the museum open to all Nashville families.

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Dresses!

This post contains affiliate links to support this site. Actually, just one affiliate link, which I thought about deleting so I could skip this disclaimer, but you know. Blog life. 

You won’t find any tiny dresses at my boy-dominated house unless my 3-year-old niece is visiting. However, I definitely appreciate the finer aspects of dresses that are as good for tree climbing as they are for picnics.

If you want to dress your kiddo in style while knowing more about who made their clothes, try these brands on for size:

Alice + Ames
Seriously, every time I see an Alice + Ames dress I want it for myself. It’s probably good that I don’t have a daughter, because then I would try to steal her clothes, and that would be awkward. Alice + Ames dresses are made in California and range from $40 – $50. (Pictured: The Short Sleeved Ballet Dress in Slate)

Ateljee
Ateljee features GOTS-certified organic fabrics that are digitally printed in Europe and then sewn in California. Their dresses include quirky cactus, lizard, and feather prints and come in sizes ranging from infant to about age 9. Priced from $33 – $66. (Pictured: The White Cactus Baby Dress)

City Threads
If you need a budget-conscious, accessible way to buy made-in-the-USA dresses for your littles, City Threads is your brand. City Threads manufactures their clothing in Los Angeles, and the majority of their items are made from locally knit cotton jersey. Dresses are priced under $30 and are often available through Amazon Prime(Pictured: The Twirly Short Sleeve Dress in Pink)

Eden by Elegantees
Eden is the latest line from Elegantees, a clothing brand that employs trafficking survivors from a non-profit organization in Nepal. Workers are paid double the minimum wage, and Eden’s net profits go to Kingdom Investments Nepal to fund rescue operations. Prices range from $22 -$32. (Pictured: The Lydia Dress in Gotham Grey)

Winter Water Factory
Specializing in beautiful, screen-printed designs, Winter Water Factory manufactures their clothing in Brooklyn, New York, from organic cotton. While they offer a variety of styles for boys, girls, and women, their dresses really steal the show. Girls’ dresses are priced at $58; women’s dresses are priced at $108. (Pictured: The Aspen Dress in Magical Forest Grey)

Know any brands I missed? I’d love to hear about your favorites!

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