I just love this picture of two cousins — Alaina and Colt. They are definitely members of the others fan club — it is a mutual adoration society!
I find is so amazing that they are in very important phases of life this year, almost like bookends. Colt is a senior in high school — next year he will be heading off to college. Alaina is a kindergartner — at the very beginning of her education. That realization makes moments like the one captured in this photo all the more precious.
Pop Up in the Rock, which previously has focused on underdeveloped areas in Little Rock in an attempt to show how awesome they could be, crossed over the River and into North Little Rock this weekend.
Thus, Pop Up in Park Hill was born.
For those of you who have never visited North Little Rock’s Park Hill neighborhood, you should check us out. We have some awesome little shops — my favorite being Andres Coffee Shop. They have great coffee, great bites to eat and a great atmosphere to enjoy it all in.
So I was excited about Pop Up coming to Park Hill and showing how awesome this neighborhood is and how much better it could be. An additional bonus was our fantastic weather this weekend — seriously, who can resist temps in the ’70s?!?! — so Matt, Alaina and I headed to partake in the fun.
A great crowd turned out for all of the events. There were tons of families and lots of dogs, so many in fact that I could have turned this post into “The Dogs of Park Hill.” But I resisted, although I totally had to “help Alaina” pet as many friendly dogs as possible.
The first thing our family did was look for the food trucks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry. We weren’t the only ones who had the food truck idea, so the lines were pretty long. Matt and Alaina got in line for hotdogs and I headed over to The Southern Gourmasian. I’ve eaten at this truck before during Main Street Food Fridays and I have to say, I have never had a bad meal from them. Yum, yum and yum!
After we finished eating, we checked out some of the vendors selling their wares. We definitely stopped in to see my former co-worker and friend, Erin, at ArkieStyle. Matt picked up the awesome black cassette-tape shirt!
By this time, Alaina was getting a little grumpy, so we started walking to the car. We (Matt and I) looked longingly at the beer garden, featuring Diamond Bear beers, but sadly, kept on walking. Of course, the rock-climbing wall caught the whole family’s attention, as did the BMX show, sponsored by Angry Dave’s Bicycles.
We had a great afternoon at Pop Up in Park Hill. Did anyone else make it out there on Saturday? What did you think?
Alaina is a total daddy’s girl. If she could, she would never leave Matt’s side. So he’s been having her help him cook dinner. If he keeps this up, we may have two cooks in the house! (I obviously am NOT counting myself!)
If you are of a certain age, then you grew up knowing all of the words to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
The Holderness family has made a parody, “Baby Got Class,” which is an ode to school buses, back-to-school shopping and healthy lunches.
Today was a very big day at our house — the start of kindergarten!
It is hard to believe that my baby is 5 and big enough to start kindergarten. Yes, I know she has been going to daycare for years now, but it isn’t the same as school. School is the first step to well, growing up. And I admit, I’m not sure I’m ready for my little girl to grow up.
But time marches on whether I’m ready or not.
Matt and I both took Alaina to school for the first day. We got there early — really early. So early in fact, that the school wasn’t open yet. Anyone who knows Matt isn’t surprised by the whole early business. Anyone who knows me probably just fell out of his or her chair. What can I say, we were eager/nervous.
Once the doors opened, we scoped out the kindergarten classrooms to see which one Alaina would be starting in. This year, our school didn’t automatically assign classes for kindergarten. Instead, they’re doing a week of assessment with the students THEN assigning them to a teacher. The whole concept makes me a little nervous, but I’m doing my best to seeing how the whole process works before I give it a thumbs up or down.
Then we headed to the cafeteria for breakfast. We debated whether Alaina would eat breakfast at school or at home. Since she always ate pretty well at daycare, we’ve decided to stick with the more familiar routine, at least for now.
Then we headed back to the Red Group, where Alaina talked to one of the teachers and then started coloring.
Much to my amazement, there were few tears shed. Alaina teared up a little in the cafeteria when she thought we were about to leave. When we told her we would take her back to her room, she was fine. And no waterworks in the classroom at all. YIPPEE!
I also didn’t cry, which really surprises me. I was kind of afraid I’d be a blubbering mess. Of course, I haven’t gotten through the day yet, so there is still time.
I’m thinking of making this song a regular of my morning commute. At least then, I won’t start the day in a bad mood!
And the winner of 4 ticket vouchers to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes at Verizon Arena on Thursday night IS …
Congratulations, Brandy. Keep an eye on your Inbox because I will be emailing you about the tickets.
Thanks to everyone who entered!
The Circus is back in town and Little Rock Mamas has tickets to give away!
But before I tell you how to win, let me introduce you to Cathy Carden, who can shed a little more light about life under the big top. Cathy and her husband, Brett, are the animal trainers for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes.
Cathy grew up in a circus family. At the age of 5, she was performing as a ballerina on horseback in her family’s circus, the Hanneford Family Circus. By 7, she was helping care for the family’s three elephants as they toured around the country. By 12, she was training the elephants and horses.
She describes her childhood as “the best you can imagine,” especially growing “up with 3 baby elephants that I played with like pets.”
Cathy did leave the circus to attend college, where she briefly studied television journalism. After deciding that journalism wasn’t the field for her, Cathy made her way back to the circus with a determination to explore areas outside her family’s act. She did an illusion act and worked as a dancer before finding her niche with the animals as their trainer.
“I’ve always had a connection with animals since I was a little girl,” Cathy said, explaining that she inherited her mother’s love of animals and learned how to properly care for them from her dad.
Now she and her husband, Brett, who also comes from a circus family, work together as animal trainers for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. They have two sons, ages 5 and 6.
As an animal trainer, Cathy said it is important to understand the animal’s personality and what that animal does well. THEN, you figure out where the animal will work in the act.
For example, Sophia, a dog she saved from an animal shelter, is a great performer. Cathy said she had this idea of training Sophia to walk on her hind legs while a smaller dog ran underneath her legs. But Sophia naturally hopped on her hind legs instead of walking. The trick just wouldn’t work.
So instead of forcing Sophia to do something that just didn’t come naturally, Cathy said she used another dog in that trick and let Sophia shine elsewhere.
When training animals, Cathy said, “You’ve got to let the animals decide things too. You have to let them shine, then they’ll be happy to perform.”
In Super Circus Heroes, Cathy promises some great animal acts, including dogs riding ponies and the always popular elephant performers.
Super Circus Heroes is based on the idea that “everyone has a superhero within them. You just have to figure out what it is and let it shine,” Cathy said.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes is performing at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock from Aug. 14 through the 17th.
The show starts at 7 p.m. BUT if you show up then, you’ll miss the Pre-Show, which is pretty cool. For an hour before the show starts, children (and their parents) are allowed into the ring and backstage to meet and interact with the performers, try on costumes, learn to walk on the low rope or juggle, meet the animals and see them getting ready and more.
So are you ready for a night under the big top? Little Rock Mamas is giving one of our lucky readers 4 ticket vouchers for the first night of the circus– Thursday, Aug. 14.
To enter, leave me a comment below (not on our Facebook page) telling me what your favorite part of the circus is. I will draw a winner on Monday, so be sure and check back then.**
** Given the short time frame from Monday to Thursday, please consider whether you’ll be able to pick up the tickets at my office in downtown LR or meet me somewhere in LR/NLR. I am willing to mail the tickets but I really would hate for your kiddos to be disappointed because the tickets didn’t arrive in time.
*** Thanks to the Angela Rogers Group, which provided us with the tickets to give away and set up the phone interview with Cathy Carden.
Alaina celebrated her fifth birthday recently with a big party at JumpZone. Most of her buddies from daycare and church and elsewhere were able to join her — she had a blast!
NOTE: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions in this post belong to me (and my family!)
This past week, the Chase family loaded up the car and headed to St. Louis. We were a family on a mission: to visit Grant’s Farm, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary of being open to the public.
Grant’s Farm is owned by the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch fame. In 1954, the family decided to open up the 281-acre wildlife preserve to the public. Admission to Grant’s Farm is free — yay! There are charges for various attractions and parking ($12); however, a family on a budget can spend the day at Grant’s Farm pretty cheaply!
My first tip for an enjoyable day at Grant’s Farm — arrive early, especially if the Polar Vortex that has been hovering over the Midwest and South provides an 82 degree day in July! Grant’s Farm is a great place to visit when the weather is sunny and mild — and St. Louis natives know this!
So if the weather is this abnormally gorgeous (it was still in the 70s at 10:30 a.m.!!!) — show up when the park opens at 9 a.m.
You can’t bring outside food and beverages into the park, but you can consume them in the parking lot. So if the line is long, bring your bottled water with you and drink it while you wait!
Also, the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables are actually at the far end of the parking lot and not in the park itself. So we went to see them first!
I admit it, I always love the SuperBowl Clydesdale commercials. So it was pretty cool to get a family photo with Evan, who was in the 2006 one — he was the little guy! We also got to pet Evan before the photo.
That photo package was the most expensive souvenir we bought at the park. It was $30 for a 5X7, a 4X6, 2 wallets, some magnetic frames and a digital copy, which one of the park workers immediately sent to my email.
I admit that family photos are one of my weaknesses. I tend to always buy these sorts of photo packages at places because I want a picture of the whole family together. In doing so, I’ve gotten some duds, but I thought this one turned out particularly well.
We toured the stables and got to pet more horses, one of whom was just the sweetest boy ever. He was just made to interact with kids. I really wish I could remember that horse’s name, but at least I got his picture!
Anyone can walk around the public part of the stables for free, which is what we did. If you want to go behind-the-scenes, there is an 1.5 hour walking tour that costs $25 a person. One of the workers told us the paid tour includes the photo package.
This behind-the-scenes tour provides an in-depth look at what it takes for our horses to make the hitch and become a Budweiser Clydesdale. Guests will tour our stables while gaining an inside look into Clydesdale Operations, the training process, and daily maintenance of our iconic horses. Be sure to bring your camera, because guests will be allowed to meet and interact with one of our retired hitch geldings!
I thought the hour-and-half walking tour might be too much for Alaina right now, but I have it as a definite possibility for our next trip to St. Louis. If the tour is something you’re interested in, some of the workers in the gift shop advised booking your spots online ahead of time. As we saw when we arrived, the spots do sell out.
So after we toured the stables, we then stood in line for the tram. While in line, we wondered if we could skip the tram and just walk on in. The answer to that question is no — and we realized why a little while later.
Once we got on the tram, it took us for a tour of the Deer Preserve part of Grant’s Farm. Deer Park is home to animals from 6 of the 7 continents (sorry Antarctica!) The animals, which include bison, antelope, red deer and others, are allowed to roam free* in this part of the preserve. Hmm, there goes the hoofing it on in to the park idea.
Also seen on the tram ride is Grant’s Cabin.
For those of you who might be wondering, yes, Grant’s Farm is named after our nation’s 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant. The land was owned by his wife’s family, the Dents. After Grant married Julia Dent, he was given 80 acres of the family’s land as a wedding gift. Years later, he built Hardscrabble, doing most of the work himself. The couple only lived there a few months before moving back into the main house following the death of Julia’s mother.
The cabin was shown at the World’s Fair in 1904. August Busch Sr. purchased it in 1907 and moved it back to the Busch estate.
For those interested in learning more about our 18th president, the Ulysses S. Grant National Historical Site is right next to Grant’s Farm.
The tram drops you off in the Tier Garden, which is what I’d consider the main part of the park. That is where the elephants, camels, zebras, llamas, alpacas, kangaroos, wallabys, lemurs, goats, and tons of birds are.
This is where the Grant’s Farm Fun Park Pass comes into play. For $5, it gets you a snow cone, a ride on the carousel and 2 goat bottles. I highly recommend this pass for any family visiting the park, especially those on a budget.
For us, the highlight of the park pass was feeding the goats. I thought they were adorable. Matt contends they were from the devil. (just kidding) Either way, stick close to small children because the goats can be a little aggressive going for the bottles, especially near the entrance.
The snow cone was also a hit! We didn’t get to ride the carousel — but we made up for it with another kind of ride.
Be sure you check out the shows while you’re in the Tier Garden. We enjoyed the Animal Encounters one — the birds really get a chance to shine!
Next up, we checked out the rest of the park and all of the animals.
Speaking of camels, Grant’s Farm also offers camel rides for $5 a person. Matt and Alaina rode one together. Alaina said the camel ride was her favorite part of the day. Who can blame her? It isn’t every day that one gets to ride a camel — talk about a great memory!
There is one more thing you need to do before you leave Grant’s Farm — feed the parakeets! This is another fun experience for the family on a budget. For $1 you can purchase a feeding stick, which lasts a lot longer than you might think. It takes the birds quite a bit of time to eat off two big chunks of bird feed. In fact, if your children are small, you might let two of them share a stick. They may be tired of the whole feeding bit before the food is gone.
When entering the parakeet enclosure, be prepared that the birds may not just alight on your stick. They may climb on your arm, perch on your shoulder or hang out on your head. They really liked Matt.
Also be warned, the parakeets are LOUD!
Once we finished off our brats at the Bauernhof, (yup, they sell brats and offer complimentary beer) we jumped back on the tram, which took us back to the main entrance and a gift shop. It was then back to the hotel for us because we were seriously tired!
So that was our trip to Grant’s Farm! Can you tell that we had a blast?