Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Woodlawn Park

My deepest apologies to the rest of America because the weather here has been divine. Probably even better than that. We decided to go out to dinner last night at the St. Pete classic The Chattaway for some burgers. They have a nice courtyard that is decorated in a very traditional Florida style. The girls enjoyed the surroundings for sure. It's kid friendly because it's outside but we did have to ask for the kids menu since there really wasn't one.
Since Lydia had swim we didn't want to drive all the way back home and then to swim so we found a park on the way that we hadn't really spent time at. Woodlawn Park is situated right on the corner of 16th Street N and 13th Avenue N, next to Woodlawn Elementary. The place of the park is odd because it's ultimately at the center, the school on the northside, the police shooting range to the south, the police appreciation association building to the east and the parks and rec building right the west. Because of the position of the park, there were a handful of homeless persons in the nearby shelter.
This field house provides restrooms that we didn't need to use but I am sure would be handy with young children however I would imagine that they get a significant amount of use throughout the day.

The playground appeared to be the new standard issue set. Things for the girls to climb, slide and swing on.
The park does has about 5 baseball/softball fields and about the same amount of tennis courts. There were a few basketball courts as well.

It was a nice pit stop before swim and the girls loved to play. Because most of the playground was expected, the girls felt very comfortable running around and exploring. Lydia practiced going down the fire pole and Vivi tried all the slide options. Were were there a short time, but the Florida weather really encouraged us to soak up every once of 70 degrees it was offering.
We were seconds away from swim. Lydia did a spectacular job last night and her coach is saying she is ready to move up another level. Vivi, the assistant coach and sister, is a little concerned with her form. She is also ready to be in the one in the pool.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Philippe Park

On the latest park adventure we headed to Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. When we first arrived I was admittedly underwhelmed. I thought it was going to be much like Veteran's Park in St. Pete which in my humble opinion is fine woodsy area with picnic tables but leaves a family needing more. However, Philippe was a rather great surprise. It certainly is woodsy. It has winding roads within it to provide the scenic ambiance and likely to slow down the traffic. As we were taking our initial tour we saw several spaces where the park met the shoreline of the harbor and glistened through the trees. Perhaps the residual Valentine's in the air we saw those small spots filled with couples gazing into each other's eyes.

Tucked in the woods was the coolest play area. Giving the appearance of boulders this play space had several obstacle course style elements and climbing areas. It is definitely not for young kids. Vivian got very frustrated with this area because nothing was accessible to her, and to be honest it was only accessible to Lydia because she is tall and coordinated. Otherwise, they both would have been cranky.
Philippe Park is also the home of a historic landmark site. The Tocobagan Indian Mound positioned right on the edge of Safety Harbor has a little bit of a steep incline to get to the top and two sets of stone staircases that take you to the water. We were there at sunset providing an ideal backdrop with the refreshing evening coolness. The girls loved going up and down the stairs. For those that may struggle on stairs there were several landings with benches available for rested if needed.
In addition to these fun features there was also a tradition playground area. There was both a large play area typically designated for 5-12 year old kids and a smaller one for 2-5. This space also had a couple of highlights. A couple of dinosaurs that were ride-able and a climbing thing that sort of looked like a caterpillar so we went with that. The girls could have played for a lot longer but the once the sun was gone it was our signal to head home.

This would be a great park to consider for a family picnic or party. A good friend has his company picnic here a couple years back no doubt because there is a plethora of picnic shelters of various sizes, barbecues both near some empty field spaces where we saw families kicking soccer balls around. It would be a place to scout out to pick the best fit for your party for sure.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Safety Harbor City Park

Technically for me growing up in South St. Petersburg with parents who worked in Safety Harbor this park would squarely be considered to be far north but now that isn't that far I can say that it is actually right in the middle of the county.

This park was  real surprise for us. It was clearly a neighborhood park with playing fields and courts for various league sports. It was a great space to play.

In addition to the fields, there was a really nice skate park. It was fenced in and clearly serves as a place to the tweens to come  on a Friday night because there were admissions costs and events posted along the fence.
We of course are big suckers for shade and new interesting playground equipment which this park had. There were multiple structures that provided new things to climb and explore.

Since we enjoy the outdoors and find ourselves checking out a "new" park as often as possible, we look for the usually or the different to catch our eye. This dinosaur below certainly did that especially for Lydia. There was a slanted climbing wall-esque spine which provided for her a great place to try a new type of climbing.

They also had a climbing wall. This is becoming a more common feature. My girls are still a little young for this but Lydia does like to give it a shot. Her struggle is the strategy involved in wall climbing. She doesn't quite have the forethought to plan yet, however she is pretty brave with a spotter.

Interesting, probably only to me, Lydia went through an anti-swing phase. My only motherly explanation was that she didn't like the feeling of losing control; didn't like the tickle she got in her belly when she was swung too high. In the last few weeks she has revisited the swing. Several parks have the swing she is in here (pictured below) and the front harness gives her a sense of security.

She will also swing on the swing belly first which I remember thinking when I was little was the coolest way to swing. The thing that I really enjoyed about her doing this is that she found a way all on her own to feel comfortable on what is often a favorite playground item. She figured out that she didn't mind playing on the swings belly first and she could still be with her friends. And even more recently, she has re-approached the swing all together. Baby steps even for preschoolers.

Sometimes it's the small things like swings that show us how our kids may consider situations in there future. Playground lessons if you will. She is thoughtful and curious all at the same time.
Vivian on the other hand is ready to fly right off the swing, just as she is ready to run right off the slide because she is brave and willing to see what happens, with little forethought, at the moment, well and she is a toddler.

My only complaint about Safety Harbor Park is that there is no real website. The city of Safety Harbor lists it on it's park page here but that is about it. So to know more, you have to go and see it which I think will be a nice surprise.

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