Monday, August 3, 2015

Not-So-Lazy {SUMMER} Dayz | Huntsville Botanical Gardens

This summer has been different than any before for our family.  It's the first summer that we had that ever impending set day of school's return to consider...the first summer that I felt it was going to be over before we even got it fully started.  This is the first summer of our family's journey adjusting from homeschooling to enrolling in private school.  {Why did we make this choice?  That's a whole other story...coming soon.}

So, as the summer began, my original thoughts and dreams of lazy summer dayz were quickly overtaken with the thoughts of how little time I would have with my once homeschooled kiddos while they were learning at their fantastic new Christian school.  And my summer plans changed!  I wanted to spend as much time as I could truly enjoying moments together -- spending less time worrying about the unfolded laundry, the "home-cooked" meals, etc. -- and taking time to go/do/be together, with family, friends, activities, and anything else we found to do, while maintaining a small "entertainment" budget.  And our "not-so-lazy" summer dayz have been fantastic for all of us!  It's challenged us to think outside of the box on how to be frugal and still have fun in and outside of the house.  It's given us multiple family outings that we hadn't had "time" for in a while.  It truly helped me "make the best" of our short summer break, while helping us to look forward to having family fun even during our shortest times together.

Our latest not-so-lazy summer day started with several hours at our local Huntsville Botanical Gardens!  While this isn't "free", it was for us, as we were gifted an annual family pass from our extended family last Christmas --- WELL WORTH IT and VERY REASONABLE {in case you're looking for a different, but totally useful AND enjoyable gift}.  We packed drinks and snacks, sometimes even a lunch, extra clothes for the kids {for the water areas open in the summer} and head out when it opens so it is pleasantly comfortable and not super busy.  Here are a few of our snapshots from our most recent HBG trip...

And here are a few HBG trip tips, just in case they may help you out with your planning:
  • You ARE allowed to bring food/drinks in, so you can pack snacks or a lunch and plan to play/enjoy the day away, which totally helps to make it a family friendly place to go!
  • They offer {free} wagons to use on their property, which the kids always love -- and it helps you out if you did pack lunches, too...but they aren't guaranteed, and they are definitely first come, first serve, so get there early if you want to make sure you get one.  They are parked near the train when you first enter the gardens.
  • There are *several* water areas for the kids to play in {most are located in the Children's Garden}...don't go without a towel, flipflops, and a dry set of clothes thinking that the kids would just get "misted" to cool off.  While, there are mists there, most kids will always find a way to get totally and completely shoes and all...when given any water option.  Want to know how I learned this lesson??? {grins}
  • If you want to splurge, you can purchase a mining set in the gift shop before entering the garden and let the kids "pan" for treasures at the mine area.  Last I checked, they were approximately $8 per bag.  
  • If you are coming alone or with kids/friends that are old enough to enjoy spending quiet/still time, bring a book -- there is a fantastic tree-covered area full of hammocks there for your enjoyment.  I totally want to go back with no kids, just so I can read and nap there for a few hours! 
Now, while it's on your mind, go add HBG family membership to YOUR upcoming Christmas list! {They are even good for the special displays, like the Galaxy of Lights!} And when you get yours, let me know, and we can plan a "play date" together!  The more the merrier, right?