April 22, 2010

The Dating Game

Every couple of weeks, Mia and I have a date. I'm pretty sure Mia and I have more dates than Beth and I do. We should probably do something about that. Mia and I invariably end up at The Chip Restaurant (Chipotle). Its one of the few places we can take Mia at which she will actually stuff herself. I like it because it's nice to see Mia eat for a change. Oh, and the burritos.

Over the last few months, dates with Mia have evolved to the point at which there is some expectation that the date itself will not be confined only to lunch. We'll usually hit someplace before or after. A few weeks ago, we went to the bookstore. Mia picked a few books and so did I. And, most recently, we went to Michael's in search of stickers.

This weekend, Mia and I will have another date. And I'm hard-pressed to come up with a place to go. This is complicated by the fact that I've realized our previous outings have been about consuming - we bought books, we bought stickers. I don't want Mia to think that a) my real name is Mr. Moneybags (because it isn't) and b) spending quality time with one another must always involve spending money or buying things.

So, um, help! Ideas?

Posted by Chris at April 22, 2010 6:47 AM

The National Arboretum is nice!

Posted by: Angelica at April 22, 2010 7:19 AM

Go fly a kite. Take sidewalk chalk to the park. Museum, aquarium. I know.............nail salon!

Posted by: Christy at April 22, 2010 7:21 AM

I dont know about the States, but over here, we have these huge indoor playareas which look something like a cage full of chimpanzee's when they are full of kids. They are usually enclosed climbing frames/mazes with brightly coloured crash mats, swing toys and slides. You can see what one looks like at www.zoomania.co.uk. Do you have something similar over there? Alternatively, the real zoo would be good, or an aquarium. Perhaps a simple trip to a really big park with lots of adventure toys. Some of the best days I've ever had was playing 'lions' in a field of long grass with my two.

Posted by: ChocolateChip_Wookie at April 22, 2010 7:24 AM

Have you seen how to train a dragon yet? My 5 year old loved it. And when I was a kid my date with dad days was always the movies. And to this day those are some of my favorite movies.

Posted by: jodifur at April 22, 2010 7:27 AM

I always used to take my nieces to the local park to feed the ducks and just explore. The kite flying idea mentioned above is also a really good one :)

Someone told me once, kids will never remember your presents, but they will never forget your presence. No matter what you do, it's great that you're doing it!

Posted by: kellie at April 22, 2010 7:31 AM

Indoor skating rink. Find a merry-go-round. We went to a national park a few weeks ago and climbed trees. Take a big bottle of bubbles to the park and blow bubbles. Take your lunch to go, have a picnic. Go to the library (if it's open). My kids love mall play places, but I hate them - so we almost never do that. Pick up the ingredients to make a dessert and go home and take over the kitchen and bake together.


Posted by: Sarah at April 22, 2010 7:56 AM

I love that you do this. :)

I have two suggestions: http://www.greatkidsvillage.com/ There's a location in Silver Spring and Columbia (this one is bigger & has more stuff). They charge admission for kids to come enter but not adults.

Or for free entertainment: try letterboxing. http://www.letterboxing.org/index.php
We started doing this last year when mine was five and have been having a ball with it.

Posted by: NG at April 22, 2010 7:56 AM

uh. that'd be state park. (National got stuck in my head from that Arboretum comment!)

Posted by: sarah at April 22, 2010 7:57 AM

Get your lunch to go and picnic in the park.

Posted by: Traci at April 22, 2010 8:23 AM

how about a picnic at a park? you can still go to the chip place but also enjoy some quality outside time

Posted by: DeAnna at April 22, 2010 8:24 AM

Do you have a place where you can take her on a hike? Or perhaps bike with her? A movie?
Bless you, Chris for being the kind of Dad, that I never had!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 22, 2010 8:26 AM

I was going to ask if you have ever taken her roller skating, but I see someone has already listed that....it is fun, though, to take them for the first time.

Take her to a new place for a walk or hike or maybe see if you can find an indoor swimming pool.

Also, Mother's Day is coming up soon, take her to find that perfect Mother's Day present for Beth.

Posted by: Jen at April 22, 2010 8:27 AM

I like a lot of the suggestions already made, but this weekend is supposed to be pretty crappy out, so maybe take her to a movie or museum? Or would she like one of those paint your own pottery places? That would be a good idea for making something for Mother's Day.

Posted by: stephanie at April 22, 2010 8:56 AM

a new park that you all have never been to, college campuses (tend to be okay on weekends in terms of quietude and also there may be free things happening), museums (you live near DC everything is free there! But even if you go local I assume Mia would be discounted), exploring something unexpected (a trail for instance) to look for something specific (bugs, flowers, leaves). Get some paper and pens and write "letters" to people (grandparents, aunties/uncles, friends, etc) have her do it all and then take her to a real live post office box to put the mail in there (used to LOVE the post office box and how it could be flipped down and your mail magically disappeared into it!) GL!

Posted by: Christina at April 22, 2010 8:59 AM

Well, once upon a time you wrote that Mia liked to take some pictures. Grab a camera and go someplace where there's something picture worthy and take shots. Zoos, parks, nature walks, city hall, anything like that. Heck, in DC there's got to be a load of places to go. Added benefit is that you've got memories to go with it that aren't restricted to the mind. :)

Posted by: martin at April 22, 2010 9:21 AM

There's alot of good suggestions already. I like the hike or park ideas. I thought about what I do with my little and we like the library and parks where we play together. We also have a farm we go to to visit the animals. It's nice to be outside in good weather and I agree with your Mr Moneybags concern.

Posted by: NancyJ at April 22, 2010 9:29 AM

My Dad used to take me to a local park, where there was a large pond. We used to bring old bread to feed the ducks. Then, if it was windy enough, we would fly my kite together. Those were some of my favorite things to do with him. He also used to bring along an old camera and we would take turns taking photos. It was neat to look back on those in later years... We put the pics in albums, his on one page, and mine on the opposite page.

Posted by: Jen at April 22, 2010 9:33 AM

Bridget and her dad go to the playground together every chance they get. They bring buckets and shovels and chalk and balls to throw. Wears her out, gets her in the sunshine and is FREE!

Posted by: donna at April 22, 2010 9:42 AM

Take her roller skating. Or how about the library?

Posted by: Kristy at April 22, 2010 9:44 AM

Gravelly Point park near Reagan airport - take a picnic (or just your burritos) and watch the plains fly over your head and come thisclose to touching them as they land and take off. If you have bikes, you can follow it up with a bike ride (if not, just a walk) on the path there. It's one of my favorite places.

Posted by: Caitlin at April 22, 2010 9:50 AM

Don't forget the "how the world works" type of trips too; my daughter is excited to take a trip to a water processing plant, and the warehouse of a store, and to the fire station. The type of places that normally you don't go ( or necessarily think about ), but they have a huge impact on our world, and it helps to fill in the blanks in their heads on the behind the scenes stuff.

And the classic -> go out by the airport and go somewhere low in the flight path; planes screaming overhead is as good as a roller coaster!

Posted by: metawizard at April 22, 2010 9:54 AM

The park, a museum ... maybe to your office on the weekend if it's empty? I got a kick out of seeing where my dad worked when I was little. You could ask her if there's someplace special she can think of where she might like to spend time with you.

And the library. Definitely the library.

Posted by: Fraulein N at April 22, 2010 9:54 AM

Take her geocaching, she'll love it (you probably will too!) AND, yes there is an app for it!

Posted by: LaineyDid at April 22, 2010 9:56 AM

Find some gardens. And then go to the library and look up the names of the flowers.

Posted by: k8 at April 22, 2010 10:18 AM

I second the geocaching idea! That'd be really fun and exciting. Any sort of activity you could do together would be great; heck, even if you just played some video games together or did a craft, I'm sure she'd love it.

Posted by: Melissa at April 22, 2010 10:29 AM

We have made craft projects out of recycled stuff. There are lots of websites with ideas. We have also made a "movie" with the video camera. We planted a herb garden, using recycled tin cans. We have visited children's museums. We took a parent/kid pottery class. Picnic in the park and then flew kites. Also, helped nana and papa paint a fence. Lots of stuff to do that does not result in having to spend money.

Posted by: linda at April 22, 2010 10:34 AM

Lots and lots of cheap or free things to do. Like others said, walks in the park and picnics are always good. But during such outings, take the time to teach her and show her things. A lot of kids learn more in a "hey let's check this out" setting than a formal education setting. And if you're into it, fishing wouldn't be a bad idea.

Posted by: diamond dave at April 22, 2010 10:38 AM

There is a local park out your way along the Potomac that we loved to go when we lived there. There are places to walk along the water and watch the fishermen. I am sure you have been there, but there is the BEST playground there as well, near the sports fields.

Posted by: kristinc at April 22, 2010 10:45 AM

have her take you on a tour. Find a street or someplace with lots of stuff going on. Here in the burg that would be front street, by the river, lots of little shops.
With her imagination, tell her to pretend you are the new visitor to her city, her country and to give you a tour and tell you about the places you pass as you walk and even stories about the people you see.
My little T does this....it is too funny...especially when we see someone I happen to know and I'm listening to her narrative about 'how they evolved from those plants that eat flies "what are those called" oh yeah, her family evolved from venus fly traps and if you get too close they might just take a nip off you.'

Posted by: Speckledpup at April 22, 2010 10:54 AM

How about a museum? Or you could always try something like a short hike or going for a bike ride.

Posted by: bad penguin at April 22, 2010 11:03 AM

My dad would always take me for drives to places a little further from our norm. It was always lots of fun! I have really fond memories of our drives and talks.

Posted by: debb at April 22, 2010 11:15 AM

Time to introduce Mia (and yourself?) to the public library. Every book imaginable, and it's all FREE. DVDs too, and audiobooks.

Posted by: Karen at April 22, 2010 11:23 AM

Scavenger Hunt / I Spy! Over lunch make a list of five or ten things (red car, flowerpot, dog on a leash, etc. etc.). Then go for a walk around the neighborhood trying to find the listed items.

If you have a small digital camera she can use, take her to the park or for a walk and let her capture some photos. It'll be fun to download them later. Even better if you have an old film camera that you could take to be developed--on you next date, you could take a trip to the photo store to pick up the prints.

Posted by: Janet at April 22, 2010 11:26 AM

A picnic in a local park and before or after you guys eat, she gets to play.

The Zoo.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at April 22, 2010 11:54 AM

We feed ducks in the park alot. My 4yo loves the movies. But I really want to echo the "paint your own pottery" place b/c I'm dying to go to one of those but my hubs is *afraid* our son will lose interest in 5 minutes and break lots of stuff. Maybe so but it seems worth doing. We took him to the natural history museum last week and he's still talking about it.

Posted by: rebecca at April 22, 2010 12:04 PM

How about going to feed the ducks at a local pond? My husband and daughter LOVE to do this...it's great because we save the heel of the loaves of bread. But really, you can get a loaf for pretty cheaply.

Um, or you could just take a walk around a neat area of town, watching people, and discussing life. :)

Posted by: Wendy at April 22, 2010 12:22 PM

I'm with the people suggesting photography. You like it. She's (likely) have fun joining in on your hobby. You could even pick a theme of the photos you'll be taking...

Just make sure to let her photograph whatever she wants, and avoid "telling" her what to photograph. I enjoying seeing what my daughter thinks is worth taking a photograph of...

Posted by: Kaz at April 22, 2010 12:25 PM

Hannah is two weeks younger than Mia, and what she is loving right now is, we load her bike/helmet and go to the fenced in track for her to ride. No worry about cars and we walk the track while she rides near us, perfect. She made it around 5 times the first time we went! :)

Posted by: kami at April 22, 2010 12:30 PM

I love Chipotle. Love it.

Posted by: Kevin Spencer at April 22, 2010 12:48 PM

Congrats on the promotion! You definitely deserve it, especially after all the stress of the giant project, etc.

You are the Dad that every kid wants! Lucky Mia and Owen!

Get her a ball mitt and a softball and teach her how to play catch! Some of my fondest memories are of playing catch with my mom and dad. (Bonus: once you teach Owen how to play catch, the kids can play together and you can be the supervisor and you won't always have to throw your arm out tossing the ball around.)

I think the photography idea is brilliant! If she doesn't already have one, I would get a simple point and shoot of decent quality (so the pics are worth a darn) and then venture out into a park or museum and let her shoot away. Be sure to take your camera, too, so you're a participant rather than just a bystander.

The sidewalk chalk to the park idea is great and I would also take bubbles, too. Rollerskating in the park where YOU hold her hand and SHE skates.

If you do something that involves buying things, on occasion, make it about getting something for someone else, ie Beth, Owen, Grandma, etc.

Lucky, lucky kids!

Posted by: zanie at April 22, 2010 1:01 PM

How to Train your Dragon was a good movie.
But that costs $$
So, go to the library, go to a park and let her take pictures of the trees and flowers.
You live in VA, is it crabbing season yet? That's fun....

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at April 22, 2010 1:02 PM

What about a nature walk where you collect things like leaves and flowers to press in a book when you get home? Maybe you could then make a Mother's Day gift for Beth like a bookmark or something simple? Or just make bookmarks for the family since everyone is a reader.
I didn't read every comment so if someone already mentioned this idea, I apologize for the repetition! Have Fun :)

Posted by: Jane in Pa at April 22, 2010 2:14 PM

Fly a kite, go to a library show/reading, get books at the library, go for a bike ride at a special place, go feed a horse an apple, pick wildflowers.

And thanks for the inspiration. I need a date with my little girl too.

Posted by: Brad at April 22, 2010 2:38 PM

Picnic at the park?

Posted by: Jon (was) in Michigan at April 22, 2010 2:56 PM

Have you guys been to Great Falls Park in VA? Marvelous park and good history lesson on George Washington's canal building.

Posted by: Beckymo at April 22, 2010 3:12 PM

National Museum of American Indians. Its free, and indoors, and oh, the wonder of museums!! Like others mentioned, libraries... too bad the weather isnt expected to be dry. . .

Posted by: 3jaysmom at April 22, 2010 3:39 PM

Walk in the woods looking for fairies?

Posted by: Katherine at April 22, 2010 4:13 PM

I didn't read the many comments before me, so I have no idea if someone else covered these, but:

National Zoo

A park now that it's finally getting nice out (and before it gets too hot!)

One of the Smithsonian museums since they are free

A daddy/daughter bike ride

Ok...I'm outta ideas for now...

Posted by: Kris H. at April 22, 2010 4:26 PM

You've given Mia an old digital cam before, right? Could you and she go on a photo adventure walk? (I do this with my friends sometimes and it's fun!) And maybe throw a picnic in there? It's a lovely time of year, after all! :)

Posted by: Heather at April 22, 2010 4:55 PM

One of my coworkers and her son try to find the letters of the alphabet in everyday things (like a utility pole that makes a T, etc..) Ya'll could look for, snap them and then later make a book of the alphabet for her to read to Owen.
Also, does your local library have a kids storytime?

Posted by: rcat at April 22, 2010 5:04 PM

It has to be something that you like to do, too. Not really knowing what that is makes it hard to suggest things so I'll tell you what Jake and I did:

-visit a nature house/park
-go on a hike
-visit a farm and go berry/apple/whatever picking
-take a picnic to the park and just enjoy the weather..fly a kite, play frisbee
-go for a bike ride
-visit a pool/beach (you don't have to swim at the beach, we walk and look for shells..and btw I don't even know where you live so the suggestion could be completely off)
-go to the library

Posted by: Scatteredmom at April 22, 2010 6:50 PM

You could let Mia pick out something for someone in need. I know, it's still technically "buying" something, but would encourage her to develop a love of giving to others, and not just around Christmas.

Posted by: Amy at April 22, 2010 7:28 PM

Also, you could go on a photography scavenger hunt. I seem to recall Mia liking the camera.

Posted by: Amy at April 22, 2010 7:29 PM

I see I'm not the first to suggest this but: library, library, library. Since you are a book family, it's perfect. I take my kiddo every week and we have a great time in the children's section reading, doing puzzles, and picking out her books for the week. Definitely the library.

Posted by: Alias Mother at April 22, 2010 7:48 PM

In my babysitting days I used to take the kid to the pet store - a cheap zoo alternative that was very near by.

Posted by: bouncy at April 22, 2010 8:05 PM

Some things my hubby takes our 5 year old to do-

*go to home depot and buy plants/flowers then they come home and plant them. We have a few kid flower beds in our back yard that the kids get to pick what goes in them.

*go to the park, my daughter loves to run around the park with daddy only paying attention to her

*go to the library for extra books

*bike ride or a walk around our neighborhood, pretty much anything she does with just daddy is exciting because most of the time her little brother goes everywhere with her. :-)

Posted by: Steph at April 22, 2010 8:06 PM

the stream? not sure if it's quite tadpole season, but worth a look - there's a decent walkable trail behind the police station & off bennett. (our kids are in different classes, but go to the same school)

Posted by: emma at April 22, 2010 8:07 PM

So as commenter #58 you may already have a few ideas....but I'll still throw my hat into the ring: why not make up a Scavenger Hunt? Come up with 10 - 20 things you need to "find" and go on a little exploratory adventure? PS The fact that you have dates with Mia is nothing short of awesome.

Posted by: rougeneck at April 22, 2010 9:17 PM

I agree with the geocaching. But of course you need a handheld GPS. I took my 3 young nieces and they had a blast, except for that bee hive we stumbled upon :-0

Posted by: Hazel at April 22, 2010 11:37 PM

First of all, CONGRATS on your promotion!! That's awesome! As for what to do, I'm sure there are tons of things that you can do in the area for free! Google something like free kids activities and your town and you'll likely find something, or there is always having a picnic (what girl doesn't like a picnic??) and playing baseball or frisbee or soccer - getting outside and playing sports would be great! And I'm sure you and Beth take both kids to the park, but sometimes for a little one, just having one parents undivided attention at the park is a huge deal. Have fun!

Posted by: Randi at April 23, 2010 3:05 PM

How about a photowalk with daddy? I know she likes to photos. You could go to the park and both take pictures. Then later you can compare the photos, talk about how you see things differently, etc.

Posted by: patricia at April 23, 2010 9:11 PM

I cut out pictures from a magazine and then take my 4 year old daughter on a scavenger hunt. She has to find and photograph each of the items and usually all this requires is sitting in a public place for a while (like the library or a shopping mall, whatever). Whatever you do, have fun!

Posted by: Courtney at April 23, 2010 10:06 PM

go to a park and feed some ducks?

Posted by: Sarah L at April 24, 2010 3:52 AM

I know I'm late on this topic.

Forgive me if I'm right, but don't you live fairly close to D.C.? Why not take her to a park or a museum that you think she'd be into?

Posted by: Stephanie at April 26, 2010 8:19 PM

I vote with all who said the park or the zoo. Both are free to you! :) Priceless quality time with Dad to her.

Posted by: Poppy at April 29, 2010 7:12 PM