Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mount Merrill at Durham Central Park

I'm sure that many more of you are familiar with Mt. Merrill after today's glorious food truck rodeo, but we stopped by on a weekday last week and again this weekend at the Food Truck Rodeo and wanted to give everyone the scoop.

What it is:  Mt. Merrill is the new playground created at Durham Central Park thanks to a fundraising campaign with donations from many Durhamites, myself included.  It's been fun to watch it come to fruition, and I know my kids are going to have lots of fun playing on it during all of our future outings to Durham Central Park.

If you're headed to Durham Central Park to find Mt. Merrill, there are several parking options.  You could use the nearby street parking, or park in the public parking garage a few blocks away at the corner of Foster and Morgan Streets.  Usually, we park at the garage whenever going to that area because I am an absolutely terrible at parallel parking.  There are some nearby lots, but they are all reserved for various businesses.

Once you find parking you can head on over to Mt. Merrill which is located across Foster St. from the Farmer's Market Pavilion at Durham Central Park.  It's a small playground, but for some reason, it kept my kids occupied for a long time both times we visited.  In fact, the other parents I was with agreed that the small structure kept their kids occupied for longer than they thought it would.  Regardless of it's size, they had fun.

Mt. Merrill itself consists of a small and a large slide set on a climbable mountain with boulders and large walkways up to the top.  The slides are made of metal with rounded edges.  There are also large poles positioned around the mountain.  In looking at them, it looks they would hold a sunshade in the summer.  There's also a small area with some ropes for climbing on one side.

The mountain is positioned in the middle of an area which will soon hold grass.  There is a seating area in the back as well as a sidewalk with statues of a bird and turtle which are great for toddler climbing.  The sidewalk leads to a bridge over a creek before it ends at the edge of the small park.

What we liked:  One of the great thing about Mt. Merrill is its location at Durham Central Park where lots of great events already take place. This way, your kids have a place to blow off some steam while you are enjoying the weekly Durham Farmers Market or one of the fabulous Food Truck Rodeos.   The fact that Durham Central Park took the time to build this playground means they really were looking out for the needs of Durham families, which is awesome.

What we would change: The playground is a little small, but of course that is the way that it has to be at a multi-purpose park such as Durham Central Park, and its size didn't keep my kids from having a good time.  With the little ones I would also worry because the park could be a bit dangerous for you if you don't keep an eye on them.  There isn't much protection to keep them from falling off of the climbing rocks.  However, with parents playing with them and keeping an eye on them, it's a fun place for all ages.  

Website and other important information:


Address: 501 Foster St, Durham


(the smaller slide)

(the larger slide)

(a view of the whole structure)

(another view)

(the crowds playing during the Food Truck Rodeo)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sky Zone-Durham

I have two very active boys, so any time we can get a little extra energy out is a good thing!  This is especially true in the cold and wet months in the winter.  This indoor spot is a great way to do that right here in Durham!

What it is:  Sky Zone is a new indoor trampoline park that just opened in North Durham in the same parking lot as Northgate Mall, right next to Sears.  I took my youngest son who is 4 and we headed on over one afternoon with some friends.  Just like other trampoline places in the area, you came in, signed a waiver, and paid according to how long you wanted to jump, half an hour increments.  Then, you also paid for some official Sky Zone socks with grippy soles that you were required to wear but could bring back each time you came.  

The interesting thing about paying was that the price designation for toddlers was based on height not age.  So any child under 45 inches got to pay at the toddler price, which was great because I have kids that are so small I think they're going to be in the toddler category forever!

Once we bought our tickets, we used the change machine to get some change and used our quarter to get a locker for our belongings.  They said you could use a locker without paying to lock it, but with my purse involved I appreciated the locking option.  

Then, it was time for jumping!!  When we headed out to the trampolines we were actually the only ones there except for one other family!  Now, I imagine that will change as more people find out, but it was great.  They said that the middle of the weekdays were usually pretty empty but things definitely filled up in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends.  Everyone had a ball and completely wore themselves out, including me.  There was the trampoline floor full of wall-to-wall trampolines for bouncing.  There were also trampolines for jumping and dunking basketballs.  Then, there were separate dodgeball arenas which we didn't explore, and finally, there were trampolines where you could jump into a pit of foam balls-my son's favorite.

One thing I noticed about Sky Zone was how many monitors they had.  There were tons of staff monitoring the jumping.  They were very strict about having one person jumping off each trampoline into the pit at a time, and even having one person on each trampoline on the jump floor.  This was a difference between this and other jump places.  While it was a little frustrating having to be so careful not to jump on the same square as someone else and not being able to hold hands with my son and jump, I really appreciate their attention to safety.  They weren't going to let anything slide!

After our hour was done, we were all super thirsty.  Fortunately, they had a concession stand where you could buy drinks, snacks, Icees, and even pizza.  I also noticed they had birthday rooms where you could celebrate your own Sky Zone party.

What we liked:  We love having another indoor option for getting the little kiddo energy out right here in Durham.  I also really appreciated their attention to safety which made me feel more comfortable as a parent.  They also have a toddler time on Saturday from 9-11am and Tuesday through Thursday from 3-5pm which is exclusively for kids under 45 inches.  One of the workers there told me that at that time that during toddler time parents were actually able to hold hands with the kids and be on the same trampoline square, but I can't completely verify that.  They also have specific times for other groups such as teens.

What we would change:  The price was really the limiting factor for us.  At $15 for an hour for an adult for an hour, that was an expensive outing.  Fortunately toddler prices were a little cheaper which made things a little better for us.  Their website just says $10 for the first half hour and $5 for every half hour after that for everyone.  However, they gave us the toddler pricing  of $8 per half hour and $4 after that even though it wasn't officially toddler time.   I'm not sure if this is always their policy, or if the discounted prices were just during toddler time.  

Website and other important information:

Address: 1720 Guess Road, Suite 90, 27701

Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday-Thursday 3pm-9pm, Friday 11am-10pm, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm  *This doesn't match up with the Saturday 9-11 toddler time.  I will call to clarify.


(A view of their concessions stand from the seating area)

(The jumping floor)

(the sky slam dunking zone)

(a view from the foam pit-it's like quick sand in here)

(The pit)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Smallcakes winners!

Hi everyone!  Thanks to the fabulous generosity of Smallcakes, they increased our giveaway and decided to give a free cupcake to the top 25 people that commented on the previous post, YAY!

So, here are the names of the people that commented in time order of when they commented.  If you won, your comment is published.  If you didn't, your comment is not published.  If you won, just go in to Smallcakes, give them your name, and they'll give you a cupcake!  Please double check if your comment was one of the ones published because there are some duplicate name entries.

And the winners are: The Gaineys, Yda Balcazar, Emily, Gina Martinez, Mary Claire Somerville, Mary Elizabeth Maynard, Sara H, Amy @ Amy Hogan Photography, Eve Choi, Stephanie, Wendy Ferrara, rhg, Jessica, Mary Taylor, Jennifer, Erika Williamson, Gigi De la Torre, Andrew McGeary, Janice Giles, FIAMA, Sherri Nevius, Genevieve, yourmomdesigns, Lindsey, and Robin H.

If you didn't win, it's definitely worth stopping by anyway.  I know I'll be back to buy some delicious cupcakes for me and my family!  :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Smallcakes! Grand opening and Giveaway

So, it's my birthday tonight, so I thought what would be better to post about than...cupcakes!  There's a new spot in town and it's the perfect place to satisfy any sweet tooth!

What it is:  Smallcakes is a new cupcake shop located in the Woodcroft Shopping Center, already home of several of our favorites-Chubby's Tacos, Pulcinella, and Menchie's.  There are currently about 90 Smallcakes location nationwide, but each individual location is able to put their own local spin on their sweet treats.  The Durham Smallcakes just opened up a few weeks ago and we stopped by to sample their cakes on opening day.

We walked in and the shop is decorated perfectly.  They have a fabulous Durham mural on the wall to complement the counter filled with delicious looking cupcakes.  While they didn't have any seating on our initial visit on opening day, the owner, Andrew Fisher, confirmed that a few small tables would be arriving shortly.  Oh, and they also have coffee from another local favorite, Bean Traders as a perfect compliment to their cupcakes.

My boys both, of course, selected chocolate cupcakes, one resembling the Hostess variety only more decadent and the other being a "sundae" cupcake.  My husband opted for the red velvet with thick, cream cheese frosting, and I decided to try one of their daily specials, the Wedding Cake flavor.  We took them to go in a beautiful, very well designed box (complete with little notches in the cupcake holes for easy cupcake removal).  Then, we divided them up and proceeded to sample.  They were all moist, with just the right amount of frosting, just like a cupcake should be.  The Wedding Cake was my favorite so I hope they bring it back as a special soon, but you really couldn't go wrong.   Prices are $3.50 a cupcake which is a tiny bit higher than most other local stops but in the same basic price range.

While Smallcakes is already open and you can already stop by to get their delicious cupcakes, their official grand opening is yet to come!  Make sure to stop by on January 24 for their grand opening celebration and party!!

What we liked:  The cupcakes were delicious.  They have perfected their regular flavors but continue to create unique and different specials so there's always something new!

What we would change:  Currently, they don't have any restrooms, but that's certainly not going to stop me from heading back over at my soonest convenience to try more of their delicious treats!

Website and other important information:


Address: 4711 Hope Valley Road, Durham

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm


Thank you so much all of you dedicated cupcake lovers who read down to the bottom of this post because you will be rewarded!  Smallcakes is offering a FREE CUPCAKE to the first ten Stir Crazy Moms blog readers who comment on this post.  This time, it has to be on the actual blog to count, so thank to Smallcakes and enjoy!

Friday, January 2, 2015

School Information Series: Community Preschool

School Type: Community Preschool
Durham Community Preschool (or DCP for short) was founded out of Calvary United Methodist Church’s Parents’ Morning out program in 2009 and is a secular non-profit preschool. This is a small, family-friendly preschool with a warm and welcoming feel. Parents get to interact with teachers during drop-off and pick-up. Parents send in their own child’s snack and lunch each day. The school day starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m and includes outdoor time, weather permitting. DCP also offers a 7 week summer program where families can pick and choose weekly care around their vacation schedule. This is a school with high parent involvement through the Board of Directors and other areas of volunteerism, though volunteerism is not required.

My two children have attended DCP, one currently, and our entire family has made wonderful, long-term friendships among the students and staff.
How to Apply: Application forms for the school year and summer program are available on the website. Applications for the next school year can be submitted after January 1st. These will be processed in February after the current families have been given a priority enrollment period to re-enroll for the following year.
The Lily Pad Lagoon (infants) is designed for children 6 months to 24 months. This class maintains a teacher-to-child ratio of 1:4, and children attend one, two, three or four days per week, Monday through Thursday. A child must be at least 6 months old to attend this class. Tuition rates are from $95 to $274 per month.

The Tadpole class (ages 2 to 3) maintains a teacher-to-child ratio of 1:5, and children attend two or four days per week, Monday through Thursday. A child must be at least 2 years old by August 31st of the year the child will attend. Tuition rates are $184 or $274 per month. 

The Pollywog class (age 3) maintains a teacher-to-child ratio of 1:7, and children attend three or four days per week, Monday through Thursday. A child must be at least 3 years old and potty trained by August 31st of the year the child will attend. Tuition rates are from $263 to $284 per month.

The Leap Frog class (age 4) maintains a teacher-to-child ratio of 1:7, and children attend four or five days per week, Monday through Friday. A child must be at least 4 years old and potty trained by August 31st of the year the child will attend. Tuition rates are from $294 to $315 per month.
Where They Are:
304 E Trinity Ave, Durham, NC  27701. 
Durham Community Preschool is housed in the educational building of Calvary Methodist Church in downtown Durham (think a few blocks from the Durham Farmer’s Market)
Preschool Director Rose Volponi

For more information, visit the website:


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Radius Pizza

In my last post I told you about our great little adventure on the Hillsborough Riverwalk.  This time, I'm going tell you about the great little pizza place that we found for lunch while we were checking out downtown Hillsborough.  

What it is: Radius Pizza is a great family-friendly pizza restaurant located on Hillsborough's main street downtown.  We found it after wandering down the Hillsborough Riverwalk.  We needed a kid-friendly stop that had outdoor seating because we had brought our dog with us.  They were happy to oblige and sat us out on a great little outdoor section, but they do have lots of indoor seating as well if you prefer.

We had a great meal.  They had a kids' menu complete with sides, main dishes, brunch items, and drinks.  My boys enjoyed their grilled cheese and cheese pizza.  However, the best part for my husband and I was that the rest of the menu was full of delicious fresh items.  It's always great when we find a restaurant that has delicious innovative things for the grown ups and still has a kids' menu that is accessible for the kiddos.  My husband enjoyed the pimento cheese pizza while I tried the pancetta benedict, and they were both delicious.

The food at Radius Pizza was delicious, and while we were there we also heard about lots of kid-friendly fun there.  On the second Tuesday of every month you can stop by for kids make pizza night. For $5 per kid and the purchase of an adult entree kids can make and enjoy their own pizza.  It's even followed by a sing-a-long.  In addition, there was one other kid-friendly event that really tempted me.  I can't wait to head back and check this one out.  On the third Saturday of every month, they offer movie night.  For movie night, they will take the kids, feed them dinner if you want, and show them a movie.  While they are watching the movie, you can sit in the restaurant and enjoy a date night without the kids!  The night is for kids ages 4-12 and the movie is actually free!  If you want them to feed their kids it's $6.50 per kid.  For this event reservations are accepted but not required.

I haven't been to either event, but I can't wait to check them both out.  I would call to confirm details before attending either, but the information can also be found on their website.

What we liked:  We loved the delicious food in combination with a great kids menu.  We also really liked their clear focus on being a family friendly restaurant with lots of family friendly events.

What we would change:  Hillsborough can be a bit far from our location in South Durham, but it's definitely worth the drive.

Website and other important information:

Website: (kids events), (main website)

Address: 112 N. Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278

Hours: Monday 11am-3pm, Tuesday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday 11am-midnight, Saturday 10am-midnight, Sunday 10am-3pm


(the kids' pizza)

( my husbands' pimento cheese pizza)

(their sign)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Hillsborough Riverwalk

Today was a beautiful day.  While all NC winter days certainly aren't like this, but when the next nice day rolls around and you and your family are itching to get outside, I have a great outing for you.

What it is:  The Hillsborough Riverwalk is a great little trail that recently opened up connecting various parts of the town of Hillsborough.  Even though Hillsborough's just next door to Durham, I haven't had explored it nearly as much as I should.  It's a great little town.

To explore the Riverwalk we started at Gold Park.  It's a great park by itself with a great playground, but the addition of the trail just makes it even better.   There's plenty of parking when you arrive, and to find the Riverwalk just head to the side of the park behind the playground.  There, you will see the trail heading off under the railroad tracks.  Follow the trail and soon, you will hit the newly constructed boardwalks and bridges of the Riverwalk.  Almost immediately you cross one of several bridges, and my kiddos had a great time playing "pooh sticks" where you drop a stick off one side of the bridge and see how long it takes it to reach the other side of the bridge.  I played it all the time as a kid.

The trail is great-wide, flat, and accessible.  There's a view of the river most of the way and the woods surrounding it are very nice.  There are also informational signs placed at points along the way.  After a lovely half-mile walk, we decided to stop at the access point for downtown Hillsborough, but we could have continued longer into scenic River Park in downtown Hillsborough. Our turnoff at Nash and Kollock Street led us out to Weaver Street Market and downtown Hillsborough.

From that point, you can take as much time as you want to explore the great little town of Hillsborough.  We wandered around Weaver Street Market, bought some chocolates in a chocolate shop, and ate at a fabulous pizza restaurant called Radius which I can't wait to tell you all about in my next post.  There are several other great shops and restaurants to check out including a wine shop and a yarn shop.

After our wanderings around downtown Hillsborough, we first explored River Park continuing the other way on the Riverwalk trail.  Then, we headed back the half mile to Gold Park where the kids could play on the playground for a few minutes before hopping in the car to head home.  It was a great, family-friendly hike with great attractions on either end, and I can't wait to head back and try it again.  There are also other parts of the 1.8 mile Riverwalk that I'm sure would be equally fun, but this little section was all my kids were up for on this particular outing.

What we liked:  We loved it all-from the playground at one end to the downtown at the other and all of the bridges and sections of the trail in between.  My boys especially loved playing on the bridges.

What we would change:  There's not much I would change, but at some points on the trail I had to pause a for a few minutes to figure out which way to go.  However, if you look at a map before hand, you won't have any problems.  Even with no map, we managed to find our way pretty easily.  Just find the river, follow it, and it will take you where you want to go.  There is a map where the trail meets up with downtown.

Website and other important information:


Map of the Riverwalk:


(the route under the train track from Gold Park up to the Riverwalk)

(a view from the first bridge)

(one of the informational signs)

the bridge to downtown Hillsborough)

(a beautiful view of the Eno River)

(the trail continues under the roadway)