Easiest Birthday Party Ever: A Day at Aquaboggin

My son just turned nine and we celebrated with the easiest birthday party we’ve ever given. We spent the day at Aquaboggan, a water park about 20 minutes from our house in Saco, Maine with a small group of kids. It was great fun for the kids and adults and quite affordable because we only invited a few kids.

Every year my husband and I plan a big birthday party and invite lots of kids in order to be inclusive.  We’ve had Bay Blade parties with multiple stations for “spin offs” where each kid was given a Bay Blade; Harry Potter birthday parties with Quidditch and potions; and water play parties with slip and slides, sprinklers, and a kiddie pool. In addition to lots of kids converging on our yard, their parents come too. The parties are always great fun but also a strain to plan and even though they’re at home, they tend to be expensive. This year we did it differently.

My son invited one cousin (who happened to be in the neighborhood), two friends, and of course his sister got to come.  The final count was five kids and four adults.  The park offers a discounted birthday rate for parties of at least 8 ($15 per person) and the birthday child gets in for free.  They reserve a picnic table under a pavillion for the group and will even keep your cake in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it (of course, you have to remember the cake in order to serve it at the park…). They allow you to bring your own food and drink. We packed a cooler of sandwiches, some cut up watermelon, chips, and lemonade.  The only thing I spent money on after the admission fee was to rent a locker for $5 to keep my camera, phones, and wallets in.  Our neighbor rented a double tube for going down some slides with his son.

Aquabogan top of dome

I love that the park is relatively clean, that it doesn’t feel crowded, that you don’t have to wait in lines for rides, and that you are surrounded by trees. Our favorite part is the dome (for kids only) followed by the wave pool. Although we did try the slides, most of the kids weren’t interested in spending a lot of time on them. The only thing I would improve is to add more trees throughout the park so that there are more shady spots. Most of my family did get a sun burn somewhere on our bodies. We should have reapplied sunscreen but water parks are tricky for keeping sunscreen on.

aquaboggan anica climbing dome

I thought the group size was perfect and I was glad to have four adults so we could divide up and go to different parts of the park throughout the day.

aquaboggan charlie bouncing down dome

Aquaboggan charlie going down dome

aquaboggan covered in water


aquaboggan henry climbingAquaboggan picnic tableAquaboggan anica silly faceaquaboggan so fun

A very happy and memorable birthday party for sure. Let’s do it again next year!


Everyday Outside Wins Down East Magazine’s “Best of Maine Readers’ Choice Award”

It is with great pride that I share with you that in the July issue of Down East Magazine, Everyday Outside was announced the winner of the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Blog. Readers of Down East (and maybe just a few of my friends 😉 ) voted for me and we won!  This is the fifth year that Down East has been giving these awards but this was the  first year that they threw a party for the award winners. And boy do they know how to throw a party! We celebrated at the Portland Club downtown on June 27 with food and beverages served by Black Tie Company. The food and service were exemplary. I wondered if the mini lobster roll that I was served was made by the winners of “The Best Maine Lobster Roll” because it was so good, but I was told that the event caterers made them.  Maybe next year Black Tie Company will win the best roll–it’s that good! The food was simply amazing and everything that you could possibly want when celebrating in our great state. A raw bar with unlimited oysters, lobster rolls, fried crab rolls, and a dessert table that included miniature whoopie pies that were dipped in chocolate. They were really quite tiny, as far as whoopie pies go, and my goodness were they yummy. I may never eat another chocolate dipped whoopie… so I ate another and another and another.

Upon arrival we were given a name tag, our award, and a goody bag. I posed for a photo with Paul Doiron, the editor-in-cheif of the magazine and I kind of missed my opportunity to talk about my blog.  If I hadn’t been so nervous I would have said, “We should talk. Coffee?”  Even now I don’t really  know what I should have said… How about, “Let’s work together to get more people outside on a more regular basis!” It was kind of cool to have a professional photo taken with the fancy backdrop like those seen at awards shows.  I felt like this was just one of the many details that demonstrate how the event planners thought of everything.  DE_BESTofMAINE-209

The awardees in the room were as diverse as our great state.  The Readers’ Choice for best boat builder was The Hinckley Company; for best print columnist the great Bill Nemitz, who writes for the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram; and best bargain store was Renys–an institution almost as popular as L.L. Bean, the winner of best outdoor store and sporting goods store.  We all mingled about not really knowing who else was in the room.  I found out after the event that Liz Pride, the author of Your LL Bean Boyfriend was an awardee. The editor of Down East whispered to her that he was wearing an L.L. Bean suit…   You can read her account of the evening here.

As a parent and a hard-working momma, I rarely get to indulge in such a special evening with such great food and unlimited drinks.  Thanks Down East for this memorable evening and the recognition. I will certainly hang my award with great pride in my office.

If you were one of the readers who voted for me, I thank you.  I hope I can continue to entertain you with my narratives of simple outings and musings about the benefits of getting outside on a regular basis for years to come. My ultimate goal is to highlight that just stepping out the back door helps fuel a nature connection that can completely transform one’s outlook on life. Happy summer and many wonderful outings to all of you.


2013 Everyday Outside Report

A friend of mine just celebrated his 50th with a surprise birthday cookout.  It was a fabulous outdoor party with a delicious assortment of potluck offerings, frisbees and soccer balls flying all over, good beer, and grand company. It didn’t rain, it sprinkled throughout the party, and our rugged Maine friends weathered the temporary increase in moisture. The birthday boy and I had a few minutes together and he asked me, “Are you still doing your outdoor thing?” I replied that I was. He then asked, “How many days in a row have you gone outside?” I didn’t know the answer to the question but replied that I’ve gone out all but one day in 2013.

It’s hard to believe it is July–the half-way point of our calendar year.  I blinked, and June disappeared.  My life feels like I’m in one of those Looney Toon cartoons where the calendar days flip by to show that time is passing.  I feel like my days and months are moving by that quickly. I can’t keep up with turning the pages of my calendar–the months just keep flipping off one by one.

June is in the past and we’re half way through 2013. Seems like a perfect time to check in and report on my status for the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge. I’ve gone outside for 181 days this year for at least 30 minutes.  Most of my outings were much longer–but all of them were for at least 30 minutes. Back in March there was one day that I was probably only outside for 20 minutes so that was my one missed day. For comparison’s sake, in 2012 I went outside for all but 8 days. I’m proud of the improvement and attribute it to the fact that regular outdoor time (and keeping track of it on busy days) is a habit for me now.

On a related note we’ve welcomed a few new people to the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge in the last few days and have many who’ve been doing it since the beginning of the year. I’d love to hear how you’re doing and how it is going.  Please drop a note in the comments section and share how it is going.

Wishing you all wonderful outings filled with mother nature’s surprises.  Below are some photos of a special walk at the Falmouth Audubon with my family and two cousins. We unexpectedly stumbled upon a field of peonies when walking in the woods. How delightful.

Happy summer!