From Preschoolers to Princesses: Atwood’s Princess in the Park

This weekend, Mila and her friends were transformed from their fabulous, preschool selves to beautiful princesses. Atwood Lake Park hosted Princess in the Park for area girls and it was a fairytale for everyone involved.

Naturally, Mila took the afternoon napping and getting ready for the event.

There were two sessions for it, but we went to the later one at 5:30. Thankfully that nap came in handy. To get her ready, she got her hair curled, put a little bit of makeup one, and was dressed in her favorite princess dress.

She was too excited to take pictures before we left, even though she made me and my parents dress up for the occasion.

It only made sense since we were going to be in the presence of a ton of princesses!

When we got there, the girls were divided into four groups: red, purple, silver, and blue (or maybe pink, we weren’t in that group). You could tell their group by the necklaces they gave them when they were registered. Mila was in the purple group, so that’s the timeline of the night I’ll be following.

There were four different princess activity stations: craft, carriage ride, story and snack time, and nail and hand painting.

The first station Mila went to was the crafting one. Here, all the princesses decorated a frame and a princess wand. Mila absolutely LOVED the wand and it turned out so cute. She held it most of the night and pretended to have magic powers too.

They had all the craft supplies ready for us. There were wooden skewers, stickers, ribbons, stars, and the frame. I think Mila tried to put everything on her wand. It turned out adorable.

It seemed like all the other princesses enjoyed their craft too!

After craft time was the carriage ride.

Cinderella brought her magical carriage with her beautiful horses for all the little princesses to ride. Of course she joined in too! They had six girls at a time join Cinderella and they took a carriage ride around the Atwood Lake Park. It took about fifteen minutes, but it probably seemed a lot quicker for the little ones.

Honestly, this part was just as magical for the parents as it was the kids. The carriage was breathtaking and I hope it made Mila feel so special. Her smile was radiating.

When the carriage ride was over, the other half of the group of kids went on and Mila’s got to meet Mrs. Ohio from 2011. Her name is Mrs. Melanie Miller and she did amazing with the little ones. Mila was so happy to meet another real life princess for the night!

She instantly wanted to give her a hug and sit and talk with her. I think Mila was a little awe-struck because she didn’t say a lot, but kept looking at Mrs. Miller and her crowns. I think she loved her sparkly dress too. They discussed how their favorite letter was “M” and how Mila should always follow her dreams. It was so adorable. Mrs. Miller also gave Mila an autographed picture that she talked about and showed us on the way home.

Mrs. Ohio, if you are reading this, thank you so much for being patient and so caring. It truly made an impact on our girls. I know Mila enjoyed meeting and talking with you.

Next it was story and snack time!

They had cupcakes there for the kids to ice and decorate. Although they didn’t have tea, they had apple juice that were perfect for princesses.

As the kids decorated their cupcakes and ate them, a man (whose name I didn’t catch) read a story to the kids. He let them name the princess and unicorn. Mila came up with the name Aveena for the princess and another girl names the unicorn Sedine. They really gave him tricky names to remember. It was pretty comical.

It was a really cute story and gave the kids time to calm down after all the carriage and Mrs. Ohio excitement.

I love watching Mila decorate her cupcake too! She gets better at it every time.

The next and last station was the nail and hand painting. Although a lot of girls sat and got theirs done, Mila had other plans. She’s not the “let’s get our nails painted” princess. Instead, she decided to play.

Since my parents went with us, she had my dad play on the playground with her. They had so much fun on the equipment and the swings.

It also was nice that she got to get really tired before we left!

I love watching her play and interact with other kids and her grandpa. I swear every time I look at her it looks like she’s grown up more. It’s one of the most bittersweet feelings that all parents (I think) feel.

After the last station, we could leave. Instead though, Mila got to meet up with her friends. They, again, went to see Mrs. Ohio and took pictures with her. It was so cute watching them listen to her and wanting to see her crowns. I swear us parents looked like the paparazzi taking a ton of pictures. It was just so exciting.

The princesses took more pictures and played for some time after too. I loved seeing them all dressed up. They’re usually beautiful, but they looked extra cute all dressed up.

I am so thankful for everyone at Atwood Lake Park and the princesses that made this happen. Mila and the rest of their kids really enjoyed themselves. I know she will be talking about this event for days, especially when we go and print pictures out!

Since we live in such a small, tight community, it’s amazing to get our kids together and interacting. It’s truly special and amazing.


If you live local, what are some events you’re looking forward to this fall? If you don’t live local, what are some fall events that you think Mila and I should do? Let me know in the comments.

Explore Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

When it comes to local exploring, Mila and I are on a mission. Our latest go to place was the Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

Located right by Roscoe Village, the gardens are a secret escape to play and learn for all.

There are so many aspects of the gardens that I love. Since I’m a planty person, seeing the different types of plants and flowers was magical. Believe me, everywhere you look is beautiful.

I’ve actually been planning on taking Mila here for a little while. On the Clary Gardens Facebook page, I saw them advertise their Story Walk and knew we had to go.

Mila is set anytime learning and being active is involved. So, we put our go-fasters on and went on our way.

Here were our favorite parts of the trip, besides the beauty of the gardens!

The Story Walk Trail

This isn’t a secret, the Story Walk was our favorite part of our visit!

Clary Gardens, the Coshocton Public Library, and The Frontier Power Company teamed up to make this walk happened. They plan to change out the story seasonally, so that means we’ll be going back!

This season’s story was Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It’s an adorable book about, you guessed it, a giraffe that can’t dance.

As you walk through the trail, you get to read more pages in the book.

Mila loved this and was searching for the page stands. Throughout the walk, I asked her to recap what happened from the pages before. She did amazing and was really engaged with the Story Walk!

The walk also lets you explore the gardens more. It gives you beautiful views of the property and a little walking trail that is safe for kids. Mila’s favorite parts of the trail was walking by the pond and going into the woods.

Mila taking the route less traveled.

This book choice was perfect for us too, since Mila loves to dance. She danced right with the different animals in the book.

It was a fun adventure through the gardens and I love seeing Mila’s love for reading expand. Spoiler alert, the giraffe dances at the end and Mila did a little celebration dance with him.

Check out the video at the end of this post.

The Octopus

Along the Story Walk was this big and beautiful, wooden octopus.

The octopus is all hand carved and hanging from a tree. He slightly sways if you touch him or the wind blows hard. This freaked Mila out a little, but she warmed right up to him.

I am completely amazed by all the details in the octopus. From the tentacle suckers to the big eyes, Mila and I both had a hard time walking away.

The size and detail reminded me of the wooden giants at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Louisville. That was our last adventure before COVID. Except the giants were even bigger. It was still nice to be reminded of that memory.

When you go to Clary Gardens, definitely seek out the octopus.

Children’s Area

Since I’ve become a mom, finding a place where Mila can play is a must. Clary Gardens has a big area set aside just for this!

There’s different areas for kids to crawl through, climb on, and play. The sandbox was Mila’s favorite! Fortunately, there were buckets and shovels already provided for kids to use.

I personally appreciated the vegetable garden areas. Mila and I were looking to see if any had grown and trying to identify the leaves. Just another learning opportunity that we had to take.

The beautiful artwork at the side of the play area was so cute too.

After her time in the sandbox, Mila pointed out the colors and different things on the mural. She immediately ran up to the butterflies and pretended to be one.

This would be a perfect spot for a play date. You could picnic here (or any of the gazebos) while the kids played. The kids would have so many options to play and moms could get some shade and catch up.

Here’s a little compilation video of our visit. My favorite is Mila’s dance at the end.

The gardens offer even more too. Not only can you get married here or hold an event, it has a beautiful amphitheater too. There’s a few plays by Rogue Elephant Productions coming up in the near future that I need to go see.

If you’re local to Coshocton, plan out your visit to the Clary Gardens soon!

Have you ever been to the Clary Gardens? If not, do you have local gardens that are similar?

Support Local: Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market

On Wednesdays, we go to the market. More specifically, we head to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market in Dover, Ohio for food, entertainment, and a fun time.

Open every Wednesday from 3-7pm during the months of June to mid-October, the Market sets up at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds. It’s open rain or shine.

Anytime we can support local farmers, makers, and businesses, we do! So, we grab our canvas bags and go shopping.

Mila loves interacting with all the people and I love knowing where our food is coming from.

It’s a perfect combination.

It’s so fun watching Mila interact and explore different foods. She loves to pick out zucchini, all fruits, and flowers. I love that everyone is patient with her (and me too!). Somehow I feel like this is only going to strengthen her relationship with food.

My favorite part is trying out different vegetables than what we would normally pick out.

We’ve tried different squashes, baby carrots, and a vegetable called a kohlrabi. Kohlrabi looks like an alien vegetable, but tastes like cauliflower. I have a recipe I’m going to share soon with it.

We also love the homemade jams, puff corn, hot sauces, and flowers too. I guess you can say we like everything there.

Every time we go, Mila enjoys picking out fresh cut flowers to take home.

They add so much beauty to our home and are different every week we go. That’s the magic about buying local, it’s whatever is growing or read that week.

When you go to the Market, you’re not just going to get produce and leave.

The library brings crafts for kids every other week to do. You can either make them there or take them home to do later.

There’s usually entertainment, such as local bands and musicians too. Mila and her friends danced for a while one week. They had so much fun, as well as everyone else around too. It’s so special to watch a community come together and enjoy the moment.

Another added bonus is the food trucks and stands that join in on the fun.

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but after I get back from shopping I get tired. Instead of rushing home to make food, we love ordering food and eating there. They usually have brick oven pizza that tastes so good!

Mila usually had sampled all of our produce by the end, but never turns down macaroons or ice cream!

Once you do get home to make meals, you won’t be disappointed.

Last week, I made an amazing BLT with all local ingredients. It honestly tasted fresh and so much better than usual. I definitely need to pick up more tomatoes and bread this week!

We hope that you can make it to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market this year!

It’s a great event for our community, way to educate our kids about food, and help grow our local commerce. You might even get to try an out of this world vegetable too!

Just watch out for Mila pushing her cart!

If you’ve ever been to the Tuscarawas Valley Farmers Market, what’s your favorite thing about it?

My faraway friends, do you have a local farmers market you like to attend?

The Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center

Looking for something fun and educational to do nearby? Head out to the Norma Johnson Center to see the Butterfly Exhibit.

The exhibit only runs until July 18, but it’s worth the quick trip.

Their hours are from 10-4 on weekdays and Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.

Mila and I actually didn’t plan on seeing the butterflies this week. It was quite the happy accident. On our way out to Sugarcreek, we saw signs adorned with butterflies.

After a quick thought, I asked Mila if she wanted to go and we were on our way.

The Norma Johnson Center (NJC) is between Dover and Sugarcreek. We’ve been there to hike, take pictures, and look at flowers. It’s a beautiful location that also offers educational programs for kids and adults. This was our first one, but we will certainly be back for more.

To get to the exhibit, all you have to do is park in the lot by the red barn. Then follow the signs up to the pavilion you saw when pulling in. I promise you can’t miss it.

Mila was so excited to see the butterflies, she ran up the hill to get to them.

Under the pavilion, the NJC crew had butterfly crafts, face painting, and information. Plus, the main event: actual butterflies!

The butterflies were in a screened off section of the pavilion.

Inside, there was a lady who was extremely knowledgeable about butterflies. She was such a huge help in teaching kids the different parts of the butterflies and how to handle them.

We learned that we shouldn’t touch butterflies with our fingers, they eat with their proboscis (which is like a straw), and they love to eat rotten fruit, but prefer flowers more. Also, that Eric Clarke wrote that caterpillars made a cocoon, but it’s actually called a chrysalis!

Those were the main takeaways. There was so much more information.

If you’re wondering why Mila has the q-tips, it’s a good question. Since you shouldn’t touch butterflies with your finger, q-tips are the best option to be interactive with butterflies.

They’re dipped in watermelon, which some butterflies like. You can get them on there so they drink the juice. Then they can either fly away or you can transfer them to a flower. You get to see the butterflies up close AND they get to stay safe.

After we visited the butterflies, it was craft time!

The NJC had a free paper butterfly craft. It consisted of coloring the wings, cutting them out, and assembling it together. Mila and I tackled this one together!

Then, she got to get her face painted, with a butterfly of course. She picked all her favorite colors: pink, blue, purple, and a silvery color. The butterfly was very unique.

It was her very first time getting her face painted! I think she was a little nervous, but overall stayed as still as she could.

Immediately after, she wanted to do a little photoshoot and ran on the hill.

I guess you could say she was happy with the finished product.

After face painting, she made some sand art.

They had crafts that costed up to $5 that were butterfly themed. She choose to do the sand, but they also had concrete garden stones kids (or adults!) could paint too.

Before we left, Mila said goodbye to everyone, especially the butterflies.

I’m so glad we fluttered by the Butterfly Exhibit.

Everyone at the exhibit was so helpful and nice to Mila and me. We loved learning, playing, and interacting with it all.

She’s even asked if we could go again!

If you’re local to Ohio and are looking for something to do this week, check out the Norma Johnson’s Butterfly Exhibit!

You can learn more about the Norma Johnson Center and all of their programs on their website.

For those who live further away, I hope you have something similar close to you. It’s definitely worth checking into. Maybe you’ll find a new place to take your kids to play too!

Did you learn anything about butterflies through this post? Or what’s a fun fact you have about them?