"...you've never been in the dark with a mosquito”
Interesting things happen when you feel small. The world seems huge, and the tasks at hand often look like mountains despite them being mole hills. Here’s the thing though, a problem is a problem no matter the size. And everything plays into a larger narrative, we are in some ways all connected and feeling small has a way of showing you that.
I’ve recently been watching Tiny World on Apple TV+ and loving it. For those unfamiliar, it is a nature documentary narrated by Paul Rudd and it explores the world through small creatures eyes and experiences. It’s amazing to watch and quite honestly a good watch for the entire family. What strikes me is how absolutely crucial the tiniest of things in our world are even to species much larger. Do not forget, the work that you do as an adult, co-worker, parent, or spouse ABSOLUTELY MATTERS no matter how small it seems.
It's that time of year when everyone is looking for fall activities. My wife is seemingly a renowned expert on all of central Ohio's pumpkin patches, but a few weeks ago, we spent a morning at one we haven't visited before and that just happens to be close to our house. Somehow we had never made the trip.
Freeman's Farm certainly checks all of the boxes. We were able to select a pumpkin from a vast supply. We treated the animals in the petting pin to snacks, while we feasted on kettle corn and hot dogs. We opted for the 20-minute hayride through the wooded property, which didn't feel like it was adjacent to I-71. The market was well stocked, and the crowd wasn't huge. Maybe this is still one of the lesser known fall destinations in town? Either way, I highly recommend.
That same Saturday, we spent our evening at Henmick Farm & Brewery. In my opinion, central Ohio has been in need of a destination like this for some time. For you city dwellers, it's definitely a hike but well worth the trip. Every beer I tried is delicious, and the space is what you'd expect: it's a farm. Copious seating around multiple fire pits (this was one of the first cool evenings of the fall) paired with plenty of open spaces for kids to play. Inside the Ohio State football game played, while an awesome bluegrass band played outside. They don't serve food, but we ordered takeout pizza from nearby Kilbourne Market and brought it in, which we were all surprisingly delighted by. If you're interested in visiting Henmick, I recommend checking out their Instagram first, as they do a great job sharing what activities (which include kids stuff) and entertainment they have lined up for the weekend ahead.
All in all, it was a great fall Saturday in central Ohio spent with the family.
Boy Meets World may be one of the greatest television series ever produced. Yes I said it, prove me wrong.
For our inaugural Tune-Up Tuesday, I have chosen one of my favorite lines ever written, which appeared in a classic episode of the show. At first glance, you may be confused, isn’t this series supposed to be uplifting? Yes, my dear friend it is, and it will be, just hold on. I want to point out that there is a nugget of positivity in the phrase: "life's tough, get a helmet."
It is easy to find yourself buying into the lie that life has to be easy to be good. Tough times are not fun, but they are a part of life. They build character, resilience and uncover strengths you didn’t know you had.
My dear friend, hold on, buckle up and get ready, because life is a crazy wild ride full of bumps, bruises, highs, and lows. Instead of wallowing in the negativity, find your helmet, and march on Dadass.
We are always looking for breweries with delicious beer that can accommodate, if not outright serve as a destination for family time. It's a win win. In the spirit of Oktoberfest season, Matt and Steve shared their favorite breweries that meet this critical criteria:
Edison Brewing Company (Gahanna): This place is becoming our favorite spot in town, as it's totally catered to families, from the rustic, industrial look to the variety of European-inspired beers and the view looking out at the Cityscape of downtown. For those with really little ones, both bathrooms have changing tables and there's built-in entertainment as it sits on a hill directly between both runways of the John Glenn International Airport. Our son loves watching the airplanes as we drink our beers out on a picnic table.
DankHouse Brewing Co. (Newark): This one is a quick drive East on 161 and right off the highway, but the wide variety of beers and unique styles are worth it. They have tons of space outside and even a separated space inside that could help corral the little ones who like to run. Outside of a dope playlist, we love it because it's away of Columbus and feels like a road trip or getaway, while again being an easy drive.
Nocterra Brewing Co. (Powell): I wrote about this in a previous blog post about top hikes with kids being an excellent post hike stop to rehydrate and change the little hikers. If you're not a hiker, it's a stones throw from the Zoo. The vibe there is social and welcoming to everyone, especially the outdoors-minded people. The bathrooms have changing tables and is doable inside or outside with the family. I recommend the gorgeous outside space. On top of all that, the beer selection is just an added benefit of hitting up Nocterra. James at Nocterra was on our podcast earlier in the summer and has an incredible story of going from stay-at-home dad to beer authority.
Olentangy River Brewing (Lewis Center): Just across the way from Highbanks Metropark, my favorite place to refuel after a hike with our son is here. Whether you want a coffee (they offer Roosevelt Coffee) or a beer, they've got it. Try the Belgian Aloha - it won't disappoint!
Galena Brewing Company (Westerville): This choice is aided by the fact that it's walking distance from my house, but in sincerity, Galena Brewing touts being a family-friendly brewery. They offer a wide range of events, including live music and crab races (you'll have to check it out for more details). Their brews are unique, and the brewery is still a bit of a hidden gem.
BrewDog (Canal Winchester): This may be too easy, but the BrewDog location in Canal Winchester is a fun destination to take the family. You probably don't need me to tell you about the deliciousness of Elvis Juice, but the Canal Winchester location is huge and very accommodating for families. Fireworks and live music are frequent occurrences, and the food is great for both adults and kids.
Parsons North Brewing Company (south Columbus): Beers for friends. Beers for family. Beers for people. Parsons is built on bringing people together. Their beer is some of my favorite in town, and the space is very accommodating for all types of people, including young families. There's games and open space to enjoy.
Seventh Son Brewing (Italian Village): My kids have been to Seventh Son probably more than any other local brewery - mostly due to circumstance. It's a great, big space with tons of delicious beers, and when we are in the area, it's very common for me and my family to stop in for a quick beverage.
North High Brewing (Short North): This is a homer pick, because I'm friends with the founders. While the original taproom in Short North doesn't really offer much for kids, my wife took us there for my first Father's Day, so it holds sentimental value. For my money, the North High Pale Ale is one of the best everyday beers in Columbus, and I highly recommend the brewery tour if you get the chance.
The Dadass Podcast recently released an episode, “Real Talk: Mental Health and On Our Sleeves,” featuring Parker Huston PhD., a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Director of the On Our Sleeves Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. During the episode they discussed resources available through On Our Sleeves, conversations to be having with your family and your partner at home, along with self-care tips.
In collaboration with The Dadass Podcast, our vision for this blog is to help dads be more engaged and more hands on with our families. This topic is important to the heart of our families, and we wanted to share one of many articles available at The Movement for Children's Mental Health - On Our Sleeves: Supporting Kids' Mental Well-Being.
If you live in Columbus, you’ve likely withstood the anticipation or at least heard the buzz around the Buddy Dairy Food Hall. The novel concept was introduced by central Ohio culinary leader Cameron Mitchell as a “chef-driven incubator that provides opportunities for culinary adventures to refine their concept, grow their business and build a loyal following, all while sharing space with other like-minded entrepreneurs.”
Whether you’re an avid outdoorsman or aspiring adventurer, there is so much you can experience with your kid(s) in nature. As a fellow dad recently reminded me, “into the woods we go, because your kids don’t remember a day in front of the TV.”
I recently covered my top Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks trails in the northern part of central Ohio. Here are a few of my recommendations of local trails within the southern end of town to explore with your little ones:
A Park in the City at Scioto Audubon (beginner): You’ve probably seen the iconic water tower on shots around Columbus. This Park blends a green oasis of wildlife and recreation set just a stone’s throw away from downtown. Most of this is flat, and you can explore the banks of the Scioto River, play on the obstacle course and even try your hand at climbing the over 7,000 square feet of the climbing wall, along with a 10-foot bouldering wall. The facilities are great and the restrooms have changing tables, which is a huge plus.
Head to the Woodlands at Clear Creek (moderate to difficult): If you can afford the time for a mini road trip or mentally handle being in the car with the little ones for a while, I highly recommend this one. Close enough to Hocking Hills, but without the tourists this is a gem for hiking. There are easier trails, but plenty of challenging ones. According to the webpage for this park, it features over 5,300 acres of woodland. Plenty of time to look for yetis or let their imaginations go on a wild adventure.
A Little Bit of Everything at Scioto Grove (easy-ish to difficult): The trails are super easy, but if you’re willing to try your hand at overnight backpacking at one of their designated areas it could become difficult depending on your experience level. This park is nicely kept, has well-marked trails and with a partnership with REI you’ll love the amenities. You can explore along the river here, too.
The Dadass Podcast recorded with Tim Moloney, Executive Director of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks back in February. I highly recommend listening to learn even more about such a robust park system we have here in our backyard.
A once in a lifetime excursion, I recently vacationed in Hawaii, and it is everything you’d imagine if you’ve never been fortunate enough to make the voyage. The travel is certainly not easy, but it’s compounded exponentially by traversing with a six-, four- and one-year-old.
We spent our first five days on Oahu with my cousin who serves in our military and his family. He’s stationed there; it was ideal navigating the island with locals, versus always defaulting to the atypical tourist activities. We were on the go from sunup to sundown everyday, and it truly felt like we got a good sense of what Oahu has to offer:
After five days on Oahu, my family flew to Maui for an additional four days. We mostly relaxed around the beach near the resort during the day, but we still explored:
A few other miscellaneous/anecdotal observations:
We had an incredible time. Shoutout to my wife who was a rockstar who orchestrated the majority of the vacation for us. I highly recommend Hawaii if you have the opportunity to visit. And it can be done with kids. Hope my notes are helpful to any parent making the trip with their family in the future.
-Steven Michalovich, CBUS Dads contributor
So picture this: I’m sitting poolside on my vacation to Florida scrolling through Instagram as a rain storm starts to roll in. It’s mid-morning and the world is awake and moving, but at a slower pace. See, we vacation with family on a small island on the inter coastal just outside of Ft. Lauderdale, so things move and happen on their own time.
Anyway, back to the story. I’m scrolling, and all of a sudden, I see a post that intrigues me. It’s a post by the band Our Last Night where they have reimagined classic Disney songs in a heavy rock format. I mean this can’t work, can it? So I click, and a smile is immediately brought to my face as they begin with that all too familiar jingle that used to start every Disney movie in the 90’s, except it’s not what I’m used to, it’s rougher and perhaps even, edgy? I’m hooked and now I find myself sitting alone on a lanai watching the raindrops dance along the top of the pool water while absolutely enamored by the music I’m listening to.
I mean we can all pretend we’re too cool for Disney music, but let's be real here, we aren’t. They are catchy little tunes designed to do one thing, burrow their way deep down into our brains and lodge themselves into some tiny crack or crevice and never come out. Of course it certainly doesn’t help that children often want to listen to the same song on repeat for weeks on end. I don’t have tiny humans, but if I did I’d have absolutely no problem tossing this on the stereo as we drove around town (read between the lines here: I’ll listen on my own without children).
This gets me thinking about how important it is to be yourself first and foremost no matter what happens in life. As we age and our lives change we are often tempted to become a distant shell of who we once were. Now please read this very carefully: I am in no way suggesting people do or should stay the same. We are meant to grow and change as we go through life. However, I do think it is important to remember who we are at our core and not lose that. This is an incredibly thin line to walk especially as we find ourselves engaged in so many different roles such as husband/wife, father/mother, partner, co-worker, etc. It’s so easy to become a chameleon and change depending on the situation. The danger of course is that along the way we find ourselves simply playing a role instead of being authentically ourselves. I write this fully admitting that I fall into the same trap as everyone else at times and am no better than anyone else but hey, I’m trying.
One of the joys of being in partnership with people is having the opportunity to impart a bit of your knowledge and passions on to others. For some that may be friends, others, partners/spouses, and even children. Although I don’t have children of my own, I do try to make sure to expose and educate my nieces and nephews to things I love and am passionate about such as camping, cooking, and yes on occasion, my taste in music.
Here’s what I appreciate about what Our Last Night has done. They have managed to mash up two ideas in a way that allows both parties to enjoy something together without asking either one to give up on being present. Yes, children (wait no, people) love Disney music, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing they listen to. This is what I call a win-win compromise. Win-win compromises are great because it allows everyone the opportunity to be authentically themselves while also affording the other person to do the same. Earlier I said part of being in a relationship with someone is getting the chance to share with them, but don’t forget this is a two-way street. As much as we enjoy teaching others, don’t forget how much you have to gain by learning from someone else.
I encourage you to find ways to be authentic to yourself but also room for others. Although it might sound silly, perhaps Our Last Night has found a way to do just that. Growing up isn’t about completely changing who you are, it’s about evolving into something greater.
Here’s the link to the video that inspired the post: https://youtu.be/0YDuhN1UUD8.
-Shaun Ditty, CBUS Dads contributor
Whether you’re new to outdoor activities or you’re part yeti, visiting the hiking trails of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks is a great way to stay active with your kids while getting them oriented with nature and taking care of that itch to get outside.
I was fortunate in my 20’s to be a tripping guide through the trails of Maine and New Hampshire, but nowadays I serve as weekend Sherpa with my toddler on my shoulders in the carrier. Nonetheless, we are fortunate to have such a robust parks system here in central Ohio to make you forget you’re in Ohio.
Here are just a few of my recommendations of local trails throughout the north end of town to explore with your little ones:
The Flatlander Adventure at Glacier Ridge (beginner): This park is ideal for beginners. You have a variety of easy trails to use (paved and grass/dirt), along with a half mile long challenge course. There isn’t any elevation change on the paved paths, which would help those hiking with the littlest of hiking buddies. Parking was easy, with lots of spaces and great restroom facilities. I don’t recall seeing changing tables - but you’re hiking: you should use the trunk or back seat like a true woodsman.
A Little Bit of Everything at Highbanks (moderate to difficult): Easily one of the busiest, if not, the busiest of all the Metro Parks. This is a must-hike park, but the worst part is all the dang lights along U.S. Route 23 getting there. You have easy trails, and you have the moderate to difficult Dripping Rock and Overlook trails, but all of them have plenty of benches for frequent water breaks. Between the hills, 100-foot shale walls and the views, this is a great all-around hike. Word of caution though, your little ones might not handle what you can, especially after a couple moderate hills, so choose wisely and think about going out and back, not doing the full loop. Pro tip: I highly recommend driving across the street to Olentangy River Brewing Company to use their changing tables…err…to cool off.
This Ones for the Birds at Blendon Woods (easy to moderate): Explore the “spectacular stream-cut ravines” and towering maples and oaks. This is a great place to see and hear all sorts of birds and you’re almost guaranteed to see wild turkeys while you’re there. We’ve enjoyed all the trails, in particular I enjoy hiking Goldenrod. It’s the only pet permitted trail and least traveled. If you want true silence and solitude or what short amount of silence your little companion(s) can give you, I recommend this one.
The Hidden Gem at the 100 Akre Wilderness (easy-ish to difficult): This one is the most primitive and least visited of all the parks, which is managed by the Blendon Woods rangers. It doesn’t even pull up on Google Maps, and that’s why this is perfect for an adventure. For the most part, this is super easy to hike, but you need to be able to read the trail, because there is zero signage. After nearly a mile, you come up on to the Hocking Hills of central Ohio in the form of 80-foot ridges along the river. This is peaceful and breathtaking. We had Metro Parks Executive Director Tim Moloney on our podcast, and he talked about the possibility of hidden art coming to this park that you can search for. This isn’t even on the Metro Parks website.
Stay tuned for other recommended hikes in different parts of Columbus, along with my top kid-friendly, post hike breweries to rehydrate at.
-Matt Lofy, CBUS Dads contributor
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.