On Saturday we were in a unique position that we will be in again next weekend - staycationing without the option of returning to the homestead. Our house is being painted - by which I mean that the interior of our house is under siege of sanding, patching and painting with the exception of a few rooms! It's exciting times indeed, and because of the scope of the project it is going to mesh into next weekend as well.
We are always up for new adventures, especially if they are toddler/child friendly and offer something for us parents at the same time. We began the day with breakfast at Plato's Diner in College Park (and liked it so much we went back Sunday!) and wound up to The Mall in Columbia to play in the play area before the mall opened. Even though the Carousel (Merry-Go-Round, for Natalie) is on the other side of the mall, Abby heard the first buzz of their bell at 10:00 right on the dot. That girl can hear!
Anyway - the real fun part was making our way up to Baltimore to go to a place we had never heard of: The Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center. They were hosting an event called "Science Alive For Kids Under Five: How Does Your Garden Grow?" and I found by happenstance while looking for things to do outside of the house on Saturday. We had never heard of Masonville Cove, but with the weather being so nice and wanting to try something different from the regular Smithsonian stuff, we put the address in the GPS and headed up there.
And we're glad that we did.
We were a few minutes late, but were greeted warmly and Abby immediately meshed into the participatory story time led by one of the (I assume) staff members, Ms Jessica. After the fun story that walked us through how each creature benefited from the growth of just one carrot. The birds eat the seeds, the ants enjoy the leaves, the frogs get the bugs that fly. You know the deal. Even though Abby was late, it totally clicked for her and she got really into it!
Then we got to share pumpkin and sunflower seeds that you would get anywhere, but focused on the seed/shell difference. I can tell you that this stuck with Abby, because she brought it up at lunch on Sunday and we talked about seeds! Great stuff. Anyway, that was followed up with a snack tray of vegetables and fruits - all things that came from seeds!
Then all of the kids went outside (hooray for sun!) and made paper-plate-wreaths with birdseed glued to it. Ours is currently in our front yard and the birds are working their way through the seed as the glue goes away. Very cool trick. They also showed off their small composter, which would fit perfectly in almost any home. We have a large can outside as well as a pile that lives in our garden, but if not we would certainly look into one of those things. Pretty darned cool. Abby was most excited to touch the worms, as we have not seen any in our yard since last summer!
As things were wrapping up (they had a "how to start a garden" class for adults with kids welcome to stay and play as ours was ending) I picked up fliers to be sure that we're in the know for what is coming up. I mentioned that we were very grateful for such a great program and I asked how they get their funding, fully preparing to happily pull out a check and make a donation. Get this - they are funded for five years by the state! AWESOME! I got a little bit of their story, they opened last April (which is why I haven't heard of them) and offer programs year round. I pulled this from their website:
"Masonville Cove is 70 acres of water and 54 acres of cleaned-up wetlands, nature trails, and a protected bird sanctuary, all soon-to-be protected by a conservation easement and part of the Shores of Baltimore Land Trust. The Masonville project developed from mitigation tied to the creation of a Dredged Material Containment Facility (DMCF) by the Maryland Port Administration (MPA)."Program aside, Anny and I were really impressed with the facility - it appears that they are mostly if not completely off of the grid. Solar panels and rain barrels greeted us, and the bathrooms are state-of-the-art and include gray-water toilets (uses water from the sinks to fill and flush) and other green features. (Their site lists more - wow!)
Needless to say, we will be taking advantage of their programs, and hope to make a trip after Spring has Sprung to walk the grounds and enjoy some of the woods/water that makes up the property! Their upcoming events calendar is online on their home page HERE.