Midweek Adventuring: Lebanon, TN

A friend recently asked me how I accomplish so many adventures mid-week. I had to stop and think about it because – at first – I didn’t really have an answer.

One part of my answer to how (and why) comes down to logistics. Which is typical of how my very practical and logical brain works. J has drop off duty and I have pick up. At Littlest’s new school, I have to be there by 3:30 or we’ll incur aftercare charges. On top of that, J has some late days on campus a few times a week. This means that I’m pretty bound to filling time for Littlest and myself between 3:30-5:30 every weekday.

Some other parts of my answer are about momentum – and motivation. Since I’m already up and going – and have been for long before my 7 am workday start time – it’s easier to, as Dory says, “just keep swimming”. Packing our weekdays helps me look forward to weekends that may be full of nothing more than jammies, snuggles, hot dogs and movies. (I’m working – thanks to my talk therapist at ReadyNest Counseling, Brooke – on adjusting my “perfect, does-everything mama” image to something much more realistic.)

If you had told me at any point during the 40 weeks + 5 days I was pregnant (yes, I counted and YES, I remember) or any of the approximately 14-ish weeks of the 4th trimester I was overwhelmed and terrified and mostly homebound that I would one day (and soon!) become a “midweek adventure mom” I’d certainly have laughed so hard YOU would’ve ended up peeing your pants right alongside me. (Peed my pants because..pregnant, vaginal delivery..birth parents, you got me, right?)

So. Midweek adventures. Here’s one Littlest and I went on that was a short trip from Nashville, on an overcast late September afternoon (read: warmer than normal but tolerable for outdoor activities) and included the best adventuring trifecta: playground (or park), shopping local and eats. All of this in Lebanon, TN – 30-ish minutes east of Nashville.

brown wood-esque climbing structure at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Don Fox Community Park – Lebanon, TN
climbing structure/playscape at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Smaller, more toddler-friendly climbing structure at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
toddler climbing a plastic crocodile near a playscape at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Crossing “Crocodile Lake” on, well, a crocodile.

PLAYGROUND: Specifically the ones* (*yes, plural!) at Don Fox Community Park/Wading Pool. The main play area at Don Fox is a series of different climbing structures, swings and spinners in a fenced area fronted by a giant, wood puppet theatre. And it’s accessible by children under 14 years old of all abilities! Wheelchair swings and structures for kids with low muscle tone abound.

brown wood puppet theatre at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Puppet Theatre at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

climbing structure/playscape at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

swings and climbing structure/playscape at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TNtoddler sitting alone on a stationary spinning structure at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

Sitting on the spinner at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
play Forest Service fire truck at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Forest Service firefighter, reporting for duty!

In addition to this main play structure, there is another play/climbing area, a 60 foot wading/splash pool, 2.5 mile paved walking/biking/skating path with fitness stations, pavilions, sand volleyball courts, grills, picnic benches and wooden bench swings scattered around the large park. There are restrooms on site and plenty of paved, easily accessible parking too. Note that the playground doesn’t apparently follow a dawn-to-dusk schedule like most community parks do. Per a sign clearly placed on the puppet theatre, the space is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm and is “strictly enforced”.

toddler standing at pretend ranger station at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TNslide and climbing structure/playscape at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

Littlest ran straight past the fenced in wading pool, thankfully because though the fountains were on it was already closed for the season. Mark your 2020 calendars – the Don Fox Wading Pool reopens on May 23! She was zoned in on all of the climbing opportunities and this playground did not disappoint. In fact Littlest, who is usually hesitant when faced with attempting new heights and scaling new structures, was adamant that she was big enough to climb the 2-ish story structure to take the “big big BIIIIIG” slides down. This mama, however, was a little (a lot) nervous about that.

mushroom and fire hydrant shaped fountains at wading/splash pool at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Wading/splash pool at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

Our compromise, then, was for Littlest to – as long as no other kiddo was trying to go down the slide at the same time – climb up the slide in order to slide back down. This she did over and over and over again in the large green slide that’s part of the rope climbing structure/parkour wall.

toddler climbing rope bridge to large rope structure to top of large green slide at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Attempting to scale the rope structure to the top of the green slide.
toddler scaling parkour wall near rope climbing structure at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN
Scaling the parkour wall.

large green rope climbing structure and tall green slide at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon, TN

At the climbing structure with the two slides she would climb up the tan slide, walk across and squirrel her way down the green twisty slide.

She had a grand time all over this playground and was only willing to leave with the promise that we were off to get dinner – and that we’d be back, with Dada, soon.

SHOPPING LOCAL: Demeter’s Common.

lifestyle grocery store tablescape of real and knitted pumpkins at Demeter’s Common in Lebanon, TN
Fall is here! At least at Demeter’s Common it is.

I’ve been social media stalking Demeter’s Common on Instagram for a couple months now, waiting for an excuse to visit. And I’m so glad we did! Owner Mallory’s life history of growing up on her family’s 300 acre farm, Big Springs Farm, in Lebanon combined with homesteading on her own farm nestled in Big Springs and most recently 6 years in retail management at Green Door Gourmet in West Nashville come to life inside the walls of the Demeter’s Common “lifestyle grocery store”.

Alongside fresh produce and stocked pantry shelves you can find just about any of Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses (get the Norwood and put it in/on everything! my short time with Riff’s (RIP) food truck taught me many things – this lesson, probably most important), Short Mountain Culture‘s krauts and kefirs and CaityPies frozen handpies, whole pies and icebox pies. Need to replace your toothbrush? Demeter’s got you coverer. Cleaning spray empty? Head to Demeter’s. Smudge stick to cleanse your space? Mallory’s stocking Demeter’s shelves with those, too.

It’s also a GREAT space to shop with a Little. There are felt grocery bags as well as a kiddo-sized shelf stocked with play foods for your Little to shop alongside you with. And every transaction earns a giant gold coin that can be exchanged at the honeybee hive for a prize!

Mallory’s mama, Betsey, was there when we stopped by and she doted on Littlest making us both feel like we were shopping at a dear friend’s farm store. (Thank you for the Harry Potter surprise! Littlest carried HP around the rest of the evening and has given Harry a spot of honor in her carseat.)

Littlest picked herself out an apple that she promptly devoured in the car on our way to dinner and a block of zingy and bright sparkling ginger soap. I snagged a whole Caitypies chicken pot pie from the deep freezer as well as a Hibiscus Water Kefir from Short Mountain and a restock on some elderberry syrup (ugh cold season’s already rearing it’s ugly head but we’re thankfully crud-free so far!).

toddler standing in lifestyle grocery store Demeter’s Common in Lebanon, TN holding a Rome apple and slice of handmade hand soap
Littlest picked out an apple for a snack and a slice of sparkling ginger soap to take home from Demeter’s Common.

DINNER: Town Square Social. My friends at Nashville Grazers (highly recommend you follow their drool-worthy feed on Instagram) spend a fair amount of time in Lebanon so they were the first I turned to for a kiddo-friendly dinner recommendation.

interior of bar and restaurant at Town Square Social in Lebanon, TN
Mostly empty at the early toddler-friendly hour we ate dinner – but Town Square Social was packed by the time we left.

Town Square Social isn’t anything fancy, which means walking in with a loud and playground-covered 2.75 year old won’t cause anyone to bat an eye. And no one did. Our server was SO attentive and treated Littlest like the independent tiny human being she is by talking straight to her, not through me. She also was aware of the hot spots of parenting in public and whisper-asked me about dessert rather than alert Littlest to DESSERT! if that wasn’t on Mama’s agenda (spoiler alert: it wasn’t).

toddler sticking tongue out at selfie camera
We didn’t have to wait long to place our order or receive our food but the selfie camera on Mama’s phone never hurts to help wile away some time!

Littlest didn’t hesitate from digging in to her chicken tender/fries basket and helped me eat some of the cheesy white bread from my fried bologna sandwich (go big or go home is my mantra when I’m eating meat these days I suppose) as well as some of my tots. We brought home a hot chicken-topped green salad for J and he gave it a solid two thumbs up.

fried chicken and french fries from the children’s menu at Town Square Social in Lebanon, TN
Kid’s chicken tenders + fries basket.
thick slab of fried bologna sandwiched between two slices of American cheese and white bread at Town Square Social in Lebanon, TN
Fried bologna sandwich + tater tots basket.
Two happy eaters at Town Square Social in Lebanon, TN.
Fried (hot) chicken salad packed up to-go.

So when you’re looking for an easy and fun-filled adventure not too far from home, I highly recommend you venture Eastward to Lebanon! Have you explored Lebanon – or do you live there? Any recommendations for more spots to support and visit the next time we’re there?

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