My experience at the TGN 8th Birthday Celebration.
January 18, 2015 8:40:07 AM EST
Last weekend my husband and I loaded the kids up in the minivan and took a little road trip down to Bloomington, IN to attend TGN's 8th Birthday/Grand Opening Celebration. For about a week I had been trying to decide whether or not to attend the birthday celebration or the staff party which was also that evening. I knew both would be fun- The Green Nursery knows how to throw a party! I'm not local (I telecommute as TGN's Social Media Coordinator), so it's not super convenient for us to find someone to watch our four kids and leave town for an evening. Ultimately it came down to the fact that it would be easier to take the kids with us than to try to find a babysitter. Plus, I hadn't seen the new store and really wanted to check out the new digs!
This wasn't my first time attending a TGN event, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. A friend and I made the trip in May of 2013 for The Great Cloth Diaper Change. We desperately wanted a Swag Bag, so we got there about 1 1/2 hours before the event started and waited in line, OUTSIDE! It was May, but that was a COLD morning. We were so excited to be one of the first 20 to get a bag. My friend even won a Door Prize! Luckily for attendees of this party, they were able to wait INSIDE for their swag bags- one of the many perks of TGN's new location!
Because I'm now a member of the TGN Staff, I assumed that I probably wouldn't be able to snag a Swag Bag this time. I have to say though, waiting in line for a couple of hours with four kids, (one of which is a VERY busy two year old) didn't sound too appealing to me. He's no longer the little baby who slept the entire time we waited for the GCDC Swag Bags, snuggled up against my chest in a stretchy wrap. He's now a big guy that hops in the Toddler Tula to get from point A to point B and when he's feeling overwhelmed and wants to be in mommy's arms. He's starting to becoming more independent, so we've started letting him walk with us when we're out and about, but when he gets out of hand it's nice to be able to wrangle him in the carrier. :)
After about an hour and a half drive, we made it to Bloomington. I remembered the parking situation at TGN's old location was not ideal for events like this. At the GCDC event, my friend and I drove around for quite a while before finding a spot. Now at their new location, there's metered parking on the street and a parking garage. Since all the metered spots were taken, we went with the parking garage which is attached to Fountain Square Mall by a enclosed walkway called the Skywalk.
For me, this is a big plus compared to their old location! I would gladly pay for easy parking than deal with the stress of not being able to find a spot. Plus the kids love the Skywalk- the youngest watched the cars go by underneath us and yelled, "WOW!" over and over. :)
Once we made our way into Fountain Square Mall, we wandered around trying to find the new store. When I came upon a crowd full of mamas with babies in carriers I told my husband, "I think we're in the right place!"
We got there around 10:30, well after all the fab Swag Bags were distributed to the first 20 families. Since the store was pretty crowded, we decided to check out the fun festivities set up just outside in the halls of Fountain Square Mall.
Our first stop was the arts and crafts table. The folks from Gather (a neighboring shop that sells handmade items made by regional artists) were on hand to help kids of all ages create their masterpieces. Eco-kids generously sponsored the table, so there were plenty of all-natural, kid-safe art supplies to go around.
This was the highlight of the event for my daughter- she's my little artist! She would have stayed at the art table the entire time if we would have let her. I was impressed by the eco-kids products and am now kicking myself that I didn't pick up some of the crayons for my little guy (eco-kids products are only available at TGN's brick and mortar)! Eco-crayons are shaped like rocks, not sticks, so they don't break as easy as traditional crayons, which is genius!
Next up was story time. My youngest and I joined a crowd of kiddos to listen to stories about birthdays read by University Elementary School librarian Mary D’Eliso. I love that they had a story time session! It added another level of fun for the kids and really helps get them excited about reading. However, my little guy is a very busy one. He only hung around halfway through the first story, and then he was ready to explore. It did make me realize that we need to get back to going to story time at our local library on a regular basis again! We had been going, but once they holidays rolled around things got really busy and it would slip my mind. We're definitely going to start making time for it again.
Since a lot of the parents went to check out story time with their kiddos, it was the perfect time to check out TGN's new store. When we walked in I spotted a Planetwise wet/dry bag in a print that I've had my eye on for a while, but never noticed in stock online, so I quickly snatched it up! That's one of the great things about visiting TGN's brick and mortar. While they have a huge selection of wonderful products online, there are a few things that you'll only find in store (and vice versa, some items are online only). Another one of those things that you'll only in-store are Lil Bub items! My toddler and my daughter are both BIG fans of Bub. They love to watch her YouTube videos and look at her photos on IG. My toddler was pretty excited when I handed him his very own Bub plushie, and held her tight as we looked around the shop.
The new store is fabulous! They have a great selection of diapers, carriers, toys, and a whole lot more. My kids enjoyed yummy cookies and tasty punch while they checked out all the cool toys. There was even champagne cocktails for the adults! I'm not a fan of the taste of alcohol, so I was going to just stick with kiddie version, but my husband talked me into trying the adult version. I have to say it was really good! It was so nice to talk with Abby and finally meet some of the staff in person! I wish I had been able to stay longer to chat with them and check everything out.
We headed out of the store to let the kids enjoy some balloon animal fun with the amazing David from Octopus Ink. There was a big list of things to choose from that he could create with balloon art. My older kids chose a sword and alligator for themselves, and my youngest went with a teddy bear. They loved their balloon animals and played with them the entire day!
After that, it was sadly time for us to head home. While my husband drove, I Instagrammed a few images of the party. As I was going through the photos, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get as many as I hoped. No photos of my daughter at the art table... no photos of me and my little guy. But a few days later, I realized that I did have a couple great photos of my famliy at the event! For events like this, TGN has someone there to photograph all the fun. I was very happy that we were in some of the great photos that Wendi from InBloom Photography captured during the event!
Even if it is a little bit of a drive, if you have little ones, I definitely recommend checking out The Green Nursery's brick and mortar store. And especially when they have fun events like this one! I hope we go back soon. In fact, my daughter keeps asking me, "Can we go back to The Green Nursery?" :) Next time we will definitely stay longer and check out all the other stores in Fountain Square Mall. From what we saw, it's a really cool place! Although I didn't score a swag bag and didn't win a door prize, we left the TGN Birthday Celebration with something even better. We made some great memories as a family. I couldn't ask for anything better than that. That made our little trip to Bloomington so worth it. ♥
*Although I am compensated for my time writing, all opinions are 100% my own.
Stephanie Beck is a busy mama of four. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family. Stephanie started her blog, Apron Strings Attached, because she wanted to share her experiences with raising kids, breastfeeding struggles and success, and cloth diapering. She now enjoys blogging about life in cloth diapers for TGN.