Kickstart my heart. Or Jenna’s dream. Whichever.

My friend Jenna is a nice girl and a great photographer, and she wants to go on a road trip this summer. I’m going to help her pay for it, and I thought you might want to do the same. Watch this:

It’s a swell idea with a super name, right? I’m looking forward to seeing the end result. But there won’t be an end result if the project isn’t funded. The fundraising ends in 44 days, and the project is still a lot of dollars short. You can donate a few dollars to Jenna’s All Thrifty States project at

A 3-year-old’s bad dreams are built at the aquarium

'Garden Eel' by William Warby. I can see where these fellas might cause a boy to have a bad dream.
The rather unsettling 'Garden Eel,' as photographed by William Warby.
Pete usually gets up right about 7:30 in the morning, but he slept in this morning. That isn’t entirely unheard of, especially on rainy, overcast mornings such as we’re having today. Even then, though, he rarely sleeps past 8am. So when 8:30 rolled around and I still hadn’t heard from him, I decided to go wake him up.

(His sister is a Champion Sleeper-Inner. She gets that from me. She slept until 9:30 on this especially dark and restful morning. She usually gets up at 8:30. When I wake her up.)

Petey was curled up on his bed, his thumb in his mouth and his blankey firmly clutched in his little fist. His eyes opened as soon as I walked into his room.

“Hey buddy,” I said. “You sure have slept a long time this morning.”

“Well,” he said, “there was a snake on my bed. It popped up.”

Mentioning snakes and beds in the same breath is not the way to put me in my most rational mind, so I had about half a second of panic before I realized that it was much more likely that he’d been dreaming than that we’d been invaded by pop-up snakes. I pulled him into my lap and assured him that it had been a dream, and we cuddled there in the floor for a few minutes before heading off for to brush his teeth.

Later, he told me more about the dream.

The snake sneaked up on me three times, and then he sneaked up on me no more. And then a shark came, and then I didn’t stomp on the snake. And then nothing happened. I just shooted the shark with my eyes. I closed my eyes, and I shooted him when I closed my eyes. And then he wasn’t caming back, and the snake wasn’t.

That sounds like a really horrible dream for a 3-year-old. Or for a 32-year-old, for that matter. I’m not sure where Pete’s fear of snakes came from — unless it’s genetic — but I’m relatively certain the garden eels we saw at the aquarium didn’t help matters. They freaked him out, and he’s asked several times since why “those snakes popped up.”

Four fun places in Atlanta to visit with your kids

As I said yesterday, our Atlanta hotel’s proximity to Fabulous Attractions made our visit just wonderful. We were only there for a few days, so we weren’t able to visit everything nearby. But what we did do was pretty great.

Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

Admission is $12.50. Children under 2 are free.

The children’s museum was fun, but it was really chaotic when we first got there. I’d recommend going in the afternoon, after all of the school groups clear out. The rumpus didn’t bother the kids at all, though. They loved the “simple machines” set up, which is made up of gears and geegaws and a really neat little crane, all of which works together to move plastic balls around the exhibit. The little fishing pond and the tree house in the Under Five area were big hits, too. We spent four hours at the museum, which was good. Because I might have felt that the $40-plus it cost the three of us would have been exorbitant for less time than that.

The playground at the end of Centennial Park


Georgia Aquarium.

Admission for adults is $24.95, it’s $18.95 for ages 3-12, and it’s $20.95 for ages 65 and up. But you might be able to find a coupon code online if you Google something like “Georgia Aquarium” and “discounts.”

Even at full price, the Georgia Aquarium is absolutely worth the money. The Ocean Explorer exhibit alone is almost worth it. It holds 6.3 million gallons of water, and it is breathtaking. There’s a walk-through tunnel that runs under the tank, and the kids wanted to go through it over and over and over again. As did I. It was so cool. In all, we spent five hours at the aquarium. Did you know that five hours is a very long time for something to hold the attention of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old? It most certainly is, and the Georgia Aquarium managed to do it.

My only complaint about the aquarium was the play area. It seems to me that the space could be better used for an actual exhibit, and there would be fewer opportunities for unaccompanied hoards of 11-year-olds to knock over your 3-year-old whilst running toward the whale slide.

Wild schoolchildren aside, though: If you’re ever in or near Atlanta, you should most definitely make time to go to the aquarium. It’s phenomenal. And like the children’s museum, the field trip groups had all cleared out after lunchtime.


It doesn’t cost anything to get in to Ikea, but chances are you won’t leave without dropping some dough on a Salong and some Smycka or a roll of Snovita or something. We went primarily to get some storage boxes for Pete’s room, but also because on of Poppy’s friends had told her about the glories of the Ikea play area. And oh, how glorious it was. Because you check the kids in and then leave them there for 45 minutes. Rockford and I used the childless time to share a Swedish meatball plate, and the kids used the parentless time to run amuck.

If we were going to be in town for more than a few days, I would probably buy the Atlanta CityPASS. After March 1st, the CityPASS will be $69 for adults and $49 for kids (ages 3-12), and it gets you into the aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola and the Inside CNN Tour. The World of Coke is right next to the aquarium, and the CNN studio tour is at CNN Center, which is across Centennial Park. So had the kids been older, we might have visited them, too, but at this point I don’t think they would’ve been interested. Anyway, the CityPASS also includes your choice of either the Fernbank Natural History Museum or the High Museum of Art and either the zoo or the Atlanta History Center.

I like to take my vacations pretty slow, so I’d probably want a full five days to take advantage of the CityPASS. If you had the time and inclination to do all of that, it’s a good deal.