Seattle Travel Mom is Now Seattle Local Mom Blog- Seattle’s Premier Lifestyle Blog for Moms!

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Hello all! I started Seattle Travel Mom a year ago this month, and I’ve had a blast exploring our city and searching for the best family-friendly spots! Now I’m teaming up with Megan Thomas of 425Mom to bring you Seattle Local Mom Blog, our city’s premier lifestyle blog for moms! From scoping out the best pumpkin farms for fall to the newest and coolest indoor play spaces, I’m all about helping other moms (and dads!) get out there with their kiddos and explore! And I won’t just be covering kids. Parents need their time too! I’ll be highlighting some great options for date nights and other “parent-only” events, as well as stuff just for moms (think spas, shopping, mom-time, great reads, etc.). There will also be a space for local moms to connect and contribute to Seattle LMB. Last but not least, I’ll be posting bits about my own journey as a mom with twins on the way! So, in a nutshell, Seattle LMB will be a little bit of everything, with a local twist.

So from now on, I’ll be posting 5 days a week on Seattle Local Mom Blog.

Check out more about Seattle Local Mom Blog, read my full interview with Megan Thomas, and learn about the Local Mom Blog Network (soon to be arriving in cities nationwide) and how to start your own!

Circus Sensations and Sing-a-longs at Teatro ZinZanni’s King’s Wish!

Congo lines, a genie in a bottle, Eleanor the Elegant Elephant and a dancing bear? Combine that with kindie sensation Caspar Babypants plus the magic of Teatro ZinZanni, and you’ve got a pretty fabulous morning! King’s Wish is Teatro ZinZanni’s all-new, family production and is sure to entertain both kiddos and adults alike! We were lucky enough to check it out this past Saturday, and recommend it to any family looking for an hour and fifteen minutes of solid entertainment. The show is both unique and interactive, featuring ZinZanni circus performers (an awe-inspiring acrobat, a young juggling prodigy and a rope aerialist extraordinaire) and the loveable jams of Caspar Babypants. Kids are welcome to crowd around the small stage toddler mosh-pit-style, and get an up-close view of the performers’ flawless acts. Sing-alongs, audience participation and a superbly crafted show make for an exciting and memorable treat for families.

*Snacks and drinks are available for purchase, or just bring your own.

*Photography is not allowed during the performance, so I unfortunately couldn’t provide any photos. (More reason to check it out for yourself!).

 

King’s Wish runs on weekends June 1 through 30 at Teatro ZinZanni. 222 Mercer St. in Seattle. Tickets range in price from $19 to $24. Reserve tickets by calling the box office at 206-802-0015 or by visiting www.dreams.zinzanni.org

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Check Out the Newest, Hottest Spot for Indoor Play!

Seattle families know how to get creative when it comes to indoor play. We understand (and sort of accept) the fact that we may only get a few months of sunny, warm weather throughout the year, having to resort to parkas, umbrellas and rain boots for the remaining nine months. Or we stay inside. There’s no shortage of indoor play spaces in the Rainy City (thank you thank you thank you), but we’ll always welcome a new one with open arms. Wide open arms. Lynnwood’s Playdate Café is the newest play space on the block, and we love it already.

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Passionate and driven owner Lizz Quain is serious about play. She’s a parent who knows the importance of engaging in play and how it provides a host of benefits for little ones, from developing imagination, dexterity  and cognitive strength to promoting healthy brain development and confidence. Quain wanted to build on this, and she has hit the mark with Playdate Café.

For the full article, click HERE.

 

Date Night: 8 Ways to Find Romance At Home

We all love (and fondly remember) those romantic candlelit dinners and nights out on the town, but these days, date nights are few and far between, leaving you longing for some serious one-on-one time (and I don’t mean with your toddler)! If you can’t snag a sitter, no worries! I’ve got a few creative (and romantic) tricks up my sleeve to give you and your hubby the date night you deserve…at home!

Classic Candlelight

You can’t go wrong with this classic. Dust off your finest silverware and linens (no plastic forks or placemats here!), turn down the lights and switch on your flameless candles to set the mood. Conversation is the key here. As hard as it is, refrain from bringing up hot topics like kids, work, schedules, etc. Stick to stuff you’d talk about when you were first dating. (Can’t remember? Try travel, goals, fave movies/books/shows, the crazy outfit your neighbor was wearing…whatever!).  Notice I didn’t mention the menu. Fancy steaks and fine wine are fabulous, but your candlelit dinner can be just as romance-inspiring with mac and cheese or Chinese take-out.

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Bring on the Board Games

They may conjure up images of cheesy family nights or trendy coffee shops, but board games still made our list! Spice up Monopoly or go deep with a question game. No grown-up games in the house? Candy Land and Mouse Trap can work just as well. Or for an awesome selection of adult games, from simple to sexy, check out Nookii.com. Game on!

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Italian Night (Parisian Night, Islands Night, etc.)

It’s the classic candlelit dinner, Italian-style (or any country of your choosing). Transform your home into a Spanish vineyard, Italian pizzeria or a beach cabana. Create your menu around that theme and pick a movie to go along with it. Examples: Italy: Homemade pizza, Chianti & gelato followed by classic Italian movie. France: Baguettes, cheeses, fruit and dessert crepes, followed by a French movie (I love Amelie).  Mexico or the Caribbean: Fish tacos and pina colodas (don’t forget the cheesy paper umbrellas).

Parisian Picnic

Parisian Picnic

Spa Night

You don’t have to book a couples massage to enjoy the spa together. Pamper (and get pampered) at your in-house oasis. Replace tub toys with bath salts, candles and flowers. Add fresh berries or pineapple to a glass of chilled champagne, soak, and enjoy! Now is the time to dust off those massage oils. Don’t have any? Make your own (recipes here). Top your night off with some chocolate dipped strawberries and lavender-scented sheets.

 

Sports Night

Your man will love this one. DVR a game (preferably of a sport you both enjoy), throw together a meal of nachos (complete with Velveeta cheese), hot dogs and cold beer, and get comfy on the couch. Root for your team together or make things interesting with a few bets.  It’s cheap, it’s simple, and it’ll have you both cheering for more at-home date nights.

 

Fort Campout

As a mom, you’ve probably made your share of pillow forts for the kiddos. Put your expertise to work and help you hubby construct an adults-only fort in your living room. Spruce up your cozy castle with twinkle lights or candles, turn on some mood music and grab your coziest pj’s. Set up a picnic and make S’mores for dessert (recipe here). Talk, scheme, giggle…make it a slumber party for you and your man! No kids allowed!

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Scavenger Hunt

These aren’t just for summer camps and birthday parties! Keep your partner guessing with a scavenger hunt, a la date night. Hide clues around the house, each one containing a piece of the date. Can be anything from popcorn-and-movie date to one of the date nights listed here!

 

DIY Date Night

Date nights don’t need to be all high heels and romance. Show your handy side and tackle a household project that’s been on the back burner for weeks (or years).  Much needed paint touch-up in the living room? Always wanted to distress that coffee table or bookcase? Roll up your sleeves, get the paint brushes out, turn on some tunes and have some fun. Hey, one more thing to cross off your to-do list!

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What are some of your favorite at-home date night ideas?

Little Gymnasts: Open Play at Northwest Aerials

This place doesn’t have shiny, moving play sets. It’s not pretty and compact. And it’s not one of the spanking new indoor play areas that have (thankfully) begun to pop up in and around Seattle. But it is one of the oldest and largest gymnastic schools in the U.S., featuring internationally standard equipment and state of the art training accessories. It also has a preschool associated with it, so kids can get their share of balance beams and trampolines along with their ABC’s.

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Northwest Aerials, located in Kirkland, offers some awesome gymnastics classes for kids ages 3 (and under!), all the way through 11. And it’s not just tumbling: the extensive schedule includes ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop classes as well as the popular kids yoga classes, summer camps and private lessons. And it’s definitely not just for girls. We saw plenty of little dudes there today (and no, they weren’t wearing leotards).

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We came for open play, and had a great time jumping, swinging, running, leaping…basically getting worn out. Which, in most parents’ eyes, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Open Play: Fridays, 9:30am-10:30am, ages crawling thru 5, $8/child

For more awesome, wear-em-out, indoor play areas, check out my article on ParentMap!

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A good list of kid-friendly coffee shops never gets old. Bring on the lattes.

Seattle Travel Mom

Seattleites are happily spoiled when it comes to coffee, and we know how to enjoy a cup or two.  From the big boys like Starbucks to the much-loved independent coffee shops and neighborhood cafes that line our streets, there truly is something for everyone.  And thank goodness for the kid-friendly coffee shops!  Whether it be to chat with another adult over a latte while your kids play, find solace from the rain, or enjoy a coffee/cocoa date with your little connoisseur,  these spots are much-needed and appreciated!  Here are some favorites:

Twirl Café  (Queen Anne)

One of the most kid-friendly coffee shops around, Twirl is a mecca for moms, kids and coffee.  A winner of many parent awards, the café offers delicious sandwiches, soups and salads, plus a full kids menu that includes lots of organic ingredients.   We tried the sunflower-butter and jelly sandwich with orange slices-  my…

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For the Love of Valentines! (9 Cupid-Inspired Avtivities)

Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. To parents, February 14th could mean anything from a makeshift candlelight dinner squeezed into a busy schedule to an after-Valentine’s Day, 75% off box-o-chocolate special. Maybe you’ve planned ahead and called 6 months in advance to reserve a table at a romantic restaurant (good for you!) or maybe you won’t do anything at all (gasp!).

But to kiddos, Valentine’s Day means glitter and glue, heart-shaped everything, and the excuse to wear pink and red for days on end. Sugar cookies and pink frosting are household staples for the first half of February, and loooove is in the air. Whether your cupids-in-training are creative valentines, sweet valentines or active valentines, we’ve got a little something sweet for everyone.

Check out my Red Tricycle article for some kid-friendly, cupid-inspired Valentine’s activities and events!

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Valentine’s Day Playdough

For a quick morning craft, we whipped up some Valentine’s Day playdough, adapted from my Batman Playdough post.  Add some pink, purple and/or red food coloring, a pinch of glitter and tadah- playdough straight from Cupid’s heart.  I stuffed some into a lone mason jar, wrapped some twine around the top, added a tag and called it a playdough Valentine; a perfect goodie for any Valentine’s Day party. 

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Here are some other V-day crafts that I love:

Stained glass hearts from Martha Stewart.

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Here’s one I remember making when I was a kid.  From AuntAnnie.com

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A cute wall hanging from Crafts Kaboose.

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Some heart-shaped crayons for your little Cupids to make their own Valentines with.

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And pretty much everything from this blog.

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Happy V-day Crafting!!

 

 

What’s on This Weekend?

Many of us are looking forward to a 3-day weekend!  With (a little) sun in the forecast, there may be a chance to get outdoors and enjoy this winter weather!  From nature walks and fun runs to a model railroad show and concerts, here are a few options for your weekend:

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Outdoor Fun

Tails & Trails Little Tykes

Nature-loving tots: this is for you!  Start your morning off with a story at the Seward Park Audubon Center, then head outdoors to explore the trails of Seward Park!  Walks are easy and less than one mile in length.

Seward Park Audubon Center  /  Saturday, Jan. 19 @ 10am-11am.

Ages 1-3  /  $2/person

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MLK Weekend Run @ Magnuson Park

Get the whole family out for a jog at this Saturday’s MLK Run!   5k, 10k, 15k or 400 meter Kids Dash!  Register online.

Magnuson Park  /  Saturday, Jan 19 @ 10:30am

$3-$28

 

Ranger Program: Wetland Birds

Take your little bird-lovers to the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center this Sunday and learn about our feathered friends that inhabit wetland ecosystems.

Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center  /  Sunday, Jan 20 @ 2-2:30pm

Ages 5 and up  /  FREE

 

Indoor Fun

Hawaii in Your Own Backyard (Seattle Aquarium)

Get a dose of the tropics this weekend at the Seattle Aquarium!  Discover and explore some of the unique sea life native to the Hawaiian Islands.  As with any event, the Aquarium will feature hands-on activities and special diver shows!

Seattle Aquarium  /  Jan 19-21 @10:30am-3pm

Free with admission

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Model Railroad Show

Calling all conductors!  Bring your little train enthusiasts to the Pacific Science Center this weekend for the 39th Annual Model Railroad Show.  One of the Center’s most-loved programs, the show will feature dozens of model railroad displays and layouts, crafts & activities galore, and –of course– trains for kids and tots to ride!   Reference here for specific train times.

Pacific Science Center  /  Jan 19-21 @ 9:45am -6pm

Free with admission

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Music / Concerts

Caspar Babypants Concert

Caspar Babypants is making his way to West Seattle this Saturday for some musical fun!

High Point Community Center  /  Saturday, Jan 19 @ 10:30am

$3 advance tickets, $5 day-of ($20 max for families)

 

Eats & Beats: Eric Ode

KidsQuest Museum’s popular Eats & Beats program welcomes the much-loved Eric Ode this Saturday evening!  Come for music, stories, puppets and pizza!

KidsQuest Children’s Museum  /  Saturday, Jan 19 @ 5:30pm-8pm

$8-$12 / $3 Jet City Pizza & lemonade

 

Here’s to a great weekend!  For more indoor play areas check out my previous post featuring indoor hot spots!

Small Hands, Big Impressions: Volunteering Opportunities for Children

Following my recent blog post about embracing the little, simple things, I wanted to include a post about volunteering with little ones in tow.  Though pint-sized, our children possess a great ability to bring joy to others; to help those in need and bring a smile to anyone’s face. 

The act of helping others also is an immensely important life lesson, teaching empathy and nurturing the compassion that I believe all children are born with.  As parents, we are in a wonderful position to continue to cultivate this compassion by presenting opportunities, being good examples and showing our kids that volunteering can be fun.

Here are a few ideas:

Book Drive

Have your kids round up some of their old books to donate to local hospitals or shelters.  Get your friends and neighbors involved too!

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Get Creative

Contact a local nursing home or hospital to see if they’d welcome having children make cards for residents.  Cards can be for birthdays or holidays, or just to say “I’m thinking about you!”

Senior Centers

Contact a local nursing home or senior center to see if they would welcome cards, crafts or baked goods from your children.  There’s nothing like a smiling 5-year old holding a plate full of home-made cookies to brighten someone’s day.

Secret Shopper

The next time you head to the grocery store, grab an extra basket and have your kiddo pick out some (healthy!) items.  Then drop them off at a local food bank or shelter.

Partaaayy!

Host a toy drive.  Make a fun, themed party and ask each guest to bring a new, unwrapped gift (doesn’t have to be big or expensive!).  Then have your kids come with you to donate the toys to a Children’s Hospital.

Make a Blanket

Fleece blankets are easy to make and don’t require sewing. The blankets can be donated to a Children’s Hospital or a daycare center.  Easy blanket-making instructions here:

Love Your Animals

Most kids will love this one: head out to a local shelter or humane society and give your furry friends some love!  Donations of toys, food, litter, old towels, etc., are always welcome, and many shelters allow people to volunteer as dog walkers or cat cuddlers. 

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Get Outdoors

Let your kids play Park Ranger for a day.  Your local Parks and Recreation Department may need help on trail clean-up.  Kids can help staff clean and/or create trails, plant trees or flowers and maintain park facilities. 

Here’s one of my favorite volunteer/charity ideas:

Both My Stuff Bags and Bags 4 Kids provide “comfort bags” to children when they have been displaced due to neglect, abuse or abandonment.  During the transition between their home and the shelter or foster care, these kiddos often have nothing of their own (or sometimes transfer what belongings they do have in trash bags).  These charities assemble backpacks and duffel bags (stuffed with blankets, books, toys, toothbrushes, etc.) and hand them off to social services, police stations, crisis shelters and foster agencies, where they are then given to the children upon their arrival.  The bags are a symbol of comfort, hope and new beginnings to these children; something they can call their very own. 

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Here are some great volunteering resource websites, specifically geared towards family and children volunteer opportunities:

Kids Serve Global

Doing Good Together

 Big Hearted Families

The Volunteer Family

And here are 25 more awesome volunteer resources from Red Tricycle.

Please share some of your own volunteering ideas or experiences!