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!

Summer Pickins’: 13 U-Pick Berry Farms in the Seattle Area

Summer is in full swing, and what better way to celebrate the long-awaited blue skies and long, lazy days than picking buckets-full of juicy, sweet, sun-ripened berries, straight from the vine?

berry

Strawberry season is peaking now, and blueberries follow in late July. Here are 13 awesome U-Pick farms to take the kiddos to, collect buckets of berries, and make summertime memories (not to mention same pretty great jam)!

(Link to ParentMap article that I wrote)

Scoot City: 13 Seattle-Area Spots to Scooter and Bike With Kids

‘Tis the season for scooters. And balance bikes, three-wheelers, training wheels and whatever else you find your little racers riding these days. The time will come when they outgrow your driveway, and unless you live in a cul-de-sac wide enough for your toddler’s daredevil twists and turns, it may be time to venture out into the wide world of bike paths. Seattle and its surrounding areas offer a ton of options for budding cyclists, from urban trails to suburban parks. So grab your helmet, pump up those tires and hit the road!

bike seattle travel mom

Check out the rest of my article at ParentMap, and feel free to add your own favorite scooter spot or bike path!

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:

weekend

 

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

seward

 

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

otter

 

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

railroad

 

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!

 

 

 

O Christmas Lights, O Christmas Lights

Christmas is right around the corner, but there’s still time to squeeze some more holiday spirit out of the season.  Christmas light viewing is right up there on the list with cookie baking and Christmas tree hunting.  There’s not much that beats bundling up with mittens and hot cocoa and setting off through the neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas light displays.  And Seattle can definitely do Christmas lights.

Looking for a quintessential Christmas village, 10-foot candy canes and all? There’s a display for that.  A few grandiose nativity scenes?  There’s a display for that.  Lighted trains and inflatables?  There’s a display for that.  If neighborhood spectacles aren’t enough for your little elves, there are plenty of more options on a grander scheme, from Woodland Park’s WildLights to Bellevue’s Garden d’Lights.  And the best part?  It doesn’t cost a thing!  Except perhaps a couple of cocoas.

whistler cocoa

Olympic Manor

Numero Uno on my list for best light displays in Seattle is Olympic Manor, near Greenwood.  Like Candy Cane Lane, their homeowners association “encourages” each house to decorate for Christmas, and from what I could tell, each house went above and beyond a string of lights.  Plus, it’s much bigger than Candy Cane Lane, so there’s no traffic jams (and more lights!)

Start at Northwest 85th Street and 23rd Avenue Northwest

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Candy Cane Lane

Of course I still love one of Seattle’s longest running display of lights!  The charming neighborhood of Park Road in Ravenna has been lighting up Christmas since 1941.  I still remember driving past the beautifully decorated Tudor homes with my grandma and brothers over 20 years ago.

Dec 15 – Jan 1, 4pm-11pm (midnight on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve).

Northeast Park Road, off Ravenna Boulevard

xmas lites candy cane lane

Greenlake Christmas

Head to Greenlake for a music & lights show!  When you arrive, tune your radio to 102.1 FM, and watch as the magic happens!  30,000+ lights are synchronized to music.

Greenlake, 5pm-11pm daily

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Keener’s Christmas

For over a decade, Bothell resident and Christmas enthusiast, Jeff Keener, has been spreading holiday cheer through over 100,000 lights.  Visitors are welcome to drive through the huge circular driveway while admiring 1.5 acres of light displays.

Daily 6pm-10pm (11pm on Weekends)

16504 112 Place, Bothell

Kerry Park Viewpoint 

Kerry Park isn’t just great for sunsets; it also boasts one of the best views of Seattle’s Christmas lights.  From the gorgeously decorated homes of Queen Anne HIll to the tree topping the Space Needle, the views are like a postcard from the North Pole.

211 W. Highland Dr.

***For more light displays (plus other holiday happenings, check out MyNorthwest.com

***And please add your favorite light displays!!

The Perfect Christmas Tree

It may be the most monumental of Christmas holiday traditions: the choosing of the tree.  It must be the perfect tree; precise height and width (of course, not forgetting the need for ample space for maximum presents), superior in color and fragrance, with branches suited for flawless ornament-hanging.

Sometimes dad picks it out, hemming and hawing about how he would most effectively secure the tree to the roof of the car.  Maybe mom picks it out, secretly delighted with her Martha Stewart eye and knack for choosing a tree which will a). continuously give off that fresh pine-needle scent, and b). not continuously shed pine needles all over the floor.

This year it was our 3-year-old who picked the tree.  Out of rows and rows of beautiful trees, our son zoned in on one, waaaaaayyyy down towards the other side of the U-Cut field.  He ran to this perfect, special tree, unseen yet by us, only on his radar, his pointer finger leading the way.  When we finally reached it, our son with a big, satisfied grin on his face, we all agreed: we had found our perfect tree.

We visited McMurtrey’s Red-Wood Tree Farm in Redmond, a beautiful tree farm with over 20 years of Christmas tree experience.  McMurtrey’s sells from both their U-Cut field and their pre-cut lot.  (The U-Cut has closed for the season- it’s so popular that it only stays open for a couple of weeks.  The pre-cut trees are available and ready to go)!  For U-Cutters, McMurtrey’s offers hand saws and wagon rides from the field back to the lot.  The staff is incredibly helpful, and will shake & bale your tree for free, as well as secure it to your car.  The complimentary cocoa and candy canes are always a plus. 

McMurtrey's Tree Farm

McMurtrey’s Tree Farm

Some Christmas Tree trivia from the McMurtrey’s experts:

Douglas Firs do the best at low altitude and are the traditional tree in this area.

Noble Firs are the “premiere tree.”  They last the longest, so are a good bet for families that like to buy their tree right after Thanksgiving, keeping it up through the New Year.

Fraser Firs are more popular on the East Coast, with needles that are blue on the bottom and green on the top.

Grand Firs have softer needles that are flat and strong, great for ornament-hanging.  It also has a strong citrus aroma.

The perfect tree!

The perfect tree!

With Christmas trees on the mind, get out the craft supplies!  Here’s a simple craft from Mommyapolis.com, perfect for younger kiddos.  Find directions here. 

Perfect for preschoolers

Perfect for preschoolers

Now how about some ornaments?  I found this cute snow globe ornament craft on icraftdaily.com.  Find directions here.

Snow globe: Easy

Snow globe: Easy

Taking the snow globe craft a step further….. Find directions here.

Snow globe: Easy/Intermediate

Snow globe: Easy/Intermediate

And we’ve got to have that sweet treat!  Here’s a tasty Rice Krispie treat from Positively Splendid.

xmas tree treat

Happy Holidays!

All About Reindeer

Reindeer Festival at Swanson’s Nursery

Everyone knows that from now until December 24th, Santa’s reindeer will be busy training for their big debut.  Today we caught a glimpse of Dasher and Blitzen (and a verrry curious camel named Curley) at Swanson’s Nursery.   Locally owned and enormously loved, Swanson’s has been providing exceptional garden plants and goods since 1924.  Today, the Nursery was dressed up for the Holidays, with Christmas wreathes and delicate ornaments, poinsettias and sweet-smelling pine cones.  And of course, the Reindeer. 

Reindeer feedings daily at 10am and 4pm

Along with the reindeer, Curley the Camel was out to say hello.  He’s known as the “curious” camel, and indeed he is!

 

My son loved the train in the gift shop.

…And the impressively enormous Koi near the Nursery’s Seasons Cafe was a big hit for the kids.

Reindeer Craft

I found this cute Reindeer craft via Pinterest.  Here’s the original source with directions.

And for the reindeer treat…

Reindeer Food!  There are many ways to make this, but I opted for the tastiest one.  (You can also make reindeer food out of uncooked oatmeal, glitter, sprinkles, etc…)  This one uses the Chex Muddy Buddies recipe.  I know kids like this, and I’ve heard reindeer do too.

After the Muddy Buddies are cooled, put them in a baggie or a mason jar and label it Reindeer Food, including directions on when and how to use it.

 

Here’s an idea using a bag with directions.

Happy reindeer-viewing!

Saturday Crafts, Snow White and Some Bugs (What’s on This Weekend)

Halloween has swept by, leaving a trail of candy wrappers and well-worn costumes in its wake.  The holidays are on the horizon, but first, try to take a breather and relish the (hopefully) quiet next week or two.

From a delightful production of Snow White to a morning spent “buggin’ out” in Woodinville, there are lots of options for weekend fun.  Check out my complete list of events at 425 Mom.

Making crafts at Home Depot

Searching for Bugs

3 Days in the Emerald City

Planning a visit to Seattle?  Already live here but looking for some new to-do ideas?  Check out my post, How to Spend 3 Days in Seattle with Kids, at Travel Mamas: