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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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!

 

 

 

Searching for the Best Kid-Friendly Coffee Shops

Seattle and coffee go hand in hand.  This is one of the great perks of living in the Rainy City.  On virtually every corner you can find a coffee shop (and I’m not talking Starbucks; I’m talking locally-owned, independent, roast-their-own-beans-in-house kind of shops).  I’ve always loved and participated in the cafe culture, and now as a mom, I’m finding more and more coffee shops that are as kid-friendly as they are cozy, caffeinated and everything else a coffee shop should be.

courtesy of Pinterest

I’m putting together a list of some of the best coffee shops for cappuccino-sipping adults and cocoa connoisseurs alike, and would love your input.  Do you have a regular cafe that you visit, kiddos in tow?  Found a great coffee shop that can double as a play-date venue?  I have a few in mind, but would love to add some of yours!

10 Spooktacular Alternatives to Neighborhood Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you didn’t do enough trick-or-treating this past weekend, there’s still time to don your spookiest, silliest, craftiest get-ups and get out there for some more!

Zillow recently rated Seattle as #4 in their list of 20 Best Cities to Trick-or-Treat! Each year Zillow comprises the list, based on the least amount of walking, the greatest safety and, most importantly, the most candy.

But if neighborhood trick-or-treating isn’t on the agenda this year, then check out some of these great alternatives.  Most trick-or-treating venues are for kids 12 and under, most are free, and all take place on Wednesday, October 31.

 Country Village Trick-or-Treat (Bothell)

Tiny ghouls and goblins will be roaming the Village this Halloween!  Trick-or-treating, face painting and Halloween crafts.

4pm-6pm

 Fox Hollow Farm Halloween Carnival (Issaquah)

This popular farm is all dressed up for Halloween and ready for trick-or-treaters!  Halloween crafts, pony and train rides, hay-bale maze, face painting, fun inflatables and lots of animals!  Ample indoor space in case it rains.

1pm-5pm

$5 for adults, $10 for kids ages 1-17 **cash only

$1 for games & activities

Bellevue Square Trick-or-Treat (Bellevue)

5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kiddos can enjoy a dry and not-too-scary Halloween at Bellevue Square.  Trick-or-treating, balloon animals, Mad Science photo booth, live performances by Brian Vogan.

5pm-7pm

Downtown Kirkland and Kirkland Parkplace Trick-or-Treat

Trick-or-treaters will haunt downtown Kirkland and Parkplace in search of treats!  Look for this jack-o-lantern in the shop windows and collect your goodies!

Parkplace noon-4pm

Downtown Kirkland 2pm-5pm

Redmond Town Center Trick-or-Treat (Redmond)

Trick-or-treating throughout this open-air shopping mall.

5pm-7pm

 Trick or Treat at Northgate Mall (Seattle)

Scour the Halloween-themed mall for trick-or-treats.  Stop by Sees Candies for an extra little goody.

5pm-8pm

 University Village Trick-or-Treat
(Seattle)

This open-air shopping mecca will be hosting trick-or-treating for the little ones.  Don’t forget to check out the covered kids play area.

4pm-6pm

Westfield Southcenter Trick-or-Treat (South Seattle)

More fun (and dry) trick-or-treating throughout a “spooky” mall.

5pm-7pm

 Lake Forest Park Town Center
Trick-or-Treat (Lake Forest Park)

Trick-or-treating, face painting, crafts and live performance by Eli Rosenblatt.

4pm-7pm

 Please add any other trick-or-treating events or ideas!  

Happy Halloween!

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: