Fall Activities, Pumpkin Patches

Frog Pond Farm Pumpkin Patch

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year with the kids. Yes, summer has it charms, with its sun and lack of school. But fall is special. Fall is pumpkin patches, pie, cider, donuts, leaves, sweaters, farms, and that special glow of a gorgeous fall day. I love it all.

This year we found many of our favorite pumpkin patches had permanently or temporarily closed, or had modified this offerings. As a result, we decided to return to an old favorite but also explore new options.

After some serious Googling, we decided our first new experience would be Frog Pond Farm. As soon as they mentioned the presence of llamas, I was sold. We coordinated with another family who were also very excited about said llamas, and waited for the day to arrive. When it did, I tried to squash my grumpiness about the downpour taking place that morning. I refused to let a little water ruin our day! Are we not Oregonians?!?

Located on the outskirts of Wilsonville, it was an easy drive from our area. And much drier. Turns out my Oregon battle cry was a bit unnecessary as it was an absolutely gorgeous day and not even a smidge damp.

Our adventure began as soon as we pulled into the parking lot and saw a chicken roaming loose. Commence the excited shrieks of children. We got everyone unloaded and paid our $10 entry fee and paid an addition $5 for a large cup of animal feed. We turned the corner and were greeted with an open play area. The boys were instantly drawn to the basketball hoops hung on the barn wall, a large net to throw/kick balls into, corn hole, and other sporty endeavors. The girls immediately gravitated to the alpacas, doneys, emus, goats, etc. that were surrounding the area and separated from visitors by fencing. There were also water-pump rubber duck races and a small tube maze.

After playing in that area for a long time, we continued on and found a panning for treasure (little colored pebbles) station that the kids enjoyed. There was also a hay bale pyramid, lots of bouncy horses, large tubes to use like a hamster wheel, photo opportunities, kid sized backhoe diggers, coffee, treats, and food. Food options included tacos, fried cheese curds, corn dogs, grilled cheese, ice cream, burgers, and drinks. Most were around $5, although the burger was more. This area also entertained us all for quite a while. Then we spotted the camels. We had to go see the camels!

Our group carried on down the path, passing pigs, geese, camels, and other fun critters. You pass under large power lines, and the kids were all excited to hear the crackling of electricity. This took us to a final area, which had more tube slides, a fence maze, and a huge tennis ball sling shot range. The sling shot was a HUGE hit, and we spent a very long time flinging tennis balls at a variety of targets. The kids got very creative, lying on the ground and creating human chains trying to figure out ways to increase their power and get the balls to really fly.

Although signs encouraged visitors to drive to the pumpkin patch to make loading the pumpkins into their cars easier, we chose to walk over since we weren’t planning on getting pumpkins. I bet you can guess what happened. We got a pumpkin and had to walk it all the way back. Lesson learned.

The patch had small to midsized pumpkins spread around the large, fenced in area. But the pumpkins were definitely not the stars of the show. It was the alpacas! There were approximately 20 alpacas wandering freely, and it was so fun! While they were a bit shy, they were more than willing to check and see if you had any feed for them and some seemed to enjoy posing for pictures. Many, many pictures. One in particular wasn’t very selective about his food and tried to munch my sweater, Chicken’s hair, and my backpack. They rest had more respect for our personal space. But they were all sweet, soft, quirky, and silly. Interacting with them was a highlight of the visit for sure.

We wound up spending about 5 hours playing, and probably could have stayed even longer. It was definitely money well spent!

Frog Pond Farm also have an evening Spooky Farm Trail, which we did not participate in. My kids are still traumatized from a previous haunted house and I don’t think they will EVER venture into something labeled ‘spooky’ or ‘haunted’ again. But the online info makes it look fun, and it may be worth a try if you are braver than we are!

Soooo…..

What it’s not: a place to purchase giant pumpkins

What it is: fun, gorgeous setting, a unique way to interact with a variety of animals- especially alpacas, a great value, a fantastic way to spend a fall day as a family, competitively priced pumpkins (ours was $9)

Do we recommend it? Yes! Most definitely! We had so much fun and will absolutely be returning in future years!

If you miss the fall festivities, they also have a Christmas tree farm in the winter and traditional farm tours late spring through early September.

You can check out their information here: https://www.thefrogpondfarm.com/visit-the-farm

Day Trips, Fall Activities, Outdoor Activities, Sports, Spring and Summer Activities

Eagle Landing Golf Course

Nugget is a huge fan of mini-golf. Having only gone to the courses at Bullwinkles and Oaks Park, he was ready to try something new. After checking a few websites, we decided to try out Eagle Landing with some friends. Located not too far from Clackamas Town Center, Eagle Landing has a variety of courses, including two par-3 courses, mini golf, and even a dedicated soccer golf course. We learned we did not need reservations, and therefore selected a day and time that worked well for all of us, choosing mid-morning on a week day.

When we arrived, we entered the golf shop and were able to quickly pay and get started. We were able to choose either 18 or 36 holes of mini-golf, and we chose 18. I paid the $29 total for the three of us, we grabbed putters and golf balls, and we were off!

In front of the golf shop

The kids and their friends immediately got to putting and burned through the course in a blaze of glory. I have never seen such spunky and speedy golfers! I didn’t know it was even possible to golf that fast. The other mom and I took things at a more leisurely pace. The course itself was quite pretty. Rather than typical obstacles like windmills and castles seen at many mini-golf courses, Eagle Landing incorporated plants, bridges, rocks, and flowers, creating more natural challenges. We particularly enjoyed the water traps, which involved rescuing our golf balls with small nets.

It was not too busy while we were there. While we did see a few other groups, it never felt crowded and we never had to wait. It took us less than an hour to play the 18 holes, although you could definitely take longer if you don’t play at warp speed like these guys did.

After we finished, we wandered around to check out some of the other amenities. The par 3 course nearest the mini golf looked nice. And while the soccer golf course was quite simple, it also seemed like it could be a fun way to pass part of a day. While we did not go inside the club house, it certainly looked beautiful from the outside. A small area aptly named the cave, looked like an amazing place for a corporate party or wedding reception.

What it’s not: a stereotypical mini golf course with gimmicky obstacles, a particularly challenging course

What it is: a lovely outdoor setting, reasonably priced, kid friendly, a relaxing way to spend some time with friends, fun!

Do we recommend it? Yes! Chicken and Nugget both said they preferred courses with more over the top obstacles, but I loved the more natural setting. Regardless of preference, we all had a great time!

Fall Activities, Outdoor Activities, Pumpkin Patches

Bauman’s Harvest Festival

This year two of our favorite pumpkin patches were closed, so we were on the hunt for a new place to go. Going to the pumpkin patch is one of our favorite activities of the year, so I wanted to find something good. After quite a bit of googling, note taking, and discussion (hey, nothing wrong with a little research!), we landed on Bauman’s Harvest Festival. And it was a hit! Hold on to your hats- the sheer amount of activities is resulting in quite a long post!

Bauman’s Harvest Festival is in Gervais, Oregon and was a bit over half an hour from our Portland suburb. Parking is free and rows are marked with decorated hay bale, both of which were appreciated.

After a short walk, we found ourselves at the ticket booths. There was a cash only line and a card line, and both moved fairly quickly. You have the option of a general admission ($8), which includes entry to the festival and some of the most basic activities. For $20 you can get an unlimited wristband, which allows you to do all of the activities as many times as you want. You also have the option of buying general admission and then paying for activities individually, but it seems like this wouldn’t make much financial sense in most cases. There are slight discounts for families of four or more. It is also slightly cheaper during the week, although not all activities are available on weekdays. I bought Chicken and Nugget wristbands and general admission for myself, and this worked out well for us.

Chicken and Nugget spotted the swing line as soon as we walked in and went straight to it. The swing line is a combination of a swing and a zip line- a swing is hooked to a long line and the kids ride it from one end to the other. Both kids LOVED it. Well, eventually. Nugget stood in line, made it to the top, and then came running down to watch Chicken. He wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to her before he risked it himself. Since she survived, he gave it a go. They did that ride over and over and over.

Next up was a simple hay maze, a hill to climb up with various slides down, and then apple cannons. Only Nugget did the cannon, which involved a worker putting an apple in a very long tube attached to some sort of machine. Using one had and a shoulder to try and cover his ears, Nugget pulled the trigger and sent the apple flying- way over the rows of targets he was trying to hit. He was pretty pleased with himself.

There were plenty of food options and they were reasonably priced for the setting. We first headed indoors to the main food area that had items such as baked potatoes, chili, corn dogs, hot dogs, soft pretzels, and the like. We stood in line for a few minutes before making a change in plans. This area is also home to music and entertainment, which while fun, was LOUD. Too loud for us. We went back outside and purchased apple cider slushies which were AMAZING!! We highly recommend them. Then we hopped over to the outside food vending area. Nugget got a corn dog, which was like all other corndogs. Chicken and I got street style tacos and they were surprisingly yummy! They come plain but there is a little salad-type bar where you can add toppings of your choice. We also got an order of curly fries. It was huge and even the three of us couldn’t finish it all! The fun part of this was we got to watch them use a potato spiralizer to cut fresh fries, resulting in a nice curly fry treat! There were plenty of other treats, like pumpkin donuts, ice cream, warm sodas, and even more.

With full bellies, we were off to more fun. This included a slide, a barrel train, an obstacle course, pedal carts, bouncy house, and much much more.

Once we were sufficiently worn out, we decided to go pick out our pumpkin. The pumpkin field is near the parking lot, and pumpkins are sold by weight. I did like that they had a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of pumpkins. Chicken has a soft spot for wonky pumpkins, and she had her pick of the litter. Nugget prefers a perfectly round classic pumpkin, and there were plenty for him as well. Unfortunately, there were many, many pumpkins that had been smashed or were beginning to rot, so it took a bit of hunting to find our perfect pumpkins.

We spent about six hours there and did not do all of the activities. It is a great way to spend a beautiful fall day. We had a fantastic time and we would go back again. The only reason I may prefer other pumpkin patches, is that this festival’s activities are definitely geared toward children. Which meant a lot of parents watching their children play rather than families playing together. But sometimes there is joy in watching your littles have fun on their own, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

What it’s not: the best place for pumpkins (at least during the part of the season we went), economical

What it is: fun, well planned, family friendly, a place you can spend the entire day, a good value but not necessarily cheap

More details can be found here: https://baumanshf.com/activities/

Day Trips, Fall Activities, Outdoor Activities, Spring and Summer Activities

Oregon Coast Railriders

Well, hmm.  Our summer calendar had three consecutive days with nothing significant to do.  Can’t have that, now, can we?  After considering my mental list (ok, fine.  It’s an actual list on my phone.  I may also have a Word Doc on my Google drive.  Don’t judge.) of things I hoped we would get to do this summer, we settled on Oregon Coast Railriders.  The weather looked like it was going to be about perfect, we were all itching for some time outside, and it just sounded fun.  And as we are at the point in the summer when all the togetherness can be a bit much, we invited some friends and were thrilled when they said yes.

The idea behind Oregon Coast Railriders is very cool.  They use tracks that aren’t in service anymore and pedal these fun wheeled contraptions through beautiful scenery.  I will refer to them as carts.  I can’t describe them so here is a picture.

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They have a departure from Bay City and departure from Wheeler.  Honestly the description of the Wheeler terrain sounded slightly more interesting, but Bay City’s proximity to Tillamook and the love of cheese and ice cream that Chicken and I share lead us to choose the Bay City departure.  There are three departures per day from mid May through early October, and we chose the mid-day option as it seemed the most doable as a day trip from Portland.

When we arrived we were provided with basic safety rules as well as helpful tips like not letting your toddlers lick the wheels.  As the carts seat four and we were a group of six, we were asked to separate into groups of three- one adult and two children in each.  Other groups had two to four adults.  Seats were adjusted for each individual.  Nugget is on the small side for a 6-year-old, but he was able to successfully pedal if he scrunched down in his seat a bit.  Or a lot.  And then we were off!

The ride lasted just over 2 hours, travelling through forested areas, over bridges and trestles, and crossing over roads.  Our two guides used hand held stop signs to get us across roads.  One crossing even required them to lower the train crossing gates- complete with lights and sounds.  That was a huge hit with the kids.  While you do get to see rivers and creeks, do not expect ocean views along the ride.  You will get to see cow pastures and dairy farms, which the kids also enjoyed.

The ride itself was not overly strenuous.  Nugget has some serious leg muscles built up from soccer, and he was able to pedal the car all by himself, although probably not for very long.  I was with the older girls, and they did a great job.  They were all about speed at the beginning and had us on quite the regimine, counting to synchronize our pedals to make us go as fast as possible.  As a result, they were a bit tuckered out on the return trip and I needed to provide more support.  As you can see, Chicken decided to kick back and relax part way through.

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You depart and return on the same track.  At the halfway mark, the guides use an ingeniously simple method of turning the carts around.  There are two port-a-potties should you need to do so.   Otherwise, there are not other stops.  The carts do have cupholders and I was glad that I brought a water bottle along.

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Our cart with one adult and two kids was at a disadvantage in terms of speed when compared to the groups of four adults, but we held our own just fine.  I wouldn’t have turned down another set of adult legs, though.

Overall, the kids and the adults had a great time and it was a fun and unique activity.  I would estimate kids need to be at least 6 to have any hope of reaching the pedals, and probably closer to 8 to do any meaningful pedaling.  Younger kids could still enjoy the ride.

So….

What it’s not: a ride with a beach view, a motorized ride

What it is: a fun outdoor activity through a beautiful natural setting, a mild workout, about 5 minutes from the Tillamook cheese factory, reasonably priced for a novel activity

Do we recommend it?  Yes!  It was a lot of fun and we are glad we went.  Try to pick a day with nice weather (yes, I know it’s Oregon.  Just do your best) and try to finagle at least two sets of teen or adult legs.

You can check out the ride options and reserve a trip here:  https://ocrailriders.com/

Fall Activities, Parks, Spring and Summer Activities

Tualatin Hills Nature Park

According to Nugget- no play structure, no park.  He corrects me everytime I say “let’s go the park” and I mean Tualatin Hills Nature Park.  “It’s not a park, mom.  There’s not a playground.”  Or, “a real one, or the walking one?”  That said, he always has a blast once we get there.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park actually has a lot going on.  When you first arrive, you see the visitors center.  There is a small garden in the front and kids (or grownups), can look at plants through a telescope/microscope.  My kids love that.  Inside, they can use microscopes to look at different things like snake skin, a birds nest, honey comb, things like that.  There are cards kids can use to write their favorite thing about nature and add it to the collection on the designated wall.  There are books to look at, animal pelts and skeletons to check out, and a fireplace to sit by on a cold day.  We always take a lingering look.  Also while here, check out their upcoming events.  They are often hosting day camps, evening activities, the nature mobile, or have other fun activities for kids of all ages as well as adults. This is also the home of the bathroom, so make sure those littles have a visit!

One of the cool things kids can do is approach the staff member and ask for a letter boxing map.  For those not in the know, letter boxing is kind of like simplified geocaching.  The map has clues and you follow them to specific locations in the park.  There you will find a little box containing paper, pencils, and a stamp.  You can sign the papers with your name or leave a little note for others.  You use the stamp to mark your map.  When you are done, the kids can turn the completed map in and get a pocket sized journal as a prize.  This activity totally makes my kids feel like real explorers.  And man can they get competitive about solving the clues and finding the boxes!

There are multiple trails that take you through the nature park.  The main path is flat and paved, while the side trails can be dirt and have stumps or roots protruding.  None of them are steep and as long as your little is a stable walker, they should be fine on any of them

If you look closely, you will see birds, bugs, squirrels, rabbits, and even beavers.  The whole area is shaded, making it perfect for a summer afternoon.  The air is clean, the foliage is beautiful, and entry and parking are free.  What more could you ask for?

What it is: shady, pretty, fun, free, active

What it’s not: a playground.  🙂

Do we recommend it?  Totally!

You can find their address and other information here: http://www.thprd.org/parks-and-trails/detail/tualatin-hills-nature-park

 

 

Fall Activities

Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream

We did it!  We survived Disney on Ice!  We went to Disney on Ice, the Frozen version, a few years ago and I got it in my head that it was time to go again.  And I was right!  Yay me!

So I loaded up Chicken, who refuses to look anything like a princess, and Nugget, who insisted on wearing a pilgrim hat (I mean, it’s Disney on Ice.  So clearly you go with the pilgrim hat), and off to the Moda Center we went.  Having not been there in ages, I was paranoid about parking.  That meant we arrived so early, we were literally the second car there and had our pick of spots.  Oops.  We sang in the car for a while and then made our way to get in line to actually be let in.  All the other children, who were wearing all kids of Disney costumes and had their hair styled to perfection, looked absolutely adorable and I loved seeing them all.  I’m sure people thought there was something wrong with my ragamuffins.  Oh well.

We wandered around and looked at the overpriced merchandise and bought overpriced popcorn and water.  Seriously.  It’s like highway robbery.  And then we went to our seats.  On time.  Early, even.  Take note people!  On time!  Fair warning- I am about to rant.  Please feel free to skip the remainder of this paragraph.  I would estimate that two thirds of the people arrived late.  Two thirds!  I clearly have young children.  I get that stuff happens.  But people- you can do better!  We were in the 7th row and it was so frustrating that we missed a good portion of the first quarter of the show because we couldn’t see due to people coming in late, standing in the aisles, making people get up to let them find their seats- how did they all have mid-row seats?!?  After having some sort of moment of whatever the equivalent to road rage is related to venue seating, I engaged in some radical acceptance and moved on.  And the show was great.  But seriously. Show up on time.

The show quality was even better than I remembered from last time.  The sets and costumes were beautiful.  The level of detail is exactly what you expect from Disney.  They sound quality was high- everything was crisp and clear.  The choreography was fun, everything was colorful and well paced.  The “host” was a bit annoying, but aren’t all Disney hosts?  They had skaters fly through the air on fabric ropes, they literally made fire on ice.  It was magical.  The kids were on the edge of their seats, and Nugget’s mouth was honestly hanging open at some points.  Of course he will never admit to that.

The families who were sitting in the front row, basically on this landing on the ice, got a really cool added perk.  Several of the kids got brought onto the ice to ride on props, sit next to princesses, talk to the host, things like that.  The kids that got selected looked over the moon and will probably remember those moments for years to come.

Chicken’s review:  “That was fantastic!  I definitely want to go again!”

Nugget’s review:  “But they didn’t do Hamilton.”  After clarifying that this was Disney on Ice so they only do, well, Disney things, he said “but I thought everything was Disney.”  So if your kid goes to Disney on Ice expecting to see Hamilton, they will likely be disappointed.  Nugget does not feel the need to go again, and that’s ok.

What it is:  full of Disney magic, scenes from your favorite Disney movies acted out on ice, well paced, gorgeous, colorful, musical, engaging, empowering, focused on strong female characters, family friendly, a wee bit cheesy, something you should show up on time to.

What it is not:  Hamilton, cheap once you walk in the door

Do we recommend it? Yep!  Absolutely!  Unless you are looking to see Hamilton.  Then you should probably sit this one out.

You can find the schedule and ticket information at: https://www.disneyonice.com/tickets

 

 

Fall Activities, Theater

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

This past weekend we went to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Beaverton Civic Theater.  I had been hesitant to take the littles the past few years as I have always thought of this as a scary story.  But BCT has done this show for the past several years and they have consistently billed it as part of the Young Audiences theater programming.  So I thought, what the heck, it’s only $5.

As good theater patrons, we arrived early to make sure we could use the restroom, get drinks, find our seats- all the necessities.  We were pleasantly surprised to find craft projects awaiting us!  There were materials to make a mask, a ghost (out of a paper plates and crepe paper), and binoculars.  Very simple crafts, but the kids were drawn to it right away and had a lot of fun making them.

Once the show started, it was explained that the crafts the kids made would become interactive props for the show.  They were taught when to hold up which craft, what sounds to make when, things like that.  The kids were very excited.

I have to say, the show was not my favorite.  The kids in the show were cute, Ichabod was funny- I mean, who doesn’t love an Ichabod Crane who does the Floss?  The cast was clearly having fun and the kids in the audience loved the participation element.  It was just that the story didn’t make much sense.  And I still can’t figure out the ending.  I don’t think I was alone, as there was a longer than typical pause before the applause, as though people didn’t realize it was over.  The show was not scary at all and was very family friendly in its humor and content.  But while I am a fan of exposing kids to rich vocabulary, I felt the vocabulary in the show was much higher than that of a typical child who would be coming to the show.

There were opportunities to meet the cast, take pictures with them, and get your program signed.  As per usual, Nugget would only get signature from the men.  I swear I’m working on that.

Overall, Chicken and Nugget were intrigued enough with the use of their props that they had a good time.  When I asked Chicken what she thought, she said “I have no idea what they were talking about but it was a fun show.”  That kind of summed it up for me, too.

What it is: a yearly Halloween show, appropriate for young children and families, unique in its use of crafting and use of said crafts for audience participation, funny, appropriate length for young children (about an hour)

What it is not: super easy to follow, completely comprehensible to very young children

Would we recommend it? Kind of.  It’s a cute Halloween show.  I don’t know that we will need to go again or make it a yearly tradition.  But if you’re stuck inside on a rainy day and have $5 burning a hole in your pocket, it’s a creative way to spend an afternoon.

Look for future shows at http://www.beavertoncivictheatre.org/productions.html

Fall Activities

Halloweentown

We finally got around to going to Halloweentown in St. Helens!  In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s based on the Disney Channel movie of the same name that came out in the late 1990s.  I’ll admit that I was a fan back in the day, but the kiddos are not familiar with it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is available to rent on Amazon’s movie service.  It shows up on Disney Channel a lot during this time of year as well.

Basically, a few blocks of the downtown area are shut down and are turned into a basic recreation of the movie town.  There are great photo ops and lots of businesses have themed stores and stands.  We went to Fairyland, the haunted house, the Shoestring Community Players skits for kids, the playground, and some of the stands and opportunities.

So, Fairyland.  $12 for kids, $15 for adults.  The kids really enjoyed it, but I found it overpriced for what it was.  The big hit for my kiddos were those inflatable balls you can get inside and roll around in.  Fun and unique, to be sure.  There was a sand pit with “treasure,” oversized checkers, a hammock area, a recreation of Stonehenge, and characters like Maleficent, Tinkerbell, and some Game of Thrones lady (no, I don’t know her name.  Can’t stand the show.  Bring on the shock and criticism).  My personal favorite part was receiving the s’mores kits and getting to roast them at the fire pit next to the river.  That part was pretty cool.  Re-entry was allowed, which was nice.  We took advantage and went in and out several times.  It also includes a $5 gift certificate to the official Halloweentown merchandise store, which sold shirts, hats, coffee mugs, etc.  With our $5, we were each able to get a cute reflective tag which will be perfect for trick-or-treating.

We did the all ages haunted house.  Kids’ idea.  I should have known better.  It was labeled all ages, but I would argue that it is not.  It is the same haunted house they use to terrify the adults at night, but without the actors jumping out at you- thank heavens!  The beginning portion was actually pretty cute, but it got more and more intense as you went.  By the time Nugget was crying and Chicken was loudly and emphatically shouting “get me out of here.  Now!,” I called it a fail, turned around, and headed out the way we came.  Rules schmules.  Most of the kids under 12 who made it all the way through came out crying or looking thoroughly scared.  There were a few kiddos who loved it, of course.  Just not mine.  For the three of us it cost $37.

The Shoestring community players read poems and did short skits every 30 minutes.  The “show” lasted about 10 minutes each time.  Theater nerds that they are, Chicken and Nugget insisted on going to three in a row.  Cute and free.

A local real estate agent had a table set up in his office where kids could paint and decorate ‘haunted’ bird houses for free.  That was also a hit.

Like I mentioned, lots of cute and free photo ops.  Spiderman and friend were wandering around, which Nugget found to be very exciting.  There was live music playing (very loudly), and all performers were quite good.

If you are a fan of the movie, there were chances for pictures and autographs with the original cast, which would be cool if that’s your thing.  There are also many other activities and move tie-ins that we did not partake in.  The pumpkin lighting sounded like a lot of fun, but we took off before that happened.

As the evening progressed and it became darker, more people were coming in more “frightening” costumes.  Chicken gave the killer clown a very wide berth and crashed into numerous people and things due to constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t within 100 feet of her.

What it is: a cute community event, mostly kid friendly, a good excuse for the kids to wear their costumes an extra time, easy to spend a lot of money, a great movie tie-in, about an hour from Portland, more depending on where you are starting from, well monitored with community policing (they were everywhere!)

What is is not: cheap if you want to do all of the things

Do we recommend it?  Half-heartedly.  It probably won’t become a yearly tradition for us.  If you love the movie, you should totally go for nostalgia sake.  If you have nothing else to do on a beautiful fall day, it is a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.  And the kids really did love Fairyland

Parking is $10, cash only, and close to the event.

http://discovercolumbiacounty.com/20180101/

Fall Activities

Pumpkin Patch Season!!

Pumpkin patch season officially started for our family yesterday!  Our favorite time of year!  So I packed up Chicken and Nugget, along with a slightly resistant husband, and off we headed to Scio.  Yes, Scio.  Yes, we drove over an hour to go to a pumpkin patch, and yes we do have perfectly good patches much closer to home.  That actually have pumpkins (more on this later).  And it was totally worth it!

This is our third year going to Sweet Briar Train and RV Park.  Doesn’t that just scream pumpkins?  This family run business has a yearly event they are now referring to as a fall festival.  And it’s fantastic.

After making the drive, you park your car in a grassy field.  If you bring a donation of canned food, entry is $6 per person, slightly more without a food donation.  After a short walk through a wooded area and over a bridge, you arrive at the main event.  Scio is a small, rather rural town, at least compared to the Portland area, and this is an amazing small town event.  Almost everything is included in the price of entry, with the exception of food, face painting, and souvenirs.

So what is everything?  There is a train ride through the woods that passes by several little scenes, like Winnie the Pooh and his friends, a gingerbread man cottage, a tiny cemetery with silly rhymes on the headstones, and train station managed by some seriously sketchy looking (decorative) dudes.  I think Nugget rode the train five times and was still excited to find new things.   Once enough people arrive, groups of kids can put on cowboy hats and/or and “rob” the train for candy.  It’s the one time it’s adorable to see your children commit a crime.  Each year we have gone, they have made slight changes or improvements.  Each have been received well by our family.

Kids can pan for gold, and this activity is seriously stacked for kiddo success.  About the time kiddos would start to lose interest, a very sly teenager would encourage one of them to try a specific pan, and what do you know- gold would be found in that very pan!  Nugget walked away with five bits of gold and Chicken found six.  Nugget got a grin from above mentioned teen when he shouted “this is just like the stuff in a treasure chest!”

There are several small toy houses for the kids to play in, a simple mini golf course (maybe 4 or 5 “holes”), and rubber ducky races powered by water pumps (you do the pumping).  There is a photo booth with a small selection of props.  Photos are taken on an iPad and you can text yourself the photos free of charge.  Bigfoot wanders the event, posing for pictures, sneaking up on parents, taking snack breaks, and even riding the train. The family that runs the event is very present, and go out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time.

As the park itself does not raise pumpkins, in the past they brought pumpkins in and kiddos could choose one from a large field.  This year, the family decided to take the money they typically spend on the pumpkins and purchased a 20 foot bouncy slide and a human whack-a- mole.  Let me tell you, the pumpkins were not missed one bit.  And parents- not to worry.  The human whack-a-mole “whacker” was a teen girl who was very gentle.  And honestly, most of the kids were too short to actually get their heads through the hole.

Food is reasonably priced and has been different each year we have gone.  This year, the lunch option was a corn dog with tater tots and a drink for $5.  There were many, many, snack options, as well as roasted corn for $2 an ear, and kettle corn made on site.  Two bags of kettle corn will run you $2.

I had to drag Chicken and Nugget out of there after 3. 5 hours and they happily would have stayed all day if soccer lessons hadn’t been awaiting us.

Chicken’s review:  “this one is my favorite because it is so fun and there is more stuff to do.  I don’t mind the drive.”

Nugget’s review:  “I don’t know.  Can we come back tomorrow?”

What it is: small town family fun, reasonably priced, borderline cheesy in the best possible way, located in a beautiful setting, quite muddy when it rains, a long-ish drive from the Portland area

What it is not: an actual pumpkin patch, fancy, a nutritionist’s dream menu (but isn’t eating unhealthy favorites part of the charm of an activity like this?)

Do we recommend it:  Absolutely!

Fall Activities, Spring and Summer Activities, Theater, Winter Activities

Northwest Children’s Theater

Like I said, we go to A LOT of theater.  Like, A LOT.  Sometimes twice in a weekend.  And we love every moment of it.  Of course, each of us has our favorite plays and our not so favorite plays.  Chicken and Nugget particularly love musicals.  They have been known to come home singing the parts of songs they can remember, make related costumes out of computer paper, post hand made posters about the play all over the house, and reenact their favorite scenes.  That’s some of the many reasons I love taking them to theater.  We not only have a great time together, but they learn from the plays and engage in creative activity related to it long after the play itself is over.

Northwest Children’s Theater is a great way to introduce your kiddos to the performing arts.  While I will post about individual plays we go to, the theater itself deserves a nod.

Located in Portland near Providence Park, prices are reasonable (and discounted if you buy a season subscription), and sometimes Gold Star offers even deeper discounts for specific performances.  Full price single tickets range between $16 and $25.  If you purchase a full subscription by the designated date- usually sometime in the spring or summer- an actor dressed as a character from the upcoming season will hand deliver your tickets.  They come in full costume, bring the tickets, balloons, and posters, talk with the kiddos and take pictures.  We have met the characters at the park and the kiddos have always loved it.  Well, except the time we got Cinderella.  Nugget is afraid of princesses.  I have no idea why.

They offer a wide variety of plays that are all family friendly.  Each season they offer a play specifically for the younger toddler crowd.   This year it is Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play.  We saw it when they did it a couple of years ago and it is adorable.  These plays are generally 45 to 60 minutes with simple dialogue, silliness, and fun.  The remainder of the plays generally run 90-120 minutes plus an intermission.  Adults are often cast in some of the main roles, but there are always children in the supporting roles, and sometimes in the main as well.

The plays they chose are engaging for kids, and often fun for the adults.  Sets are colorful, costumes are tasteful, and it’s just a fun time.  Heads up for the nervous kiddos, it’s not uncommon for actors to come down the aisle.  It took me a full theater season to convince Nugget the characters would not eat him.

After the plays, families are invited to stay and have their programs signed by the cast and take pictures with the cast if they so desire.  Chicken and Nugget LOVE this part (although Nugget refuses to be photographed with a girl) and often give me the honor of signing a program they design themselves when we get home.

In addition to plays, they offer camps and classes.  Each of my kiddos has done a camp- Chicken did My Little Pony and Nugget did Elephant and Piggie.  They each had a great time and made new friends.  Camps vary from exploratory to skill based to putting on an actual play.  They also do school based programs and even have Girl Scout workshops.  Chicken did the Peter Pan Girl Scout workshop and really enjoyed it.  She definitely recommends it.

In summary, we love Northwest Children’s Theater.  We think you might, too.

What it is: fun take on children’s theater, affordable, creative, varied in what they offer, appropriate for many age ranges, a great opportunity to photograph your kid with some of their favorite characters without going all the way to Disney Land, a great way to introduce your family to theater without having to worry your kid will be the only kid there and will somehow ruin the experience for everyone else (come on.  You know you thought it as soon as I mentioned taking a young child to a play).

What it’s not: particularly comfy in terms of seating (seating is on old church pews, but they do have cushions available), a fancy pants venue

Do we recommend it?  1000% yes

You can get more information on their website:  https://nwcts.org/

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