Holiday Adventure Box/Mailbox Update

So, I did it! I got our Adventure Box, what I am now referring to as the Holiday Mailbox- because, well, it’s in a mailbox- going! I have to say that I didn’t set it up well. They had opened their gifts, we were at Great Grandma’s house, and they were all wound up and overstimulated. The concept didn’t really stick.

And then time passed. And their central nervous systems began to return to baseline. Thank goodness! And they became more curious. And now they love it! Phew!

The first time the opened the mailbox, they read the letter and each got an envelope that they would be going to see a Wizard the Oz play (there is a related post). Nugget also found out he would be going to the Evergreen Air Museum. Which was a big hit, by the way! He went with his dad and some friends so I don’t have a personal review, but he came back convinced he had flown to space, repaired a rocket ship, and ready to be a pilot when he grows up. So a win!

Now they are itching to see what comes next. Even though the letter was signed from “mom and dad,” somehow Santa is getting all the credit. There are lots of questions about how practical it is for Santa to visit us this frequently, how Santa will let me know when to tell them to look in the mailbox, all kinds of things. I am being the bigger person and rolling with it in the spirit of Christmas fun. But I’ll be happen to take that credit right back given the opportunity. 🙂

They have even started making wishes, which I have to say is coming in handy. Some were already on the list- like Nuggets hope that he gets to go bowling. Others were not but likely will be now- like Chicken’s hope that she gets to go to the local art museum. Who knew that was somewhere my 8-year-old wanted to go?

Anyway, we are all excited about it and at this point it seems it will be a hit!



Adventure Box, Holiday, Theater

Wizard of Oz- Portland Panto Players

Portland Panto Players. Oh my! This was one of the first “tickets” the kiddos found in their new Christmas Mailbox. Portland Panto Players is a group that formed in 2017 to perform panto plays around the holidays. If you are new to pantos, like me, here is the scoop. (Thank you, Google!) Apparently Brits have developed this style of theater and it is a typical holiday family outing. A traditional panto takes a well known story, in this case Wizard of Oz, and tweaks it. Like, a lot. Every panto has a villian, a dame (an older female character played by a man), and incorporates modern music, pop culture references, adds new characters, and takes liberties with the story line.

In this case, Auntie was played by a man with a beard parted into pigtails. Beardtails? I don’t know. The flying monkeys rapped Ice, Ice, Baby. For reals. Glenda sang Popular (yay!), and Dorothy’s sister Hannah sang a line from Book of Mormon when knocking on the Wicked Witch’s door. We Are Family and The Lion Sleeps Tonight also made enthusiastic appearances. The Tin Man was still in search of his heart, but had been gifted a pair of silver balls on a string that he was told was his dingaling. Which resulted in the cast singing about how they want to play with My Dingaling. Yes, you read that right.

There is a lot more audience interaction than is typical of theater, which was a lot of fun. Characters spoke directly to audience members and incorporated the comments little kids couldn’t keep inside. You are encouraged to boo the villain (which Nugget did with gusto) and shout out warnings to the cast when the bad guys are approaching. Humor was over the top and very heavy on the puns. The set was simple but effective, and a video screen with prerecorded pieces was used when certain staging couldn’t be accomplished. The cast was clearly having fun and were decent singers and actors, although not necessarily professional caliber. Most of it was family friendly even if the humor went over the kids’ heads a lot of the time. There was plenty of funny in there for them, too. Depending on your sense of humor and propriety, the whole Dingaling song could have crossed a line for some. Chicken and Nugget knew they were missing out on something critical and spent a good bit of time this afternoon discussing what exactly it could be referring to.

I can honestly say I have never been to anything quite like it. Did I like it? I have no idea. I want to say no, but I laughed out loud multiple times so I must have, right?

Chicken loved it and said she would go to every single one they ever do. Nugget was a bit gobsmacked. I’m not sure he knows what just happened to him. I am pretty much in his camp.

Portland Panto Players indicated they are aiming to make this a yearly tradition and they are planning on putting on a 2019 show. Will we be there? Maybe. We will see how the mood strikes us and what else we have going on.

Tickets ran $8 to $12. More information on their shows and panto in general can be found here: https://portlandpantoplayers.com/

Holliday, Winter Activities

Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm

Thanksgiving dinner- Check!
Nugget’s family birthday celebration- Check!
Clean up from Thanksgiving complete- Kind of!

So, as per family tradition, we were off to find our Christmas tree. Somehow we wind up at a different tree farm every year. Last year we found one we really liked, only for this year to be a re-grow year for them- pre-cut trees only. So, back to square one.

After a half-hearted Google search in the middle of the night after hosting Thanksgiving, I landed on Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm. We had never been there before, and it sounded fun. So a few hours later I guzzled my coffee and informed my husband that today was tree day. Somehow he “forgets” (i.e. blocks out) the fact that we do this Every. Single. Year.

We got there early afternoon and it wasn’t crowded in the least. I asked where we would be most likely to find Doug firs, which, according to my bleary eyed internet search had indicated were about half the price of the other trees, only to be told that most of the Doug firs were in their growing phase and we would be unlikely to find any. Plop. The guy was very nice and said if we wanted to grab a pre-cut tree he would give it to us for the price of a Doug fir. But tradition is tradition, so overpay for our tree we did.

So after we adjusted to how much we would be paying for our tree, we stopped and took in what there was to see. Which was a lot! There was a small area tucked between some trees where man made snow was falling. It had even formed a little patch of snow on the ground. The kids were thrilled!

Nugget spotted Santa in a sled in a little covered area. And there was no line! Nugget hopped right up there, said cheese, and galloped off with his newly acquired candy cane. Chicken passed, as usual.

And then the highlight. An open fire pit. With roasting sticks (wooden stick with a spot to insert a disposable chopstick). And free marshmallows. And s’mores kits for sale for $2. I don’t even know how many Nugget ate and I probably don’t want to. It was a lot.

Then it was finally time to get down to business. We traipsed through the mud in search of the perfect tree. I have to say, all of the trees were lovely. Nice color and good shape. It was a tough choice. After the decision was finally made, we (let’s be honest. Dad.) used the provided saw and ground cover to cut down a tree. A very nice man came by, tagged the tree, put it on this tractor thing, and carried it back up the hill where it was shaken and baled. Is that what you call it? They even helped tie it to the top of our car. And they wisely had a hose available to clean off all those muddy boots!

We decided to have a few more marshmallows, warm up by the fire, and check out the couple of farm animals that were out. Then we happily wandered back to the car, only to discover a flat tire. We made it to a gas station and got enough air in the tire to make it home before Dad took it to the tire shop. I’m guessing the kids’ and my rousing rendition of Christmas carols didn’t help. Pretty sure that next year when I say “ok! It’s Christmas tree day!” Dad will responded with “Huh? What’s Christmas tree day?.” Oh, well.

Overall, we had a great time. There was a gift shop we didn’t check out, and we were told there were train rides for the kids. We didn’t see it and the kids didn’t seem overly interested, but apparently it’s there if it’s up your kiddo’s alley.


What it is: Family owned, well run, inviting, full of simple but fun activities (Snow!! And marshmallows!!), helpful staff, not overcrowded, apparently only open two weekends

What’s it’s not: Cheap. Mud Free. Tire friendly- but that’s probably just us.

Would we recommend it? Yes! As long as you are willing to fork out the cash for a tree, it was a really fun experience. Probably one of our favorite tree farms yet!

You can find more information here: http://www.helvetia-christmas-tree-farm.com/festival-activities