Outings with Kids:: Bricks and Minifigs

Imagine the place of a 6 year old boys dreams: might you be envisioning rows and rows of little colorful bricks, tiny yellow faces with varying expressions, and even more miniature weapons and accessories of every kind? Yeah, you snapped the correct brick into place, because basically, we found Haden’s LEGO dream land at Bricks & Minfigs!

When Kellen’s cousin’s oh so nonchalantly mentioned they had a lego store just minutes from their front door, I was ecstatic in a “man my kids are gonna love this!” kind of way. I was imagining a tiny little shop with a few boxed LEGO sets, but boy was I wrong! Immediately upon entering Bricks & Minifigs I knew we’d hit the LEGO jackpot!

Lining the counters are completed sets and creations behind plexiglass, some even with cool movable pieces and lights. Haden ran straight to the bins full of bulk legos-every shape and size you could imagine- to fill up his allotted container for his custom creation. On the other side of the store, more bulk bins with minifigure pieces were available, one bin for heads, one for torsos…you get the idea. Behind a gated area was an elaborate set up of a castle, complete with a button to press to make the dragon fly and the hot air balloon fly up into the sky.

They certainly had something for everyone! Even their little 18 month old cousin Clara found the mega blocks section and laid eyes on a very adorable mega block elephant. I think it was meant to be!

I was thoroughly impressed with this store- not even close to expecting that my children could have spent several hours just searching through bins and coming up with creations! We will definitely be back since Haden has already decided he needs a job just to afford an exuberant amount of mini figures and plans to sell A LOT Of lemonade this summer to make that collection happen!

And cool enough, even though we hit up the Canby, Oregon store, apparently Bricks & Minifigs are popping up all over the place, including right here in the Seattle area! Everett and Monroe to be exact for you Washingtonians! But do not give up hope, because on their site they have a list of all their locations and good news: IT’S A LOT! You can check out their store locations here, and get to dreaming! There’s a lot of LEGO creations to be made!

**I have no affiliation with Bricks & Minfigs, I just thought it was stinkin cool. 🙌🏻

Kids Hike Kitsap::Olympic Resource Trails::Port Gambler

Over the next year, I’m planning to post reviews of hikes I’ve done or plan to do with the kids in Kitsap county and the Olympic National Forest! Hopefully my fellow Olympic Peninsula hiking parents (or visitors!) might find it useful! Up first is our adventure to the Port Gamble trails!

Name of Hike: “Olympic Resource Trails”

Length: 2.8 Miles (took us 1hr & 20 minutes)

Elevation gain: minimal to none

If I know one thing about the month of February, it’s that we get antsy! There is just no doubt about it, we’ve pulled through the holidays and long fall/winter PNW days and by February every single year Kellen and I are ready to GO OUTSIDE! It’s no wonder we usually find ourselves on our first family hike of the year just around this time, and 2018 was no different.

We made up our minds last minute to do a family hike right before a super bowl party, so we had little time to prepare. I hopped on the alltrails app and pulled up one we hadn’t done before: titled the “Olympic Resource Trails.” Its a 2.8 mile loop near Port Gamble, just off Port Gamble road. You’ll want to look for the big orange gate, when you see it, you’ll know you’re at the start of the loop!

This loop is actually a part of a giant series of trails in that area that are used for biking, horseback riding, and runners/ hikers. For this reason, I highly suggest charging up your phone and getting the alltrails app to track which turns to take, as I could imagine getting lost could be super easy! Here’s what the loop looks like on alltrails:

Pro tip: my friend who hikes often told me to always snap a pic of the physical map when you start a hike. You can always refer back to it if your gps isn’t working!

The loop starts out on a wide gravel road, but once you get about halfway through you’ll end up taking a smaller path that is much more like “hiking” through the forest. It’s a beautiful route and you’ll pass lots of little creeks!

Haden decided to carry his special walking stick the entire way, and marked our trail for us. We even found it on the way back, so he was convinced we had gone the right way (haha).

We’ve got two very eager hikers that really enjoy all things nature, but they aren’t the quickest bunch- that 2.8 miles took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes, with some stops for pinecone collecting along the way. I was pretty proud of the slightly minimal whining toward the end- these kids like some exercise!

We are definitely planning more local hikes with the kids, some ones we’ve done before and some new ones around Kitsap and beyond as well! Stay tuned!

Boating With Kids::Kids on the Puget Sound

Last spring Kellen went from perusing the boaters classified section of Craigslist to a serious buyer- faster than we maybe expected, but just in time for Memorial Day weekend and a kickoff to what would be an epic and amazing summer cruising the puget sound on a (new to us) boat.

Of course as Kellen’s main focus was getting together his fishing gear, I, on the other hand, had one thing in mind: how are we going to keep these kids entertained in a space with less square feet than one of their bedrooms?

Kellen and I wanted to spend many evenings relaxing on the boat, and luckily, we figured out pretty quickly it was one of the best ways to fit in family time with an activity we all could enjoy.

As entertainment goes, just being on the boat seems to keep our kids occupied in itself. They have fun helping dad “drive,” to dipping their toes in the puget sound, to helping mom BBQ and serve dinner right on the bow. For those times they get antsy, we lay on the small padded bow area together, snuggle under blankets, and read.

It’s pretty simple really. Boating has proved to be one adventure where we don’t need to pack much to have a really amazing time. That’s kind of the beauty of it!

But just in case you’re interested to know what is our *go tos* for cruising the sound, here are a few things I tend to pack every time we head out!

-A small cooler like this one is helpful to carry our dinner! A typical dinner for us on the boat is some kind of meat (steak, chicken, pork) and a bagged salad. I find the bagged salads the most convenient as a quick side dish for taking in the cooler. Sometimes I’ll grab another noodle dish from the deli or pack some precooked noodles from home (pesto is our favorite sauce!)

-a small propane bbq for cooking. We keep ours on the boat during the summer (careful not to leave propane canisters as they can explode if left in the heat).

-a lightweight set of dishes for serving. I’m actually still looking for the perfect set, but I’ve been eyeing these ones here. Along those same lines, these glasses are also on my wish list because nothing is better than enjoying a glass of wine while watching the sunset over Mt. Rainier from the water

-our “boat bin” (a big plastic Rubbermaid tub) which we always grab for the boat contains essentials like water, bags for garbage, paper towels, sunscreen, layers of extra clothes and a few good books for entertainment. I also like packing flash cards for the kids so we can work on reading skills while we’re cruising. Card games are also fun and lightweight, just have to make sure they get packed before dad hits the gas 😂

-lightweight sleeping bags. Ok, this might seem a little crazy, and we haven’t been adventurous enough to actually sleep on the boat over night, but boats are COLD sometimes and honestly nothing keeps me more warm than a good jacket and a down sleeping bag on the bottom. As long as we’re sitting, sleeping bags can get pulled up over our legs and torso and keep us toasty warm when the boat temps drop!

Other than that, we try to keep a pretty light load since we’re walking from our parked car and down to the dock! We keep the kids lifejackets in our truck and have them wear them all the way down, that way we never have to worry when they are around the water.

We are counting down the days to summer 2018 for more boating adventures!

Woodland Park Zoo::Things to do in Seattle with Kids

Today we went on a little adventure to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA. I hadn’t gone to this zoo since Haden was a baby- so I was so excited to share it now with the kids now that they are 5&6! It was supposed to rain today, but I figured we would get our rain gear on and expect it to pour the whole time! We actually got pretty lucky, however, and the sun even popped out a bit for a bit! I also opted for the Woodland Park Zoo instead of the Point Defiance in Tacoma, since I knew it offered much more covered exhibits.

The Woodland Park Zoo is huge- we were there for just over 4 hours and didn’t cover all of the exhibits! It’s split into several different sections that are mostly themed with different areas of the world. We first hit up the “Tropical Rain Forest” area because the kids and I were stoked to see the gorillas- and they did not disappoint! In fact, there is a baby gorilla there now (she is about two years old) named Yola- she was a feisty and playful little thing, and even ran back in forth in front of the glass with my kids on the other side. The kids loved it! I really love gorillas and could probably watch them all day- we stayed and watched/played with Yola for at least 20 minutes!

Right next to Yola’s home is a tropical bird/snake/frog house- I actually have no idea what it’s called- but it was empty when we visited and the kids loved it. Especially, Haden, my little bird lover! Sadie was especially inspired and made me promise we watch Rio asap after watching the toucans!

Haden LOVES penguins- always has- and so next stop was a trip to feed the penguins! On select days, penguin lovers can live out their dreams and actually feed them! It’s $5 for four fish, but in my opinion, well worth the experience! I would much rather spend money on a special experience like that then toys from the zoo store (although sometimes my kids disagree with me, ha!)

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Frugal is the name of our game (after all, we have to save all that cash for our adventures!) so we packed a picnic lunch for a mid day pit stop. They have tons of benches and tables all around the zoo, so plenty of places to stop and grab a bite to eat! I’m *trying* to say no to treats unless the kids bring their own money to get their own (I know, mean mom!). Haden brought his own cash and grabbed a giant bag of kettle corn from the cafe, cause that’s how he rolls.

We hit up the “Tropical Asia” section as our last exploration before we headed home- and so glad we did! Although some of the animals seemed to have retired for the evening (we missed the tiger and the leapord), the orangutans were our next favorite exhibit of the day! They were wrestling and the kids laughed their heads off at all of the mischief!

The Woodland Park Zoo has so much more to offer than what we saw today! Giraffes, zebras, bears, wolves and more! The rhino exhibit opens in 2018! We will definitely be back, it’s on our Seattle favorite must do list!

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