Okay, so summer is practically tomorrow. Let's pretend, just for second, that this summer is going to be as miserable as last summer was, with the 90 degree days stretching into 90 degree weeks burning into 90 degree months...AGONY. Now let's take a moment to collectively wish all of our happy thoughts into willing this summer to be much, much cooler. Mmkay? I hope you put your entire effort into that. Just in case a nice mild summer doesn't pan out for us, here's a little spot you can rely on to rescue you from the heat (or from the rain for that matter): Splash!
Splash! is technically called Splash! at Lively Park, but will henceforth for the purposes of this blog be referred to just as Splash! It's one of Willamalane's facilities, and is located out in Thurston. It is filled with fun ways to forget how horrible the wather is outside. There are three different pools: a wave pool, a lap pool, and a kiddie pool. I've only ever personally used the kiddie pool, because I am a pool wimp. But before you quit reading, I've seen other people use the other pools, and they always look like they're enjoying themselves very much. :) (Slightly random side note: when I was a bazillion weeks pregnant with my first kiddo, and teaching 4th grade, my water broke during math class shortly after getting back to school from swim lessons at Splash! I give Splash! full credit - and the bouncy bus too.) :)
Kiddie pool first: It's just lovely. The water is 92 degrees, and it ranges in depth from 8 to 12 inches. My 10 month old and my 4 year old can splash happily for at least 2 hours. It's way big enough to not feel crowded, and there are even some toys that float around. And a neat little waterfall thing!
My recommendation is that you wear a suit even if you're hoping not to get in. You don't want to be in jeans when your preschooler throws a toy at another kid and you have to wade in and intervene. Also, if you have a baby, it's really nice to be able to just sit in the pool and let them splash around on your legs. I tried to sit on the edge while bending over and holding my baby in once, and it was NOT a success.
As for the bigger pools, we've never been brave enough to try them, but they sure look fun. The Splash! website has detailed info on pricing and hours and stuff, and luckily for me, the big pools are never open when we go to play in the kiddie pool. I feel like my preschooler wouldn't be as excited about the kiddie pool if the big pools were open, and he definitely couldn't navigate those on his own, and I definitely couldn't navigate the big pools with both a baby and a preschooler.
Here's how the big pools work: They have more limited hours than the kiddie pool does. These hours are listed under "Wave and Slide Play Swims" on the website. If you go during those hours, ALL of the pools are open, so you'll pay the higher entry fee, even if you're just using the kiddie pool. If you go during the "Kiddie Pool Play Swims", you'll pay just the smaller fee. Also, supervising adults are free in the kiddie pool, but only during "Kiddie Pool Play Swims" hours. Make sense?
Other fun details: Splash! also has rental options, including birthday party packages. The changing rooms are super family friendly and spacious, but they also have private changing rooms that are nice for corralling wandering toddlers while you're half dressed. Oh, and there's a big concession stand, although it's only open during big pool hours. :)
As for the Lively Park - it is awesome! There is a great pirate ship play structure for the littlest littles and a truly gigantic structure for the bigs and braves. There are swings, a water fountain (disclaimer: it wasn't really useful because the water shot literally seven feet up in the air, which of course, my kid thought was a hoot, but also made a huge mess), and FLUSH TOILETS. Oh, and a fun sand/water feature area, which is super cool. Plenty of benches, beautiful landscaping, and a good distance from the parking lots surrounding it all help to make this park super family friendly.
So. Here's what you're going to do: you're going to hit the kiddie pool mid morning and swim for a good long chunk of time. Then you're going to head outside to the park and eat the picnic lunch that you packed. Then you're going to play on the playground for another good long chunk of time. Then you're going to load your littles up in your van, haul them home, put them in bed, and watch Netflix for a good long chunk of time. Boom! Perfect day. You're welcome.
Address: 6100 Thurston Road Springfield, OR 97478
Parking: Giant free lot
Cost: Varies - see website. Also! There are sometimes coupons for $2 off admission in the "Oregon Family" newspaper that you can pick up at rec centers, public libraries, etc.
Food: The concession stand is open during the "Wave and Slide Play Swims" hours
Resting/Nursing Spots: Lots of chairs along the perimeter of the pool
Time Frame: Oh my word. A long time.
Win a Family Pass to Splash! at Lively Park!
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...AND Last Chance to enter The Dancing Weasel Giveaway!
This month we are featuring The Dancing Weasel Toy Store as our business of the month. You can read interview from mother-daughter owners here, and now get a first hand report of what a visit to their store is like!
Getting there and basic info:
Whenever I hear a business is downtown, I hesitate before bringing my two-year old along. I assume the trip will include a half-hour or so of cruising the one-way streets while trying to dodge metered parking and then tweaking my back as I wrangle my toddler down a busy sidewalk…but The Dancing Weasel has their own private, easily accessible and safe lot. A relief!
Monday-Saturday: 10am to 5:30pm, Sunday: 11am to 5pm
30 E. 17th Ave., Eugene, Oregon 97401
(Between Willamette and Oak, right across the street from Brails Restaurant.)
Speaking of toddlers, I also don’t sign up to bring him to an unfamiliar store on my first visit. You just never know when the doe-eyed sweet face will turn Incredible Hulk and send his wrath out on a beautifully executed store display.
However, I told myself, this is a toy store for goodness sake, I’m sure they’re familiar with toddlers.
And yes, they were ready for my little Hulk. He innocently plucked a few things from the shelves to check them out before toddling back to the well-planned out play area in the back of the store. There was a large table with toys for him to peruse, books to thumb through, and a couple ride-on toys to try out. He was completely satisfied and mesmerized, and I got to do my own toy shopping for an upcoming birthday party.
Aya was manning the store that day and was full of ideas for my gift. The items they carry come at all sorts of price-points and I was able to get a thoughtful, creative gift for under ten bucks.
AND, they gift-wrap. For FREE.
A few other things I loved about my visit?
Comment below with your mom super-hero name, and the three winners will be announced MONDAY, May 25.
If you entered in Post I, no need to enter again.
If you win, rush on down to The Dancing Weasel as prizes are first come, first pick, and you have seven days to claim your gift! Gifts are pictured below. Good luck!
Here I thought I was being so helpful in getting new Mama hikers out and conquering new heights, and they go and periodically close Spencer Butte. Drat. So let’s mosey on over to the other hill, er, mountain in our area.
The Howard Buford Recreation Area is a 2363 acre park that consists of 17 miles of trails. There are seven official trails but for today we will be on Trail #1: Beistel’s West Summit Trail. To learn more about the other 6 trails, click here.
From the parking lot, the park is very well marked and laid out. The West Summit Trail, which we will be traversing, is immediately above you. (This is where the daily parking fee station is located as well.) You will immediately see lots of hikers going to and from here. You can’t miss it. There is a big gate that seems to be always closed – you just walk around it.
If you aren’t ready to start your upward journey just yet, you can walk straight across a cute little bridge and find the bathrooms, the rental facilities, and a few of the other (flatter) trails. There is also an unofficial swimming spot that my kids LOVE. Disclaimer: It is a free running river so swim at your own risk. Also there’s potential toxins. The sign is clear enough.
Now that you’re ready to go, head up to the gate and the start of the gravel trail. The first half of this hike is on loose gravel and is steep. If you have knee issues on a steady incline, you will want to stay on the flatter trails. This first half is also without any shade or tree cover. If it is a hot, sunny day be prepared to be very, very warm.
If you are unsure, start up the hill and about the half-way point, you come to a bench where you can rest and decide if you have enough oomph to continue up.
(I would have taken a picture of this for all of you except there was another hiker who was sharing the bench with us that I didn't need to be taking pictures of.)
The second half has more overhead cover and some random dirt paths that cut through the taller grasses. There is another bench further up the path if you need to stop again before you reach the open summit. The grade is more gradual at this point as well.
Once you are on the top, there is a wide flat area with additional benches to sit on and several trails converge at this point as well, allowing you to continue on in a different direction if desired.
It seems that other trails converge here as well, but I’ve never explored that in recent years. There’s also a fun summit marker to mark your official completion.
So here’s what you need to know:
I have done this hike a dozen or so times since being a Mama. I have taken an infant in the front pack, a toddler in both the kid pack and the Ergo, and I have made the boy walk since he was about 4 ½. This was the first time I made my bug walk it by herself – at not quite 4. I wanted to know if she could walk it alone to be able to share with all of you. The answer is, yes she can (and she’s SO proud), but it was ROUGH. To be fair, she was awake about 2 hours earlier than normal this day, and she was very tired, and it was pushing dinner but oh the whining. But the way up wasn’t the worst part for me – heading down was super hard for her. She was slipping and sliding and fell multiple times. Holding my hand may have been making it worse as then her shoulder was getting pulled and she kept falling forward on her knees. So she was in tears, her knees bleeding, and she was begging to go home. If you have in-betweeners like her (too big to really pack up, too little to do this well) I would highly recommend taking another way. If you have all the time in the world to go super slow and stop often, heck, don’t let me stop you. I for one, will be either packing her for a heavy workout out, or waiting to try it again until next year.
Things we love:
· Distance wise, it’s not a very long hike but you still get a good workout.
· The views from the top are spectacular. You can see the whole valley and surrounding mountain ranges.
· It can be a very quick destination hike to the top OR a meandering family hike around the other trails.
· There are ALWAYS friendly people there to help and because there is an arboretum there as well, I feel that there is always someone around in case of emergencies.
· The bench – which I often use as bribery. You know, “When we get to the bench, you can rest…When we get to the bench, we will eat our snacks….Let’s just hike to the bench!” God bless this bench.
Things we don’t love as much:
· How hot and relatively steep the first part is. This makes it hard to convince my littles that they want to do this hike with me. (The boy is much happier with switchbacks or winding trails rather than up – turn – up some more.)
· The crowds – It can be VERY busy and because it is so out in the open, it feels more congested. In the summer there are often weddings taking place as well. Not on the summit trail, obviously, but it can make for difficult parking and a feeling that you are invading a private party when walking around.
· The trail - this does not feel like being out in nature (another thing that motivates my little to hike). It feels like walking up a long, steep driveway. So if lush Oregon green is what you’re looking for, stick to the bottom trails.
I have been winding my way around these trails since high school. It is definitely a place worth checking out and revisiting. There’s lots to see and do and experience out there.
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Large parking lot right at the base of the trail
Parking Fee: $4/day or purchase a Lane County Parks Annual Pass for $40 (discounts available for seniors and military personnel)
Distance: 2.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1050 feet
Bathrooms: Full flushing, running water
Trail: Well-groomed gravel and dirt trail
Cell Service: Yes
Potential Dangers: LOTS of poison oak/ivy
Safe to Hike Alone: YES
Animals: YES! Both dogs (on a leash) and horses (on specified trails)
Carrier: Ergo or Hiking pack
Shoes: Any – I have hiked this in running shoes and Chacos (the gravel can get in your sandals, though, so use caution with sandals)
Kid Shoes: Keen Hikers
Backpack: Only for snacks
In the pack: water and snacks
Have a great hike!
Jenna is mama to two awesome kids, a boy & a girl. They explore Lane County's hills & mountains on a regular basis. See all of Jenna's Hike Mom Hike posts here.
This is a repost from last year but everything awesome still stands!
Public Works Day 2016
Here's a quick way to please the truck loving set: take them to Public Works Day! Please tell me you know about this. If not, have no fear - I'm here to fill you in all the way. It is the funnest! (Yes, I know that's not a real word.)
Okay, so our city's Public Works system is made up of all the people who clear streets of debris, repair roads, maintain underground pipes, and anything else super cool like that which will make your community helper obsessed kid swoon. Once a year they open up the yard (why is it called that?) and let over a thousand people come and poke around their facilities for the day.
So here's what that means:
- Watch a robot move through sewer pipes
- Get your photo taken and printed out for you to proudly display on your fridge
- Meet Casey the Fire Dog
- Sit in a police car, fire engine, dump truck, giant mower, and other big equipment
- Learn about the airport, our waste water system, emergency planning, traffic laws, and so much more
- Take home a free construction worker vest, coloring book, water bottle, etc (at least that was what they gave us the last few years)
- And for the grand finale...you can ride on a trailer being pulled by a dump truck through the Public Works "back yard" and see "an asphalt roller, backhoe, and dump truck at work in a pretend construction zone." (I pulled that off the Public Works website.) This is really so fun for all ages. I am impressed every year.
Now, the website says that this event is meant for elementary and middle-age school kiddos. However. I've been taking my son since he was two, and he talks about it all. the. time.
So clearly this is a pretty big deal. It gets pretty crowded. Here are my tips for navigating the craziness successfully.
- Go early! Once the field trips (large groups of kiddos conveniently dressed alike) start rolling in, it gets really crowded really fast. And the field trips come early! Last year we were literally the very first people in the door at 8:30, and we were out the door by 11:30. I would not have wanted to stay any longer than 11:30, because it was getting to be a bit much for this crowd avoiding mama.
- This is a 100% kid friendly event. They can touch everything, wander everywhere (within the event area I mean), and just feel like such real worker bees! Let them lead the way and explore. Bonus points if your kid has a hard hat or other dress up stuff that you let them wear.
- Go to the Public Works' website and check out the handy stuff they have there. For the grown up, you've got the map of where they are located. Maybe it's just me, but I had a super hard time finding the place the first time I went (#eugeneroadsarehard). For kiddos, they have two cool videos that show what kind of equipment and responsibilities Public Works is made up of, as well as what kids get to do when they visit the yard. The videos are a great way to prep your littles about what the event will be like. WARNING. Don't show them to your kids until the night before, unless you want to listen to them ask every fifteen minutes if it's time to go to "the place with the trucks" for more than 12 hours. Also, so that you all can be prepared, the website has the 2014 Tour Booklet. This walks you through the area so that you can prioritize what you'd like to see, or make a game plan, or find the bathrooms, or whatever.
- The whole thing is set up in a really easy to follow path through the yard. However, that doesn't mean you have to follow it exactly. And when you come to the end, it literally dumps you out back into the parking lot. Still wanting more? Last year my kiddo and I just circled back in and did the whole thing again.
- When you get there, they'll ask if you've pre-registered. Unless you're a classroom teacher, you don't have to do that. I'm assuming they do it to track attendance numbers and such. But they're not concerned about your preschooler and your baby in the Bjorn.
- Don't forget to pick up your photo on the way out!
- Go with some friends. Wrangling littles who just can't wait to clamber all over that fire truck is way easier when you can tag team it.
- You can take the trailer ride through the "back yard" more than once. And you'll want to.
- Be aware that it's all outside, and it is May. In Oregon. That means there's a 98% chance that it will rain. Be prepared.
Date: Thursday, May 21
Address: Public Works Yard
1820 Roosevelt Blvd, Eugene
Parking: There's a big free lot. Also, they've made it easy to get there using LTD. For details, check the website. Oh my word, I just decided that it would be super fun to ride the bus down there. I'm picturing my four year old exploding of happiness. Wheee!
Cost: Totally free. Thank you Public Works friends!
Food: None available. Pack a hearty snack and a water bottle, because you'll be doing some good walking around as well as climbing on those trucks.
Resting/Nursing Spots: Besides the transportation bays where they've set tables and chairs up for field trips to eat their lunches, there's not really anywhere else to sit. Also, the lunch spot is at the very end of your trip through the yard, so if somebody small gets hungry or tired and you want to sit, you'll end up back tracking just a bit. But it's your Public Works party, and you can do what you want to.
Bathrooms: Yep - there are several located in various spots around the yard
Time Frame: Last year we took about two hours to get through the whole thing once. Then we spent another hour hitting the highlights one more time before calling it quits. So...1-3 hours, depending on how interested your littles are.
Please go check it out! Let me know what you think!
Megan Defferding is the mom to two super fun boys who love to find great stuff to do all around Lane County! Check out her blog series, Happy Adventuring, weekly on GoMomGo.
Well, true to form, the Oregon weather has proved to be a fickle friend once again. This week is forecasted to be rainy all the way through, so we better put away our swim suits and sunscreen and start pondering how many games of UNO we can play before our eyeballs fall out of our heads in boredom.
So besides UNO, what does one do with small children when you are home and not wanting to spend a ton of money? I mean, we love open gyms and such as much as the next family, but contrary to my preschooler's belief, we can't just go to the bank and get "tons and tons of monies for free."
Well, one of our go-to activities is baking. Now, I realize that baking isn't exactly free, nor is it entirely wise for the waistline. However. I have strong arguments in favor of you making these cookies pronto.
1. They will make your house smell so good. Like a factory with little elven cookie makers bustling around.
2. You can use up those brown bananas that are sitting on your counter (don't deny it).
3. Baking is great language, math, and fine motor practice for your little helpers.
4. This recipe makes a TON of cookies - I get 56 - so they're fun to share. Like Pete the Cat says, "sharing is cool."
4. Because you get to eat them at the end. End of story.
Banana Bread Cookies
(Don't like banana bread? I promise you'll like these cookies anyway.)
In a large bowl, cream together:
1 cup butter, softened (that's two sticks)
1 cup packed brown sugar
When that's mixed together, go ahead and add:
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas - please don't measure this. Just mash them up.)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Okay so that gross looking stuff in the tupperware? That's what bananas look like after they've been in the fridge or freezer. If they're in your fruit basket and are looking pretty sorry, either peel them and put them in the fridge for a day or so, or else peel them, chop them into bite size pieces, and throw them into the freezer. Once they're frozen they're easy to pull out to bake with, and also great for smoothies!
Also, I used to make these with all white flour. Now I do half white and half whole wheat. I 100% promise you can't tell the whole wheat is in there. Plus you can eat way more cookies because they're super healthy now. Right? Hooray!
Mix again. Then add:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Yes. Keep mixing. Now, some people are fancy and mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding them to the wet stuff. That's great, if you like to wash lots of dishes. Me? I'm lazy, and just add the dry stuff right in. No problemo.
Last but not least! Throw in:
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups oatmeal (I prefer quick)
2 cups chocolate chips
Mix those puppies right up. Its taken you like 10 minutes so far, amiright? So worth it. And if you're tricky you have only dirtied a few things, so you win the smart cook award.
Okay, time to bake. If you have some, use parchment paper on your cookie sheets. This stuff is miraculous because you don't have to grease the cookie sheet, the cookies will slide right off, and then you get to throw away the paper when you're done. (Also, it leaves your cookie sheets so clean that you don't have to wash them afterwards. I won't tell.) Oh, and you can reuse that parchment paper - this is good because it's sort of expensive.
Plop the dough down in about tablespoon-ful size lumps. Using a scoop is so handy for this. Go ahead and put the cookies pretty close together on the sheet. They won't rise or spread much.
Bake at 375 for 9 or 10 minutes. If you like your baked goods on the well done end of things, go ahead and leave em in for a few minutes longer.
Be sure to eat them warm, because oh my word. You'll be glad you did.
Also, if you want to be crazy, you can freeze some cookies and then have an easy snack to pull out and make happy tummies. You can freeze the cookies after you bake them, which is easy. Just put them in a ziplock bag and toss em in. Or, you can put the cookie sheet in the freezer before you bake it, but after you've plopped the dough down. Freeze them like this for a few hours, and then you'll have little raw cookies. Take them off the sheet and throw them in a ziplock bag. Don't forget to write the baking directions on the bag. Then one day you'll be wishing for a treat because your littles are behaving like wild things, and you'll remember that you can have fresh cookies in just a few minutes, thanks to your excellent planning skills. Please don't feel the need to share the cookies with your wild things. Give them carrot sticks or something.
Megan Defferding is the mom to two super fun boys who love to find great stuff to do all around Lane County! Check out her blog series, Happy Adventuring, weekly on GoMomGo.
The story of The Dancing Weasel begins with Danita (mom of two grown kids) and Aya (daughter of Danita, and raising three of her own) sitting in Aya’s backyard one summer day, watching the kids play. As they daydreamed about the perfect job, it parlayed into owning the perfect business…a toy store.
The more they thought about it, the more they loved the idea. So, after a lot of research, drafting a business plan, and waiting a couple of years to transition out of their jobs, they opened The Dancing Weasel Toy Store in December 2012. The name of the store was derived by taking Aya’s oldest daughter’s love of dance and her younger daughter’s nickname of weasel and combing them - The Dancing Weasel.
Here is more of their story:
GMG: Let’s start with what your super hero names would be.
Danita: Maybe something like, “Mischievous Ultimate Mastermind” or “Magnificent Dark Chocolate Taster of the Universe.”
Aya: I wish it was “Captain Clean”, but I think its more like “Agent Ineeda Coffee”!
GMG: And tell us a little about your kids.
Danita: I raised two kiddos. My son lives and works in Seattle and I have the fantastic opportunity to work with my daughter, Aya.
Aya: I have three kids, two daughters and a son. My oldest daughter will be 12-years old in May and is my level-headed, reasonable one. I think someday she may end up as the president of the USA (promise I’m not biased). I have a nine-year old daughter who is the life of the party! I have a feeling that I’ll need to keep her away from wing suits and anything else that is too exciting for me to handle! My son will be three-years old in May, he’s ‘all boy’ even though he enjoys having his nails painted and makeovers with his older sisters!
GMG: Before you became a mom, what were you up to?
Danita: I moved to the South where I was a chef in New Orleans for a few years. Then I moved back to Eugene, went to school, got a degree in Design and Marketing and worked in that field for over 30 years with international, national and local clients.
Aya: I have worked in retail my whole life. However in 2002, I moved to Germany with my (ex)husband to follow his career in the Air Force. I have lived all over Oregon, in Washington, Mississippi, and Germany, but Eugene has always felt like home!
GMG: What are some of the joys and challenges of being a family operating a business?
Danita: It’s a real joy working with my daughter. We never seem to get tired of each other. I think the combination of Aya’s retail experience and my marketing experience really helps with running the store.
Store space is a challenge. Our store is 1000 sq feet and we have a lot of great product and it can be challenging getting it all out on shelves. We wanted a play area, and we were able to make one - which families love. We wish we had more space to do more things, but for the moment it’s working for us. In the end, the joy for me is seeing big and little smiles. Our store makes people happy and this makes us happy.
Aya: The absolute best part of owning the toy store is my business partner -- I love my mom and she is awesome to work with! I also love being able to make a difference in the community, offering amazing product, providing free story and music time, and helping schools and nonprofits through fundraising. It’s really important to me that we can give back to the community and I am learning every day how much of a difference local business means to our communities’ well being. We have donated thousands of dollars to the community since we opened in December 2012. I feel like my biggest challenge with owning a business is my time management, I never have enough hours in the day!
GMG: Thank you so much for reaching out to our city! It sounds as if The Dancing Weasel is a unique experience in many ways – from how you care for the community to how you organize and purchase for your store. What else makes you so unique and relevant to your customers?
Danita: We know a lot about our awesome toys (and have demos) and we love to help people find that really cool and unique gift for their special little person. We also do free gift wrapping and have over 1000 wonderful items under $20 that are perfect for birthday parties. And we do different activities in the store for kiddos like story or music time. We post events on our website calendar.
Aya: We spend a lot of time researching the toys we carry so that they are educational, functional and beautiful to play with! We’ve also taken the time to consider the small details like safe, free, off-street parking, our store is merchandised in clean rows and product is easy to find, and our customers can shop comfortable knowing they can keep an eye on there little ones in our play area.
GMG: What’s something new you’re currently learning about?
Danita: We are always learning about new products that we bring into the store. Both of us will be learning Quckbooks which will help us streamline our bookkeeping. I’ve been teaching myself watercolor which has been an ongoing process for the last couple years.
Aya: Honestly I’m still learning so much about the store and owning a business that I’m not really taking on extra stuff in my personal life. I actually don’t have much of a life outside of the store (hahaha!) We have so much more we want to offer our customers and the community -- one idea we are hoping to put into action this summer is “Play time in the park!” where we would have families join us at a local park to play with our awesome outdoor toys.
GMG: Do you have any advice for moms who are just beginning to go after their business dreams?
Danita: Find a niche and research it. Write out all the things you need to do to accomplish your goal. Break that list down into smaller chunks. Work on one chunk at a time. This will help you stay focused. Figure out where you want your business to be located by doing demographics. Go on field trips and visit other similar businesses. Most owners/managers are willing to talk to you about their store. Create a business plan. Visit SCORE’s website and local office. Never give up. If there’s a roadblock, just make a new road/path to get to your goal. Start small and grow big.
Aya: Lots of research and a solid plan.
GMG: When you’re not on full on mommy or grandma duty, what do you like to do?
Danita: I love nature. I love to hike and watercolor and play in my art studio.
Aya: I fell in love with camping at the Whittaker campgrounds last summer. I also love shopping and eating really yummy food!
GMG: Would you divulge a bad mom moment in the last month?
Danita: I can’t remember ever having a bad mom moment. I’m perfect. Hahaha, right! Aya would remember if I had a bad mom moment.
Aya: Yeah my mom is perfect, hahaha!!! For me, I forgot our neighbor’s daughter’s birthday. The neighbors took all the kids out for pizza and desert and then it took me about four days to get her a birthday present…come on, I own a toy store! So for any of you parents who buy the gift on the way to the party, you are doing better then me!
GMG: And the best mom moment in the last month?
Danita: Giving Euphoria chocolate to Aya.
Aya: Getting Euphoria chocolate from my mom! Also when I told my son he is cute and he looked back at me and told me, “Mom you cute!”
GMG: What do you think is your strongest mom skill?
Danita: Oh boy, my strongest? Creativity. I’m very creative.
Aya: Growing up with my mom was so cool - she always had crafts and activities for us to do! I’d have to say mine is being able to admit if I was wrong and apologize for it. My kids are growing up so fast and I love them so much, but I do make mistakes (everyone does).
GMG: What’s your favorite thing to do as a family in Eugene?
Danita: Hanging out with each other doing dinners, picnics, play in the parks, etc.
Aya: Everything my mom said!
GMG: And how do you stay sane through the rainy season of Eugene?
Danita: I love the rain! Its book/movie cuddle time.
Aya: Movies and snuggling my three babies and my fiancé!
How cute are they?
Be sure to drop by The Dancing Weasel soon & check out all of their awesome toys & books!
The Dancing Weasel Toy Store
Monday-Saturday: 10am to 5:30pm
Sunday: 11am to 5pm
30 E. 17th Ave., Eugene, Oregon 97401.
(Between Willamette and Oak,
right across the street from Brails Restaurant.)
Safe, off-street parking right in front of our store.
Dancing Weasel is giving away three great items!
Comment here with your super hero name
& you'll be entered to win!
We will notify you, then you go to Dancing Weasel
& choose your prize from the selection below.
First come, first served.
You must pick up your prize within 7 days of being notified.
Thanks so much Dancing Weasel!
You guys are awesome!
You know what I love? Coffee. You know what else I love? Cheap, low key, drop in, low maintenance, and FUN activities for my littles. Bonus points if they require little advance planning on my part. Because, you know, mamas be tired. Extra super bonus points if I can drink my coffee during said event. Well my friends, I have an event for you that meets all of these requirements!! Not even kidding! Let me introduce you to...
Selco Saturday Kids Workshop at MECCA
Now, it's possible that two of the words in the above line might not even ring a bell to you. So let me help. Selco is a local credit union, and they sponsor these Saturday kiddo workshops. MECCA stands for Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts. You guys. This building. It's a tiny little space that is literally packed to the ceiling with anything remotely artsy or recycled that you could imagine. Yarn, old greeting cards, baby food jars, Altoid tins, wine corks, magnets...yeah, they've got just about everything.
MECCA is such a neat community organization. It's the sort of thing that makes me proud to live here in Eugene. They take materials that would end up in landfills and repurpose them, often creating very cool art. They really want to inspire people to create, and they have all of the stuff to do so.
So anyway. I have wanted to check out a Selco Saturday Kids Workshop forever, and haven't ever made it down there. But last weekend we did. Hooray! I love that it's a drop in deal - from 11 to 3, you can just pop on in. I also love that they have a sliding scale for donations. In fact, they seemed really unconcerned about collecting any money at all, which was good, because I may or may not have spent my $4 at a garage sale on the way there (Dude! Wooden blocks! What do you expect?) so I put my $0.75 in the donation jar and mentally promised that I'd bring a few bucks extra next time.
The whole thing was just so casual - which I LOVE. I have been to enough events where you're in a giant crowd, trying to share materials with said crowd, and everyone is trying to reach for and use all the stuff in the little space at once, (I'm looking at you Home Depot). This was SO not that. There were only 3 other kids while we were there, which left plenty of space. There were a bazillion options for materials. The instructor Mark (hi Mark!) showed us the materials, gave us a few suggestions for using them for our projects (we did collages), and then he turned us loose.
Let's talk about Mark. I don't know if he's usually there, or if all of the instructors there are as great as he is, but oh man - he was so friendly to my kiddo. He learned and used his name, made thoughtful comments about his art, and dug out examples of wood cutting tools when my boy asked about how a print on the wall was made. So good job MECCA for keeping art loving, kiddo encouraging adults around!
I think on some Saturdays they do projects with a little more direction/product than the collages we made. On their website they mention balloon hovercrafts and sock creatures. Those both sound super fun. But honestly, I am always secretly a bit relieved when I don't have to coach my kid through some project that is supposed to look exactly like the example that the teacher made. Where's the creativity in that? Also, how am I supposed to catch up on the 14 text conversations I'm days behind on if I'm trying to make sure that my little puts the googly eyes in the right spot on his robot? Kidding. Sort of.
While the website says that it's an all ages event, I am going to pull a negative nelly and say honestly that I wouldn't take my under 2-ish kiddo. Or my can't-not-touch-everything kiddo. The entire building is very eclectic and artsy and not at all kid friendly. And it shouldn't have to be - it's an art center after all. It's not a kid-centric spot. So just be aware that there are lots of sharp things (wires, mirror pieces, etc), very narrow aisles (don't even think about bringing a stroller - just don't.), and boxes of random stuff just begging to be dumped out all over the floor. Also, the space is used to make art, and art is...well...messy. It's not a place where I would feel comfortable plopping my crawler down on the floor to play while big brother worked on a project. This weekend I left my 9 month old at home to play with daddy and took my 4 year old on a special "date", which I reckon was good for all of us.
Okay, other random notes:
- Wear clothes that can get dirty/ruined. My kid drug his arm through purple fabric puff paint. Whoops.
- Be prepared to be as hands on or hands off as your kiddo requires. Maybe they're feeling like they really need your attention and support in getting that project just right. Great - good thing you left the two smaller kiddos at home. Or maybe they're feeling super independent. Great - I bet nobody would mind if you worked on a little project yourself.
- The workshops are held in their studio, but while you're there, check out the store. Take a bit of time to explore it with your little. It is a treasure trove of color, texture, and imagination. Enjoy some creative conversation.
- MECCA has a great website. Not only is it super well maintained and organized, it has a great list of artsy websites for inspiration.
- The Teacher's Resource Center is full of stuff that is just for educators - and it's all totally free! Tell all of the teachers in the land!
All in all, I thought this kiddo art workshop was just a really relaxing and fun way to connect with your little and to encourage them to create some awesome art. Go check it out! Let me know what you make!
449 Willamette St
Parking: There's a free lot, but don't accidentally park in the spots marked for Oregon Electric Station. They'll tow you. Yikes.
Cost: They ask for a $3-5 donation.
Food: None available, but I don't think they'd mind if you fed your kid a snack or if you brought in your latte.
Resting/Nursing Spots: There are chairs in the studio
Time Frame: We spent an hour and a half there creating. You can take as little or as much time as you'd like.
MECCA has generously donated two $15 gift cards!
Just think of how much awesome stuff you could get!
Comment here with your favorite thing to find at a
Reduce Reuse Recycle place
(aka MECCA, thrift stores, garage sales)
& you'll be entered to win!
We'll choose winners on Saturday, May 2 at 9pm.
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