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First birthdays are a big milestone for a baby and his parents. But there’s more to think about than the Pinterest-inspired decorations and that cute little face covered in frosting. You’ll need a spot to host the big blowout. Click through the gallery for six fantastic spots to delight your pint-sized guest of honor and all of his or her guests.

WiggleWorks Kids

If you've got a bunch of toddlers joining your wee one's special day, take your party to WiggleWorks Kids to bounce, climb and of course, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. While the tots play, adults can sit back and relax and older sibs can participate in crafts or small games. All party packages include all day play on WiggleWorks' soft playground for the birthday boy or girl and up to 15 guests 48 inches and under. Add on 90 minutes in their delightfully fun Orange Room, where it’s OK for kids to color on the walls, and this milestone birthday will surely be one to remember.

Bonus: Don't want to worry about the party details? A dedicated event coordinator will happily take care of all the party planning including pizza and decorations and will provide printable invitations and surprise goody bags for guests to take home (depending on your package choice -standard, custom or theme).

Good to Know: Customize your value or theme party with fun extras like giant character balloons, piñatas or a craft activity for the whole party. See pricing details on their website.

Crossroads Mall
15600 N.E. 8th St., Suite G2
Bellevue, Wa 98008
425-641-2186
Email: parties.bellevue@wiggleworkskids.com

South Hill Mall
3500 S. Meridian, #215
Puyallup, Wa 98373
253-445-6551

Online: wiggleworkskids.com

Cost: Packages vary by location and begin at $129.

photo: WiggleWorks Kids website 

Where is your favorite place to throw a first birthday bash? Tell us in the Comments below.

— Angela Alanis

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Every parent can relate this time of year. You’re frantically trying to hunt down that perfect gift, squeeze in a Santa visit, and bake Pinterest quality cookies, all while trying to create magical memories your kids will remember for a lifetime. Just thinking about it can be exhausting. But one visit to Warm Beach Camp’s The Lights of Christmas will take that last item (and more) off your holiday to-do list. Read on for the inside scoop on this cant-miss holiday extravaganza.

Lights-of-Christmas-4

photo: Angela Alanis

Lights, Lights, and more Lights!
With over one million lights covering every tree, cabin, and gingerbread man, walking into The Lights of Christmas may be the next best thing to walking into the North Pole. Eyes will be twinkling as you take in Santa’s elves and sugar plums, scenic mountains, even a lighthouse scene. As you wander to the sounds of holiday music, you may even start to think you’ve walked into one of those wonderfully cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies we’re all secretly obsessed with this time of year.

Don’t have the energy to fight another big holiday crowd? The lights at Warm Beach are spread over 15 acres so even at peak times there’s plenty of room for a stroller or to safely let your toddler explore a few feet ahead.

Lights-of-Christmas---train

photo: Angela Alanis

Other Activities to Do and See 
If the amazing spectacle of lights isn’t enough to thoroughly hypnotize your little ones, take a ride on the Polar Express train or chat with Bruce the Spruce, the talking Christmas tree. Stop and take a picture with Frosty who is often seen strolling by, cruise by the petting farm, go on a pony ride or take in a holiday show (or two) at one of five entertainment stages . If you want to achieve the elusive “two birds with one stone,” Santa Claus will be on site just awaiting to hear the minis wish lists. And if you still have some holiday shopping to do, be sure to stop by the Toy Shop, Joyland Ornament Shop and gift shops. Psst! If all these activities make you hungry, follow the heavenly smell of fresh homemade donuts that will make any kid wait patiently in line for a sugary bite (OK, maybe Warm Beach can’t perform a Christmas miracle, but the donuts are really good and well worth the wait).

Lights of Christmas - 6

photo: Angela Alanis

5 Course Meal or Dessert Matinee? It IS a Wonderful Life!
For families with kiddos 8 and older, head over to the Cedar Lodge for the Holiday Dinner Theatre. Relax and enjoy a 5-course meal, while watching the “radio version” of It’s a Wonderful Life live on stage. If you don’t think your little wiggle worms can make it through the four-hour dinner theatre, try the Dessert Matinee on Sundays, which goes just over two hours. Make your reservations online, and be sure to book early!

Lights-of-Christmas-5

photo: Angela Alanis

Know Before You Go
1. Bundle up! With the exception of food and performances, expect to spend the majority of your time outside. Even if it doesn’t feel too chilly at first, it will after an hour or two of walking around.

2. Hit the ATM before you go. The Camp accepts credit/debit cards at the gate, but cash is preferred at the many of the cafés and concession stands inside. Good to know: There is an ATM on site, so if you forget to stop at the bank you won’t have to be tortured by the sweet smell of the donuts.

3. Leave your heels at home. Aside from a quick ride on the Polar Express, you’ll be exploring the 15 acres on foot so throw on your most comfortable walking shoes. Tree roots have also pushed their way up into some of the sidewalks so keep an eye out.

4. You can stay the night! Not ready to head back to reality so soon? Warm Beach Camp has numerous cabins and holiday-themed lodges you can reserve for the night. Check their website for more info or to reserve your space. But book early, as space is limited.

5. If you don’t encounter traffic, the trip will take you approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Seattle. Pack some snacks, crank up the holiday tunes and make the most of the drive north.

the lights of christmas

photo: The Lights of Christmas Facebook page 

The Lights of Christmas
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
20800 Marine Dr.
Stanwood, Wa 98292
Online: warmbeach.com/lights-of-christmas

Dates
December 4-7, 11-14, 18-23, 26-30, 2014
Gates open at 5 p.m.; festival closes at 10 p.m.

Cost
$15/adults (13 and older); $10/youth (4-12); 3 and under Free. Discounts are available for seniors and military. Purchase tickets at the gate or online.

Pay What You Can Nights: The folks at Warm Beach don’t want anyone to be left out of their “holiday dream-come-true.” If you can’t afford the full price of admission, plan your visit for one of the Pay What You Can Nights and do just that. Your bill will reflect the regular price, however you only pay what you can afford, with no minimum payment required. Pay What You Can is available December 4, 11, 29, and 30, 2014.

Parking
Free parking is available on site, watch for the attendants to direct you.

Lights-of-Christmas-1

photo: Angela Alanis

Will you be attending The Lights of Christmas this year? Let us know about your experience in a comment below.

— Angela Alanis

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We already told you about the 28 Moms Groups You Should Know in Seattle and the Eastside. But what if you live north or south of Seattle and your minis simply don’t have the patience for the drive to the city? Never fear, parents! We’ve rounded up 14 awesome moms (and dads) groups outside the city, just waiting for you and your crew to join.

kid-water-balloons

North Sound  

Busy Bees Playgroup for Moms & Tots
If you are looking for a group where you and your tots can have fun and make lasting friendships, Busy Bees is for you. This group of fun moms like to stay busy by organizing a variety of kid-centered activities. Busy Bees is located primarily in Marysville, but have events in nearby cities as well. Playdates include trips to parks, zoos and festivals as well as in-home crafts. Busy Bees also hosts mom’s nights and family gatherings.

GLBT Families & Friends of Greater Puget Sound
Are you looking for other GLBT families to socialize with in your ‘hood? GLBT Families & Friends are located in the Everett/Lake Stevens area, but will travel and love finding cool new places to meet with kids in tow. All LGBT families and their friends are welcome to join this group.

MOMS Club of Marysville
A support group designed for the at-home mom of today, MOMS Club® is an international non-profit organization. The MOMS Club of Marsville is full of diverse women and kids of all ages and backgrounds. They plan a number of activities including monthly meetings with special guest speakers, playgroups, day outings, special interest activities, seasonal parties, charitable events, and a monthly Mom’s Night Out.

Mothers of South Snohomish
If you live in the south Snohomish area, you gotta check out Mothers of South Snohomish (MOSS). This awesome group supports mothers and their kids through friendship, networking, and fun activities. New members are welcomed during the monthly meetings, which often feature informative speakers. This group is known for planning playgroups, weekly activities for both moms and tots, a monthly Moms Night Out, and much more.

New Mom Brunches: Bump Club & Beyond

photo credit: TK Photography

North Sound Explore and Play Group
This group is for moms in the North Sound looking for friends and fun with and without their littles in tow! Made up of a diverse group of women, members include stay-at-home moms, working moms, work-from-home moms, expecting moms, aunts, and nannies. All ages of kids are welcome, but the majority of the group have tots under 5. Bonus: Activities are scheduled almost daily!

Snohomish County Mothers of Multiples (SNOMOMS)
Raising multiples is a rewarding and challenging experience and SNOMOMS offers a wide variety of educational, social, emotional and practical support for moms during all stages of their “multiples” experience. SNOMOMS welcomes expectant, new, and seasoned moms who live in or around Snohomish County and North King County.

Snohomish New Moms Group
This free, drop-in group aims to be educational and support-based for new moms and dads. Snohomish New Moms Group is held on the second Friday of each month at the Snohomish Public Library common room from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. New, relevant topics are presented by professional members of the community and meetings are led by a trained facilitator. All kids and babes are welcome to attend the meetings.

The Real Moms of Snohomish County
The Real Moms of Snohomish County are just that: real moms! They don’t pretend to be perfect moms, and honestly they aren’t even trying to be. They know that all moms have good days and bad days and they all have “real” kids. And through it all, they have fun together. In addition to park meet-ups, playdates and exercise, this fun group of mommies love to go out with the girls, craft, read, and learn and grow together.

Moms group cookie exchange

South Sound 

410 Moms & Tots
This amazing group of moms with preschool and elementary aged children live within Auburn, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Enumclaw, Lake Tapps, Orting, Puyallup, South Prairie, and Sumner. The group is made up of very active moms who regularly get together with their tots (usually birth to age 5) for themed playdates, library storytimes, stroller adventures and scrapbooking as well as Mom’s Night Out, wine tasting, birthday celebrations or more.

Maple Valley – Covington Area Moms
This South Sound group is made up of SAHM and working moms (with kids ages 0-5) who are relaxed, positive and focus on their minis having fun, making friends, exercising, growing and learning. The group believes it takes a village to raise a child and are always looking to add more moms and caregivers to the group.

MOMS Club of Renton
Are you looking for a connection with your community and other at-home moms? MOMS Club is proud of your choice to stay home and will provide a variety of activities for you and your tot during the day. If you need a support group that understands your special needs as a mom, this is the one for you!

photo credit: Vered Ronen

Puget Sound Housedads United
If you are a dad and looking for a group for networking and support amongst all the stay-at-home dads of the greater Puget Sound area, Puget Sound Housedads United is for you. This group knows it’s the 21st century and for a lot of families, a stay-at-home Dad just makes the most sense. The group schedules regular playdates and group outings at parks as well as fun activities to keep dads and tots busy during the day.

Tacoma Holistic Moms
This fun chapter is made up of a diverse group of holistic moms from Pierce County. The group welcomes all area moms (and dads) with an interest in holistic health and green living. The group’s goal is to develop a thriving local community of holistic parents with a wide range of interests. Grandparents, partners and other caregivers are welcome to join the group.

Tacoma Parents of Multiples
Tacoma Parents of Multiples (TPOM) is a non-profit organization open to all parents or guardians of multiple birth kiddos. The club helps support parents of multiples (twins, triplets, and even quadruplets) by sharing ideas and information related to raising multiples in Tacoma, Pierce and Thurston Counties, and the surrounding areas.

Do you have a favorite moms (or dads) group in the North or South Sound? Share it with us in a comment below. 

— Angela Alanis

Related stories:
27 Moms Groups Every Seattle Mom (and Dad) Should Know

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You already know there are many benefits to staying active throughout pregnancy, for both you and baby. But did you know that exercise can shorten labor and delivery? What mom doesn’t like the sound of that? If getting your tired, achy self to the gym or out for a walk is is easier said than done, perhaps having a class that you love might be the extra motivation you need. Click through the photo gallery for six prenatal fitness classes to keep you moving as well as make sure that bump stays more baby than burgers and ice cream.

Burn, baby, burn!

If you cringe at the idea of trading in your intense cardio and strength training for stretching and a yoga mat, Fit4Baby is the place for you. Classes are done in interval style, combining strength training, cardio, stretching, and balancing exercises that will make you sweat. Fit4Baby instructors are trained and certified so they are fully equipped to lead safe and appropriate exercises for women in every stage of pregnancy.

Benefits for Mom: Regular Fit4Baby classes can help ease aches and pains, increase energy, and may speed the labor and delivery process.

Fit4MOM Bellevue
Extreme Fitness, 777 108th Ave. N.E.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Online: bellevue.fit4mom.com

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $240 for two classes per week for eight weeks; register online.

FIT4MOM South Seattle
Lakewood Seward Park Community Club
4916 S. Angeline St.
Seattle, Wa 98118
Online: southseattle.fit4mom.com

Time: Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Cost: $90 for one class per week, plus one at home workout for 6 weeks; register online.

FIT4MOM Mill Creek & Lynnwood
Online: millcreek.fit4mom.com

Playdate Café - Tuesdays at 7 p.m
4114 198th St. S.W., Suite 3
Lynnwood, Wa 98036

babyGap - Saturdays at 8:30 a.m.
Alderwood Mall
3000 184th St. S.W.
Lynnwood, Wa, 98037

Cost: $150 for two classes per week for eight weeks. Class passes available from $75 to $125; register online.

FIT4MOM Bothell/Kirkland
Evergreen Hospital
12040 N.E. 128th St.
Kirkland, Wa, 98034
Online: bothell-kirkland.fit4mom.com

Time: Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Cost: $90 per 6 week session; register online.

FIT4MOM Ballard, Richmond Beach & Edmonds
Swedish Medical Center
5350 Tallman Ave. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98107
Online: ballard.fit4mom.com

Time: Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Saturdays at 9 a.m.
Cost: $120 for one class per week for 8 weeks; $220 for two classes per week for 8 weeks; register online.

 What is your favorite prenatal class? Let us know in a comment below. 

–Angela Alanis

Photo credits: Fit4Baby, Whole Life Yoga website, Seattle Holistic Center, Pure Barre Bellevue Facebook page, Valley Medical Center Fitness Center & Pilates on 10th

 

FROST: A Must-Visit Whimsical Dessert Lounge

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FROST Doughnuts has been a Mill Creek favorite since it opened its doors in 2009, winning over kids and adults alike with its imaginative doughnut creations. But now, FROST has gone way beyond its namesake pastry and expanded into a whimsical dessert lounge, offering everything from cupcakes to cheesecakes to macarons and even frozen custard. Read on to find out why this sweet haven is not only worthy of the drive north, but also of a date night.

FROST-bldg

Decisions, Decisions…
After building their fan base on delicious specialty doughnuts like salted caramel and their famous giant Bacon Maple Bar, FROST decided it was time to take their desserts to the next level. As if it wasn’t already hard enough to pick just one tasty treat, their case is now full of mouth-watering cupcakes, cheesecakes, macarons, and soft serve frozen custards, in just as many inspired flavors as their doughnuts. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself next to your kiddos with your nose pressed up against the glass, trying to come up with a reason why they each get to pick one, and you get to pick three. If you’re able to plan ahead, you can check out FROST’s website to see the day’s flavors and attempt to narrow down your choices before you arrive.

FROST-case

Introducing the Dessert Lounge
Still located in the Mill Creek Town Center, FROST has moved to a larger location more suited for a menu of such heavenly magnitude. Creating a new “dessert lounge” concept, they’ve designed a welcoming, modern atmosphere that immediately delights when you walk in the door. With cushy benches, decorative lighting, and whimsical feel, it’s everything you could want in a dessert lounge (besides the dessert, obviously). Keeping families in mind, they’ve included a kid’s corner with a pint-sized table and small library of books, so mom and dad can have a few precious moments to savor their tasty treats.

FROST-cupcake

Leave the Minis at Home
Taking their dessert lounge concept a step further, FROST is no longer just the perfect place for a morning doughnut or mid-day treat. Now with later hours (open ’til 10 p.m. every night), Frost is also a late night sugar-craving destination. Complete with a new list of local Washington wines, it’s the perfect place to have a Mom’s Night Out, or a last stop on the way back from date night, when you’re just not ready to go back home.

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Giving Back, Okay?
When the FROST team realized their grand re-launch was the same date as the movie premiere of The Fault in Our Stars, the story of a 16-year-old cancer patient, they wanted to find a way to help kids whose lives are not always “okay.” Taking the popular “Okay, Okay?” line from the movie, they created special TFIOS cupcakes. $1 from every Okay, Okay?” cupcake sold goes straight to pediatric cancer research at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Cupcakes have never tasted sweeter!

FROST-cupcakes--Children's-

The Icing on Top
You can easily argue that it’s always happy hour when you’re scarfing down a FROST creation. But to make yourself even happier, check out their Facebook page for official happy hour times with 25-50% off doughnuts, and $5 wines.

Want some delicious treats to be the centerpiece of your next birthday bash, wedding, or corporate celebration? FROST is happy to whip up custom orders that will tempt your guests’ willpower. Call or order online. Having just a small event? Save yourself the house cleaning and have it at FROST.

FROST
15217 Main St.
Mill Creek, Wa 98012
425-379-2600
Online: frostology.com or on Facebook

Hours: Mon.–Fri., 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Have you been to the new Frost location? What’s your favorite item on the menu? Share with us in a comment below. 

-Angela Alanis, words and photos

FROST storefront image courtesy of Kelly Bowie at KCB Photography

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Having a long list of parks in your arsenal is a parenting must, especially during the long summer months. That’s why we’re super excited about Bothell’s newest (and coolest!) park. With a large playground, sand and water habitat, numerous paths and play spaces in the woods and a cool lookout tower, a visit to Miner’s Corner County Park may just jump to the top of your battle plans, er, list.

MinersCorner---Playground-2

Slide, Swing and Spin
A first look at this awesome playground will have everyone in your crew excited to play—even mom and dad! There’s a variety of slides, some thrilling enough for bigger kids and some more suited for the Littles. There are two climbing walls, a lookout tower, and a modern merry-go-round for tots who love to get dizzy. Upon closer inspection, every nook and cranny is jam-packed with things to spin, climb, swing, and explore. Bells to ring and drums to play will inspire little musicians, and maybe make your nice pots and pans seem a little less endearing. You will also find the always-popular steering wheels and telescopes placed throughout the playground. And an added bonus: The park is covered with cushy rubber padding, keeping those awful woodchips to a minimum and the entire park is uniquely wheelchair accessible, including the 10-foot tall lookout tower.

MinersCorner---Playground-3

Sandcastles and Dinosaurs
If your little tykes love to get their hands (and feet) dirty, grab your buckets and shovels and hit the cool sandbox. In addition to plenty of sandy space to play, your amateur archeologist can look for fossils. That’s right! A dinosaur fossil is just waiting to be uncovered! (Helpful Hint: The fossil is located in the stream by the Sand Trap). There’s also plenty of room to build the perfect sandcastle, and a couple of cranes to make kids feel like big time construction workers.

MinersCornerPark---Sandbox

Getting Back to Nature
Miner’s Corner has embraced the surrounding wooded areas and streams, encouraging kids (and even adults!) to be creative with nature. Kids will feel like they’re deep in the forest with trails winding in and out of tall trees, logs to climb over, and bugs to discover. All the while, you won’t have to worry about potential lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) or other dangers lurking along the trail, as little explorers are visible from the playground.

MinersCornerPark---Trails-1

Water Exploration
Like anything else with the potential to get wet and dirty, the water habitat is an enticing place for tots to play. It’s naturally changing ecosystem gives new opportunities to learn and explore, not to mention splash and soak mom or dad with a bucket from the sandbox. The water garden is up to a foot deep, potentially more depending on recent rainfall, so make sure to keep a close eye on smaller explorers, especially if they’re tempted to lean a little too far over the edge.

MinersCornerPark---Water-Ha

For Aspiring Athletes
If you have a budding Lebron James, the Sports Court has a full size high school basketball court perfect for a pick-up game or round of HORSE. Hoops not your thing? There are areas for an intense round of foursquare or even hopscotch. The spacious Sports Lawn is so brand spanking new that the grass still needs a bit more time to grow before it can open up to little feet. But when it does, it will be the perfect place for soccer, football, ultimate Frisbee, or even a family picnic.

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Good to Know
1) Miner’s Corner is part of Snohomish County’s “Pack It In, Pack It Out” initiative, meaning there are no garbage cans in the park. Be prepared to take any empty snack bags or juice boxes home with you to throw away. The bathrooms are the exception, there are cans to toss your paper towels and stinky diapers.

2) Need a place for your summer gathering or next birthday bash? The large Picnic Shelter can be reserved, and is already complete with electricity and picnic tables, and can fit up to 50 guests.

3) If you think your little waterbug may get too excited about the water habitat, you may want to throw an extra shirt in your bag. Actually on second thought, throw in some extra pants and socks too!

Miner’s Corner County Park
22903 45th Ave. S.E.
Bothell, Wa 98021
Online: snohomishcountywa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Miners-Corner-57

Will you be exploring Miner’s Corner Park this summer? Tell us about your experience a comment below. 

–Angela Alanis, words and photos

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We know summer in Seattle can be fickle so having an indoor backup plan (or two) when beach day is a total washout is a must. Thankfully, the Seattle-area is loaded with fun (and affordable) indoor play spaces including Island Time in Mill Creek. With an awesome play area for the minis, games for older sibs, affordable food, and a tropical theme to help you hold on to that summer feeling on the rainiest of Seattle days, this spot might just become your crew’s newest summer hangout.

Island-Time-inside

Play Hut
The Island Time Play Hut is completely free, and will wear your kiddos out as they climb, slide, and hop to their heart’s content. And when that inevitable time comes when you have to climb up to rescue them (or drag them back down), never fear, the structure was built with parents in mind. There are no cringe inducing plastic tubes to make your knees beg for mercy, instead the tunnels are padded and tall enough for you to comfortably make your heroic rescue. When your munchkin is bored with climbing, they’ll have a blast popping balloons, playing piano, kicking footballs, and playing other interactive Eyeclick games projected right onto the floor. There’s also a toddler area with padded blocks and games for younger tots who may find climbing a bit more daunting.

Island-Time-Play-Hut1

Arcade and Laser Tag
The arcade has a variety of games that will entertain both younger and older kids. Games take 1-2 tokens each, and tokens are 4 for $1. You can’t beat that! Game tickets can also be redeemed for prizes out of the prize machine. If your little action heroes are in need of more excitement than the arcade can provide, they will love chasing each other around the Mystic Jungle laser tag maze. Laser tag is $6 a player for 10 minutes of laser adventures.

Island-Time-Arcade

When Tummies Start Growling
Meals at this island oasis are affordable, especially considering you get the priceless bonus of wearing the kiddies out for free. The most expensive items on the menu are the paninis, at only $4.50 each. Kids meals are only $2.99, and kids get a choice between classic grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, baby carrots, chips, and a small toy. If you need a pick-me-up (or two), Island time has a full Espresso and smoothie bar filled with Italian sodas, steamers, and more. In the mood for a frozen treat? The self-serve fro-yo bar has several tasty flavors, and even some gluten and dairy-free options. Both kids and parents will have fun piling on their favorite toppings, and at only 37 cents an ounce you won’t think twice about throwing on that extra spoonful of cookie dough.

Island-Time-Frozen-Yogurt

Party Like It’s Your Birthday
Looking for somewhere new to have your next birthday bash? Island Time has 6 packages designed to fit various party sizes and age groups. Packages include several food options, game tokens, and laser tag. While the party packages cover the kids’ food only, you can add on a panini platter for the bigger partygoers in attendance. Can’t get enough of the games? Additional tokens can be purchased at a discounted rate. And if you know your kiddo will be heartbroken if their favorite character isn’t on their cake, you’re welcome to bring in your own along with any matching decorations.

Island-Time-Eyeclick

Island Time
3916 148th St SE, #205
Mill Creek, Wa 98012
425-357-9882
Online: islandtimemillcreek.com or on Facebook

Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 10a.m.-9p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10a.m.-10p.m.
Sunday: 11a.m.-7p.m.

Will you be hitting Island Time this summer? Already a regular, what’s your favorite part? Let us know in a comment below!

–Angela Alanis, words and photos

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Giant waterslide? Check. Lazy river? Check. Spray area? Check. The only thing the new Snohomish Aquatic Center is missing is a FlowRider surf machine. Oh wait. They have that too! With our rainy winters (and springs and falls), we know Seattle parents are always on the lookout for the newest indoor attractions to keep their little ones from bouncing off the walls, the couch, and their nerves. Look no further, Seattle parents. The new Snohomish Aquatic Center has you covered—jam-packed full of awesome activities to wear out every kiddo no matter what their age or swimming ability.

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Recreation Pool
The recreation pool has all features you’d expect of an indoor pool, including an open area for the kiddos to play and a lap area for adults. There are even a couple of basketball hoops for a quick pick-up game. But unlike most standard pools, the Snohomish Aquatic Center is a bit reminiscent of a fancy hotel, with its own lazy river just waiting for you to jump on an inner tube and take a relaxing ride.

And you know that traumatizing pool experience where you’re inching into the freezing cold water, trying to get up the guts to just jump in and (hopefully) warm up? Not a problem here. The water is kept at an amazing 84-86 degrees! Not only is it heaven getting in, but it feels so nice you may never want to get out. Still looking for something a bit warmer? The warm water pool is even toastier at 102 degrees.

SnohoAquaCtr2

Spray-Play Area
If your little ones are missing their trips to the outdoor spray pads, this indoor spray-play area will more than fit the bill. Complete with the bubblers and tipping buckets kids love, this awesome play area even has a slide that will have the Littles squealing with joy as they splash down into a few inches of water. And with a zero depth entry, even your tiniest water bugs will be able to toddle in and play with ease.

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Splashtacular & FlowRider
Older kiddos will jump at the chance to fly down Splashtacular, the giant corkscrew water slide, spiraling over 150 feet outside and making an awesome splash back into the recreation pool. With the FlowRider surf simulator, you don’t need to head to Hawaii to learn how to catch a wave. The only one of its kind in the area, the FlowRider gives kids an exciting challenge (and a good workout!) as they try to master the boogie board or even stand-up surf. Psst! Riders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride the Splashtacular, and 42 inches to boogie board on the FlowRider.

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Time to Refuel
If you or the mini’s are in need of a quick bite to keep your tummies from growling, the café has a good selection of snacks all around $3 or under. With lighter kid-friendly options like fresh fruit and string cheese, health conscious parents won’t have any trouble finding a nutritious snack. You will also find bagels and hot dogs on the menu for those with bigger appetites as well as a variety of coffees, teas and other drinks.

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Good to Know:
1. There are no towels for guests to use so make sure to pack plenty in your bag before you head out the door.

2. Along with the standard men’s and women’s locker rooms, there are separate family changing areas. If the minis are getting a little older and no longer comfortable in the “opposite” locker room, there are options for dads and daughters and moms and sons.

3. Lockers are provided to store your clothes, purses and diaper bags while you play…just remember to bring your own lock. If you forget, locks are available for purchase at the front desk.

4. The Aquatic Center has life jackets available free of charge, along with tubes and other water toys. Outside toys, water wings, and other flotation devices are not allowed in the pool so save yourself the hassle and leave them at home.

5. The weekends can get really busy. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before the start of the swim session you want to attend. Check the pool schedule before you go.

6. If you’re looking for a place to throw your kiddo’s next birthday bash, the Aquatic Center offers a variety of party packages on Saturdays and Sundays. Packages start at $225 and include pizza and drinks, pool time, and time in the party room.

SnohoAquaCtr6

Snohomish Aquatic Center
516 Maple Ave.
Snohomish, Wa 98290
360-568-8030
Online: snohomishaquatic.com or on Facebook

Admission:
Family: $17
Seniors: $4.50
Adults: $5.50
Youth (7-18): $5
Kids (2-6): $4.50
Under 2: Free
(City of Snohomish residents are eligible for a 20% discount on annual and 3-month passes)

Hours:
Monday-Friday: 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m
Sunday: 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

The Snohomish Aquatic Center offers various programs and activities including swim lessons, exercise programs, swim teams, and of course open swim times. Be sure to check the website for the most up-to-date schedules.

Do you plan on visiting the Snohomish Aquatic Center? Let us know about your experiences in a comment below. 

-Angela Alanis

Photo Credit: The Snohomish Aquatic Center website

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We all know how important it is for our kids to socialize with other little ones. But it’s just as important for us moms (and dads) to have play dates too. Mothers’ Clubs, local parenting organizations and moms groups are a great way to connect with other families in your area and establish a supportive community of like-minded folks. Check out our list below to find a group in your ‘hood. With everything from mothers of multiples to fitness groups to attachment parenting, there’s a group sure to fit your family.

PEPS moms and babies

Seattle

Ballard Parents
Ballard is known for its “small town” feeling and Ballard Parents is a great resource for parents who want to bring that small town one step closer. Working, stay-at-home, single? Parents in every circumstance will find resources in this group. Topics include nanny sharing, babysitting, school recommendations, parenting classes and child development.

Capital Hill Parenting
This awesome group supports families living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Members are welcome to use the group to exchange news and information about kid-focused events and services, connect for play dates, swap baby gear, reach out for help and support on various parenting issues, and much more.

Madrona Moms
Madrona Moms is an informal, fun-loving group of Seattle mamas. The group was created back in 2000 by a couple of moms who met at Madrona playfield with their little ones in tow. Their aim was to “make Madrona feel like a small town” and that’s exactly what they’re still doing today.

Green Lake Moms
Green Lake Moms is a fave for many Seattle-area parents and was the winner of our 2013 Totally Awesome Awards for most awesome group for moms and dads. The group was founded as a community resource in Seattle to provide a place for local moms to share information and support one another. The group has became so popular and fulfilled local moms’ needs so well that today it has more than 2400 members. From Green Lake Mom Daily Deals to organized meet-ups and events, Green Lake Moms is a fantastic opportunity for Seattle moms to connect, bond, and grow.

North East Seattle Moms
North East Seattle Moms is open to families who live in the Laurelhurst, Bryant, View Ridge, Wedgwood, Windermere, Hawthorne Hills, Ravenna, Meadowbrook, Sand Point and Matthews Beach neighborhoods and want to connect with other parents in the neighborhood. Parents in this group are encouraged to ask and share resources with one another as well as wisdom and information on a variety of topics, neighborhood specific information and issues.

Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Seattle
Keeping families together is the mission of this Seattle parenting group. PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, their families and friends through support, education and advocacy.

Queen Anne Moms and Dads
Moms and dads living on Queen Anne are invited to join this group to get to know one another as neighbors and support each other as parents. Group members coordinate playgroups, announce neighborhood activities, provide resources regarding childcare, schools, and classes, share information about suspicious or criminal activity in the neighborhood, provide tips for things to do or services to try, and discuss things of interest and of use to families living on Queen Anne.

Seattle Attachment Parenting (API)
API Seattle is a support group affiliated with Attachment Parenting International that provides encouragement, advice, education, and friendship for attachment-focused families. API encourages moms and dads to develop secure, peaceful, and enduring relationships with others through trust, empathy, and affection. The group provides the support parents need through monthly meetings, playgroups, potlucks, book club meetings, seminars, a lending library, and an online discussion group.

Seattle Babywearing Network (SABN)
With the goal of encouraging more parents and caregivers to carry their babies, the purpose of this group is to promote, educate and share information about babywearing and its benefits. The group meets on the first Wednesday of the month in Seattle and on the Eastside to share babywearing experiences, troubleshoot problems and assist with carrier usage.

Seattle Fremont Moms
Fremont moms (a.k.a Fremomsters) live in The Center of the Universe and share information related to child-rearing including everything from sharing a nanny to babysitting to school recommendations. The group acts as a support group for anyone seeking help with raising their children, maintaining their home, and balancing work and home and encourages its members to set up weekly and monthly playdates.

Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS) 
PEPS is known for helping parents connect and grow as they begin their journey into parenthood. PEPS parent support programs educate, inform and create community among parents and have become a vital resource for new mothers and fathers. PEPS serves thousands of families annually all over the Seattle area including the Eastside.

Seattleista Moms
This Seattle group is for expecting moms, new moms, and even moms with school-aged kiddos. It’s a great place to meet moms living in the city and stay fit and healthy while having fun. The group holds special events such as kids clothing swap parties and prenatal and mom and me yoga classes and is known for planning walks around the lake, play dates at the gym and participating in language classes, cooking classes, first aid classes, ladies lunches, spa days, and even moms night out.

Seattle Single Parents
With over 1300 members, this group is designed for single parents living in Seattle and the surrounding areas. The group has an awesome mix of both young and experienced parents and is designed for moms and dads who want to get active as well as find other single parents to connect and network with; to share ideas and support with; and to plan group events with. If you’re thinking the possibilities are endless in this group… you’re right!

WSMOT – Super Moms of West Seattle
WSMOT is a fun group of moms who like to get out and enjoy each other’s company. If you live in West Seattle or the White Center neighborhood and have a kiddo who is entering kindergarten through 3rd grade, you’ll definitely want to check this group out! Psst! Younger siblings are always welcome.

Sandbox Sports kids playing little diggers

Eastside

Eastside Aspergers Kids Social Group
If you have a kiddo age 12 and under with Aspergers Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, PDD-NOS or similar diagnoses, this group is designed for you. The motto for this Eastside group is “Let’s get together and help the children make friends” and that’s exactly what the parents and caregivers in this group are doing. Low-key meetups at parks, playgrounds and other fun places are planned monthly.

Eastside Cool Mommies
This group of active and young (or young at heart) cool mamas is designed for moms who are ready to get out of the house and meet like-minded ladies. The group is designed for both stay-at-home and working moms who have kids of all ages—there is no limit in this group! Eastside Cool Mommies encourages its members to get their kiddos out of the house and make new friends as well as get some advice, give some advice and have fun!

Eastside Mothers Club
The Eastside Mothers Club knows that being a mom can be joyous, stressful, wonderful, frustrating, awesome, and trying all at the same time. They also know it can be a lonely and under-appreciated profession. EMC was formed by moms for moms living on the Eastside. The purpose of this club is to provide friendship, community, fun, education, and mutual support for mothers of tots ages birth through five years. Members in this group will meet other stay-at-home moms, enjoy fun events with kiddos in tow and learn about great family activities on the Eastside.

Eastside Mothers of Multiples
Are you a mom of multiples? Eastside Mothers of Multiples (EMOMs) is dedicated to fostering mutual support between families facing the unique joys and challenges of raising multiples. In this group, volunteers facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and clothing and equipment through their private website, semi-annual sale, and a wide range of other activities. Members in this group will get much-needed support and opportunities to form lasting friendships with other moms and families of multiples.

Eastside Parents: Wing it, Meet it, Bring it!
This group of laid back parents just want to hang out and have fun. Collectively they are made up of working parents and stay-at-home parents and have teens, toddlers, babies, and dogs. The group believes that being in your 30s and 40s is young (isn’t it?) and like to live at the beach in the summer and play in the snow in the winter, but above all – love their kids.

Kirkland Moms Network
Kirkland Moms Network is an online support group for stay-at-home moms (and dads). The group knows the importance of getting together with other parents for support and friendship and knows the importance of kids learning to socialize at an early age. The group shares tips on everything from getting kids to eat to finding great places to go with the family. Above all, they enjoy staying home and having fun with their kids.

Kirkland/Redmond/Bellevue Toddler Playgroup
This group offers free and cheap daytime activities for toddlers (walking, but under 3-years-old) in Kirkland, Redmond and Bellevue. The group is designed mostly for nannies and stay-at-home parents and caregivers as activities take place on weekdays, during the daytime. This group is a great social experience for young children.

MOMS Club of Bellevue
This club is a chapter of the International MOMS Club, the only organization designed especially for moms who choose to stay at home with their children. If you live in Bellevue and stay at home at least part-time to care for your kiddos, this chapter might be for you! The chapter strives to plan activities that are of interest to all of its members including park days, playgroups, coffee club, field trips, and the ever-popular mom’s night out!

MOMS Club of the Sammamish Plateau
MOMS Club of Sammamish Plateau is a chapter of an International organization aimed at providing support for mothers who stay at-home or work part-time to raise their children. Their goals include supporting one another, having fun with their kids and performing service projects in the community. MOMS Club is an awesome way for you to meet other moms who share your interests while providing a safe environment for your kiddos to socialize.

stroller strides

Didn’t find the club for you?
Check out these national organizations with clubs in multiple locations throughout the Puget Sound.

Fit4Mom 
Fit4Mom started with Stroller Strides in 2001. With over 1,300 locations nationwide, it offers its members an opportunity to get in shape, meet other moms and have fun with their babies. Since it opened, it has released Fit4Baby (a prenatal fitness class) and Body Back (a workout for any stage of motherhood). All of their programs give moms the “strength for motherhood.”

Meetup
Meetup.com helps moms find other moms who share their same interests or causes and helps form lasting and influential local community groups that regularly meet face-to-face.

MOMS Club
This support group is designed for the stay-at-home mom. If you are interested in the world around you, want a variety of activities for you and your kiddos, and are proud of your choice of at-home mothering for your family, this could be the group for you!

Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)
MOPS connects moms all over the world to a community of women, in their own neighborhoods, who meet together to laugh, cry, and embrace the journey of motherhood. MOPS groups encourage moms to be honest, to feel more equipped, and to find their identity by journeying alongside one another.

See Mommy Run
Stay fit. Stay healthy. It’s one of the most important things we can do as a mom. If you would like to join other moms in your area to run or walk or to share health, fitness, and everyday living tips, this is the group for you. See Mommy Run invites moms to join existing groups in their area or start one of their own.

Did we miss your favorite mommy group? Let us know about it in a comment below. 

— Angela Alanis

Photo credits: Stroller Strides, PEPS Program for Early Parent Support Facebook page & Erin Cranston

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It’s everything you love about Disney’s original animated movie; the quirky characters, the unforgettable songs, the heartwarming story of true love. But what makes KIDSTAGE’s version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. even more awe-inspiring? It’s performed by a cast of over 40 kids, ages 8-18. This show is not only an awesome opportunity to pull the minis away from their screens and into real life, but is a chance for them to discover the amazing things kids are capable of doing. Read on for the inside scoop on this latest family production.

kidstage beauty and the beast 1
The Story
It’s a “tale as old as time.” A tale that not only charms our little ones today, but found its way into our hearts when we were just kiddos ourselves. An enchantress casts a spell on a heartless prince and his castle, turning him into an ugly beast. The only way to break the spell is to earn the love of another… before all the petals fall from his enchanted rose. Fast forward a few years later to Belle, a young woman from a nearby village, who finds her way to the castle and sparks the hopes of the beast and his enchanted servants as they race to win her heart before the last petal falls.

Just like the movie, you will be instantly hooked with the first song as you escape to the small provincial town. And before you know it, you will be smiling and quietly singing along to the catchy songs from your childhood days. Kids will adore the antics of the quirky characters and the fast-paced storyline will keep them on the edge of their seats instead of squirming out of them (and onto the floor, and then into the row in front of them).

kidstage beauty and the beast 2

What Will Kids Learn?
Of course it wouldn’t be a Disney production without a life lesson or two. Looking past the fairy tale love story are messages that take on an even more important meaning for kids today. In a world filled with bullying on the playground and now even online, the underlying messages are ones of acceptance, kindness, and inner beauty. Belle is considered unusual in her own town for no other reason than a love of books and big dreams. The Beast, with his frightening appearance and gruff demeanor, turns out to be sweet and caring once he receives just a little bit of kindness. Kids will discover that despite what is on the outside, it’s more important to look for a person’s real beauty on the inside (the same thing you’ve already been telling them, but we all know they’re more likely to listen when it comes from a singing teapot).

kidstage beauty and the beast3

After the Show
Following each performance, select cast members return to the stage for a brief cast “talk back.” Audience members are invited to ask questions about the show, KIDSTAGE, or about the actors themselves. Kids are especially encouraged to ask anything that has piqued their curiosity, even things as simple as “why are some of you wearing glitter?”

Know Before You Go
1) Running time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission. School-aged kiddos will love the busy scenes and silly characters, but tinier tots who aren’t fond of sitting may find the show a bit long. Come prepared or be prepared to leave early. 

2) Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. If you’ve got little ones who are in bed at that hour, plan on attending a Sunday matinée performance at 2 p.m.

3) Parking: There is free street parking around the theatre, but space is limited. Paid parking is available in the Port Gardener garage. Head a half block south of the theatre and turn left on California Ave. The garage is adjacent to Wells Fargo.

About KIDSTAGE
All the actors and actresses in Beauty and the Beast Jr. are members of KIDSTAGE, a theatrical program put on by Village Theatre. KIDSTAGE is designed to build life skills as well as acting abilities. If you think your little one might have a flair for the dramatic, registration for winter classes is currently open.

Everett KIDSTAGE
Second Stage Theatre
2730 Wetmore Ave.
Everett, Wa 98201
425-740-5035
Online: villagetheatre.org/everett/
Tickets: villagetheatre.org/everett/tickets.php

Dates: Thursdays-Sundays through February 2, 2014

Cost:  Adults, $14; Youth & Seniors, $12

–Angela Alanis

Photo Credit: Village Theatre website and Sam Freeman