Adventures in Babysitting: Final Day!

The first time I ever went to camp, I was nine years old and absolutely terrified. I had no idea what to expect: would there be mean counselors? Would kids be nice to us? Would I fall off of the bunk bed? I always dreamed of what camp would be like from watching Barney videos and seeing Clifford Goes to Camp, but as I prepared to head off to my own camp experience, all I could picture was camp uniforms, green tents and knapsacks. I actually wasn't excited at all, but my mom made us go...

In true Brynn Fehlman (my mom) fashion, my sister and I were late (we were always late), and we missed the bus that took off for camp. We actually had to be driven by someone who worked at our church who was going to head there later. We wanted to ride a real school bus so bad (we were homeschooled kids), and I remember feeling like my entire reason for going to camp was ruined because we had to sit in the back of a red Buick all the way to Silverton instead. Needless to say, after getting over a little bit of homesickness and feeling out of our element by having to walk up to a cafeteria line and grab our own trays (again- homeschool kids), my sister and I crafted ourselves silly and sang campfire songs all the way home on the big yellow bus the next day. (Yes, it was just a one-night camp, and no, I did not fall off the top bunk...)


Today, Beau Daniel Dean had his very first camp experience, though it wasn't overnight. My best friend of 20 years, Lisa (Gilchrist) Peterson, runs an art camp in Sherwood called "Gilchrist Art Camp," and this year Beau was old enough to be able to go. I was not only super-excited to support my BFF's business endeavors, but also excited that Beau would be able to have his own big kid camp experience and gain some independence. He came home with paintings, clay sculptures, woodworking creations and murals, along with cool memories and new friends. Gilchrist Art Camp is a great opportunity to let kids experience art + day camp in a gorgeous country setting (Baggenstos Farm), with an equally awesome staff (if I do say so myself.)

Lisa runs Monday - Thursday day camps, specialized art camps (woodworking, card-making, ceramics, etc.), as well as Friday drop-in days, which is what we did today and is a hodgepodge of all things art. Her Fridays are themed, so check out her schedule for the remaining days of Summer 2011 and register your 3 - 13 year old(s) for camp today-- especially if you haven't had any day camp opportunities yet this year. There are still spots available on the last few camp sessions of the summer-- if you visit her camp, be sure to say hi and tell her I sent you! Check her website for more details.


Playground. Pool. Crafts. Naptime. Coloring. Cars. Fruit Snacks. Another day in the life. :) As Beau said, "One more nite-nite until mommy comes home!" 
YES. While we have had a ton of fun, I am very excited to have date night again and not have to change diapers for awhile. 

Parents: you rock!!


Five things Friday

Five things always found in my pantry / fridge from Trader Joe's this summer:

1. Trader Joe's White Corn Chips + Salsa Authentica. This combo is by far the best out there (in my opinion). I used to be a Reser's-Medium-Chunky-Salsa-girl until I sampled TJ's blend, and let me tell you: it's amazing. I use it to top my eggs, hashbrowns, burrito bowls, rice bowls, burritos, etc. Perfect deliciousness. It's kind of runny, but I like it that way. It doubles as a sauce/salsa combo (at least for me), and it's under $2 a jar. Can't beat it.

2. Trader Joe's Gorgonzola Gnocchi Pasta (frozen foods section). We looooooooove this easy-to-make dish, especially on busy nights or Sunday afternoons. We mix up what we include in it-- sometimes chicken, sometimes broccoli, sometimes red pepper flakes, sometimes all three... It takes about 5 minutes and it's done. Drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle a little cheese in, and you're set.

3. Trader Joe's Chocolate French Truffles. They come in a red box, look totally fancy and expensive, and are most certainly anything but that. They're delicious, taste a little bit cold when you first bite into them, but are really some of the smoothest tiny desserts my mouth has ever tasted. I enjoy them in small moderation, but T absolutely loves them, which is why they have become a permanent pantry staple at our house. 

4.  Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. Again, another husband pick. For those of you who are lactose intolerant or prefer not to eat dairy, this coconut ice cream is delish. It comes in a little guilt-free pint, and leaves your tummy feeling good afterwards. I try not to eat too much ice cream anyway, but my sweet (lucky) husband can have as much of it as he wants with no ill effects. Smooth, chocolatey and fresh: perfect combination. 

5. Red Truck Winery Pinot Noir I'm not a huge pinot fan (sorry, Oregon), but this one is definitely the best I've tasted under $10. The 2009 vintage is getting close to selling out for the summer, but I am stocking up because it's just too good. Very light, smooth and flavorful, but not with those harsh biting tannens that your cheeks feel afterwards. I'm really impressed with this particular winery, and their label is one of my favorites (I'm kind of guilty for selecting a wine based on the label...)


Do you shop at Trader Joe's? If so, what are some of your favorite things to buy there? I'm always looking for new ideas!

Adventures in Babysitting: Part 3

As an adult with kids in my life, I am now discovering what totally cool activities there are for children that we didn't have growing up. The most exciting things in my life were my bigwheel, my Barbie cassette tape (complete with my made-up dance moves for every track), my tree fort in the backyard and on the rare instances that my sister and I were being good, going to the duck pond & the Beaverton Library. Now there are spraygrounds, water parks, totally decked-out McDonalds playlands, Wiis, Big Al's, SkyHigh, John's Incredible Pizza Company, vans with DVD players and cell phones with games on them. I'm wondering which life really is the better situation, because I sure never felt like I was missing anything. However, the stuff my niece and nephew have these days to entertain them are totally way more awesome-er than we had growing up. Just saying. :)

On  that note, today we visited the newest addition to kid attractions in this area called "Pump it Up, Jr." This place is every kid's dream: A complete warehouse room filled with gigantic inflatables that you can slide, roll, race, bounce and bump off of to your heart's content. Pump it Up is actually a franchise and has locations all over the US-- but more locally they can be found in Wilsonville and Beaverton. They have two options-- regular Pump it Up, geared more towards kids 10+, and Pump it Up Jr., for kids 10 and under. This is a super great option, because as I've noted before, the protective aunt in me likes the fact that there are only little kids running around at Jr. and not the big guys pushing and shoving and trampling the toddlers. Having two separate locations is genius. 

Pump it Up is primarily a venue for birthday parties, but they have "drop in" hours, where you can show up for around 5 hours on days that parties are not booked and bounce around for a bit. Dropping in typically lasts anywhere from 10 - 5 during various days of the week (check their calendar to see when actual times are), and costs $7 per kid. 

If you're looking to host a birthday party at Pump it Up and have all guests under 10, I'd recommend going to Pump it Up, Jr. instead. Pump it Up, Jr. is off of Bethany Ct. in Beaverton, and the regular Pump it Up is off of Allen blvd. in Beaverton (near Laserport). Pump it Up is primarily geared towards guests over 11 as I mentioned above. Party rates are much more affordable during the weekdays for kids, but that luxury pretty much only comes in handy for those guys with summer birthdays. :) Weekend rates fill up quickly and need to be booked well in advance, but include a completely reserved play area + party room, goodie bags and activities for up to 25 guests. 

Thanks to Groupon's 4 - for - 1 option, we came here on a Thursday at 3pm and had the place virtually to ourselves. If you're considering coming by for a pop-in visit, I highly recommend "popping in" after naptime. The time and date we came in seemed to weed out the naptime crowd. We came with my good friend Lauren (hi Lauren!) and her son Asher, who is the same age as Lacie. They had a blast, and letting the kids run around from 3 - 5 was the perfect antitode for early bedtime tonight. :) 

I didn't get hardly any pictures (rightfully so), as every bounce and slide turned out blurry, and in a place like Pump it Up, it's hard to get any kid to slow down quick enough to say "cheese." 

 Wore himself out...

No extended stay with Aunt Megan is complete without a little trip to the mall... :) Beau & Lacie both got new outfits for the summer / fall... fashion show tomorrow!


Adventures in Babysitting: Part 2

Okay, I know we haven't had any meltdowns or blowouts this week (so far), but really these kids are totally preparing us for parenthood (the good and the bad)! We listen to Kidz Bop on Pandora in the car (complete with Beau's dance-alongs), have snack times of apple juice and fishy crackers, change diapers and concede willingly to naps. We're gettin ready, folks.

Today we visited the newest addition to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum (you know, where the Spruce Goose is held...) in McMinnville, Oregon called "Evergreen Wings and Waves." You pretty much need to be with kids to be here, so it's great fun if you have a child/nephew/grandkid/sibling/neighbor kid, etc. to go with you. I wouldn't say it's totally a place where you'd go with your husband or wife on a date, but if could happen I guess. I think the people who do the best here price-wise are those who have children under 3. They're all free. :)

That said, Evergreen Wings & Waves is SO MUCH FUN! Seriously. We had an absolute blast there and played, played, played for about 6 hours. We definitely got our money's worth, and then some. If you were to design a water park that included something for everyone, this place has it. They have baby slides for infants to go on (teeny weeny ones), tons of "spraygrounds" for the little ones to run around in, a giant waterslide-play structure for kids 4 - 11 or so (complete with water guns, water hoses, tsunami splashes... picture a McDonalds playground with water features everywhere).  

Our nephew Beau is quite the little water baby:

He was totally nervous and afraid to go down the dark slides on the big kids playground, and kept creeping up to the entrance  and then backing away. He'd work up little bits of courage, and then turn back, then walk up again, and turn back. This went on for about an hour, until we convinced him to be brave with taking him out for ice cream after the waterpark. That was all the bribery he needed and before we knew it he was sliding off down the water tubes all by himself! 

Like I said above, Evergreen Wings & Waves has something for everyone. There's a wave pool (complete with a large screen projector screen & shark videos), four huge (grownup) water slides that take off out of a decommissioned Boeing 747 run previously by Pan Am Airlines, a regular pool for those who don't appreciate waves, a "whirlpool," where literally kids float around in a circle, the big kids water playground + tubes, a section for those 3 and under, complete with tiny slides,  spraygrounds and water pools, double-intertube waterslides, restaurants, an OMSI-esque water museum with space ships and submarines, and even an arcade for those non-swimmers you might have.

 The 4 - 11 year old "sprayground"

Swimming in the whirlpool

Beau's a very good swimmer!

 Brand new-- Opened June 6th, 2011~

 1pm naptime... right on schedule. :)


The waterpark unfortunately doesn't let you bring any of your own food or drinks inside; however, they do have park benches outside and let you come and go as you please in case you don't want to eat at the restaurant. Just make sure to keep your food cool-- it was hot out today and we made the mistake of leaving our snacks in the front seat to melt. 

T and I were both really impressed with how well it was run, how clean it was, and how (relatively) worth the money it was. It costs $30 for those of us over 48", and $25 for those over 3 but under 48". If you have kids under 3, consider yourselves lucky-- they get in for free. :) We will definitely be back!


Adventures in Babysitting: Part 1

We're spending the next several days preparing for parenthood by babysitting our niece and nephew while my sister is at a conference in Dallas.

We're taking a break from the summer date jar for the next few days, and instead this week's blog entries are going to be focused on exploring Oregon - the kid friendly way.

T and I are very much looking forward to having kids of our own one day (someday... eventually...) but so enjoy hanging out with Beau & Lacie when we can. I felt like a total parent today when our shopping cart was filled with goldfish crackers, Otter pops, string cheese, applesauce and fruit snacks. Did you know that Target has amazing deals on this kind of stuff? We got a week's worth of lunch food for $14! I applaud Target for their bulk prices and affordability (at least what I've seen so far). 

Anyway, after we loaded up on our childhood-favorites lunches, we headed down to NW Portland and visited the fountains at Jamieson Square. Now, I'm sure many of you Oregon moms & dads have been to these fountains, but on the slim chance that you haven't -- let me introduce you to the rock-waterfalling pool filled with diaper-clad children that is Jamieson Square. I feel like this particular Yelp Review of Jamieson Square provides the most accurate information on this Portland park, instead of the simple historical data (which is, of course, important) on the Portland Parks website.  

Kids absolutely love it here, and there are plenty of socializing options for parents (or aunts, uncles, nannies, grandmas, etc... for that matter). Picnics abound in the surrounding grassy and cement blocks area, and there are newly-installed bathrooms across the street (hooray!). Parents are pretty good about watching their kids to make sure everyone's having a good time, but there will always be the vagrant splasher or rogue bucket-stealer. (I confess to being an overly-protective aunt...). Jamieson Square is packed in the summertime, but free to all-- can't beat that. 


After our splashdown in the Pearl, we headed home for a quick nap, some coloring in new Dollar Tree color books (courtesy of our DT date yesterday), and then made a 5pm playdate at Summerlake Park in Tigard. I grew up feeding the ducks at Summerlake, so we were excited about letting Beau & Lacie wear themselves out here. We surprisingly had the park to ourselves, and I'm confident that I will totally be a park mom when we have kids. What a great invention for parents! Summerlake Park is a place for the Portland-metro area suburbanites to bike ride, trail walk, play tennis, run dogs, relay-race and tire kids out on the multiple playgrounds available. 
Again: free! Great price for fun. It's really a fantastic place for kids to make friends & memories at the same time. 


We finished the day out with $1.25 McDonalds happy meals (Tuesdays, from 4 - 6 at the Main Street McD's in Tigard, and the Sherwood location as well), bath time, jammies & Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeaquel with fruitsnacks. Oh to be a kid again... :)

What $1 can buy...

I loved today. It really taught me two things: 1. How much you can get at the Dollar Tree for just $1, and 2. How seriously people take spelling bees in Portland.  I feel like an entire Portlandia episode could be filmed at Mississippi Pizza that captures the essence of east Portland. I digress...
So we actually cheated and pulled two date cards today, because our first one was something that only took about 30 minutes. We drew the card that required that we clean out our deck closet, organize our "collections" out there, and make a large Goodwill run. It feels sooooooo good to de-clutter, let me tell you!
Since we were so productive, we drew another card which was one that Timothy put in. It said:
 This was so so so much fun!! I never knew how great a Dollar Store trip could be. For serious. 
So here are the rules:
#1 Each person only gets 15 minutes to shop
#2 You need to look for the worst gift possible there. Meaning: "I can't believe they sell this here?!" Such a gift that would generate laughter/tears/bewilderment
#3 Said gift needs to be presented to its recipient in either:
  • Newspaper
  • A grocery bag
  • A towel
  • Plastic bags
 The purpose for this is so that the one who you've intended to give the gift to has as much anticipation as is possible when they are opening their present. 

I really had a difficult time nailing down my decision at the Dollar Tree, as there were just too many gems out there. Here are a few of what my top contenders were for my July 25th present to T:
Pickeled vegetables? Shelf life: 8 years. Yummy...

 I'm a little frightened by this offering!

 Deeeeeeelish. Squeezy cheese.

An opened pack of marshmallows, anyone?

However. Despite what prized possessions you see displayed above, there was one gift that caught my eye like none other, and I knew right away it was the winner. I put loving care into how I wrapped this gift (a flower bag + dishtowels), and just knew that my husband's self esteem would be boosted with such a thoughtful present. I really had his best intentions in mind. 


It even comes with such informative explanations such as this:
Just what every guy needs. You're welcome, T. :)

And what was my gift, you ask?
Well, I know not much could top Muscle Building 101, but T's gift showed that the Dollar Tree really has products that meet just about every need out there:

 Wow! Thanks honey! (I wonder if they accept returns?)

 Thought for the day: There's something for everyone at the Dollar Tree.

We opened our gifts at Mississippi Pizza & Pub on Mississippi Ave. in NE Portland with our good friends Lisa & Phil, and stayed for Spelling Bee night which is always held on Mondays. It's something we've wanted to do for a long time, and thought we'd give our spelling abilities a shot in the competition. 

The competition is fierce...

I'm sad to report that I was eliminated in the third round over the word "codeine" (although it's probably good I didn't know that spelling? I thought it was coedine...) and Timothy was eliminated in the second round over the word "entourage"... he forgot the u. 

If you ever have the chance to visit Mississippi Pizza Pub & have an affinity for all things spelling & word origins, I highly recommend enter the challenge (it's free!). There are some people who take the gig pretty seriously; however, it's a blast with friends and you may surprise yourself how far you make it. :) 

3552 N. Mississippi Ave. 
Portland, OR 97227
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