Pacific Northwest Ballet & George Balanchine’s Nutcracker

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I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always the biggest fan of ballet.  I like words too much to fall in love with an art form that often uses none at all.  However, ballet does  convey a story thru movement and artistry & can be enchanting in its own way, so I feel that a well-rounded culturally rich upbringing should include an occasional ballet or two.  It also helps that I happen to work at McCaw Hall, home of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera, and dress rehearsal tickets are a periodic perk to my working woman grind.

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Of course, no ballet is better known than the Nutcracker and the Pacific Northwest Ballet does it better than most.  From the costumes to the infamous “growing” tree, everything about the PNB Nutcracker is colorful & enchanting.  It launches the beginning of the Christmas season for many in the Seattle area and Seattleites would be hard pressed to find a more dazzling tradition elsewhere.  Though I risked the wrath of my fellow ballet goers by taking my nearly 3-year-old as my date, aside from his plethora of loudly whispered questions, he actually did surprisingly well. The scenery & sets from the Nutcracker are designed by Ian Falconer, the notable children’s author & illustrator of  Olivia the Pig series, so the entire production has a very whimsical feel to it.

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The lobby of McCaw Hall is fittingly decked out during the Nutcracker season, with plenty of Instagram worthy scenes around and mouse cookies in the concession stands. With the ballet clocking in at just over two hours long with a 25 minute intermission, getting to the theater early to let the little wild ones explore and get some energy out is always a good idea.  Plus, seeing some of the props and costumes will hopefully get them excited about the show they are about to see.  I know Huck certainly couldn’t get enough of being center stage in my photo shoots as well as sneaking in to photobomb perfect strangers shots as well.  The kid likes attention I guess.

 

 

Though I may not attend the ballet every year, I do and will continue to drag my boys to see The Nutcracker in hopes that they will learn at least a little to appreciate art in all its’ forms and to marvel at the athleticism of the dancers.  Maybe someday, far away down the line, when their wives suggest a date night out at the ballet, they won’t scoff or roll their eyes but dutifully put on their best garb for a night out on the town.  For that is what going to the ballet is all about; witnessing ethereal beauty through the story of dance and conveying emotions & themes through the movement of silent bodies.  And I can rest easy knowing that their appreciation of art & beauty & passion, no matter where it takes them; it all started with those job perk dress rehearsal tickets.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet & George Balanchine’s Nutcracker

Runs from the day after Thanksgiving thru the end of December

Tickets run between $25-$178

McCaw Hall

321 Mercer Street

Seattle, WA 98109

206-441-2424

 

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Next Step Archery

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There was a brief time in my childhood where I was obsessed with the Kevin Costner Robinhood movie.  Actually obsessed might be putting it mildly; I literally watched it everyday, even if it was only for five minutes.  Sometimes it took me days to get thru the movie and my poor mother probably rued the day that that VHS ever made it into our house.  My cinematic choices aside, Robinhood was the ultimate badass.  He lived off the land, had a band of loyal friends and stuck it to the Man everyday.  He was the superhero I wanted to be.

His weapon of choice was of course the arrow, a sleek & slender apparatus which brought swift, whistling repercussions to those who crossed him.  Wielding a bow & arrow was sexy, skillful, wild & brave and so I thought; what better way to spice up a date night than with a few potentially lethal weapons and some healthy competition?

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Next Step Archery is the real deal and they take their job of teaching you proper archery skills pretty seriously.  Walking in, I had a bit of a leg up on Edgar due to my long ago camp days where I had rained as archery queen but even so I gained a few pointers on basic posture and bow selection.  Our class lasted about an hour and when we eventually sauntered out, I left with 3 bullseye shots and a new-found sense of gloating; Edgar hadn’t gotten a single bullseye.

 

Puffed up with my date night victory win and feeling like I could survive in the remote Alaskan wilderness with only my trusty bow by my side; we vowed to sign up for more lessons and perfect our ass-kicking skills.  After all, it’s not everyday one gets to relieve a childhood fantasy and knock a husband’s ego down a notch or two.  Two birds with one arrow; now that’s a superhero move.

 

Next Step Archery

22313 70th Ave West   20180603_184717

Suite U1A

Mountalke Terrace, WA 98043

425-977-2770

Hours:

Monday-9am-5pm

Tuesday-Thursday 9am-9pm

Saturday-9am-9pm

Sunday-11am-6pm

*Closed Fridays*

 

 

 

Sky View Observatory

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Initially purchased as a date night adventure with my husband, my tickets went unused & nearly disappeared into the dark abyss that is my purse, until my son found them and graciously offered to be my date.  Well, he’s four so it actually went more like this:

“Mama? Maaama? MoM! What are these!?”

“They are tickets. Now get out of my purse.”

“Tickets? For what? For an airplane? A boat? A dinosaur ride?”

“No, they are tickets to a big building. Now please stop dumping my purse out.”

Barely able to contain his excitement, London ecstatically shouted “I want to go with you!!! Let’s go right now!!!” while the final contents of my Mary Poppins sized purse scattered across the floor.

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Though we didn’t leave that minute, I was swayed enough by his unbridled enthusiasm, which was the exact polar opposite of my husband’s reaction when I had first mentioned the tickets to him; to plan a day date with London that week.  Of course Grandma and baby Huck tagged along too and somehow we miraculously picked a day without rain.

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Getting to the Sky View Observatory was not without its’ mishaps however.  Firstly, there was the usual two hour get-out-of-the-bloody-house departure, the oh-shit-I-forgot-I-needed-gas moment and then the requisite I-am-hungry chant coming from the back seat.  Once we finally did arrive, being the fugal being that I am & refusing to pay for parking when there is free street parking just 8 blocks away, we found a spot & began hoofing it downhill towards the observatory.

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No sooner had we made it a block or two, when Huck and I turned to the commotion suddenly unfolding behind us, and we see both my mom and poor little London literally rolling down the steep sidewalk much to the horror of the street cleaner who was standing guiltily to the side with his broom clutched to his chest.  In an effort to avoid his extended broom handle, my mom swung to the right but the happily skipping London wasn’t so graceful and in a tangle of arms and legs, he took them both down. My mom had valiantly attempted to take the brunt of the fall herself, which she primarily succeeded in doing by bloodying up both her palms and one knee. After recovering from our sidewalk trauma and bravely brushing themselves off & carrying on, we finally made it to the Observatory with two of our party bruised & bloodied but ready to take in the view.

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The Sky View Observatory is located in the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle & was completed in 1985.  At 902 feet tall, the observatory, located on the 73rd floor, is the tallest public viewing observatory in the Pacific Northwest.  It offers unparalleled 360° panoramic views of  Seattle itself, the Puget Sound and the outlying wilderness.  We could see the Olympics off in the hazy distance the day we went as well as the Cascades.

The Columbia Center has over 8,800 windows and 48 elevators and since it was built to withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds, it claims to be one of the strongest & safest buildings ever built in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking out of the 73rd floor windows that day, I certainly hoped that this engineering claim was indeed true.  It’s a beautiful view for sure, full of picturesque photo moments and floor to ceiling windows; but those Seattle sidewalks sure are a long ways down.

Sky View Observatory

20160622_134637_HDR701 5th Ave 73rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

206-386-5564

Tickets

Adults $14.75

Kids 6-12 $9.00

Kids 5 and under FREE

Kirkland Arts Center

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I am ashamed to admit it, since my mom is a self taught children’s illustrator and my childhood was infused with imaginative afternoons spent in her studio, but sometimes I need guidance being creative myself.  I often have the motivation and desire to pull off some sweet little craft venture with London but its in the execution of the project where I falter.  By the time I gather up all the supplies, wrangle London to the table and attempt to guide him towards a semblance of creating the actual project at hand, I am worn out.

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That’s the great thing about the Kirkland Arts Center drop-in toddler art class; they provide the materials, a room to contain the disaster that I won’t have to clean up later and a specific project for the day.  Not bad for $10.  All I had to do was throw a painting smock on London, sit him down & watch the creative juices flow!

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The project the day we visited the art center was a self portrait.  All the kids were given a mirror to stare intently into while they tried valiantly to replicate their smiling faces.  London’s was a bit abstract but I think he got the round head shape down! They also made an art folder to take all their masterpieces home in.  Class lasted an hour and there was plenty of free parking around the neighborhood.  

Though I might not have personally pulled off a Pininterest worthy craft day with my toddler, he had fun being creative and I had fun watching him learn from someone else. And though creativity can and should get messy; today it wasn’t in my house which made me smile all the way home.  

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Kirkland Arts Center
620 Market Street
Kirkland, WA 98033
425-822-7161 
Toddler Drop-In Class
Ages 2-4 with Adult
Tuesdays 10am~2nd Floor Mezzanine Studio
Supplies included~$10 per kid/parent 

 

Kids Cove At Bellevue Square Mall

shot_1420490066816    I am the last person on this planet to rush to a mall for entertainment but I have been keen to take London here ever since he learned how to walk.  The first time I set foot in Kids Cove was a few years back with a heathen child I was nannying at the time and though I secretly tried to fade into the gaggle of new moms out of shear embarrassment over the child’s monster like behavior; I was impressed with the Kids Cove. It was bright & clean & fun to look at and it occurred to me that someday, I would like to take a non demon-child there to enjoy it.

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Flash forward some 5 years or so and there we are, my cool kid and me, sizing up the Kids Cove on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.  It was as big and colorful as I remembered and now, having joined the mama ranks, I found it even more appealing.  There is a bench which surrounds the play area and only one entrance, which makes a possible toddler escape just a little bit harder.  The play structures are soft and the floor is padded, with neat little cubbies for shoes lining one wall and built in hand sanitizers.  All in all, Kids Cove puts most other mall play areas to shame. I mean, how can you compete with a crawl-thru ferry and sandcastle slide? You just can’t.         shot_1420492849062

Kids Cove @ Bellevue Square Mall

NE 8th Street & Bellevue Way

Bellevue, WA 98004

*FREE* 3rd Floor~Near Macy’sshot_1420492436126

Sheraton Gingerbread Village

shot_1418161934683   Before London came along, the only way I would have stumbled across this Seattle tradition is if I snuck into the hotel lobby to use its bathroom.  Once the kid appeared on the scene however, every free, possibly entertaining event in a 100 mile radius piques my interest, so off we went to size up the Sheraton Gingerbread Village.  This year marks its 22nd year of sweet success and as we ambled through the gawking crowd; I could see why.  It is a sugary marvel; from working ferris wheels to enchanting lighting, the six displays are architectural wonders.

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The displays are built as a fundraiser for Junior Diabetes research which seems like an oxymoron being that they are built of sugar and all but who doesn’t love gingerbread houses & no one gets to eat these, diabetes or not! Our dear little friend Jordyn was recently diagnosed with diabetes, so London of course donated his future tooth fairy money to the cause.

shot_1418162415660The Gingerbread Village is free, open 24 hours until Jan. 5th and oh so sweet.  The hardest part of our visit was trying to keep London from crawling under the velvet rope and devouring the whole thing, something I’m sure the Sheraton would frown on.

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Downtown Seattle Sheraton

1400 6th Ave

Open Nov. 25th~Jan. 5th

24 Hours a day, 7 days a week

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Storytime on Arthur Floss

shot_1414090419561 Ah storytime. Some kids love it, some kids turn into obnoxious, bedeviled little noisemakers who spew a plethora of mundane questions the second a book is opened. Luckily, London is in the first category…most of the time. Obviously, I want him to love reading, unlike his father who believes that cracking open a car manual is akin to reading War & Peace; so storytime is a big seller for me. I am not however, one of those parents who will gleefully read a 10 word board book over & over again…once a day sure, then it’s hidden deep in the recesses of his closet till at least tomorrow.  Googling, soft spoken storytelling is usually not for me.  So story time on a 125 year old tugboat naturally caught my eye. Did it offer books of substance, normal voices and something cool for me to look at besides a multicolored floor mat? It did and then some.

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The Arthur Foss was built in 1889, and besides towing boats up & down the Columbia River and running supplies to miners up in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush, the little tugboat was also featured in the film Tugboat Annie and did a stint in the American Navy during WWII.  Not a bad piece of history to learn your ABC’s on.

 

Story time lasts about 30 minutes & then you and the munchkin are free to cruise the boat. There are no bathrooms on board but the MOHAI cafe is located mere feet away, with a large, clean bathroom free to use.

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Arthur Foss Story Time
Every 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month ~FREE~
11am aboard the Arthur Foss
Located behind MOHAI
860 Terry Ave North
Seattle, WA
206-382-2628