BOKA baby

19 Jun
BOKA baby by melissajonas
BOKA baby, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.

I enjoyed a champagne cocktail with a late lunch today at BOKA. Sylvia enjoyed a well-deserved nap.

Not officially happy hour by the clock, but definitely a happy hour.

BOKA happy hour runs from 2:30-6pm and includes $4 small plates that are delicious. Servers are incredibly friendly and the food is good. When Sylvia’s awake, we take advantage of the lobby for exploring/admiring art while we wait for our food. The decor includes walls that change colors–always a hit with the toddler set.

BOKA is located at 1010 First Ave Seattle, WA 98104 on 1st between Madison & Spring in the Hotel 1000 building.


Lottie’s Lounge

17 Jun

Geraldine’s is a default destination for breakfast/brunch for the parenting crowd in SE Seattle. I enjoy the bright colors & comfort food at Geraldine’s, but even before we had a kid I couldn’t handle waiting in line. Now it’s not an option; if there’s not a table available when we arrive, we find somewhere else to go.

What many parents don’t realize is that Lottie’s Lounge–right across the street–also allows minors. Brunch is good and generally not nearly as crowded. The staff are welcoming and the stage space is perfect for playing with cars or coloring at the table. Bloody Mary Brunch features 6 Bloody Marys and 6 takes on the Mimosa. Good stuff.

I usually prefer to make my own brunch because I can eat in my pajamas and let the kid run around in the backyard. When I go out, it’s for early dinner (aka Happy Hour). This is where Lottie’s really shines. Specialty cocktails that change seasonally and good beers on tap. Good food to nibble while you enjoy your drink(s). Ingredients are locally sourced, fresh, and often organic.

Lottie’s happy hour runs from 2-6pm daily. If you’re out with a non-foodie kid (and/or you really like dairy), they have a heavenly mac & cheese, cheese bread and/or grilled cheese sandwich. The hummus plate is  a dependable choice and all their sandwiches are good.

Plan ahead: there isn’t a changing table or flat surface for changing diapers. Bring a cushy blanket (or use your jacket) and use the floor if you must. Take stinky diapers home with you. It’s not a big space, so if there’s any kind of crowd please fold your stroller & stash it. Lottie’s is a lounge–understand that while kids are allowed outside the bar proper, it’s not aimed at families. It’s a watering hole. As always, please tip generously, keep your child contained & entertained and–for the love of all that’s holy–clean up after your kid. I’m going to say it again: tip generously.

Before or after your Lottie’s treat, explore the rest of the area. There’s a lot to love in Columbia City: nice library, cute toy store, outstanding kid’s consignment shop and a fantastic farmer’s market. The Seattle Gymnastics Academy has a variety of ways to tire your kid out. Avoid driving if you can, because parking is tough. It’s a pleasant walk from the light rail station to the business district (especially in nice weather). Columbia City boasts at least a dozen very good restaurants and a growing number of venues to see live music. Good times for all ages.

Parenting while distracted

14 Jun

The Prime Minister of England forgot his kid in a pub. It’s international news.  Because the location happened to be a pub instead of a tea shop, tongues are wagging doubletime. I highly doubt this incident had anything to do with alcohol consumption–both parents were probably sober enough.When you think about it, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often. 3 kids in 2 cars with lots of extra adults milling about is a setup for forgetting someone.

Let’s focus on how Cameron’s policies affect all kids in England, not on how his 8 year old daughter spent 15 minutes waiting for her parents to collect her from a pub.

14 Jun

It shouldn’t be national news when a kid stays in the bathroom a little too long. I’m surprised the security detail wasn’t more responsible–it is their job to keep track of these folks.


Hey Folks — Here’s a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, “Mum”) assumed the girl was with daddy. In fact, she was in the bathroom and emerged to find her family gone.

While the Associated Press reports the parents were “distraught” when they realized she wasn’t with either, they called the pub and learned she was fine. She’d been separated from the fam for about 15 minutes. So why is any of this worthy of anything more than an amused smile that we’re all in this together?


In Tennessee, a woman who couldn’t find her kids for a short while was…

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Seattle Center Next 50

14 Jun

People often forget that much of Seattle Center is public space. There are some fantastic activities within the Center grounds that require a fee for entry, but there are also tons of ways to enjoy yourself for free. There are also two businesses as of June 2012 that sell beer–Pie and the burger joint. Many events feature beer gardens, which will not allow your kid but can be navigated if you plan your visit with extra adults. Lots of  potential happiness!

We almost always take the Monorail, because it’s cool. It’s cash only, so be prepared. Get a round trip ticket only if you can remember where you left your ticket stub… Kids under 4 are free.

These are 50 ideas I came up with off the top of my head/with a little digging on the Seattle Center website. What will your next 50 visits to Seattle Center be like?

    1. Learn more about the history & current activities at the Seattle Center via a self-guided tour
    2. Watch people wander the grounds
    3. Picnic in the grassy areas (or inside on one of the adorable toddler tables)
    4. Run in the grass
    5. Watch a free outdoor movie 
    6. Winterfest trains and more
    7. Watch skaters do tricks at the skate park
    8. Enjoy a great workout as part of the Seattle Center Fitness Programs
    9. Build a tower or slide down a slide in the family room upstairs in the Armory (formerly known as the Center House)
    10. Attend a Concert at the Mural–FREE live music brought to you by KEXP!
    11. Play in/around the International Fountain (big fountain with great music)
    12. Check out some art 
    13. Splash in the Fountain of Creation near the Vera Project
    14. Watch the elevator go up and down the Space Needle
    15. Climb on/jump off rocks
    16. Watch buskers perform all year round
    17. Bite of Seattle (free admission)
    18. Seafair Torchlight Parade 7/28
    19. Indigenous Cultures Day 8/18
    20. Seattle Symphony Community Celebration 10/21
    21. Community Created Events:
    22. June 2nd – Robothon
    23. June 21st – Go Skateboarding Day
    24. June 24th – Seattle Bot Battles 10
    25. July 14th – Spirit Walk
    26. July 19th – 31st – Seattle League of Arts – Art Show & Sale
    27. July 29th – Hispanic Seafair
    28. July 29th – Shakespeare in the Park
    29. Sept. 23rd – Arts Crush Kick-Off
    30. Oct. 7th – Buddy Walk
    31. Northwest Folklife Festival + 19 other FREE festivals throughout the year as part of Festal

Folklife 2012

Bubbles and wine

14 Jun
high chair happy hour by melissajonas
high chair happy hour, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.

Sometimes High Chair Happy Hour is sitting by the tub with a glass of wine while the 2 year old plays.

Packing Light

30 May
Untitled by melissajonas
Untitled, a photo by melissajonas on Flickr.

I’m not generally a competitive parent, but I’ll admit I’m pretty darn proud of my ability to carry a small bag with great toys.

I’ve always been highly motivated to bring as little as possible when traveling. Now that I have a kid, traveling can mean a plane ride cross country or a light rail hop downtown. Either way, I bring as little as possible while still trying to make sure we have what we truly need. (Most of the same principals apply for flying with a kid–but that’s another post.)

The basics for all ages:

  • parent essentials: wallet, keys, phone. I wear these in a small string bag that never leaves my body.
  • diapers (and/or undies) & wipes–enough for at least 2 changes
  • change of clothes and a bag to carry wet things home
  • snacks (for parent and/or kid)
  • weather gear–sunscreen, extra hat, etc. to ensure that you can comfortably play outside
  • toys/books (for parent and/or kid)

If you haven’t spent much time around kids, you might not realize that the toys & books are probably the most important thing on this list. Pull out toys when you’re on the train, waiting for your order, or waiting for the check. I rely heavily on environmental distractions (dogs in the lobby, bus out the window, etc) but good purse toys are key. You need something portable and fun, but not precious enough that if it gets lost or dropped on a public bathroom floor the kid will freak out.

Some of our favorites have been: finger puppets, plastic eggs with surprises inside, a mini slinky, stickers, small cars, small dolls, etc. She loves the tiny clay I packed, but I’m reluctant to pull it out unless we’re going to be somewhere for a long time. It can be messy and it’s oil based, so we need to at least wipe hands if we’re going to eat. Sometimes I bring a couple of crayons, often I just let her scribble with the pen I keep in my purse. I sometimes carry small board books. This Richard Scarry is one of our mutual favorites–it’s a great size and has a lot going on. I try to avoid relying on gadgets, but a few good apps on your phone can keep an older toddler or preschooler happy. We like simple puzzles and have found some good coloring and bubble apps.

Snacks are also key to keeping your monkey happy. Pack portable, interesting snacks like: cucumbers with salt (vinegar if you really trust your container), carrot sticks, hummus, raisins, apple slices, olives, cheese & turkey cubes, etc. I found some great reusable cloth bags that help cut down our plastic consumption a lot. We’ve never been big on sippy cups, but I shared my travel mug with the kid until we finally lost it.  I generally only bring her water bottle when we’re using the stroller or driving–it’s heavy and we’d both be sad when it got lost. Try to pack things your kid will eat this trip. No one wants week old raisins or the same stale pretzels. If you pack food you (the parent) will eat, it won’t go bad.

Pack as little as you need in the smallest bag you can find. Bonus points if you bring a string bag inside your regular bag for shopping trips, etc. Not only is this environmentally responsible, it means you’re less likely to leave purchases somewhere–you’ll notice that string bag on the playground, but you might walk away from a plastic bag.

Remember to check your bag when you get home from an outing. Toss or launder anything you used and replace as needed. If you haven’t used any clothes lately, make sure they still fit and are the correct season.

Don’t be afraid to borrow or buy something you forgot. If you live in a city, you’re probably never far from somewhere that will sell you wipes or snacks. When out with friends, pay it forward by offering a diaper–you’ll need one someday. You can also improvise–paper towels doused in the sink work well if you forgot wipes, for example. When all else fails, head home.

I pack light so I can chase my toddler without abandoning my stuff. I like to be able to take the escalator or stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. Mostly, I prefer to know where everything is at all times–including the kid. If I’m rummaging through 3 pairs of pants to find the raisins I’m positive I threw in the diaper bag, I may not notice when my daughter hides under the table at the library.

Help homeless kids, be happy

28 May

Looking for a great way to spend a Friday night? Enjoy  animated classics and rock out with Caspar Babypants at the Ballard Community Center on Friday, 6/1.

This event is part of a series called “Kids Helping Kids Music & Movie Nights” organized by Wellspring Family Services. Wellspring is celebrating 120 years of helping Seattle area families through hard times.

Wellspring helps families avoid eviction, find housing, recover from domestic violence, and heal from the trauma of homelessness. It’s an amazing organization that deserves your support.

You can help in a variety of ways, from donating right now (click here, it’s that easy) to collecting coins to attending a Music & Movie Night. The next event is Friday, June 01, 2012 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm in Ballard. The Ballard Community Center is located at 6020 28th Avenue NW, Seattle, WA.

Tickets are $15 and include kid-friendly refreshments & treats from Pepsi, Majestic Bay Theatre, Cabot Creamery and more! Wine from Silverlake Winery and Beer from Maritime Pacific Brewing Company will also be available for the grown-ups. These shows often sell out–get your tickets now!

Don’t miss this chance to go out, get happy!

Parenting is a job

25 May

I may not get benefits or L&I protection, but at least OSHA can’t keep me from drinking at my job site-. Unlike these guys, who are are going to have a rough time. Sounds like they’ll at least remain employed. I’m only slightly concerned their alcohol consumption may create a safety hazard, though it sounds like they’re not the most discreet consumers of alcohol on the market. They might be less than responsible in other aspects of their job. Who knows? It’s not as interesting a story to investigate if they’re actually doing a good job and may have been celebrating at work. Maybe there’s real news here, maybe it’s just a chance for reporters to collect comments on a story. Let’s all hope that the 520 bridge will be okay.

I often joke that beer makes us better parents, and I believe this can be true. Moderate alcohol consumption is a part of our culture, and social drinking is an opportunity to relax and connect. Booze can help us unwind and give us a little perspective on how important the kid’s undesirable behavior really is. It tastes good. I like it.

All jokes aside, drink responsibly. Model the kind of behavior you hope to see when your kid (almost inevitably) explores alcohol. Buy good beer. Recycle your bottles & cans. Don’t drive or parent drunk. Engage your friends if you’re concerned about their habits–ask directly how they are and tell them if you think you see a problem. Be responsive and thoughtful if someone engages you. If it’s a matter of a teetotaler judging your beer-a-night habit, feel free to let them know you appreciate their concern but you respectfully disagree. (Or tell them to go to hell–your call.) If it’s a matter of a close friend sharing their concern that you always have a drink in your hand…well, pay attention.

Alcohol addiction and outright inebriation are unsafe and unhealthy for the individual, their family and friends, and the greater community. Please, drink responsibly. Be happy, not stupid.

24 May

When you can’t go out, what do you eat at home? Here are some great ideas for easy dinners to help get your happy on at home.