Things I Love Thursday: Buffets!

On some Thursdays, Iโ€™ll share something random that Iโ€™m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. Iโ€™d love to know if you also like these things, and what youโ€™re randomly into these days!

Let’s review typical toddler behavior:

They are impatient. They don’t really understand the concept of “waiting”. They rely on you to keep them occupied…or else they start exploring and potentially destroying or spilling things.

Toddlers are also picky and indecisive. Again, it’s not their fault; their tiny brains just haven’t learned how to do that yet. But you never know if they will want what you feed them. They might love it and demand more…or they might throw it on the floor and whine and/or scream. (As all parents know, the only sure fire way to know a toddler will eat something is if you’re trying to eat it yourself.)

These two behaviors are never more on display than when you’re out at a restaurant.

Enter: the buffet.

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A buffet is the perfect toddler outing. There is NO WAITING. There is food, immediately. There are many different KINDS of food. They can try a couple bites of something new as well as enjoy things they already like.

Plus, hello–unlimited dessert bar. (I guess that’s *my* favorite part of the buffet experience.)

As fair warning, it’s not a calm or relaxing affair to be at the buffet with small children. More like repeated, alternating trips to the food areas while trying to simultaneously feed yourself and assist the little one. The ideal situation is having one more adult than you have children, to take some of the pressure off.

Now, a place like a buffet chain restaurant may not be a high-quality fine-dining experience, but I’m okay with that sometimes.

HOWEVER!

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Did you know?? Some McMenamins properties do holiday buffet events! We went to Edgefield for Thanksgiving dinner last year and for Easter brunch this year.

See, we aren’t really the cooking type, and I don’t eat a lot of typical Thanksgiving food, so by going to a buffet we get all the benefits–quality food, no waiting time, a fun family outing–with none of the prep time, stress, or cleaning. (And kids under four are free!) WIN-WIN.

This year we will be doing Thanksgiving at the Kennedy School. And I am excited for all of us. ๐Ÿ™‚

Long live the buffet!!

Clark County Fair, with Twins

Two weekends ago, we decided to brave the Clark County Fair. It was our first big fair experience, and it was certainly an adventure!

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First, thank goodness we brought the stroller. (I recently got a double umbrella stroller, which is perfect for this kind of thing!) We weren’t sure if we would need it, because you know, toddlers walk everywhere anyway, but we brought it just in case.

Obviously we are newbies at this, because a stroller was totally necessary. There was a long walk from where we parked to the entrance, and if they’d been walking on their own, I’m sure they would have run all over the place in opposite directions and gotten swallowed up by crowds. So it was a good containment device when needed.

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We went on Saturday of the second weekend of the fair, in the early evening. The traffic was ridiculous getting to the fairgrounds–not sure if it’s like that all the time. That meant that by the time we finally parked, walked to the entrance, and waited in line to get tickets, it was past dinnertime for the boys, so they were cranky. They kept wanting to go look at the Ferris wheel and were very whiny, but mostly they were hungry. We got a smoothie, hot dog, burger, and curly fries to share between all of us.

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We didn’t end up doing or seeing any of the kid-specific or animal stuff. We did pass the sealions, which definitely intrigued the boys. They were so focused on the rides and the kiddie stuff was off to the side and must have closed around dinner time? We didn’t leave until after 8pm.

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The first stop after getting food and ogling the Ferris wheel was the carousel. Of course they loved it and wanted to stay. However, we lured them out with the promise of checking out other rides.

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Since they were 36″ inches, there were a few little rides they could do–a tiny rollercoaster, flying elephants, and the “car-driving”. The first two looked a little bit intimidating for our toddlers, so we tried the cars. Of course they loved it. They looked around at the other kids, they waved at us, they ‘drove’ their cars.

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The number of tickets worked out exactly so that they got to go three times! The last time they shared a car. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย  DSC_1283_WEB

I was struck by the realization that they’re only going to get bigger and older and more independent and more capable. I couldn’t believe that we had kids big enough to go on a ride all by themselves! Even though it was the dinkiest ride possible, it’s still the gateway, if you will. Before I know it, they’ll be running off on their own to go on the highest possible roller coasters, wanting nothing to do with their dumb parents.

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Naturally, they were not happy when it was time to leave the ride for good.

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It was a beautiful night and we were glad not to be in the long lines for the big rides. DSC_1297_WEB

I couldn’t leave without getting an elephant ear, so I left all the boys to explore the the John Deeres while I got my treat. Once again, they would have stayed at the tractors all night long. They climbed up and down most of them, big grins on their faces. DSC_1336_WEB DSC_1348_WEB

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Final thoughts:

1: Going to the fair is EXPENSIVE. Parking, admission, food, ride tickets–it adds up really fast.

2: They’re at sort of an in-between age right now. Next year when they’re 3.5 they’ll be so much more capable and ready to do more exciting rides.

3: It was a lot of fun watching them explore and be so excited! I am already looking forward to our next time.

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Monday Cuteness

Last night we had one of those major moments where you just go Awwwwwwwwww but you can’t quite put into words the ‘aw’-ness that you feel as your heart expands and melts. (We actually have this fairly often when they do things like spontaneously give each other a hug, or tell one of us that he loves us, or just have a funny conversation between them, or similar.)

Anyway, after dinner we were at the big Mt Tabor playground and Emmett decided he wanted to go for a walk. So I walked with him up the road and then up to the summit, and M and Andy came up too. The sun was setting and Malcolm noticed a group of people. “What they doing?” he asked “They’re doing yoga,” I said, and Andy added, “It’s kind of like stretching.” We had this exchange about a dozen times and M kept staring at the group, before I finally got him and E over near them so we could try it out. I started copying what they were doing and encouraging him to also. By golly, he was totally watching and copying them. It was SO FREAKING ADORABLE! He actually kept up pretty well and just kept going, so I was able to grab a few phone shots. (E did a few of the moves too, but then he got distracted by other stuff.)

I was really impressed, and hit with cuteness overload, and like I said, in a big ol’ puddle. Toddlers are awesome*.

*Earlier tonight before dinner, there was like 15 straight minutes of screaming as E kept smashing M’s magnatile creations, which greatly upset M of course, and we put E in timeout a couple times which also caused screaming. And because he was crying so hard, M also kept being bothered by snot in his nose (so he kept screaming, “More snot!”). Toddlers are a handful sometimes, to say the least. But dammit if they don’t do fun and interesting things like this too!

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2015 4th of July

Once again we had an epic family Fourth of July! We started off with our traditional holiday photo:

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So last year, we picked cherries and then went to Timberline. The year before, we went to Timberline and then on a little hike to waterfall.

This year, we did all three! We started out by picking cherries at Draper Girls Farm in Hood River Valley (we drove during the boys’ naptime…the drive was only about an hour and they didn’t even sleep the whole time). They really had a good time finding and picking the cherries. We lifted them up so they could pick some, and then each of us went up on a ladder to get more too. We handed the cherries to them so they could put them in their buckets. They were very excited about the whole thing.

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We got them to smile for this photo because we had them say, “Happy fruit-picking day!” Thanks, Daniel Tiger. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Our next stop was Mt Hood! We didn’t go into the lodge this time; we weren’t there very long at all. The boys kept saying, The mountain! The mountain! And they wanted to walk on the mountain…of course not understanding that we were already on it. Plus the big uphill walk was not easy or fun for them. It was a hot day and the snow was at the lowest level we’ve seen it. I made us take a couple pictures and then we left, and had dinner in Government Camp.

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Since they’re older now, and their bedtime is later, we still had time to go on our little hike! We did the Little Zigzag Falls trail again–it’s really short and there’s this nice waterfalls at the end. It was so cool and refreshing to walk through the forest (and that they could walk by themselves!)…and then of course they wanted to play with throwing pebbles in the water. ๐Ÿ™‚

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It was a long day, for sure, but it was a great family adventure! I love that we’re doing little traditions like this, and it’s really neat to do the same things as they get older and can do and say so much more.

Spring 2015: Easter and Tulips

Early April was a busy time! First Andy went on a short work trip, and my mom came down to visit and help out.

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That weekend was Easter, and we took a trip to see the Easter bunny on Saturday. (Since it was the day before, there was no line! We also hit up the mall carousel, plus had a food court snack, and played with the trains at the bookstore, so it was a nice, full outing.) E was really excited to see the Easter bunny and waved and smiled and was cool sitting on his lap. M refused, so we did a family shot, and of course they looked their normal stoic.

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On Easter Sunday, we met my dad at Edgefield for the Easter brunch buffet. (I heart buffets for dining out with toddlers!) They enjoyed the food–mainly eating bread, bacon, some fruit, and orange juice, and wanted some of the chocolate dessert too (only one bite). Then we had some time to run around:

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They got some Easter presents from Grandpa! DSC_9720-1_WEB DSC_9723-5_WEB

After their nap, I ‘made’ their ‘Easter baskets’. They each got a random Easter-y book I found in a bin, a thing of bubbles, and a homemade snack baggie (almonds, a few chocolate cats, and cheesy crackers). They were very excited about the snacks, of course! I guess next year they’ll understand the whole Easter basket of goodies concept and I’ll have to do something not lame. DSC_9728_WEB

We also hid some eggs for them to find…but they were totally not into it! We did some practice egg hunting the previous weekend, and I guess they got over the idea. Emmett pointed at a few eggs but didn’t pick any up, and Malcolm didn’t even come all the way outside. Silly toddlers!

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The following week we made it to see the tulips at Wooden Shoe! I of course wanted to wander and take pictures…but twin toddlers don’t equal peaceful meandering. They investigated the various tractors and the tiny windmill and ran around, and I grabbed a few photos as I ran after them. Mainly I wanted a family photo and we did manage to get that. Third one in a row!

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Phew! Thankfully May is looking a little quieter.

2014 Oregon Coast Daytrips!

Spending the day out in nature or on a little roadtrip is just the kind of thing that PNW’ers are supposed to do. Up to now we’ve only done it sparingly (because, you know, twins…also, we’re lazy sometimes), but after our second great coast overnight this summer, when the dudes had such a good time on the beach, we vowed to *actually* go to the coast more often. And we did! Woo!

We went on a Sunday in September, back to Seaside and Gearhart. The weather was glorious. The beach was beautiful. We played in the sand, and watched the surf. We had dinner at Pig N Pancake, and watched the sunset on Cannon Beach. It was a fantastic day adventure!

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And then we went again the first weekend of October! It was going to be yet another beautiful weekend, and we knew the weather-clock was ticking, so we took advantage. This time we went to Arcadia Beach, which is south of Cannon Beach. It was an incredible day, though beach was very windy. (Gearhart Beach was not at all windy that we recalled, interestingly.) There was a family playing with a football, which attracted the attention of our small, impressionable boys. The family generously let ours play with their soccer ball, and then the boys ended up practically worshipping the older boy, and following/copying every.single.thing he did.

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Then they did some splashing in the little beach stream, and then they noticed the rocks. Looking at/collecting/awe-ing over rocks is one of their current favorite activities. Needless to say, we had to pull them away.

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We had dinner at Pig N Pancake again, and watched the sun set over the Seaside beach.

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It is SO fun to get away for even half a day–it feels like a world away! The littles have an awesome time, and the grownups do too. We relax, explore, eat treats–what’s not to like?

We are so very lucky to live where we do. So many interesting and beautiful places, less than two hours away! I can’t wait to go back to the coast in the spring (and summer, and fall…)!

Coast Vacation 2014!

After last year’s successful trip to the coast, I have been so excited to do it again! This year we decided to go for two nights, to give us more time to play. ย  IMG_6265_WEB

We stayed in Seaside this year, to be closer to more action. (As opposed to last year in Tillamook, where just the dairy was nearby.) We missed out on the sunshine…but that actually ended up being really nice. We didn’t have to worry about sunscreen and shade and all that jazz. It wasn’t cold but it wasn’t hot; it was actually quite pleasant.

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We brought a ton of stuff with us, as always. Mainly food and food-related equipment, but also toys and books. It’s like we moved in or something. We had a king room with a sitting area (a couch). We moved the couch to be a divider and set up the pack and plays on the other side. The babies quickly found the dresser drawers (and slammed their fingers a few times) and the AC/heater unit flap thing (which they kept playing with). NOTE TO SELF: Bring painter’s tape next time!!

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Seaside is a pretty small beach town. They have a carousel in a little ‘mall’, and then a little main drag with restaurants, gift shops, candy stores, and arcades. Our guys loved the carousel–we stayed on for a second ride and they wanted to stay longer!

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We had to stop in at this huge candy store with racks upon racks of taffy!

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We visited the little aquarium. At the front is a little seal enclosure. The dudes definitely loved watching them! Even though we got splashed a bit by the seal antics.

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BIG BAD NEWS: My camera got broken on Thursday. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ One of our curious and handsy toddlers pulled it off the dresser and apparently it messed up the shutter mechanism. So I was then left with only my iPhone to take pictures for the rest of our time. Cue a very sad and stricken face. I felt a little naked and panicky at the thought of no real camera, especially since I was really looking forward to doing another family beach photo!

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By the end of the day, the sky was clearing a bit. We went to dinner in Gearhart (just up the road from Seaside) and went to the beach there. It was nearly empty compared to the very busy Seaside beach! The light was ah-maz-ing…and I didn’t have my big camera! Sob. I set up the iPhone timer app and got this one above, which is a good sister photo to last year’s.

I got a few other decent shots with the phone too, so it wasn’t a total loss. (I mean, not like the pictures are more important than the experience, erm, right?)

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Friday was our last day (just the morning): more beach! We went back to Gearhart again to have a nice quiet time playing in the sand. The babies would have probably stayed there all day with their buckets and shovels.

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I saw some big animal prints on our walk in, and then on the way out, saw more…and then looked up and saw this! A young elk, I think?

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The drive home was a little longer than it was ‘supposed’ to be, but isn’t that how it always happens? Overall it was a really good time–we loved seeing how much the babies loved the beach and playing in the sand. Plus it’s always a good adventure to explore new places. We hope to do a daytrip or two in the fall, and come back to play some more!

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