Saturday, December 12, 2009

AC Gilbert's Discovery Village

Winter Break Workshops are coming! I've always wanted to sign Bug up for some classes at AC Gilbert's Discovery Village, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. Looks like a lot of fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More On Grocery Carts

What local grocery stores have small carts for kids to push?

We were in LifeSource on Commercial recently and were very pleased to see that they'd purchased new carts including new little carts for kids. Bug always loves helping out with the grocery shopping by pushing her own little cart. The new carts glide much more smoothly than their old ones, which make it much easier on me if I end up needing to push it myself while carrying dd as we finish up our trip.

I'm also wondering, what grocery stores have antibacterial wipes near the door to clean off carts? I usually carry my own (when Bug was little we used a cart cover for her to sit on, which was especially helpful if she tried to gnaw on the handle).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I had to head out and about today to get just a few last-minute grocery things before Thanksgiving. One of my stops was going to have to be WINCO on Lancaster. Deep breaths, I thought, maybe this won't be too bad.

Surprisingly, they weren't all that busy, and I was grateful that I was getting my shopping done today instead of tomorrow when I imagine it's going to be total chaos.

Dd and I came in the doors and I grabbed a cart...oops, this one is is missing a strap to hold her into the seat, let's get another. Oops, this one has a broken seat, let's get another. Oops, this one also has a broken strap. It took going through 7 carts before I found one that was okay, though it still had a partially broken seat.

This is the worst that I've seen yet as far as grocery carts go. They're never great no matter where we go (the straps are always extremely filthy).

I will definitely be writing a letter to their corporate headquarters about their carts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Preparation

As we head into the holidays, I've been trying to dig up some good healthy yet kid-friendly recipes online and came across this fabulous article from the Crunchy Domestic Goddess on Reducing Holiday Stress For Your Kids - enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Where have you found the best costumes this Halloween?

Where are your favorite safe places to trick-or-treat?

Any Halloween events you've heard of that you'd like to share?

Friday, September 18, 2009


A few weeks ago, dh had to figure out something quick for us to have for dinner and he decided to stop by Chipotle on Lancaster. We've eaten there several times before and have always really enjoyed their very fresh food. I especially like their vegetarian burritos.

While Chipotle doesn't have a children's menu specifically, they do offer a little listing of things they can do for kids such as smaller portions. I really wish more restaurants would do this instead of having a separate kids' menu, which always seems loaded with fried foods, few veggies or fruit and dessert.

Bug chose to have a quesadilla ($1!) along with some guacamole and chips. It's great to know that you can add things in and their menu makes it easy to choose items that are mild or a bit spicier depending on your child's taste.

I also love that their menu lists so much information about their ingredients including what may or may not have animal products in it and what may have wheat in it. They also have a section that talks about that they purchase organic free range meats and rGBH-free dairy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Allergy Information

We have several people with food allergies as well as vegans in our family, so whenever I see a restaurant who goes the distance to provide information on allergens or animal products in their food, it earns big bonus points with me.

A few months ago we went to Red Robin and I was very surprised to see the manager come out and spend about 10 minutes talking with a family going over their menu to help them decide on entrees that would fit their gluten-free diet. He provided them with a printed menu that listed the ingredients as well. The official Red Robin website also provides information on food items that may contain certain allergens.

We have also had very good experiences with Sweet Tomatoes who have brought out a list of ingredients in their salad dressings. As I mentioned in my review for them, they also have salad bar items labeled if they have sulfites in them, which is the first restaurant I have ever seen that acknowledged sulfite sensitivity.

I'd love to get a list together of area restaurants that try their best to inform patrons of the ingredients in their menu items. Please let us know if there are places in the area that we can add to the list!

Links to information on allergen/animal products in menu items:
Red Robin

Friendly Area Restaurants We've Had Good Experiences With Asking About Ingredients:
Thai Cuisine in Keizer - Extremely friendly staff, many options for vegetarian/vegan.
Kwan's Original Cuisine - Offers a huge variety of oil and ingredient choices to fit a wide variety of special diets. Also offers mock meat.

Additional Resources:
Oregon Food Allergy Support Group
Salem Food Allergy Group (does anyone have contact information for them? I cannot find an updated website or phone number for them)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oregon State Fair

I was lucky enough to win some tickets to the Oregon State Fair this year and we decided to make the trek out yesterday despite the rain. Because we stuck near the Northeast side of the fair looking at animals, we were inside mostly so the rain didn't bother us much.

A couple of hours into our trip Bug was getting a little antsy so I looked for the Bi-Mart-sponsored "Toddler Zone" that we'd found last year that was near the Oregon Department of Fish and Widlife area. I was thrilled to see that they were offering the space once again.

If you haven't seen it before, it's a nice tented area that's a perfect area to provide toddlers and their parents with a great place to stop, catch their breath and hit the reset button, which is what we were in desperate need of! They have several tables to eat at (including toddler-sized picnic tables!), an easel to draw on, several toys and a soft padded area for kids to climb/slide/jump on. They had a table out that had several samples on it including sunscreen. They also have an area for diaper changes.

We loved this area and I can't thank the fair and Bi-Mart enough for providing this much-needed space. I'm not sure how many years they've been offering this, but I hope it continues for a very long time!

After we spent almost an hour there, Bug was feeling much happier and was ready to go on to other adventures.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

India Palace

We needed a quick stop lunch place last week before Bug's nap and dh came up with a brilliant idea - India Palace in downtown Salem.

It's been a while since we've been there, but it's always been a past favorite. They have a fantastic weekly lunch buffet deal there too - $8 per person for all you can eat and that includes the drink!

Bug was starving and needed food asap so it was great to walk in the door and start putting a plate together for her right away. It was a perfect lunch for little toddler fingers - salad, fresh fruit, rice, bread and a mild curry plus some rice pudding for desert.

The seating area was clean, the staff was very nice and because it was setup for their lunch buffet it was easy to get her a smaller plate, silverware, a straw, etc.

Dh did take her to the bathroom while we were there and he did say that their bathroom was very dirty and was all around old and worn.

I forgot to ask when they start to charge for kids, but the cashier didn't even ask us for dd's age and we weren't charged for her at all so it was a very reasonable price for lunch. We left stuffed and ready for naptime!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee House Cafe Supports Breastfeeding

I was recently contacted by Nikki from the Coffee House Café on Liberty to tell me that they recently put up the International Symbol for Breastfeeding on their front door to show support for mothers breastfeeding in public! Kudos to Coffee House Café for creating a space that is safe for moms to breastfeed! What could be more kid friendly?

I’d love to see more businesses in our area show support for breastfeeding. I have not personally ever been asked to leave any local place of business for breastfeeding my daughter, but I’ve heard a lot of stories of that happening to others.

Word of Mouth Bistro

After hearing tons of fabulous reviews about Word of Mouth Bistro, we decided to give it a try last weekend.

We got extremely lucky and had a very small wait during Saturday breakfast last weekend, which I’ve heard is not very common since they are a hot spot, especially for breakfast. I was very grateful since I wasn’t sure how Bug would do with too long of a wait.

Bug is just under 3 years old so she still doesn’t eat very much at each sitting. We sometimes buy her a meal, but most of the time she shares with us. Unfortunately, WOM doesn’t offer a separate printed kids menu or smaller portions for kids, but they did tell me that if you ask, they can offer single pancakes for breakfast or a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch/dinner. I would really love to see even just a small menu for kids that maybe included some fresh fruit, steamed veggies, etc. for a more well-rounded meal. At other restaurants, we’ve sometimes ordered items ala carte for Bug, but that can get pretty expensive pretty fast.

The staff was very friendly and helpful and brought us an extra plate for Bug so she could share our veggie hash, corned beef hash and creme brulee french toast. Sharing our meals works well for us now (though I have to admit that their food is so delicious that I don't really want to share), but we may need to stop going there once Bug is eating too large of portions to share but not enough for a full-sized plate, because buying a full-sized breakfast portion for a little would get pretty expensive, as they are around about $8. We did order her an orange juice, which they do offer in a kid size, and it was brought to us in a small to-go cup with a little straw. The cost was $1 per cup of juice.

Their bathroom was very clean except for a dirty plug-in air freshener that is right next to the toilet, which of course Bug went right for. There also wasn’t a foot stool in the bathroom to assist with washing her hands. Though we didn’t use one, I did see their booster seats and high chairs and they looked exceptionally clean.

We’ve been there twice so far and have enjoyed almost everything that we’ve ordered. Bug really loved their sunflower seed toast with their yummy homemade strawberry jam. They have nice portion sizes and I think their pricing for adult portions is extremely reasonable, especially considering that the food is very fresh, made from scratch, the quality is excellent and they try to buy local whenever possible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Splash Fountains

I just came across a great link for the area splash fountains! What a great resource!

Come On In - The Water's Fine!

Yet again, long time no post! I've been ill over most of the summer and we have rarely gotten out and about to check out new places. I'm also finding that when we do go out, we tend to go to the same places over and over again because we know that they'll make an easier family day out.

I'd love to start receiving some reviews from the readers out there! Check out our rules for submitting a review and send them in!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Salem Saturday Market

I'm very behind on posting lately - spring cleaning and life has kept me away, but I definitely want to make sure that I keep the posting up!

This last Saturday, we decided to make a quick trip to the Salem Saturday Market. I am not as familiar with the Salem market as the Eugene one, because for years we have taken road trips down to Eugene for their farmer's market (as well as a quick stop into Ben and Jerry's!). It's probably been 2-3 years since I've been back to Salem's Saturday Market.

What is really nice about the Salem market is their parking. I really appreciate easy parking in the gravel lot just across the street that provides easy in and out.

We got going much later on Saturday morning than expected so by the time we made it to the market there was just a little over an hour until it closed so I'm sure we missed out on the early morning bounty. I had a list in mind of things I wanted to get: basil (and lots of it to make some homemade pesto!), maybe some carrots, peas and beans. Unfortunately though, I wasn't able to find any of those things (could only find basil plants and only 1 stand had some peas).

One huge advantage that Salem has over Eugene is wide walking areas making it easier to maneuver through the crowds.

Organization is a bit lacking - I would much prefer to have the farmer's market stands in one area, hot food in another and homemade goods in another so I wouldn't have to walk the entire market if I only wanted to go to the farmer stands.

I didn't spot any restrooms while we were walking, but I'm sure that they were around somewhere.

There is a Friends of Salem Saturday Market site that lists some upcoming free events, but none specific geared towards kids. It'd be great to see some activities maybe like how the Ag Fest provides!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Original Roadhouse Grill

This weekend we were running late getting going with dinner. It was so hot outside that we decided to just go for a drive and pick up some take out.

We decided to head to the Original Roadhouse Grill on Lancaster because we like their salads and dinner rolls and we can usually split an appetizer as our main meal and then add salads and it isn't too expensive.

We didn't have a menu with us or their number so dh ran inside to place the order and Bug and I stayed out in the car to wait. Dh placed the order and came back outside.

About 20 minutes later, Bug said she needed to go potty so dh took her inside. Dh said that the bathrooms seemed clean but were pretty dark. On their way back out to the car the hostess noticed him and said that she'd gotten so busy she'd forgotten to put his order in but she'd try to push a rush on it. By that time, Bug was distracted by the peanuts they have to snack on so they decided to stay inside and wait for the food.

It was extremely busy even for a Saturday night, as there must have been a prom going on. While inside, dh said there was a waiter who was messing around acting silly who started swearing like crazy in front of people in line plenty loud enough for everyone, including my 2-year-old, to hear. Not so great.

They finally got our food and we headed home, only to be disappointed once we got back that they'd forgotten a few things in our order. I made sure to send off a comment via their website, though I haven't heard a response back yet.

Since we only got take out I wasn't able to rate their overall family friendliness - has anyone else dined there recently that could shed some light?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Question From Reader

I received a comment the other day from a new reader that had a question about local areas to swim:

"I am new to the Salem Area and i am deperately trying to find a place for kids to splash and play in the water. we've been to silver falls park and that was alot of fun and i know the few spray pads will be open in june, but is there somewhere along the river bank where it is safe to let my kid splash and put her feet in the water on a hot summer day? I know the YMCA has a pool but we're not members yet and a visit to the pool would cost us $ 15 which i think is outrageous. I can't wait for the kroc center to open! Any suggestions would be very appreciated!"

This is a great question. I've heard good things about Silverton Reservoir, but other than that, the other places that I know of are definitely not clean and family ok.

We have yet to really venture out to do swimming with Bug. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Movies In The Park

Thanks to Jessica who commented with this information for the upcoming Movies In The Park. I've heard they project the movies onto a large inflated movie screen at dusk! Sounds like fun!

Here's the city's information for the movies

5 movies this summer on Saturdays at Riverfront Park in Salem. The line up is classic, and fun, and FREE (however donations are encouraged)!

Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first one) July 11th

The Wizard of Oz - July 25th

March of the Penguins - August 8th

Shrek I - August 22nd

Wallace and Gromit - August 29th

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Regal Free Family Film Festival

I received the schedule for this summer's Regal Film Festival. I think that dd is old enough now to go to see a movie for the first time in the theater. I'm looking forward to Curious George - that is one of our favorites!


Space Chimps (G)
Madagascar 2: Escape To Africa (PG)

Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Veggie Tale Movie (G)
Evan Almighty (PG)

Kit Kittredge: American Girl (G)
Nim's Island (PG)

Horton Hears A Who (G)
Inkheart (PG)

The Tale Of Despereaux (G)
Kung Fu Panda (PG)

Everyone's Hero (G)
Surf's Up (PG)

Igor (PG)
Journey To The Center Of The Earth (PG)

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (G)
Bee Movie (PG)

Alvin And The Chipmunks (PG)


Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Veggie Tale Movie (G)
Evan Almighty (PG)

Kit Kittredge: American Girl (G)
Nim's Island (PG)

Horton Hears A Who (G)
Inkheart (PG)

The Tale Of Despereaux (G)
Kung Fu Panda (PG)

Everyone's Hero (G)
Surf's Up (PG)

Igor (PG)
Journey To The Center Of The Earth (PG)

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (G)
Bee Movie (PG)

Alvin And The Chipmunks (PG)

Space Chimps (G)
Madagascar 2: Escape To Africa (PG)

Here's some more info from their website:
"When school's out, kids around the country visit selected Regal theatres forthe Free Family Film Festival. It's a fun-filled nine weeks of movies forkids and parents. Since 1991, Regal has provided this service to thecommunity, and best of all it's FREE!

Select G & PG movies start at 10AM each Tuesday and Wednesday during thefestival. First-come, first-served seating is limited to theatre capacity.The Free Family Film Festival is safe, lots of fun and a great way for kidsto spend a weekday morning in the summer.

Tickets for our 2009 Free Family Film Festival are exclusively available atselect theatres' box office on the day of the show."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Olive Garden

The sickness has hit my family these last few weeks pretty hard. I thought we were making some headway but this a.m. Bug woke up with a barking cough so I am up early and intend to do some catch up with my blogging.

A few weeks ago while running errands, moments after I’d realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat that day, I started to have a blood sugar low. I was feeling dizzy and nauseous so we decided to stop and get some lunch at the closest place to where we were, which just happened to be Olive Garden. I figured it couldn’t be busy at 2 on a Saturday, right? Wrong. But, within 15-20 minutes we were sitting at our table and I begged the waitress to bring us anything asap before I started to eat sugar packets.

I appreciate when we are seated in a low traffic area and that day they put us in a corner so we were able to sort of tuck Bug in the back, which was helpful in trying to thwart her constant escape attempts. I’m not a fan of their chairs with rollers on the bottom though because they move very easily and Bug fell off of hers and almost hit her face on the table when she was leaning forward to color so dh and I spent the rest of the meal with our feet wrapped around the bottom so it wouldn’t slide. The food arrived quickly and was good, but Bug’s plate was scorching hot when they set it right in front of her. Prices seemed higher than what I remember. Most of the children’s items were around $5, which includes a drink but says “Share the grown-ups breadsticks and salad with your meal.” For $5, the portion seemed pretty small, heck even my adult portion seemed pretty small.

While we ate, I started to brainstorm different things that would be really helpful in restaurants. Besides foot stools in the bathrooms, what about bringing them their color pages/crayons if there is a wait, or providing smaller utensils so they can eat easier? The only picture that I was able to get during my low blood sugar madness was of Bug’s fork, which was massively huge.

The bathrooms seemed clean, which is always nice, especially when your toddler says she needs to go potty, but then when you get her in there she’d rather play with the toilet paper and collapses on the floor when you try to pick her up to sit on the potty “just in case.” No foot stools though. The changing area for babies had lots of room so that you wouldn’t have to move out of the way to let other in/out of stalls.

Overall it was okay and I’m grateful that we received pretty quick food once we were seated. But, the prices are a little out of our range right now, especially so since their portion size was pretty small, so I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ag Fest

Long time no post. It seems these last few weeks have been especially busy around here and we haven’t had much time out and about.

We did venture out to the Ag Fest this weekend though. This is only the 2nd time I’ve ever been. I’d previously sworn off the Ag Fest because the last time we went not only was it extremely busy and there were so many strollers that we could barely move through the crowd, but 3 people in our family got pink eye when my nephew didn’t wash his hands after petting some of the animals. I thought Bug would be old enough now to enjoy it a bit more than she did before so off we went.

We arrived early on Saturday morning determined to beat the crowds. We got there around 10:00 a.m. We parked in the back closer to the barns instead of up front where there was a huge line for the ticket booth. At the back gate there was no line at all and we got right in. Parking was free. Admission was $7.50 per adult and kids under 12 are free.

There are so many things to do at Ag Fest that I’m sure we missed a bunch of stuff.
We had a chance to see llamas, goats, sheep, cows, horses, chicken and some rabbits while we were there. All around the areas where there are animals there are places to wash your hands either with good old soap and water or with some sanitizing gel. I also brought along a little bottle determined that we would avoid pink eye this year.

One of the buildings is full of activities for kids. They can milk a “cow” (cow model set up with udders that can be milked for water), play in little kiddie pools full of corn, spin wheels for stickers/toys, etc., dig for potatoes, make “dirt babies” (panty hose filled with seeds and dirt that will grow “hair” later), etc. The wheat growers booth saved us when Bug was starting to melt down just before lunchtime because they were cooking up pancakes. She was thrilled to get in a warm snack and it bought us enough time to finish looking at everything and then head for the door.

The other building was mostly full of booths selling various things, most of which weren’t related to agriculture. What surprised me the most when we came in through the doors of the building was the very strong smell of gasoline coming from the trackers they’d parked inside of the doors. It was strong enough to give me an immediate headache and I even looked around to see if they were running them inside of the building because it was so overwhelming. We shuffled Bug through the doors quickly to get on the other side of the gasoline smell, passed through the vendor area and made our way to the stage where we were able to watch a few minutes of the Cherry City Cloggers perform (I always love watching them! It looks like a lot of fun) before Bug let us know it was definitely naptime.

Another great thing about going is that you get a hand stamp so you can leave and come back. Bug could not stop talking about the “mamas” (llamas in toddler speak) and we almost went back for another round, but decided against it. It was nice to have the option to go back though if we wanted to brave the afternoon crowd.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tulip Festival

This last Friday we decided to make a trip out to Woodburn for the Tulip Festival. We’d never been there before, but $5 a carload ($10 for the weekend) seemed extremely reasonable for some spring family fun.

When we arrived, we were greeted with friendly staff and were given several brochures/guides about the different kinds of tulips and what events were going on. We were lucky we picked a time that was perfect weather wise and didn’t have to deal with any mud. There were plenty of easy-to-find and very clean portable toilets near the parking area, which we were grateful for after the long trip out and Bug having just woken up from her nap when we arrived.

There is a sort of main area where there’s some food from Mt. Angel Sausage Company and some booths as well as play areas for kids. I was very pleased to see how exceptionally clean the area was and was very happy that it was grassy and not just dirt or concrete to walk on. All areas were very stroller friendly. There were picnic tables, horse tire swings, tunnels for kids to climb through and it looked like they were setting up a large slide and rock climbing area as well. They also have a large garden area and a gift shop too.

The horse tire swings were a huge hit with dd. Actually, she didn’t want to do anything but ride them so we didn’t really even get to see the tulips. She thought about riding one of their little kiddie trams that are shaped as either wooden shoes or cows, but after we paid twice (they charge $2 per person, but one of the staff only charged us $2 total since we’d only technically be taking up 1 of the carts) she changed her mind both times (we were refunded thankfully) and was happier just waving at the people going by. In the end, I was actually relieved that she decided against it because I saw many adults being tossed to and fro on the bumpy ride and saw a teen smack her knees pretty hard on the inside of a wooden shoe when they went over a big bump.

The tulips, from what we could see from the horse swings, were beautiful. We were told that they were a bit behind schedule because of the weather and would be blooming even more this upcoming week so if you get the chance I highly recommend making the trek out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

To The Letter

I got the review letter put together and thought I'd share what it will look like when I send it out. It feels good to be not only be sharing information about what is around, but also trying to enact some change!

Dear _________,

Congratulations! Your business was recently reviewed in our undercover mom blog that reviews local businesses in the Salem area on their level of kid friendliness. I’m including a copy of that review for you to look through.

If you would like to see the site and the other businesses that we have reviewed in this area, please check out:

The following are some suggestions that we have for making your businesses more kid friendly:

We hope that you will take a moment to read your review and consider the suggestions listed.


Kid Friendly Salem

I'm hoping we will make it out to the Tulip Festival today! Review to come shortly!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Notification Letters

After receiving a lot of emails and comments about this blog and the reviews I’ve done so far, I’ve realized the importance of making sure that I let businesses know about the reviews and comments on their businesses so that they make the changes that parents want to see – isn’t that the point?

I’m working on putting together a form letter to send to local businesses once they’ve been reviewed, letting them know a bit about the blog, encouraging them to read the review and I’ll also include suggestions on how to make their business more kid friendly.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and email me – so far, the blog has been a huge success with almost 700 hits in 1 week!

Upward and onward!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


We don’t shop at Costco often, but there are a few items that I can get there cheaper than other places (broccoli, spinach, celery, carrots, lettuce and we really like their organic sprouted bread). Until Bug got old enough to start eating solids, I had pretty much ignored the samples. I swear, a mom must’ve come up with this idea. Going into Costco with a fidgety toddler who hates to sit in a cart, who at the very sight of little samples of food will sit calmly for the whole time I’m shopping is wonderful.

We had to make a quick trip yesterday to pick up a few things right around lunchtime. It was raining when we arrived and all of the carts were soaked. I was so thankful when we came inside and the greeters had towels to wipe down them down so that kids don’t have to sit in a wet seat (plus it decreases the amount of puddles around the store that people could slip in).

We made our way to the back and Bug snacked on bites of turkey and carrot sticks while I grabbed our necessities.

I also have to add that I love looking at toys and kids books there, especially around Christmas time. They always have a great selection that is reasonably priced. In years past, I’ve had very good luck buying book sets to give as presents that were all within my budget.

We almost always stop in the food area up front to buy lunch because it is so cheap – you can’t beat $1.50 for a hot dog/sausage and a drink or $1.99 for a slice of pizza (you can also call ahead and order a whole 18” pizza for only $9.99).

As much as I like the deals on the food though, they definitely need to amp up their cleaning in this area. I almost always have to clean the table myself. I also don’t like having garbage cans right next to the tables because Bug inevitably puts her hands all over them. I also wish their tables were organized a little better. It’s a little difficult to manage keeping your cart near you while eating unless you get lucky and an end spot opens up. I also would appreciate having some high chairs there as well because Bug often falls off of the picnic-table benches while she’s trying to reach her food.

Have you noticed any other kid friendly things at Costco?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Salem Public Library

I have to admit that before about a year ago, I had only been to the Salem Public Library maybe twice. We actually don’t live in Salem so I’d been used to going to a smaller library. We started coming a year ago for story time because our library didn’t offer one for kids under 3. Salem offers lots of different events that we have yet to try out.

The kids area is upstairs and has computers, places to sit and read and areas to play. They also have totes available that are theme-based backpacks organized by age, gender and language (English and Spanish). They usually include a couple of books, maybe a music CD or movie and usually a toy. They also have their ever-popular Discovery Room, which is a room setup in a certain theme that changes about every 3 months. The current theme going on right now is Grandpa’s Garage: “It’s time to tinker in Grandpa’s Garage. Kids are invited in to build a project at Grandpa’s workbench, experiment with levers and pulleys, learn about simple machines, and pedal around in a vintage car.” I’d hoped to get inside the Discovery Room today, but unfortunately when they do not have a volunteer to staff the room it is closed.

On the way to the story time room, they have a fish tank and though it didn’t have any fish in it today, it still entertained Bug for several minutes while I told her that the fish were “sleeping.” Judging from the amount of kids always hanging out in that area, it is a favorite place for a lot of others as well.

They have several different story times for different ages and even have a family story time in the evening. Bug still barely fits into the age group now to go to their “Lap Sit Story Time,” which is for kids up to 30 months. I really like that they offer 2 Wednesday story times – 10:15 and 11:00 – so that if we’re running late we always have the option of going to the 11:00 instead, which is exactly what happened today.

The story time room has graduated steps/stadium seating so that it can fit a lot of kids and parents. I love that they have a childproof gate at the door to keep kids from escaping. They have water fountains (with a foot stool!) and bathrooms right outside the door. The room is always neat and tidy. I do think though that they could easily add more story times for this age group. Today the room was completely packed, which makes it harder for parents to wrangle their little ones if needed. The room also gets really hot and sometimes gets a wee bit stinky. Other than that, story time is a blast. They read books, sing songs, do finger play and dance. Thirty minutes is the perfect length of time and ends just before kids start to get antsy. At the end, kids get a stamp on their hand(s), which is a nice treat.

We decided to hang around for a while and let Bug play afterwards. They have carousel horse chairs, hand puppets, legos and phone booths to play in. We stayed so long that we forgot we’d only paid the meter for an hour, but luckily the meter maid hadn’t caught us yet.

I’ve heard great things about the Queen of Tarts Bakery and Café downstairs as well, but we have yet to try it. I’ll save that review for another day…

Monday, March 30, 2009

Want To Submit A Review?

Here’s how it works:

1. Write a review including as many details as you can (local or semi-local businesses, restaurants and events are all game!). Here are some ideas:
Did the staff do anything special to help make your day as a parent a little easier?
How was the cleanliness/safety of the establishment?
Any kid-specific things like step stools, activities, play areas, snacks, etc.?
What did your child enjoy or dislike during your visit?
Do they hold special events geared towards kids?
Do they have a website?
Make sure to include menu prices or entry fees.
Please take pictures!

2. Submit your review and pictures to Kid Friendly Salem reserves the right to choose what entries make the grade, edit or modify any entries submitted in any way deemed necessary. Upon submitting any reviews or pictures, you give permission for them to be used at the discretion of the mama blogger. Oh, and please be nice but honest!

3. When you submit your review, please include what name you would like for me to publish in the entry to give you credit. You can use your real name and a 1-2 sentence description of yourself if you’d like or you can also use a screen name (but please also tell me what your real name is too!)

Other Businesses and Locations

Here are the other businesses and locations we have reviewed so far:
Salem Public Library
Salem Splash Fountains


Here are the events we have reviewed so far:
Ag Fest
Movies In The Park
Regal Free Family Film Festival
Salem Public Library
Salem Saturday Market
Tulip Festival


Click on the links below for the category you would like

Other businesses and locations

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweet Tomatoes

We had family visit this weekend so this morning we decided to drive up to have brunch at Sweet Tomatoes in Tigard. Sweet Tomatoes has been a favorite of ours for years. It is an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar restaurant that always has fresh ingredients, tons of variety with soups, baked potatoes, muffins, breads, pasta, fruit and lots more. It’s a great place to take kids to because they have so many different options to choose from and if one item gets vetoed it’s easy to find something else that they will like. This is another restaurant that I’m an e-club member of. I almost always have a "buy 1 meal + beverage get 1 meal for free" coupon.

There are so many things to love besides the food – easy access from I-5, these little ingenius roller carts that you can place your baby in while you’re dishing up so that you can be hands free, the friendly staff who will offer to carry your tray to your table if you have your arms full of toddler, a super clean restaurant, their labeling of potential food allergens and whether an item is vegetarian or not. I personally have a sensitivity to MSG and sulfites, which are very rarely labeled. I can't remember ever seeing another restaurant labeling sulfites so they instantly go to the top of my list simply because of this.

Today was the first time that we’ve ever had brunch there. When we arrived with our guests I realized that one of the coupons I’d printed was the wrong one, but the manager allowed us to use our "buy 1 meal + beverage get 1 meal for free" coupon twice, which saved us $16.00! In addition to their soup and salads, they also had fixings for breakfast burritos, potatoes O’Brien, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon chip biscuits, breakfast focaccia and all kinds of other things.

When we found a booth, we started to search for a high chair and to our surprise an employee was already heading our direction with one. I usually run my hands over the chair first (if I forget to bring my high chair cover) to see if I might need to wash it, but I honestly could not find a speck of grime or stickness.

Bug ate salad, kidney beans, chicken noodle soup and scrambled eggs with ham and potatoes plus a little bit of Jell-O all for free since she is still under 3 years old. Their pricing for 3-5 year olds is $2.99 and for 6-12 year olds it is $4.69.

Once completely stuffed, we rolled ourselves back out to the car and dd took a nice nap on our way home to enjoy the rest of our lazy Sunday.


Here is a directory of restaurants that we have reviewed so far:
Coffee House Cafe
India Palace
Marie Callender's
Olive Garden
The Original Roadhouse Grill
Sweet Tomatoes in Tigard
Word of Mouth Bistro
La Hacienda Real

All Fixed

We made it past our first snag - comments should be working now. Sorry about the hang up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marie Callender's

Due to the economy, my husband has been laid off the better part of the last 6 months. Going out to eat is a rare treat so when we do got out we need to find the best deals possible for all of us.

Joining e-clubs that are available at some restaurants is great because they offer coupons and birthday deals. Marie Callender’s offers some of the best deals that we’ve found so far. I often get coupons for buy 1 get 1 lunch for free from them. An everyday deal though is that with the purchase of 1 adult entrée and drink, kids eat for free.

A few weeks ago we decided to take advantage of this while we were out running errands at that end of town (we do a lot of our shopping at Morrow and Sons on Silverton Road because of fantastic prices!).

Trying to stick to a budget, we ordered water with our meals. Our helpful waiter reminded us that if at least 1 of us purchased a drink that Bug’s meal would be free so we happily obliged. Their menu offers the typical kids’ menu options. Bug asked for “noodles,” so we decided to try the “Curly Noodles with Alfredo Sauce,” which comes with a slice of bread and desert options of a sundae, a slice of apple or chocolate cream pie. I would have liked to have seen maybe some steamed veggies or some fruit to go along with the meal though.

We usually add their all you can eat soup and salad bar, fill up and take our meals home. This also allowed us to get some things for Bug to crunch on while we waited for our orders. Bug snacked away at salad and slurped on soup while coloring a paper that could be entered for a chance to win a bike.

I was very pleased when Bug’s food arrived and the waiter informed us that it was warm and not hot – this is the first restaurant that we have been to that made a point of keeping the temperature of her food safe – this won huge points with me. The noodles got a big thumbs up from Bug.

To top off our nice lunch experience, the waiter brought Bug a balloon, which always makes her happy as can be.

Family Bathrooms

Family bathrooms have to be one of my favorite inventions. Anyone who has ever tried to share a bathroom stall with a crawling baby determined to escape just as you sit down to pee or a curious toddler who wants to see who is attached to the shoes next door will understand why this is a great concept.

I first came across a family bathroom while visiting California about 10 years ago and I couldn’t wait to see one in our local area.

They range in size – some small, some huge – and amenities – from just the basics to some with couches, extra diapers, wipes (though for some reason I have yet to see one with free chocolate and a neck massage for moms).

I’ve only come across 2 so far in the Salem area that were specifically labeled as family bathrooms (though any place that has a locking door and only 1 toilet could be considered a family bathroom as well). The 2 that we’ve come across were at Target at Keizer Station and Wal-Mart on Turner Road (all the way in the back of the store near the shoes). Both were very basic and have changing areas available, but neither had step stools for the sink area the last time I checked. The one at Target has been consistently clean and not surprisingly the one at Wal-Mart isn’t very clean.

The biggest downside to both of these are how often employees use them as their own private restroom while we wait patiently outside. The last time we were wanting to use the Wal-Mart one we could hear one of their employees inside throwing up – eww!

Do you know of other family bathrooms in the area? Let us know what you think of them!
ETA 03/30/09 A reader emailed this to me: "Wanted to tell you there's a great family bathroom at Kohl's at the downtown mall. We always use that bathroom no matter where we are in the mall (or sometimes downtown!). It has a big toilet, a little toddler toilet, and a buckle chair for the baby."

Contact Us

Suggestions, feedback, questions?

Contact us at

Open For Business

After becoming new parents, we realized how important it is to have local businesses that are kid friendly and make our errands easier.

From disgusting bathrooms and broken high chairs to convenient step stools and quiet places to sit down and nurse, we're going to review it all.
Know of a restaurant, business or event that is kid friendly or want us to review a place you're wondering about? Post a comment and we'll add it to our growing list!

  © Blogger templates 'Sunshine' by 2008

Back to TOP