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…

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