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Happy summer! 66 days of fun ways for kids to stay busy

Ah, summer! Don’t waste a second as sunshine pours down and schedules melt away. Give in to long days outside, exploring the city, the water, the woods. Hunker down with good books, good friends and family. Unplug, engage and make that “someday” plan happen today. Here’s a road map to making summer 2018 ambitiously fun. (And here's a link back to the full, original story. A lot of the activities and ideas are good all summer long.)


Thursday, July 19

A circus on Thursday?! What kind of amazing summer are we having here?!

Snohomish’s Kla Ha Ya Days is both a circus and carnival: This is the first day of a four-day event that gathers more folks as the days pass. Try coming during the week for a more manageable fair experience, with a circus act and farmers market thrown in. The carnival rides and booths are open from 4-10 pm; Vuelta La Luna Circus performs at 4:30 and 7:30 pm. Or if you want to stay closer to home, head to Volunteer Park’s Picnic in the Park for live music, circus acrobats and food trucks, 6-8 pm. 


Friday, July 20

Seafair Powwow

Powwows were taking place long before Seafair but are of a similar spirit: fun + community + summer. We once heard of a retired couple, both of whom had trouble walking, who went to a powwow in their regalia and wound up dancing for eight hours. This is the 31st annual Seafair powwow: more than 400 dancers  and drummers will gather at this annual celebration of Native American culture. Friday is family night and admission is free. The two grand entries usually start around 6 and 7 pm. Spectators may join dancers during intertribal dances. Native dress is considered regalia, not a “costume.” Any large, stray feathers found should be left alone, but pointed out to staff. Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center at Discovery Park, 4-10 pm. (The event continues Saturday and Sunday)


Saturday, July 21

You don’t need Dee Gordon’s wheels to run at Safeco

The Goodwill Refuse To Abuse 5K at Safeco Field is an event for Mariners fans and runners. A fantastic tour as well as a run and a fundraiser for a good cause (stopping domestic violence), here’s a reason to put on your running shoes and head downtown for the 3.2-mile run. The course is all over, back and up around Safeco Field, involving ramps only (no stairs), fantastic views, time on the field and even passing through the bullpens. Who wouldn’t sprint at the finish down the third-base line? And while we're on the subject, here's more on family-friendly sporting events around Seattle.


Sunday, July 22

Your own private island!

Just like Johnny Depp and Keith Richards, you too can have an island experience. Take Everett’s Jetty Island Ferry out to a little jetty that sits just off the northwest shore of Everett and enjoy a glorious stretch of sandy beach. Be prepared (food, water, sunscreen, change of clothes) to pack everything you bring out. The only structure on the jetty is a porta-potty. Wait in the standby line, or make reservations for parties of eight or more, (425-257-8304).



Monday, July 23

Summer of practical knowledge

A lot of folks bemoan the fact that kids today don’t seem to have a lot of common know-how. But here’s the deal: We have to teach them. So pick a topic that applies to your family. Like to bike? Teach bike repair! Like to boat? Study and take the Washington State Boater Exam online. Like to have friends over? Teach kids to set and clear a formal table. Kids like pancakes? Teach ’em to make Grandma Susie’s vanilla hotcakes. One summer, the kids couldn’t turn on the TV until they’d made coffee and brought in the newspaper. We also taught them to do the laundry; at one point, they were about to put bleach in a dryer full of clothes. Just think of a few things that your kids need to know and tackle today.



Tuesday, July 24

Cool water: Wading pools, spray parks, secret waterfall

This year, for the first time since the recession of 2008, all Seattle Parks wading pools will be open, and five of the most popular — Green Lake, Magnuson, Lincoln, Van Asselt and Volunteer Park — will be open every day from 11 am to 8 pm. These wading pools (except Magnuson, which closes Aug. 26) are the only ones open all summer long; the others drain in mid-to-late August. Other wading pools will have shorter hours and fewer days open, due mainly to attendance figures and budgets. Every wading pool is staffed, and all have a nearby bathroom with the exception of Ballard Commons (use the nearby library) and Lake Union (use MOHAI).

“We always hear from people, ‘Why can’t my wading pool be open every day of the week?’” says Seattle Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin. “We are trying to do the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars and find everybody a little wading-pool time. But the five that are open every day get really good usage.” Last year, more than 126,000 people visited the wading pools.

Wading pools are open on sunny days when the forecast calls for temperatures of at least 70 degrees. Last summer, only one day was actually cooler than 70 degrees. There are also unforeseen circumstances that can temporarily shut down a wading pool, such as broken glass or a bonfire cleanup. The wading pool and spray park hotline (206-684-7796) is updated daily by 9:30 am. Swimsuits and swim diapers (if necessary) are required.

Spray parks are the new thing in playgrounds, or have been for a while. The deceptively simple water element costs about $650,000 to install, per Seattle Parks, and while they’re easier on the manpower, they use their share of water; just imagine the water bill if you let the kids have the hose on all day. Some, like the International Fountain at Seattle Center (which uses 9,000 gallons daily), filter and reuse the water in play.


Wednesday, July 25

Like sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives

You have to hand it to Edmonds; this sand sculpture contest at Marina Beach is ideal for families and amateurs, not the pro sand carvers down at who shape it up at Imperial Beach near San Diego. Winners in the past have been awarded a bucket of locally made candy, and there’s a kids’ category. Bring buckets and shovels, maybe garden trowels. The free contest starts at 10 am with judging at noon. If you get the bug (or place just out of the money) there’s another contest at Richmond Beach in Shoreline on Aug. 19.



Olympia Love measures a century-old red oak tree.

Thursday, July 26

Hug a tree (and ask its age)

Back in the old days, Seattle was full of huge trees, but most of the biggest ones fell to loggers. Yet there are still giants among the maples. The oldest tree in King County is the Coast Douglas Fir at Pacific Highway South and S. 359th St. in Federal Way. Known as the West Hylebos Creek Giant, it’s estimated to be approximately 430 years old, with a diameter of about 22 feet, and towers 163 feet. Other large trees abound, on Magnolia Bluff, in the Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, at Leschi Park, Boeing Creek Park and the University of Washington, among other places. Find one of the massive trees to measure and start a tree survey at home. Have a tree kit that includes a guide book, cotton string, tape measure, notebook and pencil. Make notes! Take pictures!

How to find the age of a tree 
1. Measure circumference of tree in inches
2. Divide by 3.14 (pi) to get diameter
3. Multiply by growth factor of tree speciesto find the tree’s age in years
Tree Growth factor
Cherry         5
Douglas Fir         5
Littleleaf Linden 3




Friday, July 27

Tag-team trails and playground

Kenmore’s Saint Edward State Park is a 316-acre jewel on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington. Once a Catholic seminary, it’s now home to naturopathic Bastyr University, surrounded by the state park. This park is incredible for a practically in-town mountain bike ride or trail run. Kids can play at the volunteer-built playground full of turrets. Some parents come in small groups and take turns watching the kids, while their better half hits the trails. After serious play, enjoy a picnic, dip in the lake, or even a quick meal from Bastyr University’s dining commons (summer hours 8 am-2 pm).


Saturday, July 28

Way, way more than yoga

Yoga isn’t the only cool culture export from India. For those who love Bollywood dancing and all things Vedic, Redmond’s Ananda Mela Festival is almost mandatory. Contests include dancing, cooking, chess, henna and rangoli with yes — kid categories. Also, dance performances including Nalini and the Blue Lotus Dancers (belly dancing Bollywood), and From Within Academy who do Bharatanatyam, a 2,000-year-old dance whose movements have specific meanings and purpose. There will be the standard bouncy house inflatables for kids, and cows, including the humped Gyr from Redmond’s Goloka Farm. anandamela.org


Sunday, July 29


Seward Park’s annual Pista sa Nayon (translated from Tagalog, “town festival”) is a one of the largest Filipino-American events in the country. Come to see the arts and crafts, kids’ games and traditional dances, including Tinikling, a folk dance performed through tapping and sliding bamboo poles. When it’s chibog time, (slang for “eat”) try lumpia (egg rolls), bagoong and dinuguan — all well-suited (albeit spicy!) for a hot summer’s day.


Monday, July 30

Executive parenting skills

You’re not quite halfway through summer, and  kids and parents may be starting the slow dance of each driving the other crazy. Maybe the sibling squabbling has veered into the combustible overreaction mode. A few tricks: 1. Play with kids. Don’t give them a toy or take them somewhere, but actually play with them for an extended period, without phones. Dance to music, build blocks, race cars, play catch, color a poster, play hide-and-seek. Most children, if not engaged positively, will engage in behavior that’s not. 2. Compliment good behavior. An ideal praise-to-criticism ratio, per the Harvard Business Review, is about six positive remarks to every critical one for optimal teamwork. If it feels like you’re talking too much, give a compliment with a look or thumbs-up.  3. Talk less. This actually works with everyone. More listening!



Alexis Strickland makes the goo cool with her super slime fixings.

Tuesday, July 31

Slime time!

Seattle’s Child fought it, too, but there’s no getting around slime-making. Think of it as the fidget spinner of the summer of 2018. Kids love it — making it, playing with it — but it can get pricey and consume household items at an almost intolerable pace (“Where’s my shaving cream?!”)

Like chocolate chip cookies, everyone has their own recipe. The basics include: white or gel glue (the basis), cornstarch or baking soda (the firming agent), saline solution, such as contact lens cleaner (activator; gives it the rubbery feel), baby oil (optional; just a tad at the end to ease handling) and food coloring (pizazz). Glitter — a microplastic that destroys aquatic life — should  stay deep in the drawer with the plastic straws. Foam shaving cream will make fluffy slime; Borax will make stretchy slime. Highlighter ink will make glow-in-the-dark slime. Essential oils will give it a nice whiff. Styrofoam balls will give it texture. You can even make a slow-rising squishy by putting slime in a hollowed-out foam toy.

Now, slime — despite being a polymer of large, linking molecules that allows a wondrous tendency to goop together  — tends to get everywhere. A few tips: Put down a plastic tablecloth. Concoct it outside. Have kids write down the recipe, just to make sure they don’t forget how to grip a pencil. It’s hard to make just one batch, so start with half a cup per kid. It’s almost a guarantee that the very next day, they’ll want to try a new color or ingredient. Interesting dyes can be found at craft stores (find a coupon!) or online. When mixing boric acid into the water and stirring into slime, use a utensil. Vinegar will remove slime from clothing and carpet, so long as you catch it within a day. Slime, will, however, suck the color from sheets when it is taken to bed, or furniture finish when left on a coffee table. Store in an airtight container. Hard slime can be reconstituted with hot water. A little oil will get it out of pet fur and kid hair. You might also want to consider a slime boundary — i.e., it doesn’t go into bedrooms.

Seattle’s Child has some of our favorite slime recipes online, but here’s the go-to, no-fail recipe, courtesy of Elizabeth Hanson, 10, of Des Moines:

Elmer's gel glue, 5 oz.
Contact lens solution
Baking soda
Container to mix in
Mixing utensil
Measuring spoons (½ tbsp., 1 tbsp., ¼ tbsp.)
Food coloring (optional)

Pour the entire bottle of glue into the container
Add ½ tbsp. of baking soda and mix
Add food coloring
Add 1 tbsp. of contact lens solution 
Mix until mixture gets harder to mix and starts to form slime
Take the slime out and knead
If the slime is too sticky, add ¼ tbsp. of contact lens solution

Elizabeth’s pro tips:

Always ask your parents before you make slime; if you don't, chances are your brand-new slime will end up in the garbage can

Promise to clean up (you’ll want to play with your slime, but still, your mom is not your maid)

Don't leave it sitting around for two reasons: 1. It will dry out; 2. It might get thrown away. 

For more slime recipes, see seattleschild.com


Wednesday, August 1

Speedy zucchinis

Taking play with food to a whole new level is the Zucchini 500, this week at Columbia City Farmers Market from 4-6 pm. Kids will make and decorate a free, farmer-grown zucchini into a car with wooden wheels (materials provided) and race against other zucchini cars. This very unofficial squash racing circuit is not not some random event; Farmers’ markets across the country have been hosting Z-500s for years to attract families to farmers’ markets.   seattlefarmersmarkets.org/programs-events/announcements/zucchini-500-races


Thursday, August 2

Mountain Music

Darrington, population 1,385, may not yet be the Woodstock of Washington, but for the past few years, it’s put together some pretty fine music festivals up in the piney forests in the shadow of Whitehorse Mountain. The Summer Meltdown Festival, once some bands in a backyard venue and a keg cup, has grown to a real destination event, featuring four days of jam bands, rock and electronic music. Most people who come camp in RVs and tents. There’s a designated “Family Camp,” and many others just pull in with groups of friends in the main campground. It’s a good idea to come with friends who also have kids. Nearby is the north fork of the Stillaguamish River with swimming and wading spots, as well as a sandy beach accessible from the festival. Be sure to pack sunscreen, river floaties, hearing protection and wagons (only if they have trail wheels). There’s a groovy Kids Village with hula hoops, bubbles, face painting, dress-up, derby car races, jewelry making and even snow cones. Kids 8 and under are free, and youths up to age 15 are discounted. Four-day passes for adults are $250. Oh, and the music — 40 bands, among them Big Gigantic, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, and Beats Antique. summermeltdownfest.com


Friday, August 3


Love it or hate it, it’s Seafair weekend. You’ve likely heard and maybe seen some of the U.S. Navy ‘s flight demonstration squad F/A-18 Hornets practicing their air show above Seattle. They tend to practice over the city on Thursday and Friday and perform their shows on Saturday and Sunday over Lake Washington. Sometimes, spectators mistake the sound of engines as a sonic boom, but since the jets don’t go faster than the speed of sound, it’s just super loud. In addition to the jets, there’s also the Torchlight Parade (7:30 pm; go at least once!), and the hydro pits down at Genesee Park. Kids under 12 are $10; adults are more expensive if you choose to go into the festival. As for us? We’d pack a brunch hamper with a lot of drinks, hats, sunscreen and earplugs, and go for the morning and early afternoon. Seafair can get a little rowdy as the day wears on. Seafair.com


Saturday, August 4

Kites in the Wild Blue Yonder

The annual kite festival at Chambers Creek Regional Park in South Tacoma is the opposite of Seafair. Soaring kites dance in the air nearly silently, their twists and stunts from a string tug and gust of air. You can’t believe what they can tie to a string and hoist into the air. The first 250 kids can make their own kites, while supplies last. Chambers is a wonderful park, nearly 1,000 acres, with two miles of Sound shoreline, a creek, trails, and fantastic views. The action is at the Central Meadow, 10 am-3 pm. Fair warning: Dippin’ Dots and face-painting. co.pierce.wa.us/1268/Kite-Festival


Sunday, August 5

Umoja means unity

Putting the soul in Seafair, Rainier Valley’s UmojaFest is one of the Seafair neighborhood celebrations that feel like a family reunion. Music, marketplace, food, drums and a basketball tournament. At Judkins Park, until 7 pm. umojafamilyfest.com



Monday, August 6

Berries + Kids = Easy pickings

Berry picking with children is ideal: it’s easy, affordable, and healthy. If you’ve ever gone to a U-pick peach orchard, the pounds add up in dollars and harvest (but wasn’t it worth it the day we ate eight peaches?). A lot of summer berries grow 3 feet off the ground, shoulder height for young pickers. Bite-sized and rich in antioxidants, berries are among the big cash crops in Washington state. While you don’t need to corner the market, go berry picking with kids. Enjoy them as you go, or bring the harvest home to make cobblers, fruit leather, popsicles and more. Only pick ripe berries: Unlike tomatoes, once picked, berries do not ripen. Don’t wash berries until right before they’re to be eaten or added to a recipe; they’ll last longer.


Tuesday, August 7

Bake up a batch of berries

What to do with all the berries? There’s the usual — pies and cobblers, breads, etc. You can mix into a slurry and freeze for ice pops, with layers of Greek yogurt to offset the sweetness. Make fruit leather. Another idea which is a great go-to breakfast, especially when you have house guests, is a clafoutis, essentially a big, airy pancake that’s baked with as little as half a cup to as much as three cups of berries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and take breakfast outside.

Clafoutis recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Blend 1¼ cup milk, ½ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, ⅛  cup salt, 3 eggs, 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon melted butter. Pour into greased deep pie dish and add berries — as little as 1 cup, as much as 3 cups. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Turn down oven to 325 and bake another 15-20 minutes; it’s done when it’s puffy and golden. Serve with generous shakes of powdered sugar. If using a lot of berries, pre-roast for 10 minutes on a baking sheet.


Wednesday, August 8

Hike Seattle

You don’t need to head up Highway 2 for a hearty hike. There are about 30 hikes in the Seattle area, almost twice that if you count the Issaquah Alps. Among the many flat trails are Burien’s Indian Trail and Magnuson Park’s Frog Pond Trail. If it’s rainy, find a big-boughed cedar and take a break with a thermos of hot cocoa or tea with milk and honey. wta.org/go-outside/map


Thursday, August 9

Free! Gratis! Gratuit! Zìyóu! Frriyi!

Some museums aren’t part of the Free First Friday, etc., because they always have free admission, which is ideal with kids because you can go and not feel obliged to stay for more than a half-hour, which is sometimes plenty. Free museums: Center for Wooden Boats, Frye Art Museum and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum.


Friday, August 10

Woodland wonderland

Shoreline’s Kruckeberg Botanic Garden is a 4-acre oasis of native and rare plants in a woodland garden. Once the home of adored local botanist Art Kruckeberg and his wife Mareen, it’s now a public garden and a little slice of eden up in Richmond Beach. The Garden Tots program, (for kids ages 2 to 6 is every Friday in the summer until 1 pm and offers crafts and plant activity. $10, or free for members. But just to visit, Kruckeberg is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 10 am-5 pm. Download the bird brochure (kruckeberg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Bird_brochure_May-2013.pdf) before you go; it’s a handy guide to birds and how to spot them, and may encourage soft voices and observation mode.



Not too young: Leighton Fung enjoys a day on the UW campus.

Saturday, August 11

Take ’em to college

The kids might be a little young for college, but nothing is so right as a university campus in summer. Download and print the maps at burkemuseum.org/visit/make-a-day-of-it. Go to the Quad with its 80-year-old cherry trees, or the gothic- inspired Suzzallo Library. Have a snack at the Hub student union. If the day’s absolutely gorgeous and you must get on the water, head to the south side of Husky Stadium to the Waterfront Activities Center to rent canoes, kayaks or rowboats by the hour. There’s Northwest perfection in the shady halls of the Burke Museum (which will close as soon as a newer, larger Burke opens next year). This natural history museum is just right for younger kids, with exhibits featuring dinosaurs and Washington state geology, biology and archaeology. There’s also a small outdoor space that identifies 50 native plant species. Today, the first Thursday of the month, it’s free admission, 10 am-8 pm.


Sunday, August 12


Hit the beach. Get a cooler, friends, a shady something, shovels, swimsuits and head for the water. Maybe bring something to barbecue and make a day of it. Low tide is just after noon, and the water will feel incredible on a hot day. If sand isn’t your thing, try Colman Pool, the outdoor saltwater pool at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. If you’ve been spending a lot of your summer at the pool and it’s getting old, change the times you hit the pool. Go the last hour before closing after an early dinner. If none of their friends are there (nice try, kids — we’re still going to have fun!), try some races with inventive strokes, or come up with a synchronized swimming routine, adding steps and jumps as you get the routine down.


Monday, August 13

You don't need a tennis court

Pick up a racquet -— paddleball, badminton, tennis, pickleball, squash, ping-pong — even the little plastic sets that are undoubtedly on sale as school supplies wait in the wings. If it’s an outside game, head to the courts. Right now, Seattle tennis fever is in full swing, so it might be easier to go to a local school and draw some squares on pavement with chalk, or hit against a wall. If kids are hitting against a wall, stand behind them and help shag balls. The best thing about teaching kids a racquet sport is the learning curve. They improve massively! Try not to teach them anything the first couple of times. Just show them that it can be fun. Later, play games, like counting volleys. Bring a lot of balls. Do your stretches! You’ll be running.


Tuesday, August 14

Dinner picnic at Lake Union Park

Pack up the kids and head straight into the heart of darkness, aka South Lake Union just before rush hour. This park gets better every year. A play structure, a splash park, MOHAI, the Center for Wooden Boats, a Native American canoe carver, a public dock, a model boat pond, restaurants and plenty of picnic grass. Summer Tuesday nights are even better, because it’s the Duck Dodge sailing race. Sailboats will cluster around the middle of the lake and at 7 pm, tack south for the red buoy, sail on the east side of the lake to the buoy by Ivar’s salmon house, west to the Aurora Bridge and back to the start. On a beautiful night, or any night, really, the views can’t be beat. Head home once the traffic dies down. atlakeunionpark.org/map



Wednesday, August 15

Read a classic

Pick a classic book to read aloud, and make some evening time to read two chapters a day — at least so that it stays exciting. Children’s classics don’t get the love they did before tablet days, but they hold up. Not every child will like the same books as their parents did when they were children, so don’t be offended if Black Beauty and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh don’t do it for your brood. Check with the local librarian or any of the lists littering the Internet to be reminded of some of the spellbinding tales. And while we don’t really want to mention it, school is just around the corner (First days of public school: Shoreline, Aug. 29; Mercer Island, Renton, Aug. 30; Bellevue, Kent, Aug. 31; Lake Washington, Tukwila, Sept. 5;  Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Highline, Issaquah, Sept. 6;), and a bit of reading right now would settle bedtimes.



Thursday, August 16

Teach kids to “speed clean”

Here’s the scenario: Another family is coming over for a casual summer barbecue, but your house is, shall we say, undone. Nobody wants to spend a gorgeous summer day inside cleaning, so what do you do?  A. Dial a maid. B. Take kids up on their offer to stay out of your hair by watching TV. C. Change plans to meet at a park and have a picnic outside. D. Speed clean.
Answer: D. Obviously! (Maids don’t tidy on short notice, kids don’t get to chill while you clean, meeting at park is great, but we’re actually doing that another day), Party cleaning is an old family tradition, a cooperative effort that involves every member of the household, tidying as quickly and efficiently as possible. Step 1: Bathrooms. Put kids here. It’s a small space (fewer distractions) with a nontoxic spray cleaner, and have them wipe it up. Step 2: Stuff. Put another kid — or parent — on hallway and family room clutter (put everything in everyone’s room), clear bedroom floors and shut closet doors. Step 3. Clean. Sweep, vacuum or mop. This is not time for the deep, wet wash of the janitor’s massive yarn mop; this is the fast mop. Use barely any water and cleaner. Wipe off outside table. As soon as things are squared away, have kids open crackers or chips and set out hors d'oeuvres. Fill a few pitchers with ice and water, and set some glasses nearby. The speed clean usually involves music. Give kids a chance to play their favorites, too. You’re ready. While nobody expects a totally spotless house, it feels better to put a shine on things. Sometimes it feels that if we didn’t have people over, we’d keep stepping past the odd piles of clutter that grow from hurries and changing activities. And who knows? You may find a stray shoe or misplaced sunglasses.


Friday, August 17

Nothing is cuter than a penguin on a scooter

Today’s so-called “kindie rock” features a variety of easy and silly lyrics, fun beats and tunes the whole family will enjoy. A hometown favorite is Caspar Babypants, who may look familiar; he’s Chris Ballew, formerly frontman of The Presidents of the United States of America. Ballew’s wife, Kate Endle, writes children’s books, and the two collaborate on some of the sweet cartoons that go along with his songs. Today, Caspar Babypants releases his 15th album, Keep it Real, today with a free, half-hour live concert at KEXP at 9:30 am: babypantsmusic.com. Another thing today: There’s a meetup for divorced parents in West Seattle at Beveridge Place Pub at 7 pm.


Saturday, August 18


Costumes are a “yes” at Bothell’s Wizard Fest, featuring fantasy authors, wand-making, wizard entertainment and even a Quidditch Run (1 and 3 pm).  Don’t put off attending this event. The Wizard Fest takes place at Bothell’s charming Country Village, once the Ericksen farm, an old-timey, wood-shingled, village-looking sort of mall that sadly will soon be almost 100 townhouses. 11 am-5 pm, countryvillagebothell.com/wizard-fest


Sunday, August 19

For all those parents who yell on the sidelines...

You get to play, too! You know how typically kids are free if parents pay at most events? At the Subaru Kids Obstacle Challenge at  Lake Sammamish State Park, parents and legal guardians are free with kid registrations. The adventure course is nearly 2 miles of mud, water, ropes, and, well, obstacles — about 15 of them. Get ready for army crawls, mud, rope swings over water, cargo-net climbing and floating cannonballs (?). There’s a competitive wave (8:30 am, kids 10 to 16) but the family waves (9 am-2 pm, kids 5 to 16) are every half-hour, with big kids going first. There’s also a race bag with T-shirt and medals. It’s pricey, from $42 and up. Pre-register if you can; this popular event fills up with Eastside ringers. kidsobstaclechallenge.com/seattle


Monday, August 20

Dip in the lake

Lake swimming is a summer pleasure that seems to put the universe back in place.  Public swimming beaches in Seattle are fun, busy and exciting, with lifeguards (none on duty before 11 am on weekdays; varying hours), floating docks and diving boards, plus bathrooms and likely spots to hear the popular Do Your Ears Hang Low tune of the ice cream truck. The hardest part will likely be parking, but it’s free at Green Lake, Madison, Madrona, Matthews, Magnuson, Mt. Baker, Pritchard Island or Seward Park. seattle.gov/parks/find/swimming-beaches. Just beyond Seattle, some favorite swimming holes: Luther Burbank Beach on Mercer Island (Groveland Beach is closed), Kennydale Beach, Renton; Bellevue’s Newcastle and Enatai beaches, Houghton and Waverly beaches in Kirkland. If the family is up for a bigger excursion, Cascade mountain lakes do not disappoint (the water is more on the icy side). Some favorites: Blue Lake off of Highway 20 is a 2-mile hike of gorgeous scenery, (4.4 miles round-trip), Rainy Lake (2 miles round-trip), Lake Ann (4 miles round-trip), and Lake Dorothy (3.6 miles round-trip). 


Tuesday, August 21


“Oh, I have to go through that pile” is a common refrain in many houses with growing children. Going through clothes is easier than you think, and you don’t have to thank them, Kondo style, or do a full-scale Swedish death clean. This is what you do: Make two piles, one to pass along to friends (or another sibling) and another to give to charity. Some clothes look too worn to be donated, but give anyway (shoes included!). Local charities that take used clothes sort their stuff and give washed-up textiles that can’t be worn to Threadcycle, which bales materials that are either shipped out of country or converted into industrial rags, home insulation and the like. Go drawer by drawer, taking out clothes, refolding as you go. Make space so that there’s room for new school clothes. Some kids have a hard time letting go of old favorites. You can box them up and put them away, so that later, if someone asks where their raggedy unicorn Golden Gate T-shirt is, you still have it. If they stop asking, maybe that stuff can go, too. If kids are giving stuff away, let them be a part of it. It helps them to see that they are but one stop on the flow of clothes. Enjoy the empty space — freshly purged closets can make good reading nooks.


Wednesday, August 22

Pink Martini

Take in an outdoor music concert with friends! Portland band Pink Martini, described as a “little orchestra” whose vocalists can hold the room, or in this case the North Meadow. Sure, there’s plenty of free music around, but this is a bona-fide-happening sort of band. It’s festival seating, and families can go as early as 4 pm to set up a blanket. Tickets are $42 per adult; kids 12 and under are free with each paid admission, but make sure to add child tickets to your order. Gatherings like this can be a wandering-child parent’s nightmare, so come in numbers. Hopefully, the kids play their hearts out as the meadow fills and when it's music time, they’re nestled on blankets, taking it all in. Strollers are tough to roll over the lawn, so try to pack it in. Bring empty water bottles to fill up; the zoo is plastic-bottle-free as of April (Hooray! Anyone else?) but does sell water from Green Sheep in aluminum bottles. The show happens rain or shine. If you’re busy tonight, they play tomorrow, too! zoo.org/zootunes


Thursday, August 23

Breakfast for dinner

Changing things up around the house keeps them interesting and lays wide open ingrained habits and schedules. Not that it’s a bad thing, but a little variety keeps everyone’s perspectives fresh. Summer’s a great time to do breakfast for dinner. Make waffles with generous sides of fruit, or even your own fruit syrup. Or omelettes, with omelette bar offerings just like the hotels do, Eat outside, on trays on a blanket. Or in the living room, watching an old movie.


Friday, August 24

Concerts at the Mural

The most recent outdoor summer music concert our family went to, we waited an hour in line for a shuttle bus to the venue, one kid lost a shoe (and went barefoot the rest of the night), one kid went missing twice, once for the last hour (“I was playing soccer!!), we ran out of drinks, food and money, missed a ride (looking for the missing kid), and were goosed by another mom (who clearly had not run out of drinks) as we waited for the last shuttle. We barely heard the music, and everything that could go wrong (there was more) did, but it was an epic night of fun, as are most of these mass picnics where they play music. Tonight, it’s the Moondoggies, Jo Passed and the Black Tones at the last of the free Concerts at the Mural series at the Seattle Center, starting at 5:30 pm. Seating is first-come, first-serve, and the vibe is low-key. Don’t sit right in front or by the side speakers — it’s too loud for kids. And while this night is not geared to kids at all, you’ll find plenty of families, because music is kind of a thing here. Also, music, even funky electric jams, is good for young brains. Just moving to the music puts the ears and brain in harmony. Try to teach about the sounds the band makes, and which singer or instrument is making certain sounds. An easy way is to  identify when the bass player strums. If it rains, the show goes indoors to KEXP’s Gathering Space. Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St. (206) 684-7200.


Saturday, August 25

The whole thing is a kid zone!

If you’ve ever heard little kids singing lyrics (“Now my bedsheets smell like you”) you’ll appreciate music made for little ears. Today, it’s Seattle’s first-ever Kidchella, a music festival for little kids featuring the Seattle superstars of “kindie rock”: Caspar Babypants (10:15 am), Recess Monkey (11:15) and The Not-Its! (1 pm). Free to enter for kids under 18 (adults are $25)  with plenty to buy — carnival games, face painting, flower crowns, trampoline and inflatables and food trucks. Magnuson Park Hangar 30. No outside food or beverages, 10 am-2 pm.


Sunday, August 26

Did someone say spring-roll-eating contest?

Little Saigon is a few blocks east of Chinatown in the International District, near 12th Avenue and Jackson Street and home to the Little Saigon Festi-Roll, an annual celebration of the Vietnamese community in Seattle. Enjoy performances, demonstrations, inflatables and kids’ activities, and even pho and spring-roll-eating contests and for kids — cream puffs!, 11 am-7 pm.1025 S. King St., Seattle. facebook.com/friendsoflittlesaigon


Monday, August 27

Stroll memory lane

Remember when we said it was a screen-free summer? Well, mostly. We kept things hopping, and gave you options. But here’s one that gives kids a directed task on the computer: Have them make a summer photobook. A lot can be done online, at Costco, Amazon, Mixbook, Apple or such. You could do it the old-fashioned way, printing photos and having kids assemble them into albums. Have kids caption pictures, date them and add details they remember. It’s fun to take some environmental photos, or shots of the house, the neighborhood, even cars. All those things change before we realize it. Use the summer album the basis for a slideshow. Make a night of it, with popcorn and blankets on the floor.


Tuesday, August 28

The drink of the Golden Bear

Famed golfer Arnold Palmer used to drink a half-lemonade, half-iced-tea drink as he hit the links on hot days. It’s a super summer drink, because it halves the amount of lemonade that would ordinarily be consumed. Nowadays, there’s so much tea marketed to kids that it’s important to give them a non-caffeinated version that hits the spot on sunny days. First, make sun tea. Put 4 tea bags in a large pitcher or glass container to steep in the sun. Rooibos tastes the most like classic tea, but kids also like chamomile (very mild) and peppermint. After a couple of hours in direct sunlight, bring in your tea, discard tea bags, mix in equal part lemonade and serve over ice. Try a little putt-putt golf, maybe to Mike N Terry’s in Puyallup (cash only; call to make sure they’re open: 2:30 to dark, 253-841-1234), or Family Fun Centers (Tukwila and Edmonds, 10 am-9 pm).


Wednesday, Aug. 29


Let the immortal words of Wallace Shawn ring out at the outdoor screening of The Princess Bride, the last movie in the series at the BECU Movies@Marymoor. Bring a blanket and a few of the low beach chairs, a picnic or tuck into some of the goodies from food trucks such as Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff, Buddha Bruddah mixed plates, Express Mexican Kitchen, Cheese Wizards and Caramia’s Sweeties Treaties and Custom Kettle Corn. Admission is free for kids 5 and under; everyone else is $5. Parking is also $5. Movie night starts with a little bit of trivia.


Thursday, Aug. 30

Geek Out!

Have a early dinner (around 4 pm) and visit the Living Computers: Museum + Labs, just south of Safeco Field for free and late Thursday hours (until 8 pm). The current show, Totally 80s Rewind, is billed as a day in the life of an 1980s teenager, with its with answering machines, Walkmans, overhead projectors and BASIC programming, all in a re-creation of an authentic ’80s classroom, with a set so true you’ll think you landed in WarGames or Back to the Future. Show kids know what the world was like before mobile phones; parents can be an authority on a part of history their children are just learning about. You can also talk about the concept of time with kids, which is interesting and refreshing. Ask, “What’s a long time to you?” and see where the conversation goes. Iivingcomputers.org, 2245 First Ave. S, Seattle, 206-342-2020.


Friday, August 31
A lot of people flee the city for what’s considered the last weekend of summer (the summer weather can hang in there until the end of September, so don’t force yourself into a ferry line), but a tradition is Bumbershoot, an urban arts festival on Labor Day weekend. It’s music, film, comedy, dance and art, but much more; it’s visual, it’s varied, it’s curated. Don’t bring chairs, glowsticks, wagons, strollers (if you plan on going into Memorial Stadium). Kids 8 and under are free with a paying adult. There will be children’s (kids under 12) activities at the Maker’s Space near the Vera Project. Check bumbershoot.com for a full schedule and the Bumbershoot Spotify Playlist.


Saturday, September 1

Here, crabbie, crabbie, crabbie!

Kids 15 and under in Washington state don’t need a crabbing license to catch the amazingly delectable Dungeness crab. They do, however, need to record their catch with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov) with a catch record card (CRC) Puget Sound crab endorsement. Immediately after catching a Dungeness crab and before fishing again, record in ink: marine catch area, catch date (month and day), and one tally mark for each crab kept. You need a crab pot, aka a crab trap (get at a local marine store), about 100 feet of line and bait — old or cheap chicken parts, fish heads — and fill the bait area. Throw off the deepest part of a fishing pier that you can manage and leave for at least 45 minutes. Seattle’s recreational crabbing season ends Sept. 3, so get ’em soaking. Parents - if you help haul up the rope, you need a license! Tacoma and Vashon crabbing is closed this summer. A good primer on crabbing: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/plastic_crabbing_card_final.pdf


Sunday, September 2

Beach bonfire

Alki and Golden Gardens allow bonfires in the metal pits, air quality permitting (check: pscleanair.org/168/Current-Status). It’s a great idea, but not unique. Most bonfire hosts get their pits early in the morning and save them all day. Just a few tips: Bring your own firewood; don’t burn driftwood and all your unwanted trash. Fires must be out by 10:30. Douse with water, not sand. Bring long sticks for marshmallow roasting, water for rinsing sticky fingers, and chef tongs (trust us!).


Monday, September 3

Cheap seats for all

Guess who’s in town? The Baltimore Orioles, and it’s an early 6:10 pm Mariners Value Game, one of about 25 games with special low prices on certain Sundays, weeknights and holidays. Bleacher and View Level seats are $15, and Main Level and Terrace Club seats are $30. As this issue goes to press, the Mariners are leading the American League West!

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