Splash Pads in Spokane

I discovered the best summer hack ever: splash pads.

Sloan has discovered splash pads and she loves them!

Our state is in a serious and unprecedented heat wave with numerous consecutive days of 100+ degree days. It is pretty day. Now while I realize the best course of action for many is to just stay inside, a certain 4-year-old girl has other ideas. Sloan needs to be outside and doing things.

Oh yeah, Sloan isn’t the only one who enjoys splash pads…Beau does too.

So, we have been making the rounds at various parks in the Spokane and Spokane Valley areas. As I have mentioned before, the parks in this area are beautiful, green, and spacious. They have creative playground equipment, hiking trails, designated picnic areas, plenty of shade, and more. They almost all have splash pads too.

Can you spot Sloan? She is playing on this splash pad at Mission Park in Spokane.

For parents, the splash pad is a perfect attraction because kids can cool off without getting too wet to do anything but swim. Splash pads are usually situated right next to the playground so Sloan can go back and forth between each one. On these days that are scorchers, Sloan can run through the splash pad and then hit the play equipment that would otherwise be too hot to play on if not for cold water protecting her body. She can then spend time swinging on the monkey bars and going down the slides until she needs to cool off again on the splash pad.

After getting wet at the splash pad at Edgecliff Park, Sloan will then run over to the playground equipment.

The splash pads are terrific social centers. From what I have observed, they bring kids together as they laugh and splash as water shoots up and pours down. A camaraderie develops around the shared experience of getting drenched with cool water. Sloan has met several other kids on the pads and their newfound friendship expands to the playground as well. It is like magic.

Beau scoping out the splash pad at Greenacres Park in Spokane Valley all while keeping an eye on his sister.

Splash pads help parents fend off heat strokes too. It is a way for us to stay cool during these sizzling days. Although I don’t run through the pad myself, I do put my hands in the water and cool down my neck or arms. Also, the mist that develops and finds its way to the adults standing on the perimeter of the pads is very much appreciated.

The splash pad at Riverfront Park is pretty spectacular.

From what I have seen so far, all splash pads are different in Spokane, making it even more fun. Layouts, fountains, geysers, and funnels are all unique at each park, making for a special experience at each one. Variety is the spice of life, right?

Sloan and her cousins love hitting up the area splash pads. This is at Edgecliff Park in Spokane Valley.

Perhaps I am just on such a splash pad high because we were taunted by them last summer. Sloan and I would visit all these Spokane parks and see the elaborate but roped-off pads. Damn you, COVID. You sure know how to break a little girl’s heart.

Beau doesn’t mind getting wet.

So maybe we are making up for lost time. Or maybe it is just really hot out. Or both? Yeah, both. Thank you to our area parks for installing splash pads, they sure are fun! Don’t Blink.

The Octagon Thursday Rundown

Happy last Thursday of May to everyone! Hope you have had a nice week and still have enough in the tank to make it through Friday before cruising into the Memorial Day weekend. Here are my five topics for tonight…

Thankful – The current days are some of the longest of the year and I find nothing more uplifting than my 5:15 a.m. drive home from the gym during that first full hour of daylight. As I gaze out at the mountains and trees during the commute, I can’t help but feel thankful for God’s creation and for my personal good fortune to live in this beautiful corner of the country.

A look from my driver window earlier this week as I drove home from the gym.

School’s Out for the Summer – Sloan attended her last day of Pre-K 3 yesterday. Her school year ended a little sooner than her classmates because of vacation so Sloan’s class rolled out the red carpet and celebrated her on Wednesday. We feel so fortunate to have Sloan enrolled at St. Mary. She loved going each day, met friends, and brought home impressive work. Sloan’s last day in her uniform was actually on Monday because yesterday was College Spirit Day and she made her daddy proud by sporting a WSU shirt. Next stop: Pre-K 4.

Sloan at St. Mary in Spokane Valley on her last day of Pre-K 3. It was College Spirit Day so she ditched her uniform for a WSU t-shirt.

We Need This – Last night we attended my niece’s t-ball game at Midway Elementary and the playground had something that Sid and I really want! This octagon “pen” is for a dodgeball-esque game called Gaga Ball but it might as well be a holding cell for overactive 1-year-olds. Not going to lie, it was nice placing Beau in the enclosed area and watching him play without having to chase after him. What a genius idea.

This octagon at Midway Elementary in Spokane was wonderful for Beau to play in.

Happy 10 Years – Here I am bragging about my 10th anniversary of blogging when other people are marking much more important decade anniversaries. Fr. Jeff Lewis, our pastor at St. Mary and great mentor/friend to Sidney and I, celebrated the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this week. Also, Bishop Thomas Daly, the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, marked his 10th anniversary of being a bishop on Tuesday. May we pray for both of these men as they continue their dedicated and fruitful ministries.

Bishop Daly (left) and Fr. Jeff Lewis (right) in 2017. Thanks and congrats to both on their respective 10 year anniversaries (photo courtesy of Bishop Daly’s Twitter account)

Dating Myself – Thanks to my friend Lindsi’s Thursday collection of memes, I found something that resonated with me in terms of my age. The best hack to get a malfunctioning Nintendo or Gameboy cartridge to play was obviously by blowing air into it. I have taken this trick with me throughout adulthood, whether it be blowing air into my smartphone charging port to get it to charge properly or blowing air into Sloan’s face as a last resort to get her to behave. Although this tactic may have originated in the late 1980s, it is truly timeless.

This tactic would usually work.

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I hope you have a great start to your Memorial Day weekend. It will be a BIG one for us! Before this holiday weekend is over you will hear from me again. As always, thanks for your readership. Don’t Blink.

10 Fun and Easy Christmas Activities

The holiday season is young but we have already packed a lot of Yuletide-fun into the first week of December. While trying to plant small seeds into Sloan’s heart about what this season is truly about, we are also finding lots of Christmas activities that 3-year-old girls really enjoy.

If you are looking for some easy and festive ways to get into the holiday spirit with your little ones (or big ones), here are 10 ideas that we have already done with Sloan this month.

Write Letter to Santa – We sat Sloan down at the table and helped her write a letter to Santa. She then decorated the paper and envelope with her markers and stickers. If the Big Guy writes back, I plan to devote a blog post to the whole process.

Sloan writing a letter to Santa.

Christmas Light Drive – Taking a page out of my parents’ holiday playbook, we packed Sloan and Beau into the car on Sunday night and looked at some of the best Christmas light displays in the Spokane Valley. Sloan had a great time yelling out “Look daddy! Look mommy!” when we would pass an especially magnificent house. The next day, Sloan asked us if we could go look at Christmas lights again.

One of the trees in a neighborhood we visited on our Christmas light drive was covered from the top to bottom in these beautiful lights.

Drive-thru Santa Experience – This past Saturday, Sloan and Beau met Santa…from a distance. A local charity organization in Spokane invited the public to its Santa drive-thru event. But it wasn’t just Santa – he brought one of his reindeer too! Sloan was ecstatic during the entire experience and thoroughly enjoyed the frosted Christmas cookie that the volunteers gave her prior to us driving away.

Over the weekend, Sloan met Santa and saw reindeer at a drive-thru event.

Chocolate Countdown Calendar – Thanks to her Aunt Miranda, this chocolate calendar has become something that Sloan looks forward to each morning. She locates the number that corresponds to the December date, punches out the door, and identifies the shape of the chocolate (i.e. Santa hat, ornament, present, etc.) before dropping it into her mouth.

Sloan is a big fan of her chocolate calendar.

Hot Cocoa Bar – Remember when I wrote about the hot chocolate bombs I got my hands on? As you can imagine, Sloan was just as excited about them as me. For good behavior during the day I have let her make her own cups of hot chocolate at night using one the bombs. I then let her add marshmallows and whipped cream (under close adult supervision).

Sloan has made hot cocoa out of these hot chocolate bombs and then added whipped cream and marshmallows.

Christmas Shows – With all our new streaming services, an extremely large vault of Christmas programming for kids has been opened up to us. Best of all, Sloan eats it up. From Blippi’s Snowflake Scavenger Hunt to the StoryBots Christmas special to the Grinch movies, the entertainment is non-stop for Sloan.

Sloan watching a Christmas Netflix show in our living room.

Thanking Sallie – Santa isn’t the only holiday figure that Sloan is writing to. Last night she sent her first correspondence to Sallie, the Elf on the Shelf who is assigned to our daughter for the month. Sloan thanked Sallie for the cheer she has already brought to our house and perhaps reinforced a couple of gift ideas to pass onto Santa.

Sloan wrote a letter to Sallie last night.

Library Crafts – We might not be able to go inside our county libraries, but their services are still available via curbside. The Spokane County Library District is offering a cinnamon spice ornament kit for anyone who wants to get a little crafty. We ordered the free kit via its website, picked it up, and Sid did the project with Sloan.

Sid and Sloan made these cinnamon ornaments today. They got the kit to make them, with all ingredients included, from the library.

Christmas Card Mail – We have started to receive Christmas cards in the mail. Although I personally love opening them, I have a little girl who enjoys doing the same thing just as much. I have to coach her not to tear the card itself when she rips open the envelope but it is a minor inconvenience for the satisfaction that she receives.

Pajamas Party – Go ahead, do a couple Christmas Eve rehearsals before the real deal! We let Sloan get in her Christmas pajamas and “wear them in” before the night of December 24 comes around. We are pretty sure Santa won’t mind.

Sloan slipped into her Christmas Eve pajamas the other day.

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With it only being December 8, I am sure I can drop a couple more activity lists before December 25. In the meantime, hopefully you can find some holiday joy with these 10 hacks. Don’t Blink.

Is This Normal?

How crazy is 2020? Well, we made a snowman and carved a pumpkin during the same weekend. Of course cutting out a jack-o-lantern is pretty typical for the fourth weekend of October but creating a Frosty is not—even in Spokane.

That was what I was trying to explain to Sidney when the snow started falling on Friday. Seriously, this does not usually happen. But our reality was a winter wonderland that surpassed the 3-6 inches that was forecast.

But don’t think we complained. Sidney got some experience driving in it, hot chocolate was made, and Sloan played in it non-stop. Perhaps our Southern belle does have some Washington blood in her.

Sid and Sloan out in the snow.

The fun started on Friday when Sid took Sloan outside with the snow still falling at a rapid clip. They wasted no time making a snow woman and decking her out in Myrtle Beach-inspired attire. Sloan couldn’t wait to take me out to the front yard to show me “Mommy” (No, not my wife. That is what Sloan named her snow person).

The snow woman that Sid and Sloan built. Sloan named it “Mommy.”

Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun shined brightly and bounced off the white snow as the snow-capped pine trees towered over us. It was my turn to play in the snow with Sloan!

Saturday was gorgeous.

We first did something that I did as a child. I filled a couple spray bottles with water and added food coloring to them. We then went out and squirted the snow as the vibrant blue and red immediately stood out.

Sloan squirted ‘Mommy” with some colored water.

Of course Sloan had to make a snow angel. While she was spreading her wings, she kept repeating “I love the snow! I love the snow!”

Sloan making a snow angel.

She then climbed the mini snow mountain…

Sloan scaling the snow mountain.

And explored the wilderness…

Sloan exploring her surroundings.

At the end of our adventure, she took time to snap a selfie with her daddy.

Snapping a selfie with her old man.

The snow has lingered through the start of this week but the temperatures will be returning to the 50s and the white stuff will soon be a memory…for a week at least. I do believe that years from now we will reflect on our first fall in Spokane and remember the snow storm that dropped several inches in October. Don’t Blink.

Have a Picnic

This summer we have made it a point to pack a picnic and go to a park. Why? Well, for one, it is a very enjoyable thing to do. And, two, we simply never had the opportunity to do so in South Carolina. The humid weather simply isn’t conducive to eating outside and the area of the state we lived in didn’t have the lush, green parks that dot the Spokane Valley.

In eastern Washington, the month of September is gorgeous and still perfect for picnicking. So, if you still haven’t embraced the outdoors while eating a sandwich on a comfy blanket, put a picnic on your calendar and let me give you five tips for a perfect experience.

We have enjoyed numerous picnics at parks this summer.

Choose the Right Park – The Spokane and Spokane Valley boast countless public parks for citizens to enjoy. But before you choose a park based solely on a Google search, do a little bit of scouting and make sure it has everything you need. Our family looks for a fun playground, plenty of big pine trees for shade, sturdy picnic benches, and lots of green space. Parks that meet all these requirements aren’t hard to find but that doesn’t mean places that lack them don’t exist. Just do your homework.

Bring Stuff – The playground and human interaction should be enough to keep your family entertained, but it isn’t a bad idea to bring some items from home that could optimize your afternoon or evening. You can never go wrong with a frisbee or football. Sidewalk chalk is a hit with Sloan. If you are like me, bringing a croquet set is a great way to take advantage of the vast space offered by a park and it also allows you to set up the course of your dreams!

Remember to bring blankets!

The Food – A picnic isn’t a picnic without the food. In fact, I feel like a picnic is an excuse to overdo it just a bit. Sometimes this means picking something up at a favorite restaurant. On separate occasions this summer we have brought food to the park from our favorite cheesesteak, sandwich, and fried chicken joints. But if you want a more traditional picnic, pack it yourself! That’s what we did for our picnic lunch yesterday. We met my sister and her kids at the park and we split up the food duties. Sid and I brought hot dogs and chips while my sister brought oranges, cookies, and drinks. It was a blast and pretty tasty.

At our picnic yesterday, we packed hot dogs.

Pack a Cooler – The drinks are just as important as the food. Grab your ice chest and throw in bottled water, soda, and some Capri Suns for the kids. Oh yes, don’t forget the beer. Just remember to bring Solo cups with you. You can empty your ice dispenser to keep the drinks cool but I prefer to pick up a bag of ice at the gas station and dump it in. When you get to the park, crack open your beverage and enjoy. Whether a soda or an adult beverage, an ice cold drink tastes incredible in the middle of beautiful scenery outside.

Be Prepared – It is important to be ready for any obstacles you might face once on-site. In terms of pests, you could encounter a member of the bee family buzzing around your picnic. Keep that in mind and bring appropriate repellent. During this time of pandemic, bring plenty of disinfectant wipes to scrub benches and play equipment. Most importantly of all, make sure everyone goes to the bathroom prior to arriving at the picnic. I have been in the park facilities and they are not pretty!

I mean it folks, don’t let this summer slip away without a picnic. With the Labor Day weekend approaching, pick a day and make it happen. Don’t Blink.