Event Review: Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch

What It is:

Every year from the end of September through October, Tanaka Farms in Irvine has a Pumpkin Patch. Tanaka Farms is a working farm that grows various different types of produce. Every year they set up a big pumpkin patch event.

What We Did:

Ready for the patch!

We went to Tanaka Farms first thing in the morning. Since they had a partnership with Sanrio this year, I had been hearing that it was crazy packed later in the day on the weekends.

The sticker for C!

After parking and paying, we headed in. We took a few pictures first. Luckily since it is a family event, there were plenty of people willing to take photos if you returned the favor. There were lots of cute photo setups all around.

My little candy corn!

One of the things included with entry is the corn maze. I’m pretty sure it is different every year. It was at least different from the last time that I went. C was amazed by the corn and we were in the maze forever because of it, but exploring is good!

Which way?

We bought one entry into the petting zoo since C was free and we felt that we both didn’t need to go in. Of course C loved this part. He is all about petting animals these days. There were 3 different petting zoo sections. They seemed to all have similar animals. I think I noticed that one had an alpaca while the others didn’t but other than that they all seemed pretty similar. Goats, sheep, the usual. You could purchase food to hand out if you wanted to. After exiting there were a large number of hand sanitizing stations.

What is this?

We chose not to do the wagon ride since C wouldn’t sit still for it and we did not want to have him melt down at that point. So we watched the Pumpkin Cannon launch pumpkins at a hillside. We also stopped and got some fresh strawberry lemonade from one of their food stands. The food smelled amazing and if we didn’t already have lunch plans that day I would have been all about it.

He claimed it as his and didn’t want to share

Of course we walked around the actual pumpkin patch. There are so many pumpkins of different sizes and colors. It was amazing. I love pumpkins so this was a ton of fun for me. C liked to touch them and try to pick them up. We did buy him a little pumpkin since he loved it so much and he carried it around the house for days.

Pumpkins!

We also bought a bunch of stuff from the produce stand before leaving. Their bread is really good as is their salsa. We also love to pick up some fresh veggies to cook for the week too!

C’s pumpkin

Good:

  • Super cute.
  • They put a lot of effort into making it fun.
  • Fairly inexpensive for quite a bit of activities.

Not So Good:

  • Leaving the parking lot was a mess.
    • I will credit Tanaka Farms here. There was an accident in the parking lot right before we left that brought in fire trucks and police. It held up the parking lot for some time. They did come out and hand out water and try to keep everyone informed.
  • It was a little crowded so different picture spots had a small line.

Cost:

Entry was $3 per person (2 and under were free.)

Other activities:

  • Wagon Ride: $6 per person (2 and under were free)
  • Pretting Zoo: $3 per person (2 and under were free)
  • U-Pick Vegetable Patch: $2.99 a pound
  • Game Tickets: $1 each or $20 for 22

Our Verdict:

We love Tanaka Farms. They are actively working on making the parking and entry for events run smoother. Follow their social media for info about parking and if it is full. The weekend after we went they changed how parking is done and you have to preregister for a parking pass. It seems as though they will do this again next year!

I think that overall they do a great job with running the events. Does parking pose challenges? Yes. But they are a working farm that has recently gotten super popular (we went a few years ago and there was like 1/4 the number of people there) and they are working on making it better.

We will absolutely be back and we LOVE their produce stand too! And hopefully C will have the patience for the wagon ride next year. I can’t wait!

Event Review: Babies R Us Baby’s First Christmas

What It is:

Every year Babies R Us holds a Baby’s First Christmas event. Some stores hold multiple ones throughout the month of November and each one is geared towards different birthdays so you can meet other parents with children around the same age.

*I have 0 pictures from this event. This is a review of the 2016 event and C was only 2 months old so I was not always good about taking pictures when we were out. You remember that overwhelmed feeling for the first couple outings?

What We Did:

The event is obviously to help Babies R Us sell toys and first Christmas gear. So they do a small talk about different products and have different toys out that you can register for (hint, hint.) After that though it is a pretty easy going event.

They had out plain white onesies in various sizes with fabric markers so that you could create “ugly sweater onesies.” There were different stencils out and they had a few different ideas. We had a lot of fun with this. Some people took the ugly sweater theme to heart while others made cute ones. A few people even made their own “Baby’s First Christmas” onesie so they didn’t have to buy one!

There was a little photo spot set up to take pictures. We didn’t do it since C was only 2 months old and if I remember correctly he was not really having being out and about that day. The store employees were helping take pictures so that you could get a picture of the whole family if you wanted to.

Then there was storytime. It was a very quick Christmas themed story so the older kids were really into it. We used it as a nice break and we didn’t have to be the ones reading the book!

Near the end, everyone was given a bag of samples and coupons. We got a small MAM bottle and some toddler snacks. We absolutely used the bottle and the snacks had expiration dates far enough in the future that we eventually used those too!

Last but not least was the raffle. They were giving away several packs of diapers, a few packs of wipes, a First Remedies Cold Kit, and a few Christmas items. We won a Countdown to Christmas chalkboard block sign. It is super cute and I’ve wanted one for awhile but never really felt like I should buy one. Now I don’t have to!

Good:

  • It is short so it is the perfect event to get out of the house!
  • It is pretty cute.
  • Raffles and free stuff are always nice.
    • My store had pretty good raffle prizes, but I think this varies by store.

Not So Good:

  • Depending on the amount of people that show up, it can get a little crazy and hectic.

Cost:

Free. There is a preregistration online so your spot is reserved. Some stores are way more strict about this than others, so I would make sure you do it. Doesn’t hurt! (https://reserve.babiesrus.com/index.html)

Our Verdict:

If we had another kid, we would go to this again. It was a fun little event that really didn’t require much effort on our part. Perfect for a little one! I briefly thought about going again this year since C was so little last year. But I figured it was best to let the new parents have an event without my crazy one year old running around!

Event Review: Flowerchild Festival

What It is:

Flowerchild Festival was an event held on September 17, 2016. It was a music and arts festival held at the at the Orange County Great Park.

What We Did:

We had bought tickets online head of time and knew that there was a swag bag giveaway for the first 100 families to check in. We saw the sneak peak of the bag and while it looked amazing, we decided that we didn’t need to get there that early to get one. But we knew that the first 500 people to check in got raffle tickets. We were interested in that. Well apparently I completely misjudged the time it would take us to get there because we were like the 25th family in line… Oh well, awesome swag bag for us!

Swag bag contents!

After waiting in line to get in and get our swag bag, we headed into the vendor area. We had C in the jogging stroller and about halfway through my husband took C and the stroller outside while I kept walking around. It was pretty crowded in there and because almost everyone had a wagon or a stroller there wasn’t much room to get around to all the tables. This was when I noticed the raffle ticket table. You were to turn in your ticket to see if you won a prize. Uh, we never got our tickets. I spoke to the woman at the table and just asked how we were supposed to get our tickets. She very kindly understood what happened (they missed the first 50, or so, families in line) and gave us a chance to win. Spoiler alert: we didn’t win. There were some really good prizes though.

There were lots of different types of vendors and I really appreciated the variety. Toys and clothes, different schools, dentists, treats for both adults and kids, and a parent pampering area. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I never did visit the pampering area. 🙁 I know they were doing mini massages and fingernail painting.

Some of the stuff we got from the vendor area

Once I finished inside, we headed out to the Activity Village that was sponsored by Munchkin. Between the vendor building at the Activity Village was a food truck. There was also the park’s carousel which it seemed like a ton of kids were loving.

Trying to get a picture before heading into the outdoor activity village

Inside the Activity Village were a few photographer booths. We waited in a very short line and got a cute picture of C. We only did one booth because I didn’t think that C would really want to pose with a mermaid even if it was super cute.

We took a break by the stage area to feed C and we listened to some great singers performing Disney songs.

Part of the area near the stage.

There were lots of outdoor activities to do including face painting, arts and crafts, and a kids yoga area. We visited the MyGym area which had a few little obstacles set up, Pretend City’s area that had art and some building things, and the KinderCare area. KinderCare set up a few different things for different ages. They had a bunch of beans in an activity table and C was really into it.

Playing with an activity table set up by KinderCare

Since it was a nice day and we didn’t need to head home right away we found a nice big grassy area for C to practice his walking. We found out later that us doing that made it into the Flowerchild Festival video!

Awwww!

Good:

  • Ticket cost goes to a great cause! (Moms Orange County)
  • Lots of fantastic vendors.
  • Tons of information about different activities in the area.
  • All staff that we encountered were extremely helpful.
  • Lots of parking!

Not So Good:

  • A little disorganized at the beginning of check in, but it did get better.
  • No/few activities for kids C’s age. (He was 11 months.)
  • Vendor area got packed! It was very crowded.

Cost:

The tickets were $10 and it was heavily recommended that you get tickets ahead of time!

Our Verdict:

If this event is held again we will absolutely go. We had a great time even though the activities were all geared towards slightly older than C. It would be a ton of fun when he is able to do arts and crafts and has the attention span to sit still for story time and music (ha!) Plus the ticket fee went to a fantastic cause.

OC Fair Kid Style

We visited the OC Fair last week with C. Despite having gone for as long as I can remember, I have never actually been there while with a kid (mine or not.) It was a vastly different experience. We were trying to have fun while making sure that C had fun too.

So here is a list of things to check out if you have your little one with you!

  • Free petting zoo!
    • They have the standard animals and some different ones like a kangaroo and deer!
    • You can feed the animals for $3.
  • Explorium: Destination Kids
    • Tons of fun kids activities and crafts.
    • A magic show for kids.
    • A magic workshop!
    • Contests.
    • They have a place for those 3 and under to play too!
  • Millennium Barn/Centennial Farm
    • Nothing better than more animals!
    • They had piglets born during the fair this year and they were so cute.
    • I may have liked this more than C…
  • Livestock Barn
    • More animals! (Can’t really go wrong with animals.)
    • Livestock area where you can see things like chickens, pigs, and other animals.
    • Pig races.
    • Pony rides are also in this area.
  • Splash Area
    • There is an area that has water that squirts up from the ground.
    • Tons of kids (and adults) were playing around in this.
    • A great way to stay cool!
  • Family Fairway
    • Rides and games for little ones.
    • The area was much calmer and more kid friendly than the other ride/game area.
    • This is also wear the petting zoo is located.
  • Changing Stations
    • Not something fun, but a necessity if your little one is still in diapers.
    • The one we visited was just a tent with one changing station inside, it may be different for other stations.

The fair is still going on until August 13th! Make sure to check it out!

Product Review: NOSH

My child LOVES to eat all of a sudden. He didn’t always. He didn’t hate it, but wasn’t super excited about it. Probably the acid reflux.

Once we introduced solid foods, we were trying all sorts of teething wafers and puffs. In all sorts of flavors. We found that a lot of them were too thick for him so he couldn’t bite into them. Then we stumbled about NOSH. We got a sample from an event at Babies R Us before he could even eat them. I pulled it out and gave it to him one day and he loved it.

Then we found their booth at the Anaheim JPMA Baby Show. They gave us a ton of samples after hearing how much he liked them. After talking to them it seems that locally they are only in Babies R Us. (Fingers crossed that this changes soon!) The above picture is from one trip for us.

They have several different products and every one C has tried so far is a winner. They have teething wafers (Munchables), puffs (Lil Melties), Smoothie Snaps, and Tot Munchables. And they have so many flavors! There are 6 flavors of Munchables! Bonus is that they don’t all include banana which it seems a ton of other brands do. Nothing wrong with banana but it has got to get old after awhile.

This is how you eat it, right?

I have learned that C loves puffs. He’d eat them exclusively if I let him. But they are a pain to take on the go. Lil Melties are perfect for this! They are individual bags in the box. Each bag has one serving in it so it is perfect to take out. I always have them in the diaper bag now.

I did find the Munchables and Tot Munchables on Amazon, but not the Lil Melties. Booo! You can buy all of their products on their website though. (See link below.)

Honestly, I never thought that I would have such strong feelings about baby snacks. But here we are. If you are looking for a new flavor of baby snack or something easy to throw in your diaper bag, I would absolutely try NOSH.

Amazon links for NOSH:

Nosh Baby Munchables Banana and Mango, 1.9 Ounce

Nosh Tot Munchables Organic Rice Snacks, 24 Piece, Simply Rice

*Please note that these are Amazon Affiliate links!

Their website:

https://luv2nosh.com/

Moms OC Mommy and Me Review

What It is:

This is a Mommy and Me class that works on developmental skills for your little one as well as empowering mothers. Their website says, “Learn activities to stimulate your baby’s mental and physical development. Mothers and babies come together in a fun and creative group environment.”

There are different classes for different age groups. The 3 age groups offered are 3-5 months, 6-11 months, and 12-17 months. The classes are offered in Spanish, English, and Vietnamese.

We were a part of the 6-11 month class. The class is about an hour long and lasts for about 8 weeks.

What We Did:.

At the beginning (before class really starts) there are a ton of balls out on the mat for the kids to play with. C loved this time once he started to crawl (he started crawling about halfway through our sessions.) We were always there super early so he got to crawl around and play with the balls before anyone else got there.

The setup and C playing with all the balls.

Once class started we would talk about something that happened in the past week. Ms. Gaby, the instructor, would ask what was something fun we did, something challenging, or something we found stressful. Sometimes you just need to celebrate the small victories or get something off your chest. I found this time extremely helpful, mainly because Ms. Gaby is so understanding and has fantastic advice.

We then sang a few songs and do some baby sign language. I don’t think I ever sang the wheels on the bus to C before but now he really loves it! Then out came musical instruments and more songs. C loves the instruments. We have played with them at Gymboree and we have a couple at home so he is pretty familiar with them and loves to shake them.

After cleaning up all the balls and the instruments is snack time. When I first heard there would be a snack time I thought it was kind of silly. I mean the class is only an hour long. But it was actually amazing. C never failed to get hungry and grumpy in the middle of class. Plus it was also a snack time for the moms too!

Snack time goodness

Then it was time for the activity of the day. We did so many fun activities that were all geared toward development! We played with bowls so the kids could learn to put things in and out as well as bang on them. The next week we put feathers in the bowls and did an art project with them. One week it was Cheerios so that they could eat them and do a project with them. And then it was tissue paper. Every week was gearing up to paint. We did painting twice. Once was just to let them mush around in it and once was hand and footprints. I have so many cute little art projects that we made together. Plus C was introduced to things I would have never thought about! Feathers?! Not something I have around the house for him to play with!

Finger painting!
A few of our projects

Good:

  • The toys were fun to play with.
  • The activities were great and perfect for their ages.
  • Everything had a purpose to introduce them to different things.
  • Ms. Gaby!

Not So Good:

  • Parking can be rough.
    • It is street parking only. So brush up on your parallel parking skills!
  • It takes awhile to get in.
    • I signed up for the waiting list before March and our class started in May.

Cost:

Free!

Our Verdict:

It was a lot of fun! Introducing them to new textures and objects is always great. I was also very impressed by Ms. Gaby. She gave great advice on all kinds of things and genuinely cares about the kids and moms. The support that I, as well as the other moms, received from her was priceless.

Our class started with almost 15 moms, but the last few classes were only 4 or 5. I really think that is (at least for my class) an underutilized resource. It was something fun for both C and I to do and we both learned a lot.

We will be signing up for the next class once C is the right age for sure!

Their Website:

http://www.momsorangecounty.org/programs/classes/

 

My Gym Review

What It is:

My Gym is a program that is built to help kids develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively. They use music, games, gymnastics, and other tools to help kids learn. It also helps kids learn that being active is fun.

What We Did:.

C is part of the Tiny Tykes group. Different locations seem to have different age cutoffs for groups, so I can only tell you that Tiny Tykes is the youngest group and seems to generally start around 6 months. Some locations and times combine 2 age groups. This was the case for us which put the class range from 6-22 months. I was pretty worried about this since there is a huge difference between a 6 month old and an almost 2 year old.

We got there pretty early. Like they weren’t even open yet early. They were nice enough to let us in and talked to us and C a bit. Once the music turns on everyone is allowed in to explore before class starts. We set C down and off he went. He is crawling like crazy so it is nice to give him a big open space to explore. They put out a bunch of balls for the kids to play with. Which C loves. He is ball crazy all of a sudden.

Then there was the hello and warmup. Everyone introduced their kids and then we did a bunch of warmup activities and “stretches.” Mostly to get them moving a bit and used to the routine for later classes. Some of these were pretty physical so make sure to go in comfy clothes that you don’t mind rolling around in.

Bouncing!

We were then released into free time. We put C on the trampoline they have and bounced him around. He loved it! He didn’t want to get off but other kids needed a turn. We explored the gym a bit more. There is a ton of equipment. Slides, trampoline, a ball pit (that is super clean by the way), zip line, hanging bar, climbing steps, and a bunch of mats. I’m sure there was more, but that is what I got out of it on the first go.

Ball pit

During this time the instructors set up some skills. The week we went it was a balance beam (like an inch off the ground) and rolls. The instructors are extremely hands on. They walked C across the balance beam and worked on rolls with him. I was actually really impressed that they did this because they know how to do these things right and safe due to the training they have. So they could teach us how to forward roll C the correct way!

Hanging bars. Probably gets used much more by older kids.

Once everyone had their turns, they set up swings and a little ride that they called a train. The swings were so cute! There were small individual swings and a log swing. The train ride was cute too. The kids could sit (or lay) on a foam block and ride around.

Swings!

Then came something I didn’t expect at all. Something called separation time. All the kids stay on the gym floor with the instructors and parents walk out into the little waiting area. There are a ton of toys out and the instructors are super hands on with the kids. Obviously if a child gets worked up, the parent is aloud back in to help, but it didn’t happen in our class. C did fine and was more confused about the plethora of toys that he could get his hands on!

When the parents came back in there was a game. That week the game was all the kids (and parents) sit in a long line. The instructors set up some big foam mats a way back from us and some scarves in between us and the mats. Then they pushed the mats over to blow the scarves at us. Most kids actually enjoyed it. Only one didn’t like it at all.

Trying out the slide.

One of the instructors did a small puppet show with an otter and otter baby that lasted about 30 seconds. It was a nice way to cool down and relax after all the excitement. Lastly, there was the goodbye. I don’t remember if there was a song or something, but it was really low key and laid back whatever we did.

Oh, and the age difference that I was worried about was not even a factor at all.

 

Good:

  • Super hands on instructors.
  • Separation time! So great to teach kids that it is okay to be without a parent for a bit.
  • All the equipment that they get to play on.
  • It wasn’t just songs. There was so much activity!

Not So Good:

  • There were a lot of kids in the class. Could just be because it was a Saturday class. I tend to like smaller classes.

Cost:

I think prices vary slightly by location. But most of them are pretty similar.

For most classes (not counting the special programs and the oldest kids), it is $80 every 4 weeks. There is also a one time enrollment fee that is heavily discounted if you sign up the same day as you first class.

Our Verdict:

We actually signed up for classes. I went into this just planning to do the free class to see what it was like so that I could let you guys know about it. I also thought that it would be super similar to Gymboree. Since Gymboree is closer to us, I figured that something so similar wouldn’t be worth the drive. But it was so good and so different that we signed up! My husband isn’t particularly thrilled about all the classes C is signed up for, but C likes it so he deals.

We really liked that it was more physical than Gymboree since it has so much equipment. We also liked that the teachers there help the kids with the skills. This is important to us so that C knows other people can teach him and help him with things. The separation time is fantastic too. These are all things that kids need and it is nice to have them all in one class!

As a note, we still do go to Gymboree. C loves it and his friends there. And it is great for different things.

Their Website:

https://www.mygym.com/

Event Review: Fountain Valley Summerfest

What It is:

Fountain Valley Summerfest is an annual carnival held at Mile Square Park to help kick off summer. There are carnival rides, games, food, vendor booths, and entertainment.

What We Did:

We went on Sunday afternoon and were hoping that we would be able to park on the street nearby so that we didn’t have to pay for parking in the lots. We got really lucky and found a nice spot not too far away.

Some of the rides for little ones

When we got to the actual carnival, we decided it was best to walk around and check everything out first. It wasn’t too packed which was nice. I am so glad we remembered to bring our jogging stroller thought because rolling around on grass in the umbrella stroller wouldn’t have been easy.

There was a nice mix of little kid rids and rides for the older crowd. I was actually impressed with the number of ride options there were. At the time we were there, most were waiting for people to ride or had only 1 or 2 people on it. Much better than the lines at the OC Fair!

Rides, games, empty vendor booths, and my husband’s arm!

I’m not sure if the vendors were all leaving early or if they figured the Sunday evening crowd wasn’t worth it, but there were quite a few empty or unmanned booths as well as a few that were packing up. A little disappointing. If you know you want to see the vendors, make sure you go earlier or a different day.

Food was pretty good. We walked the length of the food booths to get a feel for what was there. There was a nice variety. A few options were corn dogs, BBQ chicken, shaved ice, kettle corn, and pizza. The downside was the seating near the food area. There really wasn’t much and every table was taken up. Since we noticed empty benches near a vacant stage when where we entered we walked over there to eat.

More rides

We really wanted to play a few games because some of the prizes were cute and we thought it would be fun. However, the prices really turned us off. It was $5 per game per person! These are the same games you play at the fair and it felt like it was more expensive than the fair. We talked about it and decided that it just wasn’t worth it.

After getting some dessert we decided to leave since we didn’t care to listen to the band playing (they were really good though!)

Good:

  • It is free to go.
  • Food purchase goes to good causes.
  • A lot less crowded than the OC Fair.

Not So Good:

  • Parking costs money if you don’t park on the street.
  • Games were expensive! $5 each!
  • Not very much seating to eat.

Cost:

Free entry, but everything else costs money.

Our Verdict:

We will probably go again in a few years when C is old enough to try some of the rides. Since he is so young and we aren’t really sit around and listen to music people there wasn’t much for us to do. I do think that it is a fun event and a nice way to spend a few hours. Make sure to look at the event map and try to park on the street so you don’t have to pay for parking.

Event Review: Gymboree National Day of Play

What It is:

Gymboree’s National Day of Play is an event that Gymboree does once a year. They have a day where anyone is welcome to come (as long as your child is under 5 years old) to play for free. You don’t even have to be a member.

They is art, games, a raffle, and lots of fun!

What We Did:

Basket of goodies!

First we entered the raffle, because we didn’t want to forget. Every location was raffling off a basket of toys and items that they normally sell. (Spoiler alert: We didn’t win.) After that we went to the arts and crafts area and attempted to do some stamping. Which resulted in me stamping an airplane onto a paper about 5 times because C didn’t really care and just wanted to play.

On the move

So we went to the play floor. C wanted to chase a ball for the majority of the time. So we let him have at it. It is a nice big space to let him crawl around and do as he wished. We tried to do a bunch of other stuff with him on the equipment and he tolerated it, but he really just wanted to chase a ball around.

“I guess I’ll slide”

The teachers got out an air log and announced an activity for the kids. They could walk across or crawl across while being held by a parent. C chose to bounce across. I can’t blame him it was awful bouncy!

Bounce!

We played with the ball for a while longer and put him on some of the other equipment. Then they announced that it was parachute and bubble time. C loves bubbles. So we went and sat on the parachute so that he could see. Since there were so many kids there were 2 people blowing bubbles so there were a ton of bubbles flying around. I tried to get a picture, but C was constantly bouncing around while looking at the bubbles so they are all super blurry.

Then there was parachute time which was very similar to normal Gymboree classes. The kids go under and adults raise and lower the parachute while singing songs. The kids all got a kick out of it. Once the parachute was gone, we did the Gymbo dance like they do in every class. C loves Gymbo (strange child) so when they brought him around C gave him a hug.

After that it was back to playing! We played a little more and tried to get C to go through the tunnel but he was starting to get super tired so we decided it was best to cut out before a meltdown occurred.

Best we could do!

We did make a final stop at the photo wall. There were a bunch of props too, but we were having a hard enough time trying to get C to hold still and even look at the camera!

Good:

  • It is free!
  • There were plenty of activities.
  • It was really an easy thing to do so we didn’t have to put any thought into it.

Not So Good:

  • It can get pretty packed.
  • Some parents aren’t exactly mindful of their child. (I found it to be no worse than the park.)

Cost:

Free!

Our Verdict:

It was something fun to do on a hot weekend. We know that C loves Gymboree so it was really a no brainer for us. At the time that we were there, C was the only one that couldn’t walk, but that didn’t bother us at all. We will absolutely go back next year and I’m sure C will be climbing all over everything.

Baby Steps through Pretend City Review

What It is:

Did you know that once a month Pretend City closes its doors to the masses and has a program just for those 0-18 months?

They do and it is called Baby Steps Through Pretend City! It is a time for adults and little ones to enjoy Pretend City without having to worry about bigger kids. They don’t even let older siblings in.

Each month has a different theme like starting different foods, celebrating mom, celebrating dad, parent self-care, and summertime.

What We Did:

After checking in, it is best to park your stroller if you have one. They have a stroller parking area and you can’t use your stroller around the rest of Pretend City. I bring in a stroller because it is a nice place to have a home base. I leave the diaper bag there and anything I collect can go back there.

There is a table near stroller parking that is for the developmental screening. It is totally optional, but spots fill up FAST so if you decide you want to do this. Sign up as you pass the table. Trust me! They have a questionnaire for different ages and they go through it with you and your baby to see how they are developing and if they are on track. They also give you ideas of things that you can do at home to help their development along. I found this really interesting as a first time mom that was not familiar with kids at all before C.

Then there is the art studio. Normally this is geared toward older kids, but not during Baby Steps. They move the table out of the way and have a large paper set up on the floor. Each time they have a different activity based on the theme. It is generally footprints for the smaller ones and some sort of finger painting for the older ones. I like doing the footprint once a month because I then have a cute print to show how C has grown. I have done the finger painting a few times and C is just starting to get the hang of it around 7 months. He still wants to eat it though. Which was fine when the theme was foods and the finger paint was actually food!

Crawling in the toddler area

Then we go around and play on all the different stuff! There is an infant area that is small and enclosed so that they can play in a calmer area. As well as a toddler area and is enclosed and has a bunch of squishy equipment to crawl through and on.

There is also a water area that is generally open to build boats and let them float through. I haven’t seen them really use this since the kids are all so little for this. But next to it is the “beach.” It is a little sandy area with sand toys that lets the kids learn about a different texture. Surprisingly it wiped off really easily, unlike the real beach.

The “beach”

On the other side is a Trader Joe’s grocery store that the kids that can walk really like to play in. There is also a little farm area where there are live chicks (totally enclosed so that they aren’t harmed.) C really likes to watch them. There is also fake trees that have spots where kids can “pick fruit” which is basically getting the fruit out of the holes in the branches of the tree. And there is a garden area. The dirt is made of recycled tires and I’ve noticed that the kids really like the texture and love to dig in it.

Checking out the “dirt”

There is also someone that comes from an early literacy program that gives out free kids books. C and I make a point to stop here to find something new to read. Even if you don’t want a book it is a nice break from the other activities.

Reading

There are talks that start about halfway through. You don’t have to go to these, but they can be helpful. I really like the self-care group. It made me think about things differently. Depending on the topic, they are broken up by age. The food theme one had different topics such as “When to start solids,” and “Favorite foods.”

At the end is a parade. They hand out scarfs to the kids and turn on music. Everyone walks around Pretend City (it is pretty much a circle) dancing and singing their way out. It is a nice way to end.

Good:

  • So many different things to try!
  • Helpful themes.
  • Gives you ideas of things to do at home.
  • Equipment and toys that are specific to places like Pretend City.

Not So Good:

  • It can get really packed.
  • If your baby isn’t quite mobile, or trying to be mobile, it can be harder to find things to do.
  • I wish that the talks were announced better so that you knew it was time. The loud speaker isn’t always that loud.

Cost:

Infants and Pretend City members are free.

$10 per adult if you register online before. $12 if you pay at the door.

Our Verdict:

I thought this was a nice activity. There are lots of different things there that C wouldn’t normally get to see or touch. The themes can be fun and the activities and resources are extremely helpful.

I went a few times before I decided to become a member because the price justified itself even if I go only during Baby Steps for the year. Plus it is a tax write off and a great nonprofit.

Their Website:

Information about the program: https://www.pretendcity.org/baby-steps/

The list of upcoming events for Baby Steps: https://www.pretendcity.org/events/category/infants/

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