The Nutcracker Brunch December 24, 2013

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Favorite Things

I loved, loved, loved this event. It’s perfect for little ones who aren’t going to make it through the whole ballet.

First you go to the McCaw Hall lobby, which is decorated with Nutcracker stage scenes that you and the kids can run around on and get your pictures taken with. There are arts and crafts tables. Hayden loved decorating the foam swords and crowns.

Next you go upstairs for breakfast. We had good food, actually. Hayden loved the big carafes of hot cocoa and the whipped cream being passed around. They had ballerinas serving, which was so cute!

Then we went downstairs to a small stage where they performed a very very very short version of the Nutcracker. It was great for me to see how the kids would do in a real performance situation. Pemberley (age one) really started to crumble toward the end. Hayden (age four) did really well. They invite all the kids to sit in the first four rows. Nice in theory, but when the battle scene happened, some kids were freaking out because they weren’t with their parents and were scared. At the end of the performance, the kids were invited on stage to take pics with the dancers. Hayden was happy to stand next to the pretty ballerinas but wasn’t going anywhere near the other characters. Read Full Post

Sleigh Bells are Ringing! December 2, 2013

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Mini Mom Adventure

sleigh rideThis winter, why not take your family for a sleigh ride adventure? Happy Trails Horse Adventures in Easton is my favorite spot for this. They are open seven days a week during the snowy season: December 15th through the end of March, except for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday. The cost is $25 for adults and $12 for children 10 and under. Toddlers 2 and under are free.

Make sure you come prepared with warm clothes, hats, gloves, and blankets. Cook up some chili and bring it along, too. The owner, Happy Jack, will take you to a spot where you can eat. There is also a little sledding area where you can show your kids how the pros tackle the hill. You can bring your own sleds, inner tubes, and snow saucers if you’d like, although they have some donated ones on hand. And when you get tired of playing in the snow, it’s time to warm up by the fire and make s’mores. It’s a great way to create some holiday memories with your family. Giddy up! Read Full Post

Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves, and a Mosquito Net December 10, 2012

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Mini Mom Adventure

Here’s something close to my heart from the archives:

Whether Christmas at your house is an all-out gala or a quiet, homespun affair, it probably involves gifts. Some people are easy to buy for. You’re always seeing things that remind you of them, and you’ve probably had their presents stashed away since August. But if you’re like me, there are a few problem people on your list who stump you year after year. This year, I’m shopping a little differently. Medical Teams International’s Gifts of Hope Catalog allows me to purchase gifts for people in the developing world in the name of my family and friends. So when Grandpa opens his stocking on Christmas morning, he’ll find that a malaria pack, filled with enough lifesaving medicines and bed nets for five people, was given to a family in Africa in his name. Who knew you could buy heroism? Besides, I’m sure Grandpa would rather get this in his stocking than yet another dumb trinket he has no idea what to do with. In fact, these are great ideas for stocking stuffers or gifts for the whole family.

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Goodnight, Sweet Gamma May 25, 2012

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations

Tonight I am writing on my iPad in a recliner chair at Virginia Mason hospital. It’s 1:30 am, and I just tucked my grandmother (Gamma) in, said a prayer for her, and sang her a lullaby. She may not make it through the night.

As I speak to her I am uncomfortable. Unsure of my words. Can she hear me? Is she scared? What do you say to a woman who should be recognized as a saint? She gave of herself freely and fully to her family all her life. I feel humbled. Scared. Guilty. This past year her memory really slipped and holding a conversation with her became challenging. This was the time when I should have made an effort to visit more often. My effort this past year really didn’t match my high—oh, ever so high—love and respect for her. Last week we celebrated her 90th birthday, and family came in from all over. It was so much fun to see her surrounded by her five children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I unfortunately was consumed with chasing after H and trying to encourage him to politely share his toys with the other children. Aside from a hug hello and kiss goodbye, I hardly spoke with Gamma. I think death always brings out guilt. I could have done more, should have done XYZ, shouldn’t have said blah blah blah. Once I get over myself, I’m able to stop and appreciate all the good times, look back and cherish the bits of wisdom, and remember the great woman she was and our special relationship. Read Full Post

Rice Krispie Easter Treats March 24, 2012

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Home & Garden

Hayden’s godmother, my goddaughter Presha, is in town from college. She had a brilliant idea for us to get together and make Rice Krispie Treats. I was thrilled because I recently picked up a great idea from Pinterest for Rice Krispie Treats for Easter. The picture was perfect! Looked so easy and beautiful. Surely not even I could mess this one up. And it is a project with Rice Krispie Treats, so what could be tastier? So anyway, the idea is you form the Rice Krispie mixture into eggs and decorate the eggs. The ones in the picture were so beautiful you almost wouldn’t want to eat them. I found two similar projects.

1) Jam the Rice Krispie mixture into those plastic Easter eggs. This will form the perfect egg shape. If I had just left them like this, they would have been picture perfect. I couldn’t do that—didn’t feel creative enough. My darn creative urges truly can be my best friend and worst enemy.

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Jenny’s Last but Best Gift March 17, 2012

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Favorite Things

The first time I met Reagan’s mom Jennifer, I had been prepped with a million people asking if I was nervous and talking about how impressive she was—powerful, beautiful, some said intimidating . . . I had never been nervous to meet anyone until then. I was told to pack for black tie events, nice dinners, casual outings, and a suit for visiting Congress. So I carefully selected the clothes I would bring and was confident (sort of) that all would go well. I arrived in DC for my weekend with a suitcase big enough for a month-long stay. The evening I met Jennifer and Keith, a massive snowstorm came crashing down on DC. Oh, great. The only clothes I didn’t have were clothes for a snowstorm.

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Saying Goodbye to Bear February 3, 2012

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Paige's Parenting Collective

My father-in-law Keith Thomson passed away last week. To give you all a little perspective on who he was, imagine James Bond in his seventies. Now imagine 007 when he is around his family; the secret-agent-man side goes away and you are left with this incredibly charming, handsome, thoughtful, and very very wise man. I believe the word “gentleman” may have derived from someone watching Keith. When we were together he took every extra step of gentlemanly conduct. Oh my how the ladies must have swooned.

H knew him as “Bear,” as did many others. If you were ever lucky enough to get a hug from Bear, you would quickly understand the nickname. Bear was tall and not a slight man. He would engulf you in his hug. He had a British accent, and he would look you so hard in the eyes I swear he saw your soul in the deepest way possible. When you spoke with Bear, you had the feeling that nobody on the planet mattered to him but you. When he would see me, he would stare deep in my eyes and say, “Paigey, how are you?” Early in our relationship I was having a tough day when he asked me that. I tried to put on a pretty smile and say that I was great. He looked deeper in my eyes and said, “Yeah, right” with his eyes. Tears immediately started to fall. He could read me like no other and he truly cared. So I stopped trying to cover up with a smile when I didn’t have a real one to give him. Instead we would talk about life and he would give me the greatest advice. I so loved our time together and our talks.

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving December 18, 2011

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations,Favorite Things


I have a new tradition with my brother and sister-in-law. We started this last year. My sister-in-law came up with the idea, and I’m so glad she did. She is the kindest, most thoughtful person. She is also a spiritual champ. I admire her a ton.

We decided to give a donation in each other’s name to the charity of the recipient’s choice.

Last year we gave to Medical Teams International. We chose it because it is a faith-based organization, and that seemed appropriate, it being Christ’s birthday we were celebrating, after all. I’m on the board of MTI, and I know it has extremely low overhead costs, so almost all the money we gave went to help people rather than paying for administrative expenses. I gave specifically to the Guatemala fund to help the people I worked with last year in the village of Sehaquiba.

This year we are donating to MOMentum. This is the non-profit organization I recently started. I know the whole donation will go toward exercise equipment in parks for moms. Read Full Post

Birthday Kit Giveaway! November 28, 2011

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations

Hip hip hooray; there’s nothing better than a good giveaway!

This one is for those who live in the greater Seattle area. Trish White is a mom who recently started her own company. After her kid’s birthday party left her with heaps of waste and expenses, she had a great idea to rent themed birthday party kits. Personally, after H’s fire truck party, we have sooooo many fire truck items lying around. Unfortunately, he’ll probably be into something totally different next year, so they won’t be reused. Anyway, here’s how it works: you pick your theme, and then you receive a bin of items related to that theme. Simple as that. No more frantic running around to every party store in town. No more huge waste of money. Trish is generously offering a birthday party rental to one Mom Around Town reader. The kit rental is valued at $45. To enter, just leave a comment on this post about your kiddo’s upcoming party. I will pick a winner at random on December 2 and reach that person via email.

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H’s Fire Truck Party August 20, 2011

Posted by Paige Dunn | Family Celebrations

For H’s second birthday, I threw a fire truck party. I chose this because, well, H likes fire trucks. Important to consider the theme because you will inevitably receive a ton of gifts based on it. I love planning parties. I grew up in a house where we did a lot of entertaining, so it is sort of in my bones. That being said, there are ALWAYS things that go wrong and lessons learned for next time. So, here are the details.

I used Evite for the invites. Lazy, lazy, I know. I didn’t want to hassle with receiving a million RSVP calls and emails. Evite has a cute invitation with a fire hose that worked well. This was also great because, when I remembered things I wanted to tell the guests, I could just send out a message to the whole group. Truthfully, paper invitations, while classy and fun to receive, are a waste of time and money. Oh, and don’t forget the trees. Are you buying my pile of excuses yet?

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