Friday was a gorgeous day in these parts. Temperatures around 75 degrees, blue skies and enough sunshine to make me wish I hadn’t just unpacked the sunscreen from the diaper bag. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before and was looking for a way to entertain the kids for the day (the girls don’t have preschool on Fridays). We had yet to purchase our pumpkins for carving this year, so on a whim I packed all the kids and our rain boots into the van and drove forty-five minutes to Dr. Maze’s Farm in Redmond.
I had been there once before, when Zoey had just turned one. That year I came along with several moms from my PEPS group. Zoey had just taken her first steps two months prior and was toddling around in a plush elephant costume that conveniently cushioned her frequent falls.
Back then, the farm consisted of the pumpkin patch, some goats in pens, a few haybales set up for toddlers to climb on, and the large corn maze. Boy, have things changed. Now, you pay admission and receive a bracelet that gives you “full access.” Enter the fenced in area with your new wristband and you will find:
- toddler hops maze
- toddler corn maze
- toddler fence maze
- old fashioned water pumps and gutters
- huge bins overflowing with a variety of gourds for sale
- a “spiderweb” of ropes for children to climb on
- a tower of haybales, also for climbing
- giant game of Jenga
- giant checkerboard, played with white and orange mini-pumpkins
- a child sized lavender labyrinth/maze
- an area with hanging pots and pans for banging on and a “cowbell piano”
- rope mazes, in which you choose a rope to hold onto and have to make your way to the other side – through the tangle of ropes – without ever letting go of your chosen rope
- a “no right turn” maze where you have to make it from one side to the other across a board of lines by only going straight or left
- a small theater/stage set up with mechanical chickens that tell corny jokes when you press a button
- about a million other kinds of mazes and puzzles
- the giant corn and sunflower maze with a full mile of pathways inside it
It was mind-boggling, folks. I had fully anticipated spending one or two hours at this farm. I did not come prepared for an entire day. After almost two hours of touring many of the toddler-friendly activities, we were all getting hangry so I piled the kids back in to the van and drove to the nearest Wendy’s for food and bathrooms (trying to take a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a baby into a porta-potty was NOT on my agenda for the day).
By that point, Eleanor and I were both uncomfortably sweaty (Zoey has always been happily oblivious to heat, even when she is sweating and her face is turning red). I had expected weather in the 60’s at most, and tromping around in 75 degree heat while wearing jeans, rain boots and a baby strapped to me was a bit excessive. We all switched into our sneakers when we returned to the farm, and I opted to put Alden in the stroller for awhile rather than the Ergobaby carrier. We spent some more time doing activities, then returned the stroller to the car and grabbed the Ergo to give the giant maze a try.
There were signs posted throughout the maze, some of them with “corny jokes” (haha, get it?) and others with yes/no trivia questions. You picked what you thought was the correct answer, and then followed the way the sign pointed. If you chose the right answer, it steered you the right direction through the maze. The wrong answer would eventually lead to a dead end and another sign explaining the proper answer to the trivia question.
Needless to say, we were lost after our first turn. We spent about twenty sweaty minutes exploring and frequently backtracking through that maze before Eleanor’s legs were ready to give up. The poor child had missed her nap for the day in addition to WAY more walking than she’s used to. We tried (unsuccessfully) to find the “short-cut exit” and eventually found ourselves going back out the entrance with no clue how we had gotten there.
Mom for the maze win! Yay!
We called it good enough and I collapsed onto a bench with a water bottle while Alden slept on me in the Ergo. Zoey was still going strong (somehow!) so I sent her off into the lavender garden labyrinth, through which I could clearly see her. Eleanor, exhausted as she was, couldn’t stand the idea of Zoey getting to experience something while she didn’t and took off running after her big sister. Minutes later, I found Eleanor lying down among the lavender and practically falling asleep.
I decided it was time to get pumpkins and make our escape before everyone completely lost their minds. We quickly chose our gourds, did our obligatory toddler-wheelbarrow ride and photo shoot in the pumpkin patch, and then high-tailed it home. We were all completely exhausted but it had been an incredibly fun, unscripted day. We hadn’t had a day like that in a long time.