Fine dining fun with five small children

As if heading to downtown Seattle the last weekend night before Christmas wasn’t ambitious enough for our little family, as our evening unfolded we found ourselves to be part of quite an adventure.

First, in order to get out of the parking garage, we waited what seemed like an eternity for the elevator that must be older than we are.

Then we walked up a few blocks to watch the fake snow fall in a mall atrium.  We waited for almost a half an hour looking upward.  When the snow came, it was actually some bubble foam sprayed from a few stories up.   It was cool enough for one time, but won’t make the cut next year.

By this time we were pretty hungry.  Kids have been in strollers or on backs.  It was crazy crowded so no running around was in order.

We head back to the other mall for food.  Despite the fact it is the weekend before Christmas, they were closing in 30 minutes.  We learned 3 years ago that when they close, even if you just got your food, they will stand around watching you as they ask you to leave your table and exit the area.  That was fun.

So we set out in a mainly retail area, to secure some food.  We burned through my well stocked snack bag quite quickly.  A pregnant sister, five little troopers whose patience was waning and no sign of a food source.  We were getting desperate.  We kept saying “One more block?”.  Every place we found was a super long wait.

My sister staked out an Italian restaurant that she thought was a low key pasta joint.  She glanced at the menu but only paid mind to the pizza prices.  She noticed that the guests were wearing slacks and dresses.   We were so in need of food at this point that the fact this was a high caliber Italian restaurant with rave reviews was quite impertinent.  We sat.  We ordered.  We waited.

“Would you like some wine with your ravioli?”  our waiter asks me.

My kidneys hate me I remind myself.  They are working overtime still trying to heal.  Alcohol is off limits but somehow I still manage to say “I shouldn’t but….yes, please.”

Sippy cups were thrown.   Bread came.  Bread was devoured.

We noted that this was not exactly family restaurant, a far cry from Red Robin indeed.  We definitely caught some glances at our table for TEN-five kids, five adults.

Audrey filled her diaper.  I went to change her.  I discovered that this kind of establishment does not cater to kids, thus had no changing table.  So I piled up 20 paper towels and laid her on the small bathroom counter.  I turned slightly red as woman after woman came to wash their hands while I was busy wiping a ghastly smelling diaper within arms reach.

We returned from said bathroom adventure to find antsy little people.  We inquired about crayons to do some drawing.

Instead of crayons they were pleased to offer us – SHARPIE permanent markers  “In all sorts of colors!” said the congenial waiter as he handed them to a three year old!

“Why does Audrey have a that-she can’t have that!?” said my curious husband.

“We are on the brink.  I’m not sure if you can feel it over there.  But we’re so close.  We are just trying to hang in till food comes okay?”  I replied.

Our food arrived, Rylee ate her fillet of grilled salmon in 3 minutes and promptly asked for another, I smiled and shook my head.  Caleb’s pizza was twice the size of his head.  My $20 plate of ravioli consisted of two giant pieces of pasta.  They were fantastic, I inhaled them in 5 minutes knowing Audrey was about to lose it.

I stood and grabbed Audrey ready to make a run for it.  I grabbed my glass of wine, quickly finished the glass.  Kyler joins me as we hightail it out of there.  We find wide open spaces and the two littles run free.

They watched a window washer through the beautiful glass window railing.  Then just as I snapped this photo…

…Kyler gets his head stuck on the other side as he peers down 2 stories.  He starts to panic and pull back and scream.  I hope I don’t rip his ears off as I pull him back through.  We find something a bit safer to do after I determine that Audrey’s head AND entire body would certainly fit through the opening.

We then ventured back to the carousel and end the evening riding horses together just as we (and my sister Danielle and her husband Todd) have done for the past 9 years in a row.  This year it was great fun to have our other sister, now graduated from nursing school, back home to join us as well.



I was laughing SO hard while reading this! You wrote it so well. Wow…last night was so fun and entertaining- sharpie’s, four cheese, diaper changes. Love you so much!


Wow! The photo of you and Audrey is darling. And I always love seeing photos of you 3 sisters. What a night! I’m laughing and reminiscing some of my own kid fine dining experiences. I love that you had a glass of wine. SHARPIES?! That is hysterical. I was just thinking today about how many of our holiday experiences are less than perfect, yet we remember them with such longing. Hope you are recoupoing well. 🙂