My progress on taming my messy house has been put on hold. Temporarily. I get easily distracted by everyday things, but my biggest weakness is being invited to do something fun. In some cases, I'm the one doing the inviting. I have a really hard time passing up quality time with my friends and their kids that play so well with my kids. It's especially difficult to say no to just mommy time (with MY friends). It's SO true how we females of the species crave time with other women. Even just mere phone conversations are uplifting.
Today I had hoped to stay caught up with my laundry (which I had gotten under control last week!) but my arm was twisted (not really) by an early morning text from a friend with an invite to get our kids together at the local sprayground. I was planning on going but then remembered a promise to my children the day before... (insert wavy daydream sequence here) that I would take them bowling sometime this week.
On Monday (yesterday) the kids and I went to the closest AMF bowling alley that offers the "KIDS BOWL FREE" summer program (that I had signed them up for at the beginning of the summer). We drove 30 minutes to the alley to meet up with a group of kids/moms from a homeschooling support group that I belong to. A friend of mine who set up the activity asked me to spearhead the outing because she couldn't make it due to a boating trip with her family. No big deal, I thought... but, I didn't phone first to ask about the fine print on the KIDS BOWL FREE summer promotion. It said that shoe rental was not included. I know, I know, I should've called first to ask how much the shoe rental would be, but I figured I had to go anyway, "How bad could it be?"
To actually achieve the "bowling for free" the participating AMF lanes email you a series of coupons EVERY Sunday (one for each day of the week with a date and barcode) for each registered child to guarantee them 2 games of bowling per day for the entire summer. You have to print out your appropriate coupon, then cut it out (strip of paper) to get your free games. For the parents they offer a "deal" so you can bowl with your children all summer. Here is the info from their website:
The Family Pass starts from $24.95 and includes 2 GAMES PER PERSON PER DAY. The Family Pass covers up to 4 adult family members. You may have 1, 2, 3, or 4 adults on the family pass.
This too does not include shoe rental. My husband and I did not pay for the family pass (thank goodness). So when the kids and I arrived at the bowling alley yesterday morning and I gave the lady our coupons for each kid to bowl 2 games for free and I stated that I too would be bowling. Our total came to $24 and some change. I had MAJOR sticker shock! I was expecting the shoe rental to be nominal like maybe $2 per kid, but it was $4 per kid plus the additional $12 for me to bowl 2 games including my shoe rental. I (tried to) politely tell the lady behind the counter that $24 was too much for KIDS BOWLING FOR FREE! (I mean, come on, it SAYS they bowl for FREE!)
There was one other family that showed up from the group and the mother and two children each had brought their own bowling shoes that they bought for $30 per pair. That was cool for them, but WAY out of our price range. They planned on taking full advantage of the KIDS BOWL FREE promotion. She even purchased the family pass for the adults. Since I was left in charge of the outing I felt some responsibility to stay for a while and see if anyone else would show up while making this family feel welcome (they were new to the support group).
No one else showed up who had RSVP'd (at least I didn't find anyone else looking for us). So the mother and I visited for a while (as much as we could with my kids all over the lane and playing with the bowling balls while her kids TRIED to bowl around them.) Now I realize that it was probably torture for my kids to NOT be able to bowl after going to a bowling alley under the impression that we WOULD be bowling, but having to try and corral them while getting to know this mother was too taxing and we HAD to leave! I had originally planned on driving to a nearby Crispers restaurant to eat our lunch (99 cent kids meals with prior Crispers Kids' Club t-shirt purchase). But the kids were too out of control and I couldn't take it anymore, we had to go home. I promised them "spy" lunches to make up for the fact that we wouldn't be going out to eat for lunch. Usually my husband (who works from home) makes them, it was his original idea, but today I was going to try making them.
Okay, okay, "What's a spy lunch?" you ask.... Well, I had to ask my husband just now for a true definition. I wanted to make sure I got it right. It began this summer after the kids watched Agent Cody Banks on the Disney Channel, they were playing spies around the house. To break from our "usual" lunch routine which was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with banana on the side, Rob came up with a healthier alternative. He says he includes a meat, a cheese, some vegetables with a salad dressing to dip them in and a fruit (and sometimes nuts) all on a plate in sections. It reminded me of the Japanese bento-style lunches, except those are made to be packed to leave the house and are usually in containers instead of laying out on a plate. The spy lunches are a big hit with the kids and please feel free to borrow this idea as a way to mix things up a bit at your house.
I took the idea and ran with it yesterday. I made cut out pieces of bread (using large cookie cutters) then spread Miracle Whip and mustard on the bread. (I was going out on a limb here, because my kids do not like to eat sandwiches (except for the PB&Js).
The kids will all agree on ham, so I used ham and some colby-jack cheese on the star and heart-shaped sandwiches.
My youngest wasn't thrilled with the idea of putting meat and cheese on bread, no matter HOW cool it looked cut into shapes, so I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Don't worry I used the leftover bread pieces for dinner tonight to go in our meatloaf. I don't like to waste ANYthing!)
Here's a photo of them completed. I hadn't added their choice of potato chips or mini pretzels to the plates yet, I wasn't sure which kids would like which carb.
So this is probably the longest post ever, but I'd like to continue with my "today" story... I had remembered about my promise to my kids about bowling and offered to my two friends who were planning on meeting up at the sprayground that they could meet us afterwards at the NICE bowling alley closer to our houses where on Tuesdays they offered $1 bowling! Yes, you heard me. ONE DOLLAR BOWLING! If you compared this to KIDS BOWLING FOR FREE you'd think that paying a dollar to bowl was too much, but it was only $1 per game and $1 per shoe rental which saved ME lots of money compared to my awful experience the day before at the AMF bowling alley. It was even more enticing that they said they would offer our group $1 hot dogs, $1 kids' drinks and $1 french fries. My friends decided that bowling indoors in the air conditioning sounded much more appealing than standing outside in the Florida heat watching the kids get wet under the fountains. So they said they would join us at the cool, hip and MODERN bowling alley that has gutter bumpers that are automated to go up and down depending on the bowler. I was SO impressed by that feature that I doubt I'll ever go back to an "old-fashioned" bowling alley at least until my kids are old enough that we don't need gutter bumpers!
We had a difficult time keeping all of the kids together. It was a madhouse. But all I can say that at least it was air conditioned! We (or at least I) had a wonderful time. Where our kids bowled a neverending game due to the fact that their balls hit the pins so gently that the computer (or whatever is back behind the pins that senses the ball and pins) didn't register many throws. The kids played one game from 11:15 until 1:00.
Tomorrow we are meeting some friends at the Regal Cinemas FREE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL at Citrus Park Mall to see Astro Boy. Did I mention that it's FREE...? Take that AMC who charges a dollar for their summer movie, and only offers one movie on ONE screen where it's packed with screaming pre-schoolers and summer camp kids. Regal Cinemas offers two movies to choose from: one G-rated and the other PG-rated. And as an extra bonus Citrus Park Mall has one extra day of movies each week. The other Regal Cinemas offer movies on Tues. and Wed. (AMC's movie is only on Tues.), but Citrus Park also does Thurs.
The benefit of going on Wednesday is that after the movies are over the mall's Chick-Fil-A offers a BOGO FREE kids meal with the purchase of an combo meal (even though with three kids that's not much of a deal, but still). AND during the month of July the Children's Place will give you 15% off your purchase when you show them your Westfield Family Club card* (it says see store for details, so there could be some fine print that I'm not aware of). BTW The Children's Place (TCP) has $10 jeans and $5 graphic tees and tanks right now! I'm going to at least look!
*the Westfield's WFamily program is FREE to sign up at the concierge desk at either Citrus Park or Countryside Mall. You get your card the same day with a list of benefits from stores and food court restaurants. The discounts/offers are only good on Wednesdays, so if you have to go to the mall, plan to go on a Wednesday!
Oh, I forgot to mention how nice the Palm Harbor Library is (on Nebraska) since they remodeled about 2 years ago. I stopped by there today to pick something up and the kids fell in love with the kids' play area. I didn't plan on staying for an hour, but did. I wanted to let you know as a reminder that a FREE and air-conditioned place to take the kids in the summer is a library.
Arghh... my friend Ellyn beat me to the posting of our bowling drama day together! Thanks for the link though, Ellyn. You can visit her at www.profoundlyseth.com