Sorry, I’ve been lazy, so here’s a post that has been building up in my file folder for two months now and I just haven’t gotten around to publishing it. I have however, gotten enough emails from readers asking “why haven’t you posted any of the free weekend activities that you guys do?” to let me know that I’m slacking.
I also didn’t realize that so many of you were using my free weekend activities to spark ideas for your own family, so I apologize for being so delayed. If there is any advice that I can give you, it’s to go to your local library, recreation center, and park district office and get the informational booklets that nearly every town publishes on a quarterly basis. The booklet should detail all the events and festivals that will be going on in your area, and most should have the costs listed with the event time information.
Because I have absolutely no money for entertainment and yet I don’t want my kids to miss out on their entire childhood, I go through the book and put all the free activities right into my calender so that I can plan ahead for the ones we want to attend.
ANYWAY, I figured this extended holiday weekend would be the perfect time to drop this post’s enormity on you because some of you might have a little extra time to get through it all! So jumping back to the end of September and moving forward, here is what has been keeping us busy, free and otherwise.
Even though I’m a summer girl at heart, there is something undeniably awesome about living near so much farmland during the Fall season. I can say with total honesty that during pumpkin season we spent every single weekend at one of the neighboring farms.
Since we didn’t have the funds to spend on the farm’s over-priced concession offerings, I call this rural tailgating.
Besides the moment where The Girl Child got hit in the face and two of her (baby) teeth fell out (yikes!!), we all had a great time, and after we washed 30lbs of dust out of our hair, we slept like rocks!
Actually, The Boy Child started to fall asleep while we were still at the farm…but I won’t hold it against him.
Why yes, he is using my shoe as a pillow
Another day I took the kids to a Garden Center that is at the core, a store, but they have enough child-friendly play areas that they have become a local attraction. They routinely hold activities to draw families in (where they hope you will then buy all their plants and flowers). I didn’t need any plants and flowers but I did find out that they were going to be having an exotic petting zoo visit, and it was free to the public. The zoo was late but the kids didn’t care, they found things to do.
Why yes, that is The Girl Child on a horse tire swing in front of a tent full of chickens
They even had a funky little folk band that taught the kids how to play some “instruments.”
Finally the animals got there and in a mixture of not-so-exotic (as they claimed to be) animals, we got to pet an armadillo, parrot, opossum, some kind of reptile, hedgehog, chinchilla, and a fox.
We also got to pet a bat.
I passed on touching the bat.
The bat then flapped its wings in my face and basically bitch slapped me.
I got bitch slapped by a bat.
Fuck you bat, I only came for this guy anyway!
Why yes, that is a sloth eating green beans.
My bucket list is now complete.
Surprisingly though, that wasn’t even the highlight of my day. Oh no, that came when we rode the Peter Rabbit hayride. By “hayride” I mean we rode a tractor that traveled at a speed I did not even know was possible. I held onto the kids for dear life while the kids did exactly what they were instructed to do and threw hay at “Peter Rabbit,” which was actually a golf cart. We, on the tractor, chased Peter Rabbit all over the grounds. When Peter got to close to the garden, the tractor we were on would zip up behind him and we were supposed to throw hay at him. At one point “Peter” stopped, shook his tail at us, and then we all nearly fell off the tractor when the tractor driver put the pedal to the metal and tried to run over Peter’s taunting ass.
The absurdity of the situation was not lost on the adults, which was obvious by the fact that we were laughing significantly louder than the kids. When the ride was over I asked the drivers at what drunken party did they come up with that idea and they just locked eyes with each other and laughed.
I then asked to take their picture and they were kinda stoked.
Six days later it dropped 30 degrees and we spent a very cold afternoon with my nonprofit board member friend and her daughter, at yet another… wait for it…. farm.
We sure are original with our forms of entertainment aren’t we? I can’t help it, they are on every corner! And they are free! I like free!
But anyway, my nonprofit friend and our kids froze our asses off while doing this at a farm that has no entrance fee at all (neither of us were sure how they make any money):
Hayride where we were told some very bizarre story about a man who got bear claw hand transplants. No, I’m not kidding. We didn’t understand it either.
Educational factoid of the day: That is a steam engine.
Yep, those are bees
Yep, that’s a Tepee, complete with animal pelts.
Since when did it become standard for farms to have large scale pirate ship playgrounds?
Then the weather got a little blustery for my taste and we had to move our activities indoor. When a
friend texted and said that the novelty theatre near our house was having $3 movie day, I jumped at the chance to take the kids since I already had a gift card that I’d been hanging onto for some time. This particular theatre serves food while you watch the movie and they have a dedicated allergen menu, so the kids were over the moon excited to split a meal. We saw Hotel Transylvania 2 and it was super cute!
In other news, the Girl Child had a hoe down dance at her school. She had a great time with her friends…
…but I think The Boy Child had a better time! The girls were literally fighting over who was going to get to dance with him, which he thought was FANTASTIC. (The Girl Child wasn’t too thrilled about that because “he’s my brother!!”)
I’m pretty sure I saw The Boy Child wink at me.
The daily grind of swimming lessons and dance classes has still been rolling on by. There are some days where I would rather blow the classes off but since we are on a scholarship, that would be incredibly rude! In the end the kids enjoy it and that’s all that matters.
(Check your local YMCA. Since they are a nonprofit they are required to spend a certain amount of their budget on charitable activities, and most do that by way of offering free/reduced memberships/classes to low income families)
I love my kids as I’m sure you can see, but I’ve been grateful for the adult time I’ve spent away from them (aka, my sanity saver). I’ve been seeing a guy that I’m sure we will talk more about later, and knowing my love for anything scary he took me to a haunted house.
Sorry, there’s no flash on the selfie-mode camera!
“Haunted house” seems like such a “blah” way to describe this place. It was more like an interactive terror experience; I’m talking live rats, cockroaches, and snakes. Flying people, squirting blood, moving floors, collapsing walls, the whole deal. It took us 2 hours to make our way through it and by “get through it” I mean wade our way through water, through a tunnel where deranged mental patients were trying to pull us through the walls, navigate the maze of mirrors (where my date ran into his own reflection so hard that he nearly knocked himself down), crawl through the spinning room, and my personal favorite — fight your way through a hallway that basically vacuum sealed us in.
By the time I got out I had absolutely no voice left from screaming.
I didn’t get any pictures inside since I was trying not to die, but here are a few of the “characters” that tried to scare us in line.
We had so much fun there, that a couple weeks later he took me to another one.
And… maybe even another one after that …
Basically we did them all and it was AWESOME.
Unfortunately it hasn’t been all fun and games.
The kids and I got home one night and poor Henry
didn’t look very… alive.
Face planted in the food bowl, half in and half hanging out of the dish, arms at his side, eyes wide open, and not moving, The Girl Child caught site of him and started screaming “Henry is dead! Henry died!”
I took one look at Henry and could not argue with her.
I poked him a few times and when he didn’t move, I ushered the kids into the living room so that I would be left to FREAK OUT alone in the kitchen while I tried to figure out what to do with dead Henry, and of course, cry.
Upon further inspection, Henry was (praise the Lord) not dead, but he was most definitely not well. I did the only think I could think of doing and emailed my editor at The Small Animal Channel and asked for her advice. She routed me to Claudie over at Westchester Rescued Hamster Haven, who emailed me right back. Before I knew it I was taking Henry to the exotic pet vet, courtesy of Claudie and her amazing organization.
The vet is listening to his heart with the world’s smallest stethoscope
Henry needed a strong round of antibiotics and thankfully he is doing well. Laugh all you want over the fact that I took a hamster to the vet (and then gave him medication 3x’s a day for 2 weeks), but even in hamster years Henry was still a baby and after all he has done for us, we were not ready to lose him!
When he was feeling better the kids wanted to make sure that he got in on the Halloween festivities, so we decorated his cage.
And then just for kicks and giggles we painted little Halloween houses that I found at the dollar section in Target.
I also wanted to make at least one seasonal treat for the kids and I did that by making “Monster Mouths” out of apple slices, peanut butter, and mini marshmallows.
Aside from myself going to several different haunted houses, I also took the kids to so many Halloween activities that on the day before Halloween I found myself sewing The Boy Child’s costume back together because it had already been thoroughly worn out.
(Here’s a tip for those of you who are in similar financial situations as me, I bought my kids costumes online in August, The Boy Child’s for $11 and The Girl Child’s for $4. It was close enough to Halloween for the kids to have an idea of what they wanted to be, but it was far enough away from Halloween that the costumes were still marked as a seasonal clearance item from last year.)
We carved Pumpkin’s at my Board Member Friend’s
house, along with another one of her friends, and their kids.
And dude, pumpkin carving is hard! I mean that shit is no joke. I don’t know if we just happened to have the world’s hardest, thickest (get your mind out of the gutter) pumpkins, or if we are an especially weak group of individuals, but we broke more than one knife blade off trying to cut the pumpkins, and in the end steered the kids towards painting them.
My Future In-Law friend Friend
, her husband, and her daughter (The Boy Child’s “girlfriend”) went to the free Halloween Fun Fest at the YMCA. They had parking lot Trunk-or-Treating as well as lots of games, bounce houses, and a haunted house!
My friend and The Boy Child
My friend’s husband (also my friend) The Boy Child, and their daughter
The very next day we went to a Trick-or-Treating event that I can’t really show you any pictures of or describe due to its intense popularity and my anonymity, but either way it was a lot of fun. We went with a friend and her kids (a friend who has been mentioned in this blog at least 4 times and yet to have a name, so I will now dub her my “Ballerina” Friend because she is a fellow ballet dancer
She then took us all out for lunch!
A few days later we went to a Halloween Family Fun Night event at Daycare
And for the grand finale of Halloween, Trick-Or-Treating with my Bestie
and her family, and the Ballerina
and her family.
I was a little more than excited when Halloween was finally over.
Oh and I wanted to ask you, did you guys see the blood moon? The weather was beautiful here. You could see every star in the sky that night and the moon was crystal clear. All the neighbors met outside and we watched it change together. It was fun!
November was spent primarily dealing with The Boy Child’s medical issues
, but we were able to make it to an early Thanksgiving with my surrogate family (who you all know as Frisbee Boy’s Mom).
I totally forgot to take any pictures (GASP!) at dinner and didn’t think of it until the dishes were cleared and we had moved from her dining room to the kitchen for dessert.
The Boy Child loves dessert.
And suddenly here we are, nearly into December. I just took a look at my calendar yesterday and I’m a little nervous because I think that I have SERIOUSLY over-booked myself, but we shall see. It looks fun.
Ask me again when January rolls around… if I survive.
But before I go, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
Among the many things that I am thankful for, I am truly thankful for each and every one of you that has cheered me on this year, cried with me, laughed with (and at) me, prayed for us, offered me your advice, and have let me know that I’m not alone.
I’m thankful for you.
You're kids will grow up with the happiest, fondest memories of their childhood. You're an amazing mom!
I am exhausted for you! What fun ideas thanks for sharing 🙂
Haha, I’m so tired. And thank YOU for reading!
I love that you go to farms. You are teaching the kids how important they are as well as a love of nature!!We used to be on ymca scholarship as a kid too. Many fond memories.
I LOVE the farms!!! I’m so happy that my kids have access to places that that 🙂
I’m glad the Y has a special place in your heart too!
When my kids were growing up, we didn't have tons of money, but local radio stations would have contests and we used those to go mini golfing, to the zoo … a lot of times all you have to do is show up where their prize van is for a few seconds. I wish I would have thought of some of your stuff when my kids were small!
I know it's probably not much, but most Home Depots and Lowe's have free activity days where they build projects. My kids have a blast at the ones at Home Depot. They even get an apron and a free pin when they complete a project.
Those farms look like so much fun! I'm a little jealous, haha.Some stores offer free activities for kids around the holidays. Wonder if any near you do that. When my siblings and I were younger, you could sign up with their mailing program, and for your birthday they'd send you a $5 gift card. I'm not sure if they still do that (probably not), but they also had holiday craft parties for kids that were free. They were pretty cheap, but they were fun. I only went to one because I was on the older side by the time we moved to the area. We got there and they had little angels cut out of a piece of wood that we got to paint and then glue a ribbon to so we could hang them on our Christmas tree.
You are very right about the stores! We just did a store activity the other day 🙂 Thanks for reminding me to add those into the next post!
The Y is part if the reason I love swimming so much.I used to spend the summers on my aunt and uncle's farm in Colorado Springs. I miss those days.
Ah, to reminisce…
Equally financially strapped, I also always look for free fun for my 7 yr old twins and 3 yr old. We recently moved from NJ to FL, being born and raised in South Jersey we were inundated with free farm activities and it was part of my girls upbringing. Now in FL I have to do some digging to find fun free events, luckily our news website actually has a “free and cheap fun” article that we LOVE (tbo.com). Not long ago when my daughter threw the fact that I work a 40 hr week in my face I rebutted with “I plan fun activities for us every weekend!” her reply, “yeah only if its free!” OUCH…she is getting to the age where I want her to see us as thrifty instead of broke and I think I may be failing. Keep on keeping on, your words bring comfort to more than you think!
You aren’t failing! I think we all feel like that at times, as if we can never give our kids enough, but I think no matter how much you give them they will always want more. It’s our job to help them learn to appreciate what they have, and you sound like a great parent to try and give your kids a great time! They will learn 🙂