Where an adult feels like a kid again… and the kids are in heaven!

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This weekend I had the luck of the Irish and found the coolest toy store in town. I know that The Toy Place has been a fun place to shop for Huntsville residents for a while now. However, until Saturday, I had not had a chance to go visit the store.
I won a facebook contest they had a few weeks ago and was way overdue to go pick up my prize. We were planning on being downtown for the parade so I decided to stop in with the kids to pick up our winnings. My first thought was that I was crazy for going into a toy store with four kids. I had no idea what to expect of The Toy Place, yet had stereotyped it as the expensive toy store downtown. I was somewhat dreading going in there…knowing the kids would WANT THIS AND THAT and I would have to say NO.
I was pleasantly surprised. The owner, Susan, greeted us warmly and the kids were quickly off oohing and aahing over all the cool things. My first question to Susan was “do you have anything under $10?”. Her response, “of course!” as she pointed to a rather large section of the store. She pointed out that she wanted her store to be the birthday gift stop, having price points that are reasonable and toys that are unique! I had four super happy kids when I told them that they could each pick something for $6 or less. I felt like a good mom for not having to say no and the kids were entertained “shopping”.
Susan has earned my business for sure! I love that I can take all the kids to the toy store and let them each pick something fun without having to mortgage the house. Libby picked pink mustaches which we proudly wore to the parade downtown! The other three picked airplanes that you launch with a rubber band. The best part is that the airplanes are still functional. How many time do you buy a $6 item and it actually holds up. Most of the time we can’t make it for one hour with a toy like that without having to throw it away!

For Easter this year I have hired Susan at The Toy Place to be my Easter Bunny. The fun finds at her shop are sure to put a smile on the faces of the kids this year. Go see for yourself! She is open daily from 10am until 6pm. Tell her Melika sent you and ask about the Wooden Nickels!

Increase the life of your car!

I am a firm believer in making a car last as long as possible. I love my Buick Enclave! With gas prices going up lately driving that big SUV around can be draining on my checking account! I have preached the cost effectiveness of renting a car over the years. I have even converted some friends! I have gotten some great deals at Enterprise Car Rental on the Costco Website! Today was another example of such! A standard rental from Enterprise directly for today through Friday morning would have set me back $79.63. For the distance that I was going I was considering this not to be cost effective. However, after some research I discovered I can get this same deal on the Costco website for $34.32! That is a savings of $45.31 or 57%! With the fuel economy being much better on a smaller car it makes total sense to do this! I also like preserving the mileage placed on my car. I have rented cars to take to the beach, to Disney, or just for the weekend. Sometimes I look on the website. If I am able to get a deal for 9.99 a day I get a car just for fun. My boys love riding in different cars every so often and I enjoy filling up less and getting 35 or more miles to the gallon! Just a thought people…check it out and see what you think!

A deal close to home

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We often take road trips to Chattanooga…every time we go we discover something new.  This past summer we experienced the Chattanooga Ducks for the first time!  My boys loved this half army truck half boat vehicle.  Right now you can get a deal on the Groupon site for a ride on the Chattanooga Ducks.  Even though we have done this before, I bought them again.  Why not for $5 per child and $10 per adult I can not think of another activity to spend 2 hours outside as a family!

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An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover

An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover
JAN 19, 2013

An Unusual Twist on the Sleepover

Do your kids LOVE having a sleepover? Do you find yourself stressed and anxious at the thought? Are you worried that the kids will destroy your home, or that you don’t have enough activity to entertain five children at home?

This weekend I thought outside the box and invited four boys over for a new twist on the sleepover. I booked a room at the *Embassy Suites in Huntsvilleon a Friday night.  I chose this particular hotel because it offered an indoor pool and I knew the made to order breakfast would be a big hit with the boys!  Another deciding factor is that the Embassy offers a two bedroom suite, which provided us with two double beds and a sleeper sofa. If you are able to use a AAA or Military Rate ($87-$111) it significantly helps with the room rate.  However, the regular rate for this weekend was offered at $129.

Crunching the Number$

Considering that an evening movie ticket is over $7 per person and popcorn and drinks at least $7 per person, an evening at the movies for four kids and one adult is over $75!  Taking the kids to a hockey game with snacks would be even more than that considering that general admission tickets are $10 each and that doesn’t include snacks or dinner. I was able to get a discount room rate and even with ordering two pizzas (picked up on the way for a $10 per pizza cost) I was able to keep my total cost for the adventure under $135.  The Embassy offers a manager’s reception from 5:30 – 7:30 in the evening, and this offered us sodas and chips and pretzels to snack on (plus complimentary glass of wine for the grownups!)

There are a few points advice I would give after this experience:

  • I didn’t tell the boys where we were going or what we were doing because I wanted them to be surprised.
  • I made a point to have a frank discussion with them about behavior and respect. A surprise hotel stay is SO much fun, but we needed to be respectful of other guests in the hotel.
  • I would set a certain lights-out time, if you plan on enjoying the pool in the morning you want well rested children.  The kids swam all evening and then had about thirty minutes in the room to wind down before I turned out the lights at 10pm.
  • Next time I will pack goggles for the kids, the chlorine in hotel pools is often at a higher concentration. I did pack a few diving toys and balls for them to play with at the pool.
  • The following morning after our swim I had all of the boys shower, during that time the ones waiting to shower were entertained with UNO and Rack-O.

Fun was had by all, and for less than dinner and a movie!

Fun was had by all, and for less than going to the movies!

The sleepover was a huge success, and a great idea for a birthday party if you can keep your guest list to five. Out of respect for the hotel and other guests, discuss manners and behavior with your crew prior to the event. Take advantage of the manager’s reception for sodas and snacks. Have a reasonable bedtime so that the kids can enjoy the next day and you are able to return them to their parents in human form. Respect the hotel and make sure you and the kids clean up… don’t leave wet towels all over the pool area and make sure the room is in a reasonable condition upon your departure.

Most importantly relax and enjoy the kids!  You will be parent of the year after a night like this!

“Dinner is Saved”

What do you get when you take three men who have known one another since college or longer, add in culinary and restaurant management experience and mix that with their true passion and dreams?  If you are lucky you get a job you love, smiling customers and fun upbeat co-workers!  Mark Woodard, one of the owners of Supper Heroes located in Huntsville, AL did just that.  He and a few of his friends spent many of their early adult years learning and perfecting their skills in the restaurant business at various dining establishments in the country.  They then came back to their hometown to provide a neighborhood style family restaurant with a comic book theme.

I took my twins there for the first time since they opened about two months ago.  Both boys gave it a thumbs up.  For them the coolest part were the comic books displayed all over the walls (most of which Mark has been collecting since 1972).  The menu is great because it caters to both the adult and the child palate.  See what Rocket City Mom contributor Lexi Robinson Austin had to say when she did a review of the restaurant recently.  After reading the menu and sampling a few of the selections I would have to say that Mark met his goal in serving food that awakens the senses.  The adult selections have unique combinations of sweet, salty, spicy and savory.  Most of the menu creations have a story, the chicken salad for instance was created for his wife!  The Arnold, which is the sandwich I ordered, was a breakfast sandwich served by Mark’s mom when he was growing up.

This Friday night dinner experience was definitely worth the drive.  The restaurant provides an inviting environment.  The menu selections are priced more than fairly.  We dined at a Ninja themed restaurant in NYC in November and in comparison this small Huntsville, AL establishment beat NYC hands down.  I fed my family of 3 complete with soft drinks, appetizers and desserts for under $30.  In NYC a meal for six came to almost $150 and we left hungry and disappointed.

I encourage you to take your little heroes and check out this new restaurant where “Hunger is Vanquished” and “Dinner is Saved”!  You will find this adventure well worth your time!

2013 Kids Marathon

Do you wish you could get more exercise?  Do you wish there were more hours in the day to spend quality time with your kids?  If you enjoy the outdoors and enjoy walking or running I have a solution for your dilemma.  Life South Community Blood Centers has teamed with Jerry Damson Honda/Acura to bring you the 2013 Kids Marathon Huntsville. Go to this link for more information.  The registration is free until four weeks before the event.  The kids have from now until May 11, 2013 to register the first 25 miles of the marathon.  This is a great opportunity for you to get outside and get moving as a family.  Kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade are eligible for the event.  All kids get a t-shirt and a commemorative medal as they cross the finish line.  Go register and we will see you there!