How can one pinch pennies and still have fun with the kids? Even with our economic belts pulled tight, we have been discovering many frugal ways set giggles and grins loose.
About a week and a half ago, hammering madness led us to a “Time Out” we thoroughly enjoyed. Indeed, Luke and Nina have recently rediscovered their Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Pound and Roll, and, boy, have they been loving it! Luke not only intently hammers away at it, but enjoys re-purposing the toy and its part for all sorts of imaginings. From using the wooden balls for his Lego men to perform balancing acts upon to having his dinosaur figurines slide down the toy’s ramps to pretending the entire thing is a feeding station for animals in the play circuses he sets up, Luke constantly invents new ways to enjoy the toy.
Meanwhile, Nina has finally discovered that she doesn’t need to cry, “Mommy, help me… Stuck,” as she tries to get the toy’s wooden balls through its holes. No, instead of begging me to hammer the balls through to the ramps so she can scamper after them as they roll away, Nina has become a master at heartily bang-banging them right through herself. And, thus, she seems to have developed a new morning ritual – awakening Luke with the steady rhythm of hammering.
On one of such morning not to long ago, as Luke and Nina pounded away, I remembered someone mentioning that places like Lowe’s and Home Depot often run kids’ clinics. A quick Google search later, I discovered that Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics have a participation fee that fits our “extras” budget on many weeks – $0.00! So, without hesitation, I quickly registered Luke and Daddy for their very own Boys’ Morning Out. I felt that Luke, at three and a half, seemed ready to tackle constructing a helicopter at the clinic, even if the workshop was recommended for only ages five and up.
The following Saturday, Nina protested, “Daddy! Luke!” as she and I began to pull away after dropping the boys off for their morning out. It was then that I spied a number of Nina-sized wee ones toddling into the store, holding onto their Mom and Dad’s with one hand and clutching waving consent forms with their other hands. Hmm, Boys’ Morning Out might just be able to become a Family Morning Out, I thought.
Quickly, I called Mike, who was just checking in for the clinic. He asked the official Lowe’s Helper of the day if there was space for one more child at the clinic and if that child could be a mere two years old. Both questions met with a welcoming, “Yes!”
Nina could not have been happier to join Daddy and Luke for the clinic. In fact, I dare say that she enjoyed pounding nails even more than Luke did. For while Nina kept trying to remove my helping hand from the end of her hammer, declaring “I do it myself!”, Luke, kept giving his hammer completely away, saying “Daddy, here.” That way both his hands would be free to explore his construction in his own way. Indeed, Luke quickly discovered how he could push nails through the starter holes in his project parts with his bare hands if those parts were not connected to the other parts they were meant to be joined with and that the stickers provided for the final detail of his helicopter peeled easily off their backing and fit nicely onto unassembled parts. As they progressed along with their projects, both our handicraft kids – so cute in their Lowe’s aprons and goggles – shared many a giggle and grin. Meanwhile, Daddy and I nodded smiles to each other as we witnessed our children expressing their individuality even as they completed identical projects.
Helicopter completed, both Nina and Luke beamed as they flew their newly constructed toys out of the store. Daddy and I followed, carrying the Certificates of Merit and project patches the kids had been awarded.
“That was a morning well spent,” Daddy affirmed. Skills enhanced; interests followed; giggles and grins gleaned. We’ll definitely be taking another Family Morning Out to attend the bus and boat building clinics.
Please Note: The links below under “Categories” don’t work like those on most blogs. They won’t take you to related posts in this blog. So, if you are interested in related posts, please click on the links under “Categories” to the right instead of the ones below. Sorry! It’s a weird wordpress.com thing that I cannot seem to overcome.