I realize that my blogging has been rather scarce lately. I have been keeping my mind off of the upcoming changes at GM by pursuing other creative outlets such as scrapbooking and making a movie.
I took last week off from work to be home with the boys for their Spring Break. Since we weren't going to be going on a trip like last year, I asked the boys if there was something special that they would like to do around here. Jeffrey picked to go play Laser Tag with his cousins. That seemed reasonable, and we picked Thursday since Cale and Ramona had the day off and Mary Beth would be working from home and glad to get them out of the way for the afternoon. My mother decided to come along since she hadn't seen the boys for a while and just likes going places with all the kids.
So we went and picked them up, and Mary Beth gave us Laser Tag coupons from the entertainment book. My mom also ripped out some coupons for local restaurants but Mary Beth thought that they looked like crummy bars and suggested we head for Applebees or another chain instead.
As we headed over towards Utica I saw a place called "The Lodge" that I recognized from the coupon stack. It was a bar, but also looked like a place we could go and get some burgers. It turned out to be just right for us, it was clean and they had good food and a neat "loggy" atmosphere...and a giant bar in the middle but since this was lunchtime there were hardly any sad looking drunks leaning on it. It was perfect!
Then we went over to the Laser Tag place, but it was closed! I hadn't even thought to call ahead, but according to the sign they didn't open until 4:00 on days there was school, and we figured that district must not have had the day off.
The kids were of course hugely disappointed but I decided that we should make our own fun and suggested we walk across the street to what looked like a little park area and plan our next move. Well the kids ran ahead and the next thing you know they disappeared into a square cave-like opening in the wall under the freeway (M-59.) It was a walking path tunnel and the walls were coated with graffiti and if you scream in there you get a wonderful echo! It led out to a path to a bridge over the Clinton River which was rushing fast. The kids had a ball throwing ice chunks off of the bridge and watching them splash into the river and float under to the other side. They kept on doing that until Jeffrey announced that he needed to go to the bathroom so we ducked into the local library which was also right there.
After that I suggested that we explore "Downtown Utica" which I have always driven by but never walked the streets of. We saw some boarded up older building which caused the kids to speculate about hobos living there. (I don't know why but they have this obsession with hobos lately) and then came to a coffee shop that advertised selling ice cream. We went in and the owner lady took a long time scooping out cones of hand dipped (Ramona got birthday cake flavor and Cale something chocolate, and fat-free butter pecan for Grandma) and whipping up real fruit smoothies for Tim and Jeff and a Cappuccino for me. We slouched in the comfy leather couches and enjoyed our treats, and Cale and Jeffrey played a game of chess that was set up at a Bistro table. We were the only customers and kind of took over the place, which was fun!
When we got out of there we checked out the few stores that were there in Downtown Utica, which included an interesting home decor/antiques shop that the kids liked exploring and they didn't even break anything!
As we made our way back to the car I commented on how we managed to make our own fun and explore the local offerings without having to rely on the pre-packaged entertainment of chain restaurants and Laser tag. I looked back at the kids for affirmation of this and their faces were absolutely beaming with delight...
...As they looked past me to the Laser Tag parking lot and realized that more cars were in it and it was now OPEN!!!
So much for my improvised fun. We went in and played two games of laser tag, because that's what the coupon was for. For the first game I went in because I thought Ramona might be a little scared in there and want me with her. I could see the appeal of the place, it is all dark with black lighting and florescent paint and music and you get to go around with a light-up vest and hold a gun. Ramona went sneaking all over and I lumbered along after her. I imagined that I was like a Wookie, protecting the princess. Every so often I would see a set of familiar glowing whites-of-eyes and teeth fly by, and recognize them as belonging to one of my happy sons.
After the game ends they hand out these score sheets that tell you what happened in there. My boys took first and second place, and I came in last out of 19. I guess you're supposed to shoot at people or something. I sat out the second game in the party room where Grandma had taken refuge, and the kids came out all flush-faced and excited, especially Ramona who certainly never needed her Wookie in the first place.
I think we learned that day that there are all kinds of fun you can have close to home on a Thursday afternoon, both the types that you drum up yourself and the kinds that are pre-arranged for you, they're all good.