Between work, school, sports, and everything else that keeps us moving, a snow day at school was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids.  There are several good sled riding hills around us and we spent the day at Cascade Valley Metro Park.

This is a nice park that has an easy hiking trail and a good viewing spot next to the Cuyahoga River, perfect for quick evening hikes after dinner during the warmer months.

However, it is winter time in Ohio and we weren’t there for the scenery.  The kids were itching to burn some energy and what better way than to catch some speed flying down the hill in sleds and hiking back up this monster hill dozens of times.

I started off riding down with little ones (mainly because I wanted to zip down that hill) but a couple times down and they were ready to take the hill on by themselves.

Getting outside, spending time with the kids, and making memories is what snow days are made for.


Would we go to Skyzone again?!

Being a family with four kids and living on one income, most of what we do is budgeted and planned for. And to piggy off a previous post, we enjoy getting gifts that are things we can do with the kids (which this was, thanks to Aunt Gail and Uncle Greg). Of course, we try to plan fun things and do different things with the kids, but when you are talking almost $100 for all 6 of us for an hour of fun, it’s not always feasible. Because we are focused on becoming debt free, we have to make sacrifices and choices on what we can do with the kids, generally leaving only “free” options on the table.

However, this Christmas we received a gift card to take the kids to Skyzone.  If you haven’t been or heard of this place, well, it is a blast! Trampolines from wall-to-wall and best of all, the whole family was jumping, from our two-year-old to us old-timers! (It did take a few minutes to get used to the motion of a trampoline at this age though.)

The kids have all been off school for over two weeks for the holidays and then we had a few snow days, so we decided to take advantage of our last day at home before getting back to the daily grind and it was the perfect way to go get out some energy after not leaving the house for the last 4 days because of the cold.

When we arrived, we had to fill out a waiver and get the “Skyzone socks” to be permitted to go and jump to our heart’s content.  Once we were socked up, we headed straight to the foam pit.  Testing our best natural abilities in flight, we launched ourselves several feet into the air and falling quickly to a large pit of foam square blocks.  Within the foam pit was a swinging ladder where Paul showed the kids how to climb it without falling off.

Parker was the first to attempt the ascent to the other side of the pit.  Slowly and skillfully working his arms and legs slowly and meticulously to maintain his center of gravity, Paul would call out instructions for him to follow.  Halfway through and Parker was on his own, finally making it the other side and earning a Skyzone Wristband.

Next was Eli, half the size of Parker, it was an impressive feat to watch him spread his little body over the unstable ladder and control it.  Slowly but surely, he mastered each rung, pulling himself to the other side of the pit and earning himself a wristband as well!

After the pit, we all went and jumped in the large jump area. Sure enough, Paul was up in the air calling out poses and twisting his body in funny configurations in which the kids would work to mimic. It is amazing how quickly kids adapt to new scenarios and adjust to conform to their current situation. Each kid with a big smile on their face was laughing and working to twist their bodies quickly to keep up and even come up with their own silly poses.

An hour of straight jumping was a blast! What an exceptional way to get out and do something fun and active.


9 Experiences To Give As Gifts


As the holidays have just pasted, we reflected on the busyness of the season and all the new memories made with family and friends.  This made us think about what we gave and got for gifts and what gifts we cherished the most.  To this point, it was the time spent with our family and friends, the laughs, hugs, and community we share that we cherish.

So why is it we spend so much time looking for “stuff” to give that will generally just clutter someone’s living space and be discarded in time? Why don’t we give more gifts of experience and our time?  Because at the end of the day is it really that gift you received that you enjoyed most of the holiday?…..(maybe if you really don’t like your family)

Since we are a family of six living off of one income, we have tried to make it a point to ask for gifts of “experiences” as much as possible. We do this for a couple of reasons, we have limited space for more toys and a limited budget to spend on these experiences, especially as we get closer to paying off all our debt. (There will be more to share about our journey of working to become debt-free soon!)

We want their childhood filled full of memories of going places, trying new things, seeing something for the first time, and having those memories with the family that loves them most. We have tossed so many bags of broken, discarded toys into the trash or have donated them. Will they cherish the memories and playing with plastic toys or will they value the time that their family poured into them? I have gotten some push-back from people feeling like they won’t be excited to receive their “gift” of something non-traditional, but this is when I suggest they do it with them. The kids love sharing memories with other family members, they (and we as parents) treasure the times Mamaw and Papaw take them to the movies or when Papa goes to the indoor waterpark with us!

Here is a list of 9 great experiences that we have been given, loved or plan on doing soon:

  1. swim lessons – Gift cards to the local rec center pay for the kids’ swim lessons.
  2. family zoo pass – Our family of 6 can get a zoo pass for the year for $100 with unlimited trips and fun. We go almost weekly when the weather is nice!
  3. movie tickets – The kids have loved the times their grandparents take them to the movies.
  4. overnight at an indoor water park – We went to Great Wolf Lodge with one set of the grandparents and having four adults for four kids in the water park was perfect, everyone enjoyed themselves and we weren’t stressed about having to watch all four of them in the water just the two of us.
  5. train ride – As a gift, we got one of the kids’ grandmas a gift certificate for all of us to ride the train and spend the day together. She loved the day with the kids and times like this are what we live for.
  6. city park and rec gift certificates – Can be used to get into the city pools, putt-putt golf, batting cages, etc.
  7. dance lessons – We plan on signing Gigi up for dance lessons soon after her 3rd birthday that is coming up.
  8. tickets to an event – We were recently given tickets to a MarvelLive show and the boys loved it, this is something we wouldn’t normally get the chance to do with them.
  9. exploring new places – Some of our favorite times together as a family are exploring new places. We are surrounded by metroparks and the kids love hiking!

What are some experiences you have given or received as gifts? We are always looking for something new and fun to gift the kids!