If there’s one thing I’ve learned after having kids, is that a little bit of fun goes a LONG WAY.  Here we are, in the thick of summer, trying to come up with fun, inspiring, and attention grabbing family activities, and oh yeah, trying not to go bankrupt after a day trip.  What’s a family to do?!  I’m not even kiddng when I say this, but, head on over to your local membership warehouse store.  Not a member? I’m pretty sure you can snag a trial membership, or go with a friend for an afternoon.  Here’s how last Saturday went down-  It’s mid morning, the kids were definitely getting restless after being awake for 4 hours, and the toys and Jake & The Neverland Pirates were not cutting it.  Mutiny was afoot.  Combine this with the fact that we noticed our supply of baby Puffs, granola bars, and most importantly- SOAP was running dangerously low.  (Like to the point that we were using those tiny cheap-o hotel soap bars to-bathe-ourselves-low.)  There was nothing left to do but load the kids in the car and drive to the store.

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Walking around a membership warehouse is magical to me.  It’s air conditioned, the aisles are wide and long, and there is so much going on that the kids are in rapture just by the view in front of them.  And the snacks!  OMG the SNACKS!  Because it was the weekend, and lunchtime, we hit the jackpot.  We traveled from station to station sampling all sorts of snacks from tiny plastic cups with tiny plastic spoons.  From grapes and cherries to soft pretzels, grilled pork chops, and frozen mixed vegetables, we had a feast!  Jake loved lining up his samples in the shopping cart- he literally made himself a little seat with our items, and sat and ate as we strolled and browsed.  Livvy was happy as a clam in her stroller while I fed her bits of food.  Part of the excitement is also having Jake pick out a box of cereal, yogurt, and granola snacks.  He gets his choice, and you can just tell he is loving having some control over what gets put in that cart.

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On the way out, after eating our way through the store, he saw the snack bar and announced he was thirsty.  Mike and I looked at each other with panic in our eyes- Oh man.  How are we gonna play this?  We just had a total win with this- we secretly got boring errands done while magically disguising them with a fun snack-filled afternoon!  There were no tears!  There was even a widely successful trip to the bathroom-complete without touching anything disgusting!  We really just wanted this to be a walk off home run, and we were SO DAMN CLOSE.  But we’re pushovers.

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Mike wheeled the cart over to a table, and I ordered the hot dog & drink combo for a grand total of $1.80 (tax included).  And let me tell you- if we thought the highlight of the trip was that they both actually ENJOYED themselves shopping at the store, they blew away our expectations over the next half hour.  Livvy ate her Puffs, and Jake devoured his hot dog.  We all shared his mombo drink (a mix of lemonade and fruit punch, because well, that is just so much more fun to drink), and we just talked and enjoyed the company.  Mike and I kept looking at each other in awe- here we are, at a membership warehouse snack bar, sharing a hot dog and drink with our kids.  No parade, no rides, no characters walking around in fuzzy suits, no admission price, and no gift shop.  Just us, a cart full of groceries, and a $1.80 hot dog.  Proof positive that you can find fun and magic if you just take the time to find it.  And it was damn fun.

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