Archives for the month of: February, 2012

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With the kids off school for President’s Day, we decided to take advantage of the 40% off deal Certifikid was offering and check out Adventure Park USA in New Market, Maryland (near Frederick). The drive wasn’t bad at all — only 50 minutes from my home in Herndon, VA. I was wondering at first if it was just going to be a glorified Chuck E. Cheese. But — they are nothing like Chuck E. Cheese! They do offer a wide selection of arcade games — but they also offer a multi-level 2-story play structure, a very impressive indoor ropes course, a rock climbing wall and laser tag. And that was just the inside! During warmer weather they also have a roller coaster, go-karts, bumper boats, mini golf, a carousel and other amusement park rides. We fully intend to go back and check that out!

Instead of paying an admission fee, you buy “credits” loaded on a card with a bar code. Instead of adding coins or tokens for games and attractions you swipe your card. The kids very quickly got the hang of it. I was worried our almost 300 credits would go too quickly — as it is easy to swipe a card and not realize how much you are spending, but we actually didn’t use all of them after being there for over 4 hours! In fact, the kids played very little games and really focused thier time and energy on the ropes course and laser tag.

We went with a 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-year old — and each of them found plenty of fun things that interested them. I saw 2 and 3 year olds enjoying the play structure while their older siblings played on other things. Although they don’t have a safe entry and exit system like Chuck E. Cheese, the place was modest enough where I felt like the kids were safe. There were plenty of staff stationed throughout the premises to answer questions and help children with games. They also sell food and drinks — typical amusement park fare like pizza, hot dogs, nachos, etc., reasonably priced. I didn’t at any point feel ripped off.

If you need a single reason to go — go for the indoor ropes course. My 7-year old daughter must have done it 6-7 times. At first, she was nervous, but each time she built up her confidence and was soon zipping through the area. As a Scout leader I loved that it offered challenge and encouraged confidence. I did it too and it was a bit nerve wracking to take that first step — but exhilarating! My 5-year son got up there and was too scared to actually climb across, but the female staffer was so patient and kind to him, gently encouraging him and not making him feel bad for not going. In fact, she allowed him to try a second time, which he declined once he got up there — but she still remained positive and patient with him.

I can’t wait to go this summer and enjoy the outside rides. The real question is — would I go again without the discount that encouraged me in the first place? Absolutely — it was worth every penny! I encourage you  to look them up online and learn more.  They offer weekly story times, are open for Spring Break (March 30th – April 9th), are hosting a special Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunt on April 7th and more.

In a bind for a last-minute babysitter, I used SeekingSitters — an on-demand babysitting referral service for one-time, part-time or full-time babysitting needs. At first I was a bit skeptical using a service because no one wants to leave their children with strangers. But, after researching them and learning that their babysitting professionals were extensively screened and had background checks assured me that I was heading in the right direction. What I really liked though is that SeekingSitters did a safety check on my family too. It gave me confidence knowing a company had so much concern for their staff’s safety that they just wouldn’t send them to anyone.

I started off by visiting their Web site and becoming a paid member. As a member, I am entitled to request a one-time, part-time or a full-time babysitter. After my membership was approved within a day or so I got a personal phone call from the company’s owner to welcome me and ask me if I had any questions. I was both surprised and pleased by a phone call I didn’t have to initiate. Loved the professionalism and organization!

I scheduled my babysitter online, got a quick confirmation via email and was called personally by the assigned babysitter to introduce herself, confirm our date and time and ask me if I had any questions. Once again — loved the professionalism and organization!

Felicia, our babysitter, showed up 15 minutes early and was warm and engaing with the kids right away. She confidently listened to my bedtime instructions and the quirks and habits of my kiddos. She didn’t even seem phased by my 2 hyper dogs that were convinced she was there just to play with them!

Then what happened? I had a great date night with husband and came home to 2 sleeping kids! I didn’t have to mess with calculating money or payment, as it was charged directly to my credit card I initially registered with. I even received a receipt via email the next day. My kids reported in the morning how much they liked Felicia and wanted to know when she was coming back!

I know there is more to caring for children than hopping on the computer and scheduling. It all sounds somewhat clinical. But, as a mom if I felt at any point, even when the babysitter walked in, that I wasn’t comfortable or confident I would have canceled immediately. But — SeekingSitters gave me confidence every step and I will definitely use them again and recommend them to my friends. I loved the ease of scheduling and billing and their choice of sitter for our family. I highly recommend them and encourage you to visit their Web site to learn more about their services including single requests, last-minute requests, regularly-scheduled events, group events, care at birthday parties, or care when you are at a hotel or traveling.

They reach the entire DC metro region including Northern Virginia, Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County and more. Click here to see their area of services.

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