Friday, July 22, 2011


Since Saturday is shaping up to be a very full day, I arranged Friday to be a little less taxing (for The Inmates' sakes only, of course).  It started by sleeping late, then introducing them to their first patch opportunity of the day:  The Video Game Day patch.  I rented four Wii games at Blockbuster yesterday, trying to get a variety that would appeal to both kids.  I figure we can work on the "requirements" over the next four days we have left on the rentals.  We began this morning with Smarty Pants, a fun trivia game that we could play in family mode, meaning we all work together for a score instead of competing against each other.  Each Mii was set up with each person's age, so the questions ended up being age appropriate.  In family mode, you decide how many questions you can answer correctly in the time given and then try to reach that goal.  Although each person is given a separate question to answer, we win or lose as a group, which helps my ultra-competitive son get over a loss a little easier.  The game is fast paced and almost educational, so I didn't quite feel like the worst mother in the world.

Since I had dirty dishes accumulating in my sink at an alarming pace, I left the two of them to play the next game together:  Lego Pirates of the Caribbean.  Granted, a little Lego Captain Jack didn't have quite the sex appeal of Johnny Depp, but Foghorn was thrilled to see a mermaid on the cover, her newest obsession.  I left them for an hour to play the game together, as it only accommodates one or two players at a time.  It was the most peaceful time of my whole week (save the brief respite I had yesterday while waiting for the check in the restaurant).    They were relatively quiet, except for The Professor's occasional scream at his sister to "follow me," which means Captain Jack is heading one place and she needs to get her character to catch up.  I don't mind these infrequent outbursts, as I then know that both of them are alive.  When they are off together and it's completely silent, I get worried.  Then again, any period of quiet is a welcome relief from the nearly incessant nasally shriek of my daughter, "Stop it!," followed by, "I'm telling Mom!"  No, please don't tell Mom...

A little after noon I pried the Wii controllers out of their hands so we could venture out into the heat.  (Heard on the radio it was a heat index of 107.  Three cheers for air conditioning!)  Next on the list was earning the Lazer Tag patch and that mandated a trip to Lazer Kraze near King's Island.  This is not a new experience for them, but it was met with enthusiasm unsurpassed in this year's camp. 

I purchased three consecutive games for the three of us and soon we were suiting up.  Thank heavens the joint is air conditioned as those vests are heavy and bulky and just the thing a sane person would not wear on a humid Cincinnati day.  There were about ten other kids playing and we were divided into two teams, with my offspring on my team.  Unfortunately, Foghorn is somewhat spooked by the laser tag place, even though she professes to love it.  I will admit, with the dim lighting and vast quantities of places for people to hide, and spring out from unexpectedly, it is a place that gets the adrenaline flowing.  I happen to like it.  My daughter, on the other hand, finds it unnerving and copes by following me around.  More than once I stepped on her or inadvertently gave her an elbow to the forehead as I tried to shoot the enemy.  She also has this bad habit of speaking in her usual foghorn voice, thus ruining our chances at being stealthy and pretty much announcing to the world that there are two people hiding behind a particular barricade.  At times The Professor ends up joining us and we roam around in this group of three, with flashing red lights on our shoulders.  Again, stealth is lost.  And I say right now that if they ever start drafting women for combat I steadfastly refuse to go to war with either of these two.  They'd get me blown apart the first day and would then probably stand over my corpse arguing about whose fault it was.

We played two more games, but they were less successful.  The other children had vanished and to my shock we were the only players for the second and third games.  With the heat I had expected the place to be packed and had even tried phoning ahead for advance reservations.  Instead, Foghorn and I were a team against The Professor.  Obviously he didn't have trouble finding us, as Foghorn does little to make herself invisible.  She pretty much scurries behind me with no attempt to duck behind barriers.  She also kept her mouth going and in the empty, cavernous space it wasn't hard for her brother to track us down.  He then decided the best thing was to hide behind a certain barrier in the corner and emerge only to fire at us.  While I roamed up and down, trying to get a good angle on him, he'd nonchalantly lean from behind his barrier and shoot me.  Talk about feeling like a duck in a shooting gallery...  At one point, Foghorn hadn't paid attention to my roaming and had been left behind.  This sent her crying and screaming hysterically down one of the ramps yelling my name.  I had to chase after her and calm her down, during which time my son shot me three times.  For the last game Foghorn wanted no part of it, so she stood by the door while The Professor and I went at each other. They finished the outing with a Pepsi (The Professor) and a blue Slush Puppie (Foghorn) and a few games before heading home. 

In the late afternoon we pulled out the PokePark Wii game, which caused some issues since it can only be played one person at a time and both kids love Pokemon.  Actually, my son's interest falls into the category of obsession.   I finally gave Foghorn half an hour of play time while I was making a quick dinner and The Professor got the half hour after, before we left for our final outing of the day.

My paternal grandmother used to take me to bingo at the American Legion hall, where both my father and brother were members.  This was in the mid and late '70s, before smoking regulations went into effect.  I remember the place being smoke-filled to such an extent that I would often escape to the bathroom just to get a breath of fresh air.  I'd leave with my eyes red and stinging.  I always liked to watch the members' wives, who all seemed to weigh 275 pounds if they weighed an ounce, chain smoked, and had a good dozen bingo cards they were playing simultaneously.  They brought their own chips, which had metal centers and when it was time to clear the cards they waved a magnetic wand over them and gathered them up for the next game.  My grandmother died in 1984 and I can't remember going to a bingo since.

The Animal Rescue Fund (ARF for short), out of Amelia, Ohio, runs a no-kill shelter and holds bingo every Thursday and Friday as a fundraiser.  I've been a supporter of ARF for a number of years, but had never actually gone to the bingo.  Sounded like a good time to earn a bingo patch...

Yep, it sure sounded like a good idea.  Chester, the Inmates, my husband (known as The Vulcan), and I drove the 30 minutes or so to Amelia.  We went inside and were about to go down the ramp to the bingo hall when a security guard stopped us, asking if we were going to play bingo.  When I said yes he informed me that children under the age of 18 weren't allowed in bingo halls.  What?!?  I spent half my childhood in bingo halls and kids used to sell the dang cards at church festivals.  Maybe I should have known better, but it honestly never dawned on me that the kids wouldn't be allowed in.  I learned from the guard that there were pull-tab tickets.  Leaving the kids with the Vulcan, Chester and I purchased $25 worth (it was for one of my charities, after all) and drove to a Dairy Queen down the street so we could have some ice cream and open them.

Out of 25 tickets, The Professor managed a single $1 winner.  Rather than drive all the way back to the bingo, I considered it a donation and gave him a dollar out of my purse.  The kids were disappointed, especially Foghorn.  She's been saving up for a Figit Friend, as far as I'm concerned one of the stranger toys she's shown an interest in lately.  Still, she was determined to get one and has been doing extra chores to earn the money.  She had earned all but $16 and I had gone ahead and ordered it from Amazon so that it would be ready for her when she finally managed to get her hands on the last dollar.  She had hoped that would be tonight.  She had dreams of winning $16 at bingo and getting her Figit Friend, which we suspected was at home in an Amazon box that had been delivered just before we left.

Since the bingo's pull-tab tickets were less than thrilling, I came up with a plan B.  My mother lives near a Catholic church that was having its festival this week.  Since it was still 91 degrees at 8:30 in the evening, I had no desire to walk around there.  However, I had no problem running in there, buying a bunch of pull-tab tickets, and then rushing back to my mother's air conditioned living room.  I dropped the Inmates at Grandma's, Chester dropped me off at the church, and she then circled the block while I raced to the booths buying tickets.  Much to my delight, they had BINGO tickets, so it even fit with the theme.  I also got some Bars and Bells and Oh, Aces! tickets.  I started walking back to Grandma's until I heard the little beep of Chester's Corolla horn and jumped into the passenger seat.

The Inmates were very excited by the pile of tickets and began ripping them with wild abandon.  When I was a kid, I had an uncanny knack for deciding there was something very specific I wanted, showing up at a church festival, and walking away with the $25 Bars and Bells prize.  This happened on a number of occasions.  Apparently the knack has been passed on to my daughter.  After a number of 50 cent winners, she screamed that she had a grey bingo winner.  I looked on the back and found it was worth $10.  She went on to get a $2 winner and quite a few 50 cent winners for a grand total of...$17.  She'd earned her Figit Friend with a dollar to spare.  The Professor won $9 himself, thanks in part to Chester giving him her winnings of a couple of dollars.

I then had to do a repeat performance of rushing into the festival while Chester circled the block.  We then raced home, tore open the Amazon box, and unpacked the much coveted Figit Friend named Willa.  I still can't say I understand the thrill, but Foghorn is absolutely ecstatic.

Foghorn, delighted with her new friend.

For more ideas for things to do in Cincinnati (and things to do with kids in Cincinnati), please check out:

** Things to Do in Cincinnati

You might also be interested in:

Camp Gonnawanna

Camp Gonnawanna - The Kickoff

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 1



Anonymous said...

So, that's the famous Willa I've heard so much about. I wonder if she's going to be carried everywhere like Oinkers.

Good post - and I like that the evening was salvaged by getting the church festival tickets.

Kathie said...

Man that was a busy day, but I just love reading about your day camps!! I was telling Josh and Dennis about Willa, and then about your "camp" and Josh said what do you do, go to '', lol. I tried to explain what a blog was, but not sure that he got it.