Monday, May 21, 2012

Low Cost Summer Movies 2012

It's almost time again for the great second-run summer movies. The information I've tracked down so far for theaters in the Bay Area include:

Century Theaters Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse,  including the theaters in Danville, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, Woodland, Napa, Walnut Creek and many more - 10 weeks of movies, that vary slightly from theater to theater. They cost $1.00 each, or you can pre-pay for a 10-movie pass for only $5.00. Each of the individual theater links I clicked on also had a coupon for a discounted child concession pack. Check the link for your local theaters to see which movies are offered which days. It looks to me as though Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most common days offered, with some theaters offering two discount days, and some theaters offering one. The movies start at 10:00 am

Regal Theaters has a spot reserved on its website for information about its summer movie program, but no information released just yet. You can check this link to the Regal website for any details when they are available. 

The other theaters that have offered free or low cost summer movies in the past so far do not have any mention of a 2012 program on their websites, but I will keep checking, and update this post if more option appear. Most theaters don't start their summer movies until mid June, so there is still time.


Regal theaters have released their list of participating theaters and movies. You can see if the theater near you is hosting $1.00 summer movies at their website, here.

Also Rave theaters are offering FREE summer movies. Their online schedule is harder to follow, and it looks like Brentwood is the only bay area theater participating, but you can check it out at the link above.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sky High Trampoline

Imagine a room filled wall to wall with trampolines. Now imagine several more rooms just like it. That’s Sky High. It’s just as much fun and exhausting as you are imagining.

We have only ever been to the Sky High in Concord, so it is possible the other branches are set up differently. At Concord though, there is one room that is for straight jumping. It’s the biggest room, and it is full of trampolines. They’re even on the walls.

Next there is a room with a pit full of foam at one end. Here you can wait in line, then jump down a long trampoline, jumping into the pit at the end. This is a great photo spot moms!

Another room is dedicated to dodgeball. When my young girls wanted to try it out I was somewhat nervous with all the much bigger teen boys in line to play. I was happily surprised however. While they were fairly ruthless with each other, the bigger kids made a lot of effort to avoid throwing to hard or fast at the little kids. As you can imagine though, it’s an easy situation for accidents to happen. My girls came out smiling, but I did see one little boy take a hit with a foam ball that was not meant for him, and it didn’t look fun.
As for the little kids, they do have one smaller room dedicated to the smaller jumpers. I don’t remember the age cut off, but it was maybe 6 or 7 years old.

In the back they have restrooms, a few video games and vending machines, and tables for birthday parties. We were there once while a party was in progress, and the kids all seemed to be having a great time. I’m not sure what all is included in a party package (the website could tell you if you want more info) but they at least got lots of jumping time, then cake and such at the tables later on.

The cost is paid by the hour. Before you pay a lot up front, try it out for one hour. The first few times we went, we worried that the kids would whine about having to leave after only an hour, but it turns out that jumping constantly for that amount of time is darn tiring. They are almost always ready quit and rest  when our hour is up.

The Concord branch offers a special rate to homeschoolers on Mondays from 1 to 2pm for $6.00 except when local schools are out for breaks or holidays. The regular rate is $10.oo per hour.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

ARF in Walnut Creek

The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) based in Walnut Creek is at its heart, an animal rescue and adoption center. However, they have many programs that expand beyond simple housing and rehoming of pets, and offer some fun things for kids and families, even ones who are not currently looking to adopt a new pet.
We have attended two events at the ARF facility, a tour, and a birthday party, and enjoyed both. They were very similarly run, with some obvious extras included for the party that I will go over in a bit.

At both events we were toured around the facility, seeing more of the ‘behind the scenes’ areas with the tour than the party. Although the tour was with an older set of kids, so that may have been part of the reason. Our groups started out in both cases, watching a short video about the history of ARF including  how and why former Oakland A’s manager Tony La Russa came to found the animal rescue foundation. We were shown the cats and dogs that were at the center waiting for adoption, and learned about the volunteers that help keep the center running.

At the end of the tour we went to a room that housed a play veterinary hospital and pet store. At the party, the children were all given little stuffed doggies or cats and taught how to take care of them in the play veterinary office. They learned to brush their teeth, give them vaccines, and check in their ears. At the play store, they shopped for things they might need to take care of their new pets at home. Then, in both the tour and the party, we got to meet a live dog and get a lesson on how to safely and politely greet and pet a new dog. This ended the tour, but the party went on to have snacks and cake, and gift opening before coming to an end.

I did not organize or set up either of these events, but was told by the person who set up the tour for us that it was a bit of a challenge to do so.  The parties are apparently the main way the center usually introduces children to the work of the foundation, and she was encouraged to take that path. Eventually she was able to set up a tour without a party, but this may or may not be something ARF is willing or able to do on a regular basis. For a party, on the other hand, there is information on the ARF website, and appears that would be something fairly straightforward to do. Everyone at the party we attended, kids and adults alike, appeared to have a terrific time.

I should also mention that you can of course, just show up and have a look around on your own without the benefit of an organized tour if you want. The animals are there to be seen, and hopefully find new homes after all. There are also some great volunteer opportunities for older kids too. So go check them out!