Playtime: Kid-friendly fun for those on a ‘one-less-job’ budget

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Learn to build your own computer with Kano at the Edmonds Library.
Learn to build your own computer with Kano at the Edmonds Library.

It is around the holidays that I’m even more keenly aware of how different people’s holidays and traditions are for Thanksgiving. We have a lot more “together” time at home as it’s just the four of us for a semi-non traditional dinner; I mean why invest cooking all day and making a turkey if only two adults eat it? In my group of closest friends, the holiday was celebrated so differently! One of my friends had what I think is largely considered a traditional Thanksgiving: 21 members of her blended extended family at her house with the host making the turkey and the guests bringing the rest. Another friend and her wife had an aunt over for an Indian “feast” as they watched their 10-month-old take his newly designated walking feet for a whirl, while yet another friend brought her husband and kids to her family’s “hot pot” dinner to hang out with the cousins.

I was at the library last week when it occurred to me that we had five days “at home” together for the Thanksgiving holiday, my first without having a job to go to in almost a decade.(I can’t remember a time when the kids were at school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It joins the half-day-Friday before conference week as one of my least favorite “Why aren’t they in school again today?” days.)

As I passed the “Recently Returned” DVD Rack, up front near the library’s checkout computers, the holiday weekend flashed before my eyes in a wave of tasty food, hopefully slow mornings, four kid hockey games, and a whole lot of “Can I play my Kindle?”

Now if it were up to me, the majority of the weekend would be slow homebody stuff, but as my pediatrician reminds me, I gotta meet the kids where they’re at and they are not at the stay-in-bed-until-you-need-a-nap phase of life…yet. So here is the anatomy of our holiday weekend with a one-less-job budget:

– While at the library we grabbed a bunch of great movies, mainly for the kids to watch. We got Zootopia, Big Hero 6, one of the Harry Potters, and that Batman/Superman movie. It probably comes as no surprise that when it came down to it, the kids still had a hard time picking a movie they both wanted to watch. We’ve found that the library is a great resource for entertainment. This also reminded me it’s time to look up the good holiday movies that will be airing on TV and DVR them. Now there are lists out there, but I’ve found just looking up the specific movies we want to see or going to the usual suspects (ABC, Freeform, Disney, etc.) and scanning the guide is best. This is a great way to see The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the cartoon version, of course), Arthur Christmas, Scrooged or whichever movies mean Christmas to you.

– As we looked around for books (Garfield is the big winner these days), we passed the computers at the intersection of the teen and kids sections and saw two bright orange boxes and a sign that says “Create with Kano.” The sign goes on to call it a “self-directed” play and learn activity, and explains that you “build a computer.” So we looked that over and agreed to come back and try it out. Deep into the long weekend when the older kid had a post-hockey play date, I took the 7 1/2-year old into the library to give it a go, coincidentally, at the same time as their monthly “Lego Slam,” which was great because we weren’t the loudest group. The Kano starts off with step-by-step instructions to build the device, which the library has you plug into one of their monitors. He could do about 95 percent of it himself, and the directions were clear and easy to follow. We only needed to ask Edith, one of our favorite librarians, one question to get started. Once the computer is hooked up and on WiFi, you can do all sorts of things with it, most of them above my ability level as they involve coding. First, we checked out Minecraft and then Scratch. which is a way to learn how to code developed by the MIT Media Lab. While I was a little bit of help, my son was able to navigate through and work on a little animation that made us both laugh — again thank goodness for the Lego Slam. So he learned something, it was free and fun, and he‘s already asked to go back, I mean, that’s about as good as it gets.

The Lynnwood pool.
The City of Lynnwood pool.

– We also utilized the City of Lynnwood pool on 44th Avenue West. If you haven’t gone, it’s like a mini Great Wolf Lodge with its two big slides, lazy river and water play area. For my husband and two kids under 12, it was just about $14. Every time we go, we realize we haven’t used the Lynnwood pool enough; it is always a good time. The thing we have to remind ourselves about is, there is often a line, even when it’s cold out. Thankfully for my crew, it was fairly light on Black Friday.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ” just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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