How To Choose A Bowling Ball At The Alley

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What is the tool that will make the single biggest difference in your bowling game? Your ball, of course! If you’re just starting out, you may not have your own ball. Luckily, the bowling alley has many “house” balls to choose from. They’re the balls that fill the racks around the walls of the bowling alley, and they’re free to use.

Light Ball or Heavy Ball?

Bowling balls usually range in weight from 10 to 16 pounds. Many alleys do have children’s balls that weigh 6 to 8 pounds, but they aren’t heavy enough to be useful to an adult-sized bowler.

Most beginning bowlers are comfortable with a 10 or 12 lb. ball. While it might make you feel macho to hurl a 16-pounder down the lane, if it’s too heavy for you to throw comfortably a minimum of 20 times in the span of half an hour, it’ll be too hard to control. How macho will you look throwing gutter balls, or worse yet…dropping the ball?

However, if your ball is too light, it won’t have the power to knock the pins down. A light ball thrown by a strong person has little power and tends to bounce down the alley. However, a small woman may feel most comfortable with an 8 or 10 pound ball to start.

House balls are free to use, so consider selecting 2 of different weights. You will find the weight engraved on the outside of the ball.

Fits Like a Glove…

The grip of the ball is very important. If the finger holes are too tight your fingers can get stuck, if they are too loose, you could have a hard time keeping hold of the ball.

Check the position of the finger holes as well. Are they too close together or too far apart? Your fingers should slide in and out comfortably, without feeling cramped or stretched out.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep…

Take a good look at the outside of the ball. It should be smooth and shiny, free of pits, chips, cracks or scratches. If your ball is damaged, it won’t roll smoothly down the lane or go where you want it. Many house balls have these flaws, but if you’re careful you can usually find one in good condition.

Have a Ball

Of your own, that is! The best way to be certain that you have the right ball for you is to purchase your own ball. The pro shop in your bowling alley will have many choices, and the folks at your pro shop will be able to help you select just the right ball and drill your finger holes for a custom fit.

Whether you choose to use a house ball or buy your own, take into consideration the weight of the ball vs. your physical strength, the size and width of the finger holes and the condition of the outside of the ball. By selecting the right ball for your size and strength, you’ll give yourself a distinct advantage on the lanes.

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1st, 2nd and 3rd Birthday Party Ideas

We all look forward to our child’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Birthday celebrations. We see the special days as markers of their huge accomplishments. What better way to celebrate your child’s growth and development than to have a party! A 1st birthday is really for the parents to celebrate – You made it through the first year! Your one year old probably couldn’t care less what you do but decorating for guests and pictures is always fun and a great way to make memories. The 2nd and 3rd celebration is definitely a kids birthday! Toddlers do understand whats happening when it comes to their birthday and are able to communicate their excitement. “My Birthday?”, “For Me?”, “Tomorrow?” is all you will hear for days before the event! Believe it or not, your child’s first parties will be the easiest celebrations you will throw.

The most memorable too! So Here are some survival tips for throwing a stress free birthday party for toddlers. This day is all about celebrating your little ones special day so keep it super simple and you will be able to do just that! Activities: The Golden rule for successful parties for young children is having plenty of fun activities to keep them occupied. Keeping in mind that toddlers do not fully understand rules, have short attention spans, want to constantly move around and definitely do not grasp the concept of waiting their turn, you should simply set up multiple play stations. Some great play station ideas would be a play dough table, bins of duplo & blocks, floor puzzles, ride on toys and a crayon colouring easel.

Set up a bubble blower on a high surface so bubbles are constantly floating down for the kids to catch and pop. Ball Pits are always very exciting for toddlers. If you do not have one or know anyone who might, contact your local toy library and borrow one. You can also easily make your own with a blowup plastic pool and a bag of plastic balls or several small balloons. Games: Simple games like “I Spy”, “Simon Says” and “Follow the Leader” are always a big hit for the younger set. If your little one loves crafts and making gifts for mommy, try stringing round cereal like fruit loops onto yarn to make necklaces. Organize a fish pond. You can use a large bucket or a small pool filled with water and have the kids hook a prize with a fishing pole. Or, set up the fishing pond behind a blanket and have the kids drop their fishing lines into the lake. A fishing rod can be made out of a stick, some rope and a clothespin. Have another adult hidden behind the blanket to clip on their prize or loot bag.

Food: Think small, safe and simple. Its impossible for the excited young guest to keep sitting still for any length of time, so none messy finger foods that can be eaten on the go are always the best for toddlers. Consider things like: Animal Crackers, Goldfish Crackers, Pretzels, Cheese Cubes, Deli Meats, Cut Veggies, Pickles, Grapes, Banana Slices and Apple Wedges. Don’t forget the juice boxes! The parents attending the party will also appreciate having a selection of meats, cheeses and veggies to munch on. At this younger age, small cupcakes for the young guests is always a little less messy and easier for them to handle on their own. A cake can be made or purchased for the traditional song singing, picture taking and candle blowing and then served to the adults attending. Time Capsule: Its startling how many details and memories get lost along the way. To mark this special occasion prepare a time capsule to be opened in later years – on the 9th or 10th birthday when they are all grown up!

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Rainforest Rapid Bounce House & Water Park by Blast Zone – Product Review

The Rainforest Rapids Bounce House and Water Park can be easily set up by one adult. Set up time is under five minutes with actual inflation time taking less then two minutes. Once inflated, the bright colors will draw every ones attention. Make no mistake, as great as this inflatable looks, its performance is even better.

This bouncer has a footprint of 16′ x 15′ and requires a flat area of approximately 21′ x 20′ feet. With an 8′ x 8′ bounce are and two slides, the ball pit pool area is often over looked. This waiting area was perfect for kids as they entered the bounce house or exited the slides. This area gives the bouncer an extra activity to keep the play time organized. This is not wasted space. Kids can enter the bounce house via the ramp entry. This ramp entry makes the bounce house more accessible to younger children making easier for them to get in and out. The Rainforest Rapids 8′ x 8′ bounce area is plenty big for 3 or 4 bouncers under the age of 12 and weigh under 100 lbs to jump and play. When the kids are done jumping they can either exit via the ramp entry or climb up to either one of the slides. The slides can be used wet or dry. If you choose to use the slides wet, the misting kit hooks up right on top of either slide. While the slides can be used wet or dry, we found the performance to be a little bit better when they were used wet. The water made the surface slicker and quicker. It is important to note, if you decide to use the Rainforest Rapids wet, you need to make sure that the unit is fully dried prior to storing. This can be accomplished by a combination of the sun and the airflow of the blower. From experience, I recommend keeping the unit inflated until it is completely dried.

The Rainforest Rapids has a little bit of everything for all kids. The quality and construction is consistent with all Blast Zone Inflatables. Blast Zone has the longest warranty in the home use bounce house category. Like all Blast Zone Inflatables, the Rainforest Rapids use X-Weave and Commercial Vinyl Material to ensure the highest quality. The Rainforest Rapids features:

* Dimensions – 16′ W x 15′ L x 8′ H

o Bounce Floor Dimensions – 8′W x 8′L

o Large Slide Dimensions – 3′W x 8′L

* Weight without Blower – 95 lbs

* 3 Slides

* Carrying Case

* Includes – Blower, Stakes, and Patch Kit

* Number of Bouncers – 1-3 Kids

* Weight Capacity – 300 lbs

* Wet & Dry Use

* Not for Commercial Use

* Warranty

o Bouncer – 90 days free of defects in materials and workmanship

o Blower – 1 year free of manufacturing defects

* Phthalate-Free

* CPSIA Compliant

The Rainforest Rapids is the ultimate inflatable for kids. It offers jumping, sliding, wet or dry with a ball pit. I recommend this inflatable to families that are interested in having a bouncer slide combo and a water slide. No need to have multiple units when the Rainforest Rapids can serve both needs.

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Top Three Intex Pools Reviewed – Family Fun In The Sun

Summer is here, the sun is hot, the kids school summer vacation has begun and they need entertained. What better than a pool, some friends and a few toys to keep them cool and amused for hours in the back yard?

These days pools come in many shapes and sizes, to help you in your choice here are reviews for the 3 best selling Intex pools.

My first choice, is relatively inexpensive but you should undoubtedly add the cost of an electric pump if you don’t already have one!

Intex 117-by-76-by-53-Inch Rainbow Ring Pool Play Centre.

It is divided into 2 sections. There is the “wading pool” and a slightly bigger pool in which the water-slide is located. It comes with a water sprayer – which has to be attached to a garden hose and a couple of games are included also – a ring toss game and a ball roller or toss ball game (the hoops and balls are included.)

Without doubt, what you see on the box is what you get, this went down well with parents who have purchased this Intex pool, there were no disappointments regarding size etc.

Intex states that the pool is suitable for children between the ages of 3-7 years. However, quite a few parents felt that by the time their youngsters had reached the age of around 5 years whilst they still played in the pool, the features games etc. had lost their appeal. The slide too is pretty short and not much good for older or taller youngsters.

With the help of an electric pump the pool can be blown up fairly fast. Without an electric pump? You are in for a long task because there are quite a few of parts with individual valves for inflating. So investing a high power electric pump is undoubtedly a wise idea. Some parents made the mistake of assuming that a pump was included with this Intex pool – not in this instance.

The one BIG complaint about this pool is the lack of a plug or two to allow for emptying the water. This pool will hold up to 77 gallons of water so trying to tip it up to empty it is no easy task and bailing it out with a bucket takes forever! The other complaint was regarding cleaning – especially under the slide which was difficult to access to allow a thorough clean.

Negative points aside the children I spoke to all absolutely loved this Intex pool and would spend hours having fun. In fact, a couple of parents even brought the pool indoors in the winter months and turned it into a massive ball pit – great idea for a party!

Next up is a metal framed Intex pool. This one is a bit more expensive than the last, but highly recommended and is a semi-permanent structure – depending on the climate where you live it can be left in position all year round!

Intex 12-Foot-by-30-Inch Family Size Round Metal Frame Pool Set

As indicated in the name this Intex pool is constructed from strong metal pipes which interlock and are then fed through and extremely strong vinyl casing which runs round the top edge of the main body of the heavy duty vinyl pool. Lot’s of the people I spoke to did tell me[/spin that they had been very concerned that the pool structure was not “solid” enough. They all had to admit however, that this was definitely not the case on completion, especially after it had been filled with water.

The main difference with this pool is that you will most definitely have to do a bit of work before erecting it. The piece of land where it is to be positioned has to be 100% level and debris free, i.e. no sharp twigs, stones etc. Depending on the type of yard you have this could mean a lot of hard work – or you could pay a contractor to do it for you! Whatever you go for it is essential that you are aware of this before you buy this pool because unless you are replacing an existing pool from the same spot you cannot just take it from the box and get building!

Another point to consider, this is a semi permanent pool and will require regular maintenance and cleaning and chemicals just like a permanent swimming pool. Also keep in mind that depending on the climate this Intex pool will have to be dismantled and stored over the winter months. It will not withstand temperatures dropping below freezing.

The overwhelming consensus from owners I have spoken to would seem to be this pool is easy to construct and keep clean. One repeated moan was that the pump which is included in the price of the pool is not strong enough. However, because the pool itself was so reasonably priced no-one seemed bothered about paying to upgrade it too much.

Another concern for some was that this Intex pool did not come with a ladder, making exiting the pool for shorter adults and kids a bit challenging – you can purchase a suitable ladder separately. Whilst a couple of buyers received an incomplete kit, it was rectified eventually but it was precious pool time wasted!

Everyone who owns one of these Intex pools definitely seems to love it, form couples who just want to laze on a float on a hot day to families whose kids fill the pool with friends everyday during the summer vacation from school.

To sum up this Intex pool is sturdy, durable and a firm favourite with all family members and at a very reasonable price.

So, the next Intex pool is not inflatable or vinyl – it is even more hard wearing and has a metal frame.

Intex Ultra Metal Frame Pool with New Child Safety Barrier Ladder – 18′ x 52″ complete set

Invest in one of these Intex pools and you are really in with the big boys! However, there are a few things you should consider before making such a purchase.

The first thing and possibly the most important – the ground on which the pool will sit has to be level and free from any debris such as stones – remember this pool holds about 6,981 gallons of water and will compress the ground beneath it. Getting this first step right is vital and it may be worth bringing in a contractor to do this for you mechanically.

Construction of the pool may seem a daunting task but everyone I have spoken to has assured me that the instructions are very well written and the sections fit together remarkably easily and snugly. In most cases, the actual construction of the pool took around an hour and a half from start to finish. Before you fill the pool with water be sure to give careful consideration to the positioning of the pump etc. This is where some of the owners made mistakes. Once filled with water the structure is solid – the kids can hang on to the sides without any concerns.

This is a semi permanent pool and needs regular maintenance. Once again Intex have exceeded expectations with owners praising the cleaning kit and skimmer which is included with the pool. The pump also gets the thumbs up although upgrades are available at an additional cost. One happy owner stated that by hosing the filter regularly every few days you can cut down the number of times it needs replaced.

The ladder has also been improved and now comes with a child safety barrier.

Everyone who has invested in this Intex pool who I have spoken to completely loved it, the size is great and means it can fit into relatively small back yards. Yet, it can allow several children and a few adults to swim/play about at any one time.

Intex recommends this pool for youngsters aged 6 years and older and it goes without saying that with any of these Intex pools adult supervision is needed at all times. However, with an adult present and with adequate floats younger children can also have hours of fun in this pool.

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The Realities of Working at Home (In 1998)

It is well after midnight and I am just starting to write this article. I have attended a Valentine’s party at my son’s preschool, had two meetings at clients’ offices, lost a large contract that we had bid, played toddler street hockey, closed a deal by phone with another client on the other side of the country, cooked dinner and watched the winter Olympics as a family, attempted an internet conference, and now, in less than five hours my son will be waking up ready for a new day. Being a work-at-home dad is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.

When you work at home you are, in effect, taking on a second job. Your family, the same family you decided to stay home and raise, the family that counts on you to be there, is your number one job. Anything else is secondary. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of that. I want to give you a glimpse into what it takes to balance work and family, all under the same roof. I am an extreme case. I take care of my son full-time and run a small company full-time. The extreme nature of my situation helps to flush out the real issues. I hope my experience can help you can make an informed decision about working at home.

First, establish your goals. This is not about your business plan. This is about why you want to work at home in the first place. Do you need the money? Do you want to stay connected with your career skills? Do you feel like less of a person because you are not contributing to the family income? Economics is hard to argue with, but your self-concept has less to do with the needs of your family and more about your emotional needs.

After you decide why you want to work at home, you must decide what you gain and what you will lose. Being a work-at-home dad (WAHD) is a real juggling act, literally. I have been able to establish a pretty good routine since I only have one child. My company was young when he was young so I was able to be more flexible. Now that my company is placing more demands on my time I have to be careful to keep my self-defined priorities in place.

You lose control of time when you work at home. Every parent knows that their child has a schedule, a routine that has been developed over time. Starting a new business will initially disrupt that rhythm. Eventually you and your kids will adapt to the new routine but you have to remember that your kids are job number one. When push comes to shove, you will find yourself working late into the night and during the weekend when your spouse is home and can help with the childcare. No matter what time you go to bed after a long night, you are up when the kids get up. This is only an inconvenience when it happens occasionally, but over a long period of time, the effects are more long-lasting.

Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can effect your physical and mental health. The fact that you stay up late with unfinished work, or work on weekends has an impact on the time you get to spend with your spouse. Those quiet moments without the kids that are so precious once you become a parent. Then there is the loss of personal time. Face it, we don’t get very much personal time as it is. When you work at home, your personal time is the first thing to go.

You hope to gain monetary reward for your efforts to work at home. This would seem obvious, but for those who are considering starting their own business, the money is not always there in the beginning. I am not going to go into the detail of what to expect when starting a business. There are others with far more experience in that field. I will encourage you to evaluate your realistic expectations of what income you will receive based on the effort you will have to invest as a WAHD.

There is a definite feeling of being productive when you start generating income from the home, but don’t let this cloud the fact that this is more of an emotional issue. As a SAHD, you are doing one of the most important jobs you can ever do. It is our society that defines a person’s value based on monetary gain. That said, it still feels good. So, I’m weak. Another benefit that working imparts is contact with adults who are not talking about children or running to wipe a nose. Adult conversation seems like such a simple thing, but you don’t miss it until you are without it.

Your children lose having 100% of your attention. You can work out a solution, however, especially if your kids still take naps or are old enough to entertain themselves for prolonged periods. This is where establishing a routine will help. My son takes a three hour nap in the afternoon. (Yes, I realize how lucky I am!) This is time I can spend working or talking with clients on the phone. During nap time, my work has little impact on time with my son. When he wakes from his nap, I make a point to quit work and make the next four hours family time. He and I play until we start dinner. Mommy comes home, they play, we eat, they play a little more, she bathes him, we watch a little TV, then at 8:00, she takes him up for the bedtime routine. Then I go back to work until about midnight. For me, I found a workable balance with naps and scheduling. I wonder if this would have worked so well with another, younger child or if my son did not take such grand naps. My routine may sound hectic but, to me, it would be far worse to work outside of the home and never get to see my child until just before bedtime.

Besides the absolute fact that they always have a full-time parent at home, your children get to see their daddy do a job, other than the job of being daddy. I feel very good about my son growing up in what is essentially a cottage industry. Modern communications technology and computers have afforded my business partner and me the opportunity to return to the home to raise our children and still work. There are other businesses that don’t require the same technology, but I find it certainly helps.

The key to success as a WAHD is a routine. There is not much you can count on with children other than their love. They do adapt well to and generally enjoy a steady routine. The younger the child, the easier to build a routine around both work and family. I have found that the routine actually finds itself. If you relax and don’t force it, you will see a pattern of events that you can work your business around. My son’s nap schedule is a good example of this. Your routine should be adaptable. For example, if you know that your kids go ballistic when you get on the phone, don’t answer the phone when they are an active part of your moment. Use an answering machine or voicemail. I got a bit more creative and have my voicemail dial my pager so I will know if someone left a message. I found this particularly convenient when it was diaper time. The moment you pull the diaper off, the business line WILL ring.

I found that a routine was easy to establish and maintain my child. I imagine it requires more patience and creativity with multiple children. (In my case, another birth right now and I would have to back out of my business responsibilities.) My son was small when my business was small. They have both grown at the same pace and after three years, my increased time on the phone is not an issue with my son because he can spend some time alone playing. Another thing I did to help my particular situation was to include work space in family space. I did not make my office a separate room in the house. I purchased a professional style cubical and placed it in one side of the family room. That is where my son spends his inside time. The desk is against a wall of windows that overlook our fenced back yard. I have structured the back yard so that is has always been as child friendly as possible and there is no way for him to get out. So, inside or out, I can keep an eye on him even if I am working at my desk or on a call.

I have two routines, one for the two preschool days and the other for the two non-preschool days. My wife is home on Fridays, so I am off home daddy duty that day. Preschool is nothing more than a four-hour Parent’s Day Out program offered by a local Methodist church. (It used to be call Mom’s Day Out; they changed it to Parent’s Day Out the next year without prompting. Times, they are a-changin’.)

My wife leaves for work at 7:30 AM. I drag out of bed a mere 15-20 minutes before she leaves so I can get a shower and an update on anything my son may have eaten for breakfast. If it is a school day, we are out of the house by 8:30 and I pick him up at 12:45. I use those four hours for meetings with clients, business errands, and networking. We get home from school and he goes down for his nap around 1:30. For the next three hours, I can work on the computer, make or return business calls from when I was out. If you notice that gives me about seven hours of work time. That is a routine, time I can count on. When my son wakes up around 4:30, the family time kicks in. When his mommy takes him up to bed, I am back “on the clock” until about midnight. (Notice my wife and I have very little time to communicate with each other)

On the non-preschool days, my mornings are a mixture of being with my son and taking phone calls. Sometimes he goes with me to the office supply store or the post office. One day a week I meet with a mommy friend and her son at the local fast-food ball pit. The boys get some time together and I get a little non-work adult talk. I have never been able to hook up with another SAHD in my area, so I have connected with a few mommies in the neighborhood. The kids are the common ground and we have built some very strong relationships. Once again, I feel very fortunate. After lunch and the ball pit, it is off for that wonderful nap again. Beginning with the nap the rest of the day’s routine is the same.

This all works out very well and look great on paper, but real life is never so perfect. Many times I have a deadline that forces me to work longer hours. The only hours available are those like right now– after midnight. It does not matter what time you go to bed, your child still wakes up at the same time. So working at home has had a serious impact on my sleep schedule. And as I inferred earlier, I don’t get to spend much time with my wife, either. She is in bed much earlier than I, since I stay up working. Even during waking hours, we barely get to have a moment alone to simply talk. Many times conversations wait until the weekends. In our case, we have been married over 15 years and have a very good ability to communicate with one another. It is not always fun, but we are happy to make the sacrifice for a cause that is so important to both of us: Someone home with our son.

When your work and your family are under the same roof, you have to make a concerted effort to separate work from the home, even though both are in your house. If you can’t separate, you will never leave work. For your own sanity and the sanity of those around you, it is nice to establish some boundaries. Some ways to help you with this are to set up a special place to work, a separate room or office location in your house. I would recommend a separate phone line so you don’t have to take business calls after hours. You can also set up certain days or times for working, very much a part of establishing a routine.

Another issue is zoning. You may want to discreetly check to see if what you are planning to do and how you are planning to do it is in conflict with your area zoning regulations. Many times you can operate a home office anywhere, as long as you don’t have a line of clients visiting your house or hang a sign out front. It is best to check, especially before you invest any money.

Networking can be difficult for the WAHD. I found that my son in a stroller was a real door opener. Receptionists are happy when I walk in, are enamored with the idea that I say at home, and allow me to march in to see the person I want to see, even though they might have filtered me out had I not had a “cute baby” with me. One time while standing in line at a local convenience store I struck up a casual conversation, I said I was a SAHD and had my own company. That always leads to the inevitable… “Your own company! What do you do?” What a great time to yank out a business card. And they even asked for it. Being a WAHD is still a new concept for many, it is a great topic to work into conversations. You never know where those conversations may lead!

Before you dive into the role of working at home, you need to evaluate why you want to do it. You need to discuss your ideas with your family because the decision will impact them as much as it impacts you, since you are there for them. Evaluate your family and whether the business you want to do will be a good fit for your family’s situation. If you are considering working at home and taking care of the family/house at the same time, remember these two things: 1) It is like working two full-time jobs for 1/2 the money; and, 2) There are only 24 hours in a day, whether that is enough or not. Good night.

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