Sunday Stealing On A Tuesday
Saturday 9: Midnight Train To Georgia

Fun Family Splurging - On The Cheap

I've been doing a lot of mystery shops again lately, so we have been out and about as a family frequently. On Thursday, I had stacked about seven shops back-to-back, and I did not relish the idea of going back home, tired and worn out, to a messy, half-packed, midst-of-moving house. So I broached the idea of getting a hotel room for the night to Rob, and he was all in! So I went on the app on my iPhone and booked us a room at The Aloft in Chesapeake for a heavily discounted price.

We had actually never heard of The Aloft, so we had no idea what to expect, but all five of us were delighted and impressed! It was a really neat hotel, with great service (say hi to Justin for us if you go - the night clerk at the Front Desk) and awesome details. We liked it so much, and the off-season rate was so great, we ended up staying for two nights!


While I rested, and then worked on mystery shop reports, Rob took the kids to the hotel pool two or three times. Sophia is swimming like a little fishy now - okay, like a puppy, since she still doggy-paddles for the most part - and does wonderfully in the water.


Meanwhile, even Jack has finally decided to start swimming! Yay, Buddy! He can't go too far, or for too long, but it's a start. On the other hand, Chloë is still quite timid in the water and barely manages to jump in from the side... but I know she'll get there.


On the second night, I stopped by the bar to get drinks for Rob and me. However, the bartender (hey, Lisa!) was closing, so I got him a bottle of beer to go and ordered this Bahama Mama for myself. It was delish. And strong. I got so plastered by the third sip! Thankfully alcohol hits me hard and fast, and gets processed by my new system just as quickly, so it had worn off almost by the time I got back to our loft and needed to work on reports!


After my buzz wore off, I was quite thirsty, so I asked "my favorite child" to get my Coke out of the fridge. Naturally, all three of them decided they were that child (and they were right!), so they went, giggling, together to the fridge and fetched it, delivered it, and presented it with smiles as a team. Love my funny gang! ♥


On Saturday morning, before we had breakfast and checked out, I went to the pool to see the latest swimming exploits and knit (and, okay, snooze some more) while the kids swam with Rob. I loved the atmosphere in there... definitely want to return to another The Aloft in the future. Sometime.


On Monday, Steph and Tim babysat for us while we went out for a date/mystery shop at a restaurant bar. We went to the Walmart around the corner from the restaurant afterward, ostensibly to pick up a load of cat food, but we were looking around and came across a whole bunch of super-duper clearanced toys that we knew the kids would love. When we went to pick them up from Stim, we left their new toys in their car seats and let them discover them upon returning to the van. What joy! What glee! What fun! Here is Sophia's newly updated Lalaloopsy collection, with April Showers (the newest one) in the center.


On Tuesday, en route to lots more shops and other errands, we all found ourselves very hungry for dinner. So, we took advantage of the Kids Eat Free special that day at Chili's and had a really inexpensive dinner, with Rob and I getting the combo dinner and all three kids eating for nada. The chips and spicy corn guamacole were SO good!!


And yesterday (Wednesday), we had LOADS of fun. While Rob and Jack went to Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach to get Rob a haircut, I took the girls to Sunshine Smiles, A Kids' Spa around the corner. I had given Sophie a gift certificate to spend $20 there (which I'd actually gotten for FREE on LivingSocial!) for Christmas, and it's just taken this long to get time to get her in there. The girls were so hilarious during the visit.


For her money, Sophia was able to get a manicure and make two lip glosses (an experience she shared with her big sis), and the first thing she did after the way-awesome Michelle set her up was soak her nails and hands. She sighed dreamily during this experience. Goof!


Michelle quickly realized that Sophia was going to be quite a little wiggle worm during her mani - as she ALWAYS is, but even more so because she was so excited to be there - and she and I kept bursting into laughter about Sophia's hilarious antics and attempts to stay still. Such a goose. Here, she was having some kid crap (glue, maybe?) removed from her hands.


Sophia happily looked on as Michelle painted her nails a lovely shade of sea blue-green (my favorite color!) that Chloë helped her pick out. Poor Michelle had to touch up her nails about five or six times, because she would NOT STOP MOVING!

I love her cute little pudgy baby hands - the only thing about Soap that's still wee, I'm afraid - and her pretty nails. 

Sophia was dying to lie down on the spa lounges and let her nails dry, so she inveigled her way into that with Michelle after promising not to smudge her nails. She was sooo happy, even if she didn't also get the cucumber slices on her eyes that she also requested!


Chloë chillaxed next to Sophie and did her usual model pose when I asked to take her picture. Always preening for the camera, that one!

Finally, when the nails were sufficiently dry (and after more touch-ups), it was time to go to the lipgloss-making station. They were able to pick their own colors to add to the balm bases and put lots of glitter in there, too. Of course, both of my girly girls wanted to use shades of pink.


Glitter time!  Sophie added the pink and the silver to hers for some major sparkle.

Then, the girls were given sticks to apply their new lipglosses to their puckers. Chloë did a pretty good little job not getting it all over the place.

Sophia, meanwhile, had quite a bit of trouble getting hers just so and not glopping it all over the lower third of her face, so Mama had to step in and help her out after she wiped off the first attempt. It actually looked pretty good on her!
So that was that fun-ness, and all for the cost of just a tip to Michelle! Thanks, Sunshine Smiles!

After that, it was Jack's turn for some fun, since this is his tenth birthday month, and we are celebrating him all month long! I had $20 in gift certificates to Build-A-Bear Workshop, (five for his birthday present and the other $15 from rewards for the Christmas gifts I'd gotten from there), so I instructed Jack on from which three least pricey stuffies he could choose - after all, the goal was to go cheap or go home - and he picked a pooch!

The store employee helped him stuff his dog, and he was sooo excited to fluff him up. He worked that pedal pretty quickly!

The employee then had Jack pick out a heart for his dog, and rub it on his face for smarts, cheek for cute, etc. Jack had a ball doing this and was giggling his little peanut head off! It's so great to see him genuinely smiling, since he's kind of a grump usually!

Next it was time for an air bath to keep the newly fluffed and minted puppy clean. More real smiles from the boy!

After a bath, Puppy needed some new clothes. Jack chose the camouflage outfit, which he seems to be into lately. Like his Dad!
Daddy helped dress the easily-frustrated Jack's dog. The two of them are so cute together and have really been male-bonding a lot lately. I love to see it!
Lastly, it was time to adopt Roger, the dog, into Jack's growing BAB family. He was thrilled, and I peeked in on him a couple times during last night and found him clutching Roger tightly in his sleep.

After that, I had to do some more mystery shopping in the mall, but once again, everyone had gotten hungry. I told the kids we could grab just a little something to eat in the Food Court first, so we headed upstairs to snack on samples (hey, free belly filler) and then pick what we wanted to eat. Jack actually wanted to ride the escalator upstairs, which is unusual because he's terrified of it. And he still balked when he got over there, but then, he did it! He got on and rode up on his own (usually one of us has to carry him)! Yay, Jacky!!
Well, call us pushovers, because when we got to the top of the escalator, Cold Stone Creamery was right there, and Sophie shouted out, "Ice Cream!" Rob and I quickly conferred and decided to have an upside-down meal: dessert at the mall, then dinner later at home. The kids LOVE when we do that, of course!
We only got small (still going for cheap) kid-size ice creams for then, with one mix-in each, but they didn't seem to care. Or notice, I'm not sure which. Ice cream is ice cream, right?
After the kids had their ice creams, I wandered around the Food Court (leaving Rob with the children) to figure out what I wanted to eat. Usually, it only takes a few sample bites to fill me up these days, so I wasn't really expecting to buy anything. However, I came across Cupcake Central - and, lo and behold, it was their Happy Hour Wednesday special! Amazing cupcakes for a buck each! Sweet. (heh, no pun intended) I bought six, because I couldn't bear the thought of having an empty hole in the box. When I walked back with the box, I told the kids they were for later, but I let them have this sneak peek!
However, after a few minutes, Sophie wanted to look at hers up close, so I let her. Isn't she funny?! She kills me. And even though these were supposed to be "for later," the next thing I knew, she had peeled off the wrapper and shoved almost the whole thing in her face at once! I dropped my jaw and then died laughing, which made her laugh and spit cupcake out of her mouth all over the place. Oh, man. I was in total hysterics.  Sophie is just as nutty as I am!
I did my last shop at the mall after that, and then we headed home. Rob fed the kids some mac & cheese for dinner, while I took yet-another much-needed cat nap. 
When I woke up, the kids were getting ready to go to bed. However, Sophia got into her lip gloss again and came jokingly stomping in to the room, blurting out, "Still can't get the hang of it, Mom!" I took one look and begged her to let me take this picture. 
Ahhh... good times, good times... and y'all know I love a great deal!