Just Kids Stuff sale is Saturday

Posted by Jennifer

As the weather warmed this week, I started hunting for my sons’ uniform shorts that I stored last fall. That’s when I made two mental notes:

* I must do a better job of marking the containers (i.e., too often, grocery sacks) in which I store the kids’ out-of-season and save-for-the-next-one clothing so I can more readily find what I need.

* It’s time to invest in some new (or, at least, new to us) warm-weather gear.

Good timing, actually, because this Saturday is the twice-annual Just Kids Stuff sale at the Medina Community Recreation Center.

The sale, which runs 9 a.m. to noon inside the field house, features toys, clothing, shoes, athletic equipment, baby gear and much more for children of all ages (although heavy on the little ones).

Admission to the sale is $5 for the first hour and $1 thereafter.

Shoppers must enter through the back entrance (park in lots D, E & F) — if you haven’t been there before, watch for signs; they’re usually good about posting them.

Everyone selling has their own spaces and may set their own prices, so it’s good to look around. Often you’ll find a few people selling the same items (I mean, haven’t we all owned a Cozy Coupe?) and prices can be all over the map. But, like any garage or rummage sale, those who snooze lose!

My high-school junior will be taking the ACT inside the high school that morning, so you’ll probably find me over on the other side of the complex, at the field house, at the same time — but after 10, when the admission price drops.

Even with the popularity of those online Facebook groups, I think this event will be a draw for shoppers and a welcome opportunity for sellers to clean out some closets. It’s great to have everything under one roof. And, even better: The event benefits the Medina Early Childhood PTA.


Medina ‘Just Kid’s Stuff’ sale is Saturday

Posted by Jennifer

If you’re looking to stock up on some new-used items for your children, Saturday’s “Just Kid’s Stuff” sale at the Medina Community Recreation Center is the place you will want to be.

The twice-yearly sale, sponsored by the Medina Early Childhood PTA, runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Shoppers enter through the back entrance to the field house (signs will be posted, but park in lots D, E & F).

The sale features individual vendors (other families) selling their stuff — sports equipment, clothes, toys, maternity items, baby stuff, and more — at tables set up in the field house. Admission to the sale is $5 for the first hour and $1 beginning at 10 a.m.

The rec center is at 855 Weymouth Road, connected to Medina High School.


Free day Sunday at Medina Rec Center

Posted by Jennifer

If your New Year’s resolutions included a new commitment to be healthy and fit — or even if you’re looking to do something fun with your family — you should check out the Medina Community Recreation Center this Sunday, Jan. 13.

The MCRC is holding an open house with free admission — with a canned or non-perishable food item per person — with access to the swimming pool, track basketball courts and fitness room. Screenings, nutrition information and massage therapy also will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You will need to bring a photo ID, plus your own swimsuit, towel and lock for the lockers in the changing rooms.

This is a good deal, especially since admission to the MCRC normally costs $7 per person, or $5 per visit if you buy a multi-visit punch card ($25 for five or $50 for 10 visits).

On the Friday before my kids went back to school, I splurged and took the tribe to the MCRC to swim, play basketball and work out.

Of course, since my husband was at work, I once again had the extreme joy of trying to convince my not-quite-8-year-old son to stay in arm’s length of me. Never mind that he’s tall enough to go down the slide (unaccompanied, of course).

This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that my arm also had to be within reach of my 4-year-old son, who mostly wanted to splash around the ankle-deep water and ride the current around the circular resistance pool.

I really wrestle with the MCRC’s big, bold policy on this. I understand they believe it’s for the children’s safety — but it aggravates me to no end every time I visit. I had knots in my stomach the entire time as I argued with my older son to stay shallow and cajoled my younger one to let me carry him into deeper water. All while four teen lifeguards sat complacently watching about a total of 20 people in the pool.

I don’t understand why my older son couldn’t venture deeper (still below his chest) while I stayed with my little guy in the splash zone. Isn’t that why we have lifeguards?

After awhile we gave up there, got dressed and went to the front desk to get a basketball for the Field House. They were all checked out. Grr. We appreciated that the manager offered us a ball from the lost and found.

Once we got back to the Field House, we found all the balls. They were sitting along the walls, unused, while groups of gangly fifth- and sixth-graders played with one or two balls. They really had to each check out a ball?

We found an unused hoop in the back corner and the boys started dribbling and shooting the ball. My little guy and I ran “races” and mostly watched. After a little while, though, a group of college-age men and I suppose a few of their fathers gathered in the middle of our court and started choosing teams for what was no doubt going to be an aggressive, full-court game.

I watched from beside the court. They clearly knew that I was there with the boys. They clearly knew that the boys were there first.

Not one of them was courteous enough to ask if we were about done, or if we minded moving to another court. They took over and dominated the space.

I don’t begrudge them their game. But I was disappointed in their lack of civility and the presumption that the woman and young boys would make room for them. (Even though that’s what we did, with dirty looks back as we walked away.)

If I needed a redeeming point about the experience, it was that it became a teachable moment with my 13-year-old son. “I hope, if you ever are confronted with this type of situation, you would have the decency to say something to the mom and her kids, or the younger students, or whomever is in your way — and ask them to move, before you simply presume that you can muscle them out,” I told him. “Oh, I will,” he responded. “They were jerks.”

I know some of these things aren’t the fault of the Rec Center, but they were part of the cumulative experience that did not make me want to run and spend nearly $600 for our seven-member family to join.

I’m annoyed that we have to spend more to join because we have more than the allotted three children. I’m annoyed that you have to be eight before you can set foot on the track, even with adult supervision. I’m annoyed with the arm’s length rule in the pool. I’m annoyed that lessons are still expensive and difficult to get into if you are a member. I’m annoyed that it still costs a lot of money to join, when we have a limited budget.

But if you are an adult or a small family with some extra dollars available, the Rec Center is a lovely place to work out. I have enjoyed the fitness center and the track, when I could go alone. For me, those times are few and far between.

Someday, maybe, we’ll join again. But in the meantime, I will take advantage of these free or low-cost admission days.


Free day at Medina Rec Center

Posted by Jennifer

If you’re like me and ready to ditch the snow in favor of some healthy and active indoor pursuits, bring your family to the “New Year, New You” family open house on Sunday at the Medina Community Recreation Center.

The entire center is free and open to the public — in exchange for a canned or nonperishable food item — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The event is sponsored by Medina Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic hospital.

In addition to using the pool, fitness center, weight room, track and field house, there will be free demonstrations, screenings and refreshments from 2 to 6 p.m.

Those who come are encouraged to bring a lock to secure their belongings in a locker.

It’s likely to be a madhouse — normally the rec center costs $7 per person each day — so don’t forget to pack extra-big doses of patience with the towels and swimsuits. But, it will be a treat for my kids, who only get to the Rec a few times each year now that we are no longer members.

We used a free family pass that we got in the mail to go to the Rec on New Year’s Eve for a swim while my 11-year-old and I burned a few calories in the fitness center, which had been expanded in the last year or so. Some ingenious soul had the brains to turn the equipment so it faced out the big glass windows! What a great idea! The windows face beautiful wooded areas that are much more attractive than the interior of the center. Of course, there still are TV screens tuned to different channels, so bring your headphones and a little radio if you want to hear the dialogue.

We discontinued our membership several years ago when money got tight, and we were very annoyed that a “family membership” only includes six people. It feels discriminatory, and so we have not renewed. It feels like a judgment against those with more than four children. Wouldn’t the few families that exceed six members be offset by the many that have fewer than six? It feels especially aggravating considering that, at the time, most of our children could only use the swimming pool and field house (which we used rarely). Talk about family un-friendly. And to think our tax dollars support such discrimination!

At some point my little guys are going to need swimming lessons, though, and we may well have to rejoin someday.  In the meantime, we will enjoy these free days at the Rec.


Just Kids’ Stuff garage sale Saturday in Medina

Posted by Jennifer

Just as the garage sale season is winding down, we parents have one more opportunity to find gently used items and clothing for our children — and better yet, it’s all in one place. No tracking down the correct address, only to find it’s “old people stuff” — the term my kids give anything that doesn’t excite them. Of course that includes anything that I might potentially be interested in.

The Medina Early Childhood PTA and the Medina Community Recreation Center again are sponsoring their twice-yearly Just Kids’ Stuff garage sale this Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Field House inside the rec center.

Vendors — most of whom are average parents too busy to hold their own garage sale — get a 10′x10′ spot to display their wares, which usually run the gamut from maternity, infant and toddler clothing, toys and paraphernalia right on up to the “tween” years, although vendors may sell everything from furniture to sporting goods as well.

Sellers price their things themselves, and often you can find the same toy at several booths, so you can compare quality and price before you buy. Except then you run the risk of losing out — as has happened to me! The early bird gets the worm here, just like a regular garage sale.

That’s why there’s a $3 entrance fee if you want to come between 9 and 10:30 a.m.; after that, admission is free.

We cheapskates might balk at having to pay to come to the sale, when you can go through the classifieds and find garage sales with FREE admissions throughout the spring and summer. Consider it a donation to an organization that has benefitted many young families in Medina over the years.

And besides, you won’t have to wade through the antiques and Christmas decorations or clear away cobwebs to find stuff for your kids. That has to be worth something!


Gizmos, gadgets & galoshes galore

Posted by Jennifer

In the 13 years in which we have been parents, we have owned at least six strollers, four Exersaucers, three activity tables, three back carriers and two cribs.

Each time we thought we were done with said equipment, I was only too happy to pass it along to someone else. That stuff takes up valuable real estate in my house. Get it out of here!

And then, lo and behold, we’d find out that we were expecting again. We’ve had three baby showers over that span, which helped to replace the equipment we needed after all.

But the good will (or is it pity?) of our friends — and the depth of the paycheck — only go so far. We’ve had to get creative. Therefore, we have acquired a good portion of our children’s clothing, toys and equipment at garage sales and thrift stores.

I can’t believe I am putting this in print, but I even have summoned the courage to stop at the curb when I spotted a nifty-looking Exersaucer, stroller or play gym waiting for the garbage truck to haul it away.

What can I say? The stuff rarely goes bad or breaks before you’re done using it. I can’t bear to see good, usable things get crushed in the back of a garbage truck when it might be useful to someone else.

Especially if that someone else is me.

A little Clorox and a scrub-down later, and that’s money I didn’t have to spend. Elbow grease is cheap; new toys, not so much.

Now, we are thrilled to have Baby No. 5, but believe me, I had eagerly given everything away as Baby No. 4 outgrew it before we knew there would be another. So, here I am again, looking to acquire the gizmos, gadgets and galoshes he — and the others — will need for the months ahead.

Fortunately for us, we live in a neighborhood where there seems to be a high turnover rate. Families get transferred in, they stay for a few years — or in some cases, only a few months — and they move on. In the nine years that we have lived in Medina (all in the same house), we have had four families in the house next door. Is it us?

Not having a job that requires travel, much less a corporate relocation, I have a hard time understanding how a family can just pick up and move so often. But I do understand the need to travel lightly, and sometimes you just have to ditch your stuff. We wind up with a lot of decent stuff on the curb — and I swear there are professional garbage pickers that prowl the neighborhood with their pick-up trucks the night before the garbage is collected, snatching anything that might have value as scrap metal or resale.

Call it a fine line, but I maintain that the times I have stooped to that level are different. I’m recycling. They’re profiteering. 

At any rate, I’m looking forward to the start of garage sale season. And that season gets a nice kick-off this Saturday, April 25, at the Medina Community Recreation Center, which is hosting its annual “Just Kids Stuff Garage Sale,” inside the Field House.

The event runs 9 a.m. to noon. Admission for the first hour costs $3, and after 10 a.m. admission is $1. The field house is packed with all manner of gently used kids’ clothing, books and equipment, from infant through middle school, so I know I will find something to haul home and take up the space I thought I had cleared out.

Better start setting aside my quarters and small bills so I don’t have to make change at the sale.

The vendors are families like mine, looking to downsize their gear and pocket a few dollars in the process.

I wonder how many of them, like me, will be back next year, attempting to buy something they thought they no longer needed?


That was Spring Break??!

Posted by Jennifer

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of silence….the kids are back in school (and the baby is sleeping) after a week of togetherness otherwise known as Spring Break.

Now, I realize that we opted to save our cash and stay in Medina for the week, but the four inches of snow on Tuesday just added insult to injury! It wasn’t quite as bad as a few years ago, when our neighbors built a bikini-clad snow-woman “sunbathing” in a lounge chair in their front yard during Spring Break. But would it have killed the weather gods to have given us a bit of warm weather and sunshine?

Our decision to stay in town wasn’t completely driven by economics — as committed Catholics, my husband and I have come to appreciate the “holy” in Holy Week and felt it was wrong for us to go somewhere fun during the holiest days of the church calendar.

We haven’t always felt that way. One year, we took the kids to Kings Island on Good Friday. Yes, we stayed meatless (shrimp and fries from Bubba Gump!) even though Montgomery Inn ribs were beckoning, but we felt we didn’t really honor our Catholic tradition. Except for the Catholic guilt. That was alive and well! My mother, rest her soul, was probably scolding me from heaven that day — when we were kids, we were forbidden to watch TV or listen to the radio between noon and 3 p.m. on Good Friday, to acknowledge the hours Christians believe Jesus hung on the cross.

So, this year, we decided to do fun things at the beginning of the week and focus on church things during the Triduum, which are the days from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.

On Monday, we went to the Medina Community Recreation Center to swim and work out on the fitness equipment — we aren’t members, but we had scored some free tickets by attending its recent health fair, so that was a treat. Tuesday, we went to the Great Lakes Science Center, and Wednesday we visited my husband’s relatives in Conneaut, Ohio. (His grandmother turned 102 that day!)

We tried to mix it up by saying “yes” to things more often than usual. Slurpees at Speedway. A few rented movies from Red Box, with popcorn. Hot pink hair color that washes out in one shampoo (I hope!). Throw in a few sleepovers with friends for good  measure, and it seemed like a fun week.

Then the holy days began. Thursday night, we gathered with four other families to celebrate a Christian version of the Jewish seder. It was a fun way to remember our religious heritage and enjoy a good potluck dinner. The evening started with prayers and retelling the Passover stories, and concluded with a lot of laughter and good company. I hope that will become a tradition. We opted to do that instead of the long — though beautiful — Mass that includes the “washing of the feet.” As much as Craig and I have grown to treasure these sacred traditions, the children just aren’t ready to embrace hours in church! And somehow, employing the Vulcan nerve pinch during Mass to stop children from antagonizing one another just doesn’t seem to work as well anymore.

Friday, my husband fell ill with some kind of stomach bug and spent most of the day in bed. Naturally, I took it as a personal affront. I spent the day wrangling children while hard-boiling batches of eggs that we STILL couldn’t manage to color until late Saturday. Despite my best intentions every year, coloring Easter eggs becomes another deadline-oriented activity. On Sunday, I learned that maybe it all was a bit too much, as my husband began to attempt to peel RAW, colored eggs. Hmm. Guess I missed a few. Seems like appropriate punishment for his daring to get sick on the day we were going to color them.

At least the sun shone Sunday for Mass, and a beautiful, if chilly outdoor egg hunt after dinner.

I wish that Medina Schools didn’t choose to make Spring Break during Holy Week. It doesn’t seem fair to have to choose beween quality time away with your family and your religious obligations. 

But you know, maybe Mom’s “Spring Break” comes when the children are all back in school…and the baby is napping… and no one is around to catch me nibbling the foot off of a Malley’s chocolate bunny.