Today was one of those "work on the house days" where time gets away from you and your kids are eating a bag of microwave popcorn right before dinner because you've had no time to even think about starting dinner. Or shop for dinner as the case may be. But hey! The kid books are unpacked, pictures are hung, and the toaster was unearthed, thank god. And we even managed to squeeze in a visit with Grandma J.!
So after I realized it was dinner time, I found J. outside perched on a ladder rewiring our front porch light which exploded on me when I tried to change a light bulb, and suggested, "Whaddaya say we take the kids to Fresh Choice for dinner? I have a coupon!"
Ten minutes later we were out the door ready to join every other family within a 5 mile radius.
Bunny loves Fresh Choice for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. Obvious: the soft-serve ice cream, the sea of kids. Not-so-obvious: the Caesar salad (she loves salad), Brussels sprouts, edamame, tofu, and raw cauliflower. Seriously, parents were giving me dirty looks because they thought I was forcing my kid to eat only vegetables. I tried to get her to eat the pizza bread but neither she or Wallie were havin' it. And they won't touch the soggy pasta either.
I actually don't mind Fresh Choice, either, which is weird because I hate chains and depise buffets. On paper, there's no reason why I should like Fresh Choice, but I do I do I do!
I like that kids 2 and under eat free (I appreciate that because Wallie costs as much as an adult to feed), Bunny eats for $1.69, and there is always a coupon in Sunday paper. I like that if the kids have a choice (a choice!) of what to eat and most of it is fresh (fresh!). I like that there are tons of veggies and salads (and I try not to think about salmonella and listeria or why there is a small pool of water on my clean plate.)
I avoid entire sections of Fresh Choice that are probably a draw to most people: the dessert, the bread, the baked potatoes, the pasta...But salad. I love me a salad bar salad. When I see hard-boiled eggs, beets, and bacon bits? Happiness. And soooouuuuuuupppppmmmmm.
So anyway. We went to Fresh Choice and we had the. best. time. It was one of the best times we've had together as a family and I can't quite figure out why, exactly. I think part of it is that we are discovering new things to do together as a family in the 'burbs. We drive down streets and our heads swivel this way and that looking at, well, everything—the car stereo stores and delis and karate studios—and marveling over the endless parking. Parking is everywhere.
"Why was it so fun at Fresh Choice?" I asked J. just now.
"Well, the kids like it and there are really no expectations, I guess..."
"Is that why? Because I had such a good time tonight and I'm trying to figure out why it was so fun. Did we have fun because the girls had such a great time?...Was that it? What else made it so great?
J. thought got a minute and said, "It's cheap?"
(...and all the dad bloggers go, "Stop askin' him stupid questions, lady. Let the man watch Jerry Macguire in peace, fer cryin' out loud.)