Signs, Signs…everywhere are Signs

via #bouncefarm

It drives me nuts to have to post yet another sign. We have bounce rules, facility rules, food and drink rules and rule rules. Hah! The concept of not posting any sign at all is what a person would find in Utopia. As we are not there, or anywhere close, we have to post signs about rules.

The rules for jumping and using the facility have mostly come about by watching our own little ones and seeing what kids will do that are unsafe. You see, they have tried most of the things Jumpy Rules.jpgwe have rules about. Jumpy rules are posted at the front desk and down in the bounce area, as well as by the water pitcher and drink area. Most of them look pretty self explanatory, but many people actually need reminding of the basics. Leaning over the outside of the inflatable may cause a very uncomfortable exit and landing. Kids love to wrestle – especially the boys! So we have to ask that we don’t touch each other. Sliding down the slide head first is basic and one of the hardest rules we have to enforce. Neck injury could possibly occur. The sock rule is ours. We always prefer that folks bring in a clean pair of socks for the kids to bounce but rather than play in bare feet, it is much healthier and cleaner to be in socks. Besides, the biggest complaint is that the kids can’t climb UP the slides. …. Uh…. the correct way to use a slide is to slide down and actually the socks reduce friction and help the trip down the slide be more fun and faster!

Rule #5 is one rule we have so much trouble with … occurring in probably half of our poor Yelp! reviews. Here’s the deal. We have this great flooring made of recycled tires. It’s black so you all know it shows every spec of dust. Every morning we vacuum this 2000 +/- square foot area. The cleaner the floor, the cleaner the inflatables. Everything you walk on or in will be transferred via tiny socked feet to the slides and bouncys. Fact. Our rule, No Food or Drink in the lower area (on this black floor) seems so hard for people to understand. Do you take your burger and fries into the church on Sunday or the Menswear Store to buy a new suit? Do you have to be asked not to? And, if you are asked, do you challenge this or defiantly ignore and bring your food and drink anyway? Okay, this is an extreme example but believe it or not, we have had multiple episodes of this as well as people just “not seeing” our sign that advises such. Most of the time, it’s all good after we mention the restriction.20160413_122740

Every Thursday we (and I mean WE) come in dressed in our best cleaning apparel and spend 4 hours sweeping, dusting, mopping, scrubbing, sanitizing and polishing everything from floors, jumpys, dining areas, surfaces, bathrooms, and arcade machines. Then between customers during the week we sweep, mop, sanitize, haul out garbage and messy diapers and whatever else needs to be done to keep this the cleanest child’s play center you will ever visit. We take a special pride in our reputation for being clean. Too much? Can there ever be too much clean? Our love of children does not blind us to what little Petri dishes they really can be. Only with a constant and consistent attention to sanitizing this facility can we hold the standards we have set for ourselves for over two and a half years. When we opened, a customer said, “Yeah, it’s clean now because you are new. I give it a year and it will be like the others.” Well, I’ve got some great news for you… after two plus years, it is still just as clean! Unfortunately, some of the folks who have been here don’t see the correlation of restricting food and drink to the lower area to the success we have had in keeping our place up to snuff. It’s just a coffee and it’s in a spill proof cup! Yes, but what example are you setting for the little ones who want to bring their water cup or juice box down to join you? Why would it be good for you but not them?

It is a fact that after feeding an infant, you are going to get some spit up. Not all babies, but a good percentage will spit up. Fact. Unfortunately, with the nature of our floor’s porosity, this is one of the hardest liquids to clean. It takes a scrub brush, no lie.So, while we are not allowed to ask breastfeeding mothers to do so in any other part of our facility but not downstairs – including quiet places upon request – we just hope that circumstances and respect for the cleanliness and safety (remember the little stocking feet into the jumpys), well, we would hope you understand.

Enough said about this … If you get it, we appreciate your respect for this one important rule which seems so simple yet so difficult to enforce. We really don’t want to have to ask you to take your cup of coffee or water upstairs. In fact, the short straw has to go ask.

I feel like I’ve beat this particular metaphorical horse enough so I will move on to some other important things to know about our place.

If you have a sick child or are sick yourself, please hold off to visit until you are well. No child that feels lethargic or feverish should be exercising this much anyway and we try to not spread any germs here. You would appreciate it if you were well and the shoe was on the other foot so…

A few others:

  • Policy on Sagging: Under 3 is okay but we are a family oriented facility and no one really wants to see your underwear so please respect this rule.
  • Adults are always welcome to join in the fun. Socks are mandatory (we have some for sale under the counter) but we have lots of small kids playing as well. Keep this in mind as you jump (too high), lean over the bouncy to grab your one year old from your wife, rock the slides, or otherwise get too crazy in the inflatable. You are a kid at heart, we know, but be an adult about it, please.
  • We are somewhat lenient with outside snacks during Open Bounce time and we have a variety of healthy snacks and drinks for sale here as well. Please note that there are no cupcakes, birthday cake or presents allowed in our facility without a birthday reservation. We offer a non-private party for up to 10 children during Open Bounce as well as our Private Parties. We are not being mean not letting you celebrate a birthday without cake and presents without a reservation, it is what we do here. You must have a reservation to do so.
  • When we opened, we decided that Soda Pop, Energy Drinks and Alcohol would not be allowed in our facility. There are multiple reasons for this, the two biggest being the fact that kids really don’t need all that much sugar and it makes an awful mess when spilled. Most of our customers are happy with this rule, but we have had some with issues. As we are a private facility that you pay to enter, we feel it is within our rights to request that you leave your soda in the car until you leave. You are welcome to enter and exit during your time here as long as your child/children are being supervised. The rule is intended for the interior of our facility. Just so you know, even we go outside if we come to work with an energy drink or big gulp of Dr Pepper. There is no negotiation on this rule.

It is really not as structured as it may sound. We have built a comfortable and safe facility for your kids to play and play and play. You don’t have to worry about them wandering off, stepping in something unknown or wondering what that gooey stuff on their pants may be. We strive to have an atmosphere that could pass for your own home where the kids can blast around, play until they drop and you get to pick them up, strap them in their car seat as they fall asleep on their way out of the parking lot leaving behind any sign of the chaos they just created.20160212-DSC_4508-2

Bouncefarm is a fantastic place for play dates! We even can help you out with your morning coffee sessions with your group of moms or dads as we have a full espresso bar complete with your favorite flavor of Latte or Mocha and a wonderful variety of tea.

In visiting this place we have come to love with all of the kids running around squealing with delight, we only ask that you respect the fact that there is a reason for all of our rules. Please don’t covertly sneak your child something to snack on in areas designated No Food/Drink. We love it when our folks appreciate the fact that we are clean. We struggle daily to keep it so and are proud of the fact that we have succeeded thus far. If you have any comments or ideas, we consider our place a “Work in Progress” and enjoy bouncing new ideas around. (No pun intended) Just talk to us and let us know what you are thinking.

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In reality, it is such fun visiting with our customers and watching these little ones grow. We have been blessed with a kind of extended family. We hope to be here for a long time to come.

On the new news front, we have one more band to schedule for our summer concert series. My next blog will be full of news about this!

 

 

 

 

DIY at the #bouncefarm

As we are a certified Green business, we try to re-purpose and make good use of things otherwise meant for the landfill. We started this business three years ago as a dream. A goal of having a fun, safe and clean place for the kids in our area and the surrounding communities. Now, sitting in my office – we call it command central – writing this blog, I am smiling. Looking out the window to our lower jump area, I see kids sliding, jumping, playing air hockey and laughing. I know they think it’s just a giant playground but it is so much more! Moms and Dads can watch from comfy benches or join in the fun and get in some exercise for a bonus. It’s a happy place and I am proud to be a part of making it so.

I have always said it is a work in progress. And so it is. Most recently, upgrade to our lighting with an Edison chandelier in the coffee bar area and our lovingly restored and repurposed 100 year old barn door turned counter. So, in honor of the work that has been done and the work to come, here is my Pinterest* worthy blog update. From the beginning…

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Donated furniture was rusty and in need of repair and cushions.

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We wire brushed, sanded and painted and cut wood bases for the seat and then covered them for our reception and seating areas.

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Garage sale finds! It was a good day.

After

Craigslist find was vinyl sticker scene but peeling off, so we just hand painted the scene onto the wood.

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Lockers from the scrap yard. $25 and a couple of cans of paint and some old fashioned elbow grease.

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Emily and Dorothy working on our murals. Notice the fencing for our picnic area., thanks to Jason.

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100 year old tomato flats revised as our Birthday Star Gallery

As luck would have it, we are a crafty bunch to start with but this endeavor was beyond our DIY previous experience. It is fortuitous that we live in an age of the internet. What we didn’t know was at our fingertips in a plethora of posts. We discovered Pinterest. Not really sure if that is good or bad as we have become the people who stop someone at their driveway asking, “Are you going to junk that?” The key to DIY is to only do a maximum of two projects at a time. One is better, but unrealistic in my mind. You can gather materials and thoughts for additional projects but don’t start until you finish the others.

Other than the murals on our walls and fencing for our dining area, most of the original elbow work was floor painting and prep work to open the facility.

Once this was accomplished, we started on our continuous beautification plan. We wander today about this warehouse turned playground and are astonished by the numerous found furnishings we have transformed. From the lockers to the shelf which holds our cups, these items began this incarnation as broken, rusty and bent.

Our latest effort is in preparation of opening some kind of snack area for daily customers. You are always able to order a pizza from Pacifica any time you visit. We make a special offer on Thursday from 3- 7:30 for a dinner special we call Family Night Pizza Night. It includes a 1/2 Pepperoni, 1/2 Cheese pizza and 2 entries for just $30. Our families come in, bounce for an hour and sit down to a hot, freshly delivered pizza, eat, wash up and bounce until the end of their two hours! We are also working on a daily snack offer, but for now, we are just gearing up. Here’s a look at some of the projects we have worked on to make our upcoming cafe part of our bounce home.

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When we are full, we will have to find more space to design and construct! We do have such fun! Not just being a super cool play space, but making it feel so homey and comfortable for all of our parents, grands and nanny’s! We love our kids here and all we do is with their best interest at heart. Please, if you have not been, come on over and check us out.

Never Underestimate the Power of Free Listings on Craigslist

Last Friday during a particularly quiet moment at the #bouncefarm, I spotted an ad in the free listings on Craigslist. I immediately posted to the owners, “Want! ” and beat subsequent takers of a wonderful, very large board with our farm scene and holes for little faces to be photographed. You know, the kind you might see at the county fair or a petting zoo.

This is what we brought home. The

This is what we brought home. The “bones” were very good, it just needed love.

20150824_155203 20150824_190229 20150825_162056 20150826_190156 Long story short,  my husband and I took straps and tools in my truck on Sunday and brought it home. This was built for a 1 year old birthday party with particle board and vinyl stickers. It sat outside for a month and the sticky on the vinyl had started to peel so, it was not really useable in it’s current state.  I saw the diamond sparkling beneath and put my all into a full restoration. Today is Wednesday and we put the finishing touches to the paint as the light of day faded. All the vinyl is now gone, replaced by acrylic paints and, of course the #bouncefarm logo. We added some touches here and there and all that remains is to seal the paint and build the brace to begin to see all of our bouncer’s grinning smiles through the holes. Of course, my grandkids, the original #bouncefarmers were first. Come on in and see the final product! Don’t forget your camera or phone because you are going to want to take a picture!

The first #bouncefarmers!

The first #bouncefarmers!

Birthday Stars will Shine Brightly

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The warehouse full of tomato flats. Amazing sight and my granddaughter says they smell like waffles.

Soon, we will have the new photo boards on display. Pat has been working diligently ala Pinterest to get the new photo boards with all the Birthday Kids organized and ready to adorn the walls of the #bouncefarm.  You see, for every private party we have here, you get a matted 8X10 portrait of your birthday star, guest of honor, or group shot. These have been on display on the walls in our dining area but have become too numerous to hang. We have been searching for an alternate way of showing off our Stars.

About a month ago, a woman posted in one of the sales pages on Facebook that she had some old tomato flats for sale. Having perused the pages of Pinterest for ideas to display photos at the #bouncefarm, we thought this might just be the thing. A trip to Cordelia brought us these incredible 100 year old moldy, dried fruit smeared flats. My son-in-law thought I might be crazy but he effortlessly helped me pick out 12 of the best we could find for condition, color and structural stability.  My husband just shook his head when I got home with the load of pallets. He is getting used to my “Re-purposing Habit”. Right?

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I used one of my husband’s special made scraper tools and hand scraped piles of these dried and moldy squished tomatoes off before cleaning with a brush.

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The color of the wood was awesome after cleaning!

So off I go to clean and scrub these treasures. Scraping was way more work than I thought and the removal of the “schmutz” was easier. Don’t hate me for pressure washing… I used as little water as possible and did it on my lawn so all of the run off went to a good purpose. Besides, I have already decided the back yard will soon become a desert so, my sprinklers are off for the summer.

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Some but not all had this blue powdery mold which had to be washed away. This was the easiest and quickest step in the process.

I leaned them up to dry in the sun and have been bringing them one or two at a time to work with me to begin the process of “mod podge ‘ing”  almost 200 photos from our parties in a hopefully chronological order. The first board is done and it took 72 photos. So now I just have 2 more to go and then? Well, I got 7 of the wide slat style flats so, let’s party on!

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My stack of completed panels. So much could be done with these!

Please come in soon and don’t forget to check for your child on the Birthday Stars board. Wherever it may end up hanging. You see, that’s my next big decision!

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One more coat and it’s done!

Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Bounce like there is no ceiling.

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
William W. Purkey

Have you ever watched your young one get really into the music and dance? It is so liberating! Be it the innocence of youth, the primordial release of a instinctive rhythm or just plain fun. They rock and roll with absolute abandon. Here at the #bouncefarm, we spend our days with Family Road channel or maybe Summer Oldies on our speakers. I am frequently rounding the corner with a fox trot or a jig smiling and singing. The latter with a low volume as my mother used to say I could not carry a tune in a rain bucket. (There’s a good old saying for you!)

Our place is about fun. Just that. Pure, unadulterated fun. We are frequently heard calling this the happiest place in Martinez. Part of that are regular comments from our customers that they love the music. Grandparents, parents, and kids alike will be seen singing along or dancing to the tunes. One review on Yelp! reads:

Christina C of Walnut Creek…. The music is rocking oldies.  My 3 year old daughter always asks when “rockin robin” is going to come on as we both love to dance to that one….

The rest of the review is just as positive- Thanks so much, Christina!

Well, we got together and talked about our summer schedule and we have come up with what we think is a great idea. Why not have concerts with live music on Saturday nights that are family friendly? No babysitter issues, dinner and music as a family in the warm summer evenings. And bonus! You get to bounce and play as well! So, we embarked on setting up a schedule and this is what we put together.band_banner

The concert dates will fall on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the months of June, July, August. So far we have booked Rockabilly, Zideco, Dixieland, Rock, Blues and Bluegrass. We are still searching for the right Country band but this is going to be so cool! We are also working to have some type of Gourmet Truck and additional food options

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Besides our new extended Summer Hours (To be announced shortly) we think this is the summer to remember for the kids of our communities. More info will be released next week including prices for Family pack discounts and the Bands we have booked… pssst… the Billy Martini Band and Garageland Rodeo are in the mix… mmmm…. sounds like a party! A party where it is not only cool to bring the kids to but mandatory! This is all about Family! Let’s do this!

I will be the one in the back dancing like nobody’s looking (ha!)

Yay! Wednesday Rain!

I know that we should all be so concerned about the lack of rain for our water supply, but on a business level, we are much more successful on days that the parks are not so welcoming due to inclement weather. In other words, we are slammed when it’s rainy outside! Having opened our doors September of 2014, we have now gone through two winters of little or no rain. Come on… what’s that about! If nothing else, it surely makes us appreciate the rain.

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Today was the definition of a rain appreciation day. Not only is it our regular “ToTT Time Wednesday”  (see Open Bounce on the website for details) but it dropped a precious .10th of an inch last night. The parks are wet, it’s clean and dry in here, so… Yup, the parking lot was packed! Hilarie of HHHints.com, listed today’s Meet Up here for ToTT Time plus our regular weekly families, plus those looking for a dry and safe place for their little ones to burn off some of that energy filled our facility with giggling, squealing, and laughing until they had just flat run out of gas.

On a day that would have been a great success, the rain gave us a grand success and we do surely appreciate that! The long range for the week looks like 80’s and sunny so it will be short lived. We will take what we get and hope for a wet end of the month or maybe a wet April. I have given up on the Farmer’s Almanac which used to be so accurate. They must have an intern running the forecasting department this year. It’s a long way from FA’s “Heavier than usual rain” in January to Meteorologist’s “the driest January on record”. For whatever reason, Mother Nature has blasted the East Coast with blizzards and the West Coast with beach weather this year. We only hope we still have some time to get wet from the skies and therefore move into appreciation mode again soon.

Live Long and Prosper

In honor of one of my favorite people, Leonard Nimoy.

You know, this job I have is just plain great. For this, I have my wonderful daughter to thank. I get up and walk out my door knowing at some point, probably at multiple times, my job will have me smiling during my day. Don’t get me wrong, that alarm clock still holds much disdain. It’s just not as hard as when it was set for 4:30 am and dark outside. As if humans were really meant to get out of a snuggly warm bed during what seems to be the middle of the night.

My joy begins when our first kids come through the door all bright eyed and running to the cubbies to deposit their little shoes in great expectation of jumping. Mom’s and Dad’s, Grandma’s and Gramp’s, or Nanny in tow, carrying snacks and accouterments for their little adventure, all seem appreciative of our “like home” atmosphere.

It's a Princess Chair!

It’s a Princess Chair!

I am often asked if the noise gets to me, but truthfully,  I love it. The squeals and laughter are fun. This is the most stress free environment I can imagine! We dance to the oldies and crawl on the floor, slipping off our shoes at times to race with the kids down the slides. More smiles.

20150108-DSC_1627 20150110-DSC_1672Snacks are enjoyed in the picnic area with more joy and our parents are so good at busing their tables, my job is little more than a bit of sweeping and wiping. As the families exit, with sleepy eyed munchkins, we get the often and much appreciated “Thank you” to which we respond, “Have a great nap!” And yet, more smiles. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of hard work. Mostly the cleaning to make sure we are as germ free as you could be with kids in and out all day. The work is good. It shines when you are done and smells so clean. I always see the result of our labor which I suppose is key to wanting to do a great job.

A fascinating new study by University of Kansas psychologists that will soon be published in the journal Psychological Science indicates that, in some circumstances, smiling can actually reduce stress and help us feel better.

“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” said Sarah Pressman, one of the researchers. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/simply-smiling-can-actually-reduce-stress-10461286/#4KdMue6h900CJVzw.99

I count my blessings every day I get to go to work and smile. I have been on the other side of the pasture with the grumpy cows, trudging off to a job without the affinity I feel for this thing called #bouncefarm. Yes, the upkeep is hard work, but the rewards are great. Perhaps, like Mr. Spock, I will live long and prosper.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy. Other than a winning lottery ticket, a Tribble would be a fine thing.
🙂 (Smiley Face) \\//,