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There have been a couple of holidays since I returned to the work force full-time, and I’ve spent them trying to catch up on laundry and other household tasks.

I took a break today since it was my second day off in a row. And because the boys were also out of school, we decided to have fun, Zich-style.

Anyone familiar with our family would know that means at least one trip to Wal-Mart and a cruise over to the nearest McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive-thru. Before we got around to visiting our favorite hang-outs, however, we did something more out of the ordinary.

I took Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie to the local bowling alley.

Usually, the only time I voluntarily go to a bowling alley is to drop off one of the boys for a birthday party. Once I have delivered my child (usually Ronnie) to the hostess and determined the pick-up time, I’m out of there.

Not only am I a lousy bowler, but I also find bowling alleys to be a bit on the smelly side, thanks to all the shoe-changing and smoking that goes on in them.

The noise used to bother me, too, but yesterday, it didn’t seem any louder than our living room on a typical afternoon.

I took a book to help pass the time, but it really wasn’t necessary because the boys kept me — and some of the other bowlers — entertained. For once, Jimmy wasn’t trying to be funny, but that’s when he is most hilarious.

Ronnie and Tommy outbowled their big brother in the first game, as most of his balls went straight into the gutter.

Our decision to get bumpers for the second game restored my eldest to his usual confident self. "I’m going to beat you guys soooo bad this time," he bragged.

Unfortunately, he was in the middle of rolling the ball when he made that declaration and so distracted that he let it go too soon and almost sent it into a neighboring lane.

The couple playing next to us found Jimmy’s antics to be amusing, much to my relief. It probably helped that his errant ball didn’t hit them.

I gave the boys a couple of minutes to pump change into the prize-grabber machine before reminding them they could spend more of their hard-earned quarters at our next stop, Wal-Mart.

For the millionth time, Jimmy forgot his wallet and tried to talk me into buying him something with the promise to pay me back when we got home.

Tommy and Ronnie bought spy gear and walkie-talkies, items necessary in our house of boys. Before too much damage could be done to my credit card, we headed out the door to our final destination.

The boys were surprised when I made a stop at Wendy’s in the middle of the afternoon, and that’s why it was so much fun. Our food orders are as unique as we are, which guarantees at least one mix-up.

Today, it was Tommy and Ronnie’s turn to get jilted at the drive-thru. Tommy was dealt a Sprite instead of Pepsi, and Ronnie’s fries never made it to us.

My drive-thru philosophy is, "That’s life," and we don’t go back through unless something major is missing, like a Big Mac.

So we shared the fries, compromised on the drinks and didn’t fight about the small stuff. On most days, that’s the best we can do!

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com

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