Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trapped tourist

Last year I was invited by my friend, Joy, to bring the kids to Branson and stay at her parents condo.

So, last year, in late July, the kids and I loaded up and met Joy and her boys in the foothills.

This past winter, when I was getting around to scrapbooking pictures from the summer, I titled our pics from last year, the {herlastname}-{mylastname} Branson Trip 2009.

Once it was officially "down on paper", I called Joy to let her know that since I had not only named, but dated, our trip, it set the precedence for there to be a {herlastname}-{mylastname} Branson Trip 2010.

Subtle, I know.

This past Sunday, after church, I loaded up the truck and the kids, kissed Steven good-bye and hit the road-never looking back.

Well....almost. We made it approximately 15 miles before we called Daddy.

When speaking to L he mentioned that he hoped we all had a great time. L informed him that we were "just driving down the road and were ALREADY having a great time!"

You have to love kids and their enthusiasm. The phone conversation was followed by the non-stop playing of the Black Eyed Peas', "I gotta feeling". ALL. THE. WAY. TO. BRANSON.

It was going to be a "good, good night".

Once we had arrived and were settled we decided that we needed full stomachs in order to officially kick off our "Branson Trip 2010". (echo, echo, echo......)

So, we headed to Fuddruckers. I hate to admit it, but I must 'fes up. This was my first Fuddrucker experience.

However, I will also tell you this: It won't be my last.

The kids dubbed their milkshakes the best they had ever had.


We went back to the condo and determined that there was no better time than the present to suit up and head to the newly re-opened water chute..... I remember the chute from when I was a kid, but it hadn't been open in years.

And when I say, years, I mean years.

Their sign, however, stated nothing about the "grand re-opening" or anything along those lines.

In fact, it just read, "Over 37 years in business...."

Definitely not 37 consecutive years.....but 37 years nonetheless.
The kids absolutely LOVED it. It wasn't so fast that it was scary, or so slow that it was was just right. We floated down solo, as a train, in pairs, you name it.

(However, there will be NO pictures of the water slide. Me. Bathing suit. Need I say more?)

Once returning to the condo, we decided that since we were ALREADY wet, this was the time to go ahead and make use of the pool.

Apparently water goggles with crabs on them are quite the rage this season among trend setters.

I am not sure, but I think L might be embarrassed by her brother. Or....maybe her eyes are burning. I think the goggles work better when they are actually ON your face. Who knew?

After getting our fill of the pool, we left our fellow pool buddies-talker, texter, napper and reader-to themselves and hit the hot tub.

B asked for permission to dive in.

Being the nice parent that I am (cough, cough) I thought about it. And then said....."no".

So that night, we went on a walk and then relaxed.

I mean, come on, these are relaxed faces. Right? .......Right?

Maybe you are right. Maybe these are faces that have seen a little too much sun, had a little too much fun and have eaten a little too much sugar.
The next day we decided that there was no time like the present to tackle Silver Dollar City. So after sunscreening up, we forged ahead.
Right off the bat B was needing my "promise" that he wouldn't have to ride anything scary. And by scary, he means a ride that has anything remotely close to looking like a tunnel, or a cave...or anything that might possibly have something that makes a loud noise.

Yes. Good times.

I promised. Which is why, even though the ride consisted of people sitting on a boat, squirting water guns at each other, B and I stood on the side lines.

Well, I stood. He aimed the other water guns at people and shot them as they went by.

Of course, when the others got off of the ride, I was unsure as to who was wetter.

I think it was awful nice of me to stay back with B while Joy got to ride the ride. Don't you think?

Since no good deed goes unpunished, Joy "volunteered" to stay back with B while the kids and I rode the Lost River.

(Yep, scary cave.)

Surprisingly, I didn't get very wet.

Since B had yet to ride a ride, we headed to the kid friendly part of the park. His favorite ride was the roller coaster.
The kids all enjoyed it.

(Aren't those two cute?)

As you can tell, L was a little bored with the coaster. Joy offered to take them to ride the swings while B rode the coaster once again.

As luck would have it, while I was waiting with B, Joy realized that although her two boys could ride the swings without an adult, L was still too small........

Yep. Joy-the one who had just commented on her weakened stomach- had to ride the swings......

(Seriously. I am not laughing. It isn't funny. ....Bwahahahahhaaaa!)

B wanted his mommy to join in on the I did.
No caves. No loud noises. He was stoked.

Because we the kids needed to slow down and rest, we decided to take in a movie.

Despicable me.

Loved it! A wonderfully entertaining movie. It was a hit with all of the kids....and Joy and I.


While I was sitting back thinking about the depth of a friendship that allows you to overcome your queasy stomach and ride a ride with your friend's daughter, Joy was busy signing me up for a bumper boat ride.
Lets just say that there was no question of who won the "who is the wettest" contest after that. Nope. Joy just sat back and took pictures while I got sprayed with freezing water while trying to figure out how to steer the stinkin' boat.
Seriously. How DO you steer a bumper boat? Hmpf!

L didn't seem to have a problem with it. Just dear ole' mom.
Since B had wanted to take another vacation to the Smoky Mountains this year simply so he could drive another go-cart, I felt compelled to give him another opportunity.....this time a little closer to home.

L and the boys were too big to ride, so they just sat on the sidelines and cheered B on.

No. It doesn't look like it, but they seriously were cheering him on. And it worked.

I am not proud but there was some bumping, some drafting and some taking the inside edge. If it tells you anything, he started next to last position and lapped everyone....TWICE!

This was him when time was up:

He was stoked.

Maybe a tad too stoked.

As he walked off the track he hollered to me and said, "Momma.... I am the WINNER!".....he then gestured to the kid beside him (who had also just finished "racing") and said, "You see him? He is a loser!"

Yep. Proud parent moment.

Although I knew that he meant loser in the literal sense of the word, I pulled him aside and explained to him that he MUST NOT act that way.

He showed genuine remorse for a few minutes before he looked up and smiled and said, "I can't wait to tell daddy how I won!"

(If you need any parenting advice, please feel free to email me. I am OBVIOUSLY having a profound effect on my children.)

My game hasn't improved much over the years.

B actually made it to the end of the course.....with only one diversion. He passed on playing the hole that went through the middle of the "volcano".
Yes. It was the whole "tunnel"/"cave" dilemma all over again.

In a surprising turn of luck.....(or maybe because I was playing against two seven year olds, a six year old, a five year old and Joy....whose ball was incidentally eaten on the next to last hole)....I won my first putt-putt game EVER!.

(You can also email me for putt-putt advice if you would like..... Ha!)

Since I had worked up an appetite perfecting my game, I got to pick the "restaurant". And, yes, I use that term loosely.

We then decided to try our hand at putt-putt golf which I am notoriously TERRIBLE at. My first experience at putt-putt was also at Branson, and I was probably 15 years old. I actually hit the ball up onto the highway.

I wanted....make that, needed, pizza. So, I picked a place and when we got inside I was blown away by the atmosphere the "restaurant" offered.

Especially the lighting.
The next morning, for fear of being unable to duplicate the dining expectations that had been set the night before, we ate at the condo.

Donuts. The breakfast of champions.

That morning, while throwing out the trash, Joy heard a noise. She called me to come as back up. We carefully lifted the dumpster lid....and this is what we found:

We weren't sure what to do, so I did what I do best. I took a picture.

Joy was convinced that he was about to die...from dehydration. I thought that he might just be scared and that he would eventually climb out. With the help of another bystander, we opened the lid on the slanted side of the dumpster with hopes that he would be able to climb out of it on his own.

Wanting to err on the side of caution, we stopped at the clubhouse and informed the "powers that be" who then assured us that they would contact someone who could help.

We then headed to the lake to feed the fish.

And the turtles. And the geese. And the ducks.

We then sat on the bank and felt sorry for the poor people that were out on the lake in their big boats.......and for the people living on the shore in their big houses.

Bless their hearts.

After feeding the animals, it was time to feed ourselves....

My kids ate spaghetti like they had never eaten spaghetti before.

Savoring every bite.

We then prepared to go to the "magic show"..... where Kirby Van Birch was to make a helicopter disappear, kind of like the kids made the spaghetti disappear.

After the magic was over, it was time to get ready to Stampede.....

Apparently the magic from the afternoon had worn off because the kids were unable to make the supper fed to us at the Dixie Stampede disappear.

I can't blame them. I am not sure who would be able to clean their plate. Each person receives:
  • homemade biscuit
  • creamy vegetable soup
  • corn on the cob
  • herb basted potato
  • hickory smoked barbeque loin
  • whole rotisserie chicken
  • apple pastry
Although it wasn't our first time to the Dixie Stampede, I am continually amazed at the amount of food that they serve. On one hand, you definitely get your money worth, but on the other, I am a little disheartened at all the food that is wasted.

The raccoon in the dumpster would have loved all the left-overs.

The kids, however, weren't worried about that. They just had fun. And so did I.

Upon our return to the condo, we found that our friend, the raccoon had found his way out of the dumpster. Considering everything, including the open lids, were exactly as we left them, I am pretty sure that the "powers that be" at the club house were of no help at all.
I would like to think that our quick thinking saved a life. In fact, I am sure of it.

I am pretty sure that we should go ahead and start planning the Branson Trip 2011. However, I think it will probably take that long to recover from this trip-I just hope the raccoons can survive without us until then.

Really, I didn't mind. I pulled my hair back and climbed aboard. (And speaking of hair....could mine BE any bigger?)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Simple simplicity

Oh, Saturday. How I love thee.

This past Saturday was pretty normal for us. Nothing major. Nothing out of the ordinary. But you know what? I love ordinary.

It started out by me mowing our yard while Steven worked piling and burning some brush. The kids played outside in the dirt pile and were having a blast.

Since in the 3 hours it takes to mow the yard, I had gotten significantly hot, I knew that the kids had to be as well.

So, before I started weed eating I hooked up a sprinkler, handed the kids two bottles of shaving cream and said, "have at it".

At first they were a little reluctant.

It didn't take long for them to jump in and lather up.

B grew a beard.

L developed an outie belly button.

When I finished, the kids sprayed off just in time for Steven to pull up in his Ranger and say "jump in". So the kids (wet) and me (without make-up) jumped in to see where the ride would take us.

The first stop was along side the road where the kids took the opportunity to bust some old eggs by throwing them at a tree.

Riveting, I know.

Simple...but fun. And even in egg busting, the kids' competitive nature came out.

Then, we stopped at the creek and let the kids wade.

We jumped back in a drove on. We hadn't gotten far when a neighbor waved us in. L was glad we had stopped.

Does anything taste better than eating a watermelon on a hot day, while barefooted, at a neighbors house? I don't think so, and I am not even a fan of watermelon.

Later that afternoon we had our very own tractor pulls. L and B were fierce competitors. B got beat a time or two, and then decided to practice some more.

So, he backed up to the "sled":
He took off:

And made a "full pull"!
Daddy thought we needed to add some more weight:

This cut down the distance B was able to go considerably. He didn't like it. So...... we took off the extra weight and he went again.

I don't know about you, but I think this makes him happy!

That night we went to some of our friends and ended up going out to eat.

Pizza....the perfect ending to a perfect day.