Parade Watchin’, Cabin Livin’ And Concert Attendin’

The rodeo was in town last weekend.

That’s kind of a big deal in Small Town, because we are all about cheering on the bull riders, clapping like lunatics for our barrel racers, and having a VERY LEGITIMATE excuse to buy ourselves cute new boots to wear.

The rodeo comes with a carnival and seventy different outdoor barbecues and dancing in the streets and a big parade.  We know how to give a hearty welcome to all the cowboys and cowgirls coming into town to compete.

On Friday morning, we had our annual parade.  I’m fairly certain that the only folks who DON’T attend the parade in Small Town are our mailmen.  God blesses them, because the mail won’t deliver itself.  Everyone else in town is downtown, in the heart of the city, lining the streets and trying to find the guy pushing the big cart filled with cotton candy.  Hubs has often said, “If you ever wanted to rob the banks, Parade Friday would be the day to do it, because every single person in town is focused on watching the floats.”  Sometimes, it scares me where Hubs’ mind dwells.  Premeditation of bank robberies has never occurred to me.

Obviously.

Because we’re still broke.

Our parade crew showed up with a whole lot of enthusiasm this year.

IMG_7138They had stretched and gone through a warmup routine of jumping jacks, pushups and downward dog yoga poses, so that they were in competition form for getting ALL THE CANDY that would be thrown from the floats.

IMG_7150 IMG_7155Frozen popsicles are always a hit on Parade Friday, because Parade Friday almost always comes with a temperature of 100 degrees.  The Candy Catchers know the importance of replacing lost fluids from sweat and staying hydrated for their candy grabbing missions.

IMG_7166This year, I made the Brave Mom decision to attend the parade with no extra loot.

Stroller?  No.  Bag full of supplies, like sunscreen, baby wipes, water bottles, extra camera batteries, and protein-packed snacks?  Nope.  Lawn chair?  Nuh-uh.  We simply showed up at the parade, empty handed.  We are FOUR, people.  We are potty trained.  I felt like this was the year that parking sixty-two miles away from our designated parade-watching spot and hiking in was going to be a breeze, because I wasn’t hauling in enough stuff to set up a fully-operational base camp for two hours.

My first regret for making this decision came when I realized that Thing 2 is more than likely the TOP DOG CANDY CATCHER in Small Town.  There is no child that he won’t successfully shove aside in order to be the first one to reach a mini package of plain M&Ms in the street.  In a very short time, we had collected thirty POUNDS of candy pieces…

… and I had exactly zero spots to put them.

My second regret came when Thing 2 devoured his banana-flavored, frozen popsicle in record time, and dripped yellow slop all over his hands, face, neck, shirt, legs, knees, and shoes.  With his skill set, he probably dripped sticky yellow slop on all the kids NEXT to him, as well.

We had ZERO baby wipes with us.

Thing 2 was pretty jazzed about all the farm equipment making its way down the parade route.

Farming machinery is his love language.

IMG_7168 IMG_7170IMG_7159And then… as soon as the parade was over…

… we ran home to pack up a suitcase and hit the open road.

We hopped over to the neighboring state with a big pack of friends, in a four-hour car ride, to catch a weekend filled with outdoor Christian concerts.

Our backseat looked like this for four hours…

IMG_7179If we’re ever at odds for what to buy Thing 2 for Christmas, I’m going to suggest a fancy, automatic hand dryer, like we found in a gas station bathroom along the way.  Thing 2 and his good buddy, Vivi, made it their life mission to dry their hands, over and over and OV-AH.

IMG_7181Now.

The very biggest thing that you need to know about last weekend is that we stayed at a campground.

Oh, yes!  We TOTALLY DID!  We rented cabins with several friends of ours, so that we formed a little neighborhood.  Everyone had a nice, ten-foot-by-ten-foot cabin, and then we were pointed to the BATH HOUSE, forty-six miles across the campgrounds from our neighborhood.

But, upon arrival, we were optimists with half-full glasses.  We were capable of living like this in college, and WE ARE STILL VERY YOUNG PEOPLE, so bring on the challenge of CAMPGROUND LIVING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN!

Challenge accepted!!

If we thought Thing 2’s life was complete with a fancy, automatic hand dryer in a public restroom, you should have seen how excited he was over a TOP BUNK!

IMG_7183We unloaded our stuff, met our friends, Tyler and Heather, at a nearby Sonic for dinner, and then off we went to the opening night of concerts.

IMG_7185Our preschoolers lasted fairly well at these performances, but early-morning wake-up times, the excitement of an enormous parade, the crash off a sugar-high from parade candy, a four-hour car ride, sitting through dinner, and then being asked to BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY at the outdoor concerts, while band after band played, was a bit much to ask.

We went back to our lineup of neighborhood cabins at the campground, and tucked our little peanuts into their top bunks at 10 PM.

And then we told ourselves that walking forty-six miles across camp, time after time after TIME was still SO MUCH FUN!  And LOOK AT ALL THIS EXERCISE WE’RE GETTING, JUST TO USE THE POTTIES!

On Saturday morning, Thing 2 got up at 5:45 in the morning, and announced, “I have to poop!”  Do you know what you CANNOT do at 5:45 in the morning, when you’re roughing it at a campground and your child feels the urge?  You cannot JUST SEND HIM ALONE.  So… off we went.  And as long as we were going at 5:45 in the morning, we might as well haul our towels and shampoo across the grounds and shower, while we were at it.

I forgot flip flops.

Thing 2 and I shared a three-foot-by-three-foot shower stall with a wet floor.  It was decorated with red hair.

Neither one of us is a redhead.

The humidity was so awful when we emerged, I was sweating like a pig at an August fair, thirty seconds after I’d showered, and I could practically feel the threat of athlete’s foot growing.

I began to realize that I was no longer in college, and that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for a communal bath house after all.

And with that thought, we followed the little peanuts to breakfast.

IMG_7187We followed the little peanuts to the campground’s playground, too.

IMG_7188After that, Heather announced that they wanted to go see this GIANT DINOSAUR ON TOP OF THE HILL.  That’s all they knew about it.  We had looked up from our dinner at the Sonic the night before, and behold!  There was a giant dinosaur in the distance, sitting atop a massive hill.

We had no idea how to get to the top of that faraway hill.

Thankfully, when we asked Siri to find us a giant dinosaur, she came through.

Boom!

IMG_7195What you can’t necessarily see from this picture is that the stairs leading up to this dinosaur looked like this:

0c5c939910ddebcc4b5bcfeed48c1163And also like this:

image006And like this:

4In other words, we looked at one another and realized that we were going to feel the sting of CALF BURN, if we had any intentions of seeing the giant dinosaur up close.

So…

… up we went, and everyone’s Fit Bits caught fire from all the steps we put them through.

I think this is where I go on record and proclaim that the view was SO WORTH the anguish of getting there, but whatever.  My calves throbbed, just so we could pet a concrete dinosaur that was several stories high.

IMG_7191 IMG_7192IMG_7198 IMG_7203 IMG_7200 IMG_7205The descent went a lot faster than the upward climb did.  We had to hold onto the handrails, so that we didn’t just completely FALL DOWN the side of the mountain in a big blur.

And then we took the kids to the most wonderful park I’ve ever been to, as far as little peanuts are concerned.  The park was huge.  It was filled with fountains and gift shops, train rides and popcorn stands, and every manner of attractions for the kids to climb all over.

Of course, our crew wanted to ride the train around the park first, so we stepped up to the train station and bought our tickets.

IMG_7207 IMG_7209 IMG_7210 IMG_7212One of our boys was a bit LESS ENTHUSIASTIC about the train than the other boy was.

IMG_7213 IMG_7214 IMG_7215 IMG_7216And then we just turned the little people loose, and followed them from exhibit to exhibit.

IMG_7218Thing 2’s favorite attraction was the real train car.  He immediately realized that “it was broke,” because it “didn’t go anywhere,” so he took it upon himself to “work on the engine.”

I’d laugh, but my kid SERIOUSLY BELIEVED he was offering his great mechanic services to getting this train up and running around the park.  We couldn’t convince him that it was just a train to play on for anything.

So… we hung out while the mechanic did what he could, for almost 45 straight minutes.

IMG_7221 IMG_7224 IMG_7225He finally decided he was going to have to ORDER PARTS, so we abandoned the “broken train” for other areas in the park.

IMG_7222 IMG_7227 IMG_7232 IMG_7229 IMG_7234 IMG_7236Heather, Hubs and I posed for a snapshot, right before the king’s ball took place…

IMG_7233… and then we loaded up the kids and hit the outdoor concerts again.

Someone said there were approximately 22,000 people there.

I believed him.

Which meant I went into WATCH THING 2 LIKE A HAWK, LIKE A HAWK, LIKE A HAWK!!!!! mode.

IMG_7241 IMG_7244 IMG_7254Y’all, these snapshots that I took with my phone are only from OUR TINY AREA in the giant park.

There was still another stage set up on the far side of the park.

And there were millions of folks behind us and to all sides of us, who didn’t make it into these pictures.

Suffice it to say that YES!  I think there very well was a crowd of 22,000 people there, and THANK YOU, JESUS!  I didn’t lose my boy in that crowd when the sun set and everything went dark.

Thing 2 loves to dance, so he pretty much looked like THIS all night long:

We also discovered on Saturday night that Thing 2’s musical abilities are not just limited to the guitar.  Apparently, he’s a drummer, too.

And the kid can set aside his mad drumming skills to raise his hands in the tenderest worship around.

Although we enjoyed ALL of the concerts, Building 429 put on a fantastic show.  Thing 2 was overwhelmed with awe at their smoke machines; he couldn’t stop dancing for anything when they took the stage.

Everyone had a fantastic time.

IMG_7265 IMG_7266And then, in the middle of 22,000 people exiting a park in the dark, we grabbed our lawn chairs and found our car, and we ended up back at our little campground cabins.

IMG_7238At 11:00 PM, Thing 2 announced that he had to poop again.

At 11:15 PM, I announced that I was officially FINISHED with roughing it at a campground, when the bathroom was in a different zip code.

And then we all went to bed.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Concert Adventures…

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