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.
Because we’re still broke.
Our parade crew showed up with a whole lot of enthusiasm this year.
They 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.
Frozen 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.
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.
… 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…
If 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.
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!
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!
Our 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.
After 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.
… 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…