Amusement parks in general hold a special place in my memory. I was a roller coaster fanatic growing up... taking after my dad. And while my dad and I bonded over the up and down rides, my mom and I bonded over the round and round in circle rides. My mom hated the heights. My dad hated the circular ones. One or the other was usually sitting on the sides watching the other one ride with me... while I did it all. The best memory of all was during a summer when we weren't even supposed to be going on any rides. We were supposed to be boating at Clear Lake, my dad taking the whole week off for a vacation on the water. But the weather turned bad with no hopes of improving. And so as not to waste his vacation week, he decided we should hit the road and check out some new scenery. We drove from Clear Lake to St. Louis where we hit up Six Flags and rode the Screaming Eagle over and over again. We hadn't had enough. So from St. Louis we drove to Kansas City where we spent one day at Oceans of Fun and the next day at Worlds of Fun... riding the Timber Wolf over and over again. On the way home from that trip, we drove through Des Moines and my dad pointed out Adventureland to me. I wanted to stop there. He said he'd ran out of money. I told him he could just go to one of those "machines" that spits money out to get more. ;)
I was cautiously eager to start taking these adventures with my boys this summer. Baby steps. At their ages, there is no way to predict how they will respond... if they will even be brave enough to try the rides, if they will be patient enough to wait in lines. I knew this day wasn't for me... it wasn't my time to ride all my favorite rides and try the new ones they have added since my youth... but it was my time to watch my kids make their first memories. And when it comes to making memories... mission accomplished. And then some. I am so proud of my boys tonight.
I don't have a lot of pictures for three reasons. One... it's exhausting enough trying to keep track of these two in a busy theme park without having to capture the perfect shot. Two... we spent half the time in the water park area with my camera locked up in a locker. And three... it was too hot to even worry about it! But I do have some... and the rest of the pictures are etched forever in my mind.
...the night before, we took the boys to Family Video with the intent of letting each of them pick out a movie for the two hour drive. Jaden picked out two... but Brandon refused to step away from the candy. We left with Peter Pan and The Lion King... and two boxes of M&M's.
...the morning of, stopping for coffee after picking up my parents... Brandon decided he didn't want to have to sit in a car seat. No idea where he came up with this idea. That started the trip off a little hairy, but after a 15 minute fit, he was perfect the rest of the way. He watched some Peter Pan, ate some snacks, pointed at all the big trucks along the road, got excited about every bridge we passed over... and talked to his baby doll. "Baby sit in time out!... Baby hit Aubrey!" ...Which told me that Brandon must have had to sit in time out at daycare for hitting his friend Aubrey. ;)
...the minute we walked through the gates... this Puppy seemed to have just gotten out of his dressing room, and the boys were in love. We literally had to drag Brandon away.
...how impressed I was with Jaden when he wanted to go on the first ride he saw. He is usually our cautious one... wanting to watch things for a long time before trying it. I think he might be growing out of that a bit... he showed very little fear today and loved these airplanes. (He rode them twice). Brandon was not interested in any rides but was perfectly content to watch from the side... and had an incredible fascination with watching the Space Shot.
...the Bumper Cars. What Jaden said was his favorite of the day. We let him ride it a second time as our last ride before leaving the park.
...Jaden asking me to go on this truck ride with him... and my husband focusing more on getting a picture of me on the ride than of Jaden. ;)
...the ducks... and Brandon's insistence that he try to swim with them by constantly trying to climb over and under the bars surrounding the pond...
...the Frog Hopper. The one ride Brandon showed interest in going on but wasn't tall enough for! Jaden asked me to do this one with him, too -- and Cody said I had young children looking at me funny while the ride was in progress. I might have gotten a little excited... I wasn't expecting it to tickle my tummy so much! And Jaden? Loved it. Grinning from ear to ear by the time it was over... so... he got right back in line and did it a second time with Papa!
...the Log Ride! Cody's mom suggested this one since we were all so sweaty by this point. I was beyond stunned that Jaden was ready and willing to do this one with the big drop at the end. And yes... somehow we actually got Brandon and Cody on it, too. Cody is not a fan of big drops, and I think we just flat out stunned Brandon with it. I was expecting him to start crying the minute we reached the bottom of the drop... but he only whined a little and made a bee-line for the exit. ;)
...the swimming. Right after lunch, and after stopping on the big bridge to feed the fish, we made a dash to the waterpark area because we were just so hot. (100 degrees will do that to you). They had a cute little zero entry pool with a pirate ship and water slides. Jaden and Brandon were both in heaven. I think going to the Falls almost every day has really opened them up to water and water play. Our sweet Jaden... who not long ago refused to even stick an ear in the water at swimming lessons... started going down the water slide on his tummy... head first! And he even started putting his whole head under water repeatedly. Brandon had fun on the slides, too, but at one point when he started wearing down, he sat at the top of the slide for a long time, refusing to move. Jaden was behind him and getting impatient so he tried to give him a little push. Brandon got so mad that when he got to the bottom of the slide, he literally tried to climb back up the water slide, shaking his arm at Jaden and yelling, "Stop it, Nanen!!!" It was quite the site!
...sitting in the wave pool for just a few minutes before leaving the pool area. If we weren't ready to go, I think they could have enjoyed this for a lot longer.
...Jaden getting to pick one more new ride to go on and a couple of repeat rides before leaving the park. We kept suggesting rides to him as we walked by them, but he didn't want to go on any that we suggested. "I want to pick it on my own self!!" He settled for the fast tea cups as his new ride, and he and I had fun riding it together, while Brandon was finally content to sit in his stroller with the shade pulled over him and peanut butter crackers on his tray.
...how good my chocolate shake tasted on the way home and how cute my boys looked when they fell fast asleep in the car...
Overall, our boys were rock stars. It was hot, it was a lot of walking, and aside from the water slide, Brandon only went on one ride the whole day. But we didn't have any major melt downs, they both found things that thrilled them... and there were lots of smiles shared.
We'll be doing it again... next year!