Archives for posts with tag: fun

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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This is a ride at King’s Dominion called the Avalanche. See that girl in the blue car with her arms out? That’s my oldest hamming it up for the cameral.

It’s a super fun ride that I make it a point to go on everytime we go to the park. Because it’s super fun, the line is usually pretty long. This past Saturday, my youngest daughter and I were waiting in the long line to ride the Avalanche.

It seemed as if the line had not moved at all in at least 15 minutes. I noticed that the loading bays inside the control center were empty – many times they will stop you from entering the control center if too many people are in the loading bays, but they never wait untial they are all empty.

It was odd.

We finally got inside and stood in line for the last car on the train, only because that line was the shortest. When it was finally our turn to ride, they let a few disabled kids and their caretakers/parents in through the exit. A small boy with braces on his legs was helped into the car we were supposed to occupy next.

I won’t lie, my daughter and I did the “oh great” eyeroll. We had to wait for the next train.

I sit in the back, and my daughter sits between my legs – like in a bobsled. We buckle up and readied ourselves for a good ride. Out of the control center we roll into the hot sun and begin our climb up the hill. This is gonna be great.

Then, we stop. And immediately after that I hear a series of loud beeps from the control center. Like an alarm.

AN ALARM.

Then, I hear my husband laughing.

Let me interject a wee bit of information here. I don’t like heights. I like rollercoasters, but I usually hate the ride up the hill. During the ride up I either stare at my feet or just keep my eyes closed. I don’t mind the heights once the coaster is rolling, because by the time my brain can realize I’m up very high, I am suddenly down very low.

inverted-5This is the reason why I don’t ride on the Volcano, because you are up sickeningly high the entire ride.

So I don’t like heights, and I’m stuck in a car, at an angle, on a hill. And my husband is laughing, and taking video with his phone. I can’t even turn to look at him, because I am afraid of realizing how high I am.

My daughter is laughing too. This is an adventure for her, as well. She makes a point of mentioning that if the disabled kids hadn’t taken our spots, we wouldn’t be stuck.

Not long thereafter, a King’s Dominion employee comes walking up the gang plank next to us. It is at this precise moment that my panic level starts to become an issue for me because it means the ride is really broken. Suddenly I realized how very sunny and hot it was on this hill, and I could feel the weight of my daughter as she leaned back against me.

We were told that maintence is on the way, and we will either continue on with our ride, or we will have to climb out of our cars and walk down the gang plank. In my book, neither option sounded appealing. The thought of continuing on with this ride seemed both insane AND unsafe.

After around 10 minutes I was finally comfortable looking over the side of the ride and talking to my husband – luckily we weren’t that far up the hill, and I could deal with this height. We were told the maintenance crew were on site and working on the ride. A minute or so later we heard the gears attempt to start, and then heard the loud beeps of the alarm again.

We were then told we were going to have to get out of our cars and walk down the gang plank, and that was fine with me. It was hot, I was thirsty, and I’d had my daughter uncomfortably wedged in my crotch for the past 20 minutes.

At least I didn’t have to pee. There is that to be thankful for.

Because we were in the last car, we were helped out first. Let me tell you, it was NOT easy. My girl got out first, but she had me to help push her up and out. Then it was my turn.

Uff da.

Remember, we are at an incline, and not really sitting up. You ride in this thing like you would in a recliner – now imagine that recliner at a 45 degree angle, and try to climb out. Oh, and remember you’re 30 feet in the air.

I apologized to the people there to assist us out – I am not as nimble as I used to be, and climbing out of that car was not pretty or graceful. Thank goodness I always wear shorts under my dress.

0725151803eThe climb down the gang plank was harder than I thought – I had to stare just in front of my feet because if I looked up I could see how high up I was, and that was not condusive to keeping my panic at bay. It was time for some good old fashioned tunnel vision. And step by step I made it down.

0725151809Once I was off the coaster and watching the rest of my fellow riders make their descent, I was actually thankful that those disabled kids took our car. As hard as it was for me to climb out and walk down that plank, it would have been a logistcal nightmare to get a small child with braces on his legs down to safety.

It was like my daughter and I took one for the cosmic team, and that was cool with me.

Besides, we got some perks for our troubles. My daughter was ushered onto the ride of her choice – front row, no wait. And we were given passes for immediate ride entry for the next two times we visit the park. That will come in handy when the line for the Dominator is two hours long.

But most important, it was an exciting experience that my daughter and I were able to share together. And one that I could subsequently share with you – which is so typical of me.

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Yesterday we woke up to 6 inches of snow here in Central Virginny. It was a long time coming…it had been a miserable winter with little to no snowfall.

Unlike a lot of people, I like snow. I don’t want Boston snow, but I like it. I get excited when a snow storm is predicted, and can become rather perturbed when the weather folks get the forecast wrong and I wake up to my normal landscape. Because a little snow can turn the world into a different place…a place a little prettier and a little more magical than it was just a few hours before.

So like I said, having woken up to 6 inches of good powdery snow, our family geared up to do what we always do on a snow day. We went sledding.

Our community has a golf course with a pretty decent hill, and it’s our favorite place to sled. When we showed up yesterday there was already a crowd, and the conditions looked fantastic. It was sunny and cold, but not so cold that you were uncomfortable. It was really a perfect day.

We have two sleds, both the plastic variety; a long blue two-seater and a regular-sized orange sled. Nobody ever likes the orange one because any time anyone in my family would ride it, they’d turn sideways halfway down the hill. Therefore, it was deemed defective.

Well, I have to tell you, that sled is not defective – but my family’s ability to sled apparently is. Cause let me tell you, I was flying on that thing.

That’s right, me. Fifty year old Typical Tracy plopped her ass down on that sled, not once. Not twice. I’m pretty sure I made at least 12-15 runs down that golf course hill. And you know what was weird? I was one of the only parents doing it.

Most of the parents just stood around at the top of the hill, gossiping and “supervising.” Between sips of K-Cup Coffee in insulated travel mugs they might scold little Carson for taking Hudson’s sled, or wipe the nose of little Marlowe, but other than that, they were having zero fun.

I used to just hang around at the top of the hill too, but for a different reason. I was too self-conscious to give it a try. I mean, it’s not easy to lower yourself into a sled gracefully…at least for me. Then there was the walk up that hill. But I’ve been walking a lot lately, and while I’d not venture to say I’m “in shape,” I’m hardly the physical basket case I was a year or so ago.

So, down I went. Over and over again.

It was so exhilarating to fly down that snow-packed hill. Occasionally I’d hit the little ramp of snow and catch some air. Other times I went so fast and so far, my sled would wind up in virgin snow beyond where any other sledder had landed. I rode double with my daughter, and once I even rode down with our camera running on video mode – which btw didn’t turn out that great.

And I never once did I cause that orange sled to turn. Because this 50 year old Slovak knows how to work it. Let those other moms drink their coffee at the top of the hill. Not be, baby. I’d rather be flying.

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Today my girls and I are spending another day at King’s Dominion – one of the big amusement parks here in Virginia. While showering, I was thinking of what rides we might go on today- trying to think of rides we haven’t gone on a whole lot so far this year.

The first ride that came to mind is the White Water Canyon. You know the ride – it’s the giant raft that seats 6 and rushes down a rapids-filled river. I used to love this ride, but not anymore. At least not at King’s Dominion.

In the past, this ride used to be like a giant crap shoot…a watery roll of the dice. You chose your seat carefully because on this ride, some folks got wet and others didn’t. It all depended on who the fickle hand of fate felt like pointing her watery finger at. A current or a bump up against the side of the canyon could cause the raft to spin at the last minute, changing the course of someone’s day – who would wind up with crotch-rot and who would stay dry?

Many times I got off this ride with nothing more than a few droplets of water on my shorts, or just wet shoes. Other times I was soaked to the skin while my fellow riders, pointing at me and laughing,  might only have a wet sleeve. That’s what made it fun. You just never knew how you would fare by the ride’s end.

But now? You get wet. Period. King’s Dominion changed the course of the ride within the past few years and no matter where you sit, no matter how the raft bobs, spins or dips, the vessel is channeled to go under a giant waterspout, dousing every passenger. You come off that ride soaked right down to your Fruit of the Looms. Crotch-rot all around!

I don’t understand why they changed it. There was a beauty to the older ride…a randomness. The ride was different every time and that’s what I liked about it. You stood in line wondering if you were going to be walking down the exit ramp dry or dripping wet. My husband, who finds walking in wet shorts to be highly disagreeable, was never willing to risk it.

Well, darlin’…there’s no risk now. No matter what you do, no matter where you sit, the fine folks at KD have engineered it so the house wins every time.

And I think it sucks.

backyard-13One of the best things about my house growing up was the backyard. It was huge. It was a yard you could really play in, but also get lost in, and explore. There were nooks and crannies that could turn a boring Sunday into an afternoon of adventure.

The yard was sort of divided into two sections by a massive Weeping Willow tree. This tree was a great source of fun in itself. The vine-like branches would make a curtain of green that you had to venture through to get to the back portion of the yard. The branches were also good for swinging on when you were younger and lighter, providing you grabbed a hefty handful of them all at once. We had a tire swing from one of the branches for a while, but I think my mom made dad take it down once the rope got a little rotted.

The front part of the yard which was directly out our back door was sunny and open. The right side of the yard was bordered by our ramshackle metal garage and a gate that led to the driveway. Along the garage was a garden which I remember being jam-packed with tiger lilies and ferns. It was unkempt and wild, but sort of cool too – like a jungle. On the left side of the yard was a split rail fence that ran the length of our property, and beside that were these giant rose bushes that would get covered in fat, lazy blooms of white, pink and yellow. There were also pussy willows, forsythia and azaleas.

As a small child, this front part of the yard was great for playing in because mom could see me easily from the kitchen window. Plus the hose was right beside the house and you could beg to have the sprinkler set up here. As a teen, this was THE spot for catching sun. Wendy, Judy and I would lay a sheet down, lay in the sun, drink Diet Pepsi, and watch “All My Children” on a small tv that we would plug into the outlet on the back porch. This was great until a perverted neighbor moved in next door and used to leer at us over the fence. But that unpleasantness aside, I do remember getting just as tan during spring vacation as any of the rich kids who got to go to Florida or California.

When you got past the weeping willow tree, our yard took on a more lush, somewhat darker personality. There were at least 6 maple trees which kept 85% of the back-backyard in shade. To the left was a little grove of dogwood trees and very large, thick patch of pachysandra that was notorious for devouring Wiffle balls. Only a thorough search and rescue mission with a bat or hockey stick could retrieve them.

The right side of our yard was bordered by a broken down wire fence. Just behind the garage was where dad would stack the wood for the fireplace. I hated that wood pile because there were always tons of spiders in there. Plus, I thought it was a brainless place to stack wood as it was pretty far from the back door. We used the fireplace a lot in the winter and let me tell you, making that trek on a cold, dark, snowy night to get more firewood was like trying to summit Everest.

Beyond the wood pile was the 15% of the rear yard that got sun. This is where the blackberry bush and the vegetable garden were. We had a HUGE blackberry bush that would yield hundreds and hundreds of berries. It was a marvelous thing to take a break from baseball or hide & seek to grab yourself a handful of fresh berries. I wouldn’t wash them either; those suckers went straight from the branch to my mouth.

Just beyond that was a small plot of land where my mom attempted to grow vegetables. I remember multitudes of tomato plants, and it was fun as a kid to wander back there and see how they were coming along. Sometimes mom would send me out there with a bowl to pick the ones that were ready, and I thought that was fun because I could imagine myself as a farmer’s daughter rather than just a dopey girl in northern New Jersey. I think she tried to grow corn once, and cucumbers too. However, I only remember picking tomatoes, so I ‘m not sure if anything ever came of the other plants.

One of the best things to do in the backyard was play ball: Baseball, wiffleball, kickball. There was this giant root from the Weeping Willow tree that peeked up out of the ground creating a perfect home plate. As luck or fate would have it, there were trees perfectly situated for 1st, 2nd and 3rd bases. Unfortunately, there were lots of other trees in the yard which made playing baseball cumbersome. Unless you hit a ground ball or a line drive the ball would disappear into the branches and foliage of a tree and bounce around like a plinko chip. You never knew where the ball was going to land. It made the games interesting, that’s for sure.

The very back of our yard was quite overgrown with bushes and bramble. I remember there was always a pile of lawnmower clippings and sticks in one corner, which I think was my dad’s attempt at a compost pile. That corner was musty and moldy and it really sucked if you had to root around that pile for a stray ball.

There were a few bushes that grew together in a such a way that they made cool clubhouses too. Most of these were found out of sheer desperation during grueling games of hide & seek, but they would come in handy on a boring afternoon. It was fun to climb into these little clearings in the shrubbery and pretend you were somewhere else in the world. Or pretend to you were an orphan mountain girl and you had made this thicket your home. Yeah, my yard was an adventure land for a girl with a good imagination. There was always something blooming or growing and you could spend an hour or more walking around peeking into all the little ecosystems and territories.

It was also party central in the warmer months. My parents would throw at least one really good backyard party each year where every table and chair we owned would get hauled out of the garage and the basement and set up all over the yard. Those parties were great…endless food, stories and jokes from relatives, and maybe even some music if my grandfather had is accordion. Once it got dark we’d run out with an old Skippy jar and catch lighting bugs.

It’s sort of a bummer my kids don’t have the same experiences. We never really utilized the yard at our house properly, and it just sort of sits there. Oh, I have dreams of making it into a place where little things grow with paths and benches, but that all takes money, and I have more important things to spend it on. Even hubby, who had a backyard the size of a postage stamp, has great memories of him and his brothers making the most out of the little patch of land out his back door.

Yeah, it would be nice to go back there again. To smell a fat, drooping rose, find a wiffle ball or two, and eat a big handful of blackberries.

 

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About a week ago, while I was taking my morning walk, I noticed the empty tennis courts that are just blocks from my house and thought, “we should start playing again.”

The we? That’s hubby and me. We used to play a lot of tennis when we were first dating and even well into the early years of our marriage. I was never great, but I began to improve after playing at least 3 times per week.

Hubby and I would hop on our bikes and ride to Wood Park, the one spot in our hometown that had courts, and hope that one of the four courts would be open. If they were all open we’d ride our bikes around the courts for a while, and then settle in for a game or two.

I could never beat him. I might win a set here or there, but I could never win a match. Hubby has a mean backspin, and to be honest, I’m the type who crumbles when the pressure is on. If I was in reach of a win, I’d trip over my own two feet.

Once we had our first born daughter we continued to play, but it was hard. We’d have to wheel her onto the court in her stroller, but I was always worried she’d get hit with a ball. Plus, she’d begin to fuss after 30 minutes or so. Then we moved to Florida, and it was too hot to play.

But after seeing those open tennis courts on my walk, I really wanted to get out and try to play again. I brought it up to my husband, who agreed that it would be fun. We got out the racquets, managed to find one ball, and headed for the courts. As we pulled up to the park we were discouraged to find both courts in use.

Ugh. Oh well, we only had one ball anyway, and that makes tennis a chore. We went back home slightly dejected, but ready to give it another try someday.

For father’s day, I gave my husband a tube of tennis balls. That afternoon, we went to the park and found both courts open. Hooray! My youngest was our ball girl, complete with her scooter to make fetching that much faster. And we began to play.

Okay, we didn’t really play, we just hit the ball back and forth. He was tired after an overnight shift and am beyond out of shape. But it was really fun. I got up a very good sweat, and my daughter told me that my face was really red. Yikes. Well, it was 87 degrees out.

At the end we played a mini game, and I actually won.

I hadn’t lost my touch. I got off quite a few good shots, even a few slamming backhands. I can still swing that racquet with some skill, it’s just getting to the ball that is difficult. It’s fairly evident I am not in my twenties anymore.

This morning rather than take a walk, my youngest and I went back to the tennis courts. I spent an hour lobbing balls over the net to her, and teaching her how to swing. She wasn’t great, but she did really well for her first time. Our longest volley didn’t exceed 5 hits, but we laughed and chased balls and had a lot of fun.

I want to do it every morning. I think I’ll buy another tube of balls.

 

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Raise you hand if you love amusement parks.

We are lucky enough to live within an hour’s drive of a fairly decent one – King’s Dominion. In the past we might have gone once a year – mainly because of the cost, and we had 2 kids that had different mindsets when it came to the rides.

My oldest? I took her on her first looping coaster – the Anaconda – when she was tall enough to ride. That was maybe 7 years ago. Since then she has been fearless and will try everything and anything once.

Me? My last looping coaster was when I took her on the Anaconda. I too had a fearless stage when I was a kid. We used to drive down to Jackson, NJ and go to Great Adventure. Man, I have so many memories of that place.

I remember when it first opened in 1974, my sister Judy got invited to go with a friend of hers and her family. I was so jealous – but when she came home she said the park wasn’t all that great. A lot of the rides weren’t even open yet.

But by the late 70’s/early 80’s – my heyday – the park was fantastic. I’d usually go with my best friend John, and who ever else wanted to go. We’d spend our day roaming the park, feeling free and independent, and enduring the endless lines to get on our favorite rides; The Runaway Train, Rolling Thunder, and the Log Flume.

LightningLoopsLightning Loops was my first looping coaster. It was an odd configuration. You climbed up some 6 or 7 flights of steps and boarded the train from atop a platform. Then you were pushed down the hill which gave you enough speed/momentum to get through the loop. Once you reached the opposite platform you did the loop backwards and found yourself back at the starting point. There were two tracks that intertwined, but I don’t ever recall them running simultaneously, like they show in the photo.

In any case, I wasn’t a big fan. It was pretty scary for me, especially after a girl was killed on it. It wasn’t a ride malfunction, but still – it was enough to keep me off of it.

Looping_StarshipAn amusement park turning point for me was when I was on The Looping Starship. It’s your typical ride that pivots back and forth, higher each time, until you eventually do a few full loops. As I hung upside down, watching change, Chapstick and sunglasses fall from the pockets of my fellow shipmates, I realized that if for some reason my safety harness failed, I would die.

That sort of killed it for me. A seed was planted in my 20-something year old brain, and I gradually began to lose interest in anything that inverted me. I still went on some rides. I was forced onto Montu at Busch Gardens (Tampa), and kept my eyes closed the whole time. I also rode The Griffon at Busch Gardens (VA) – but that doesn’t invert. However I had to keep my eyes closed the whole ride up the hill as heights freak me out.

These days my advancing age (and widening tushy) have made me even more aware of my mortality (and how small some of those seats are). As a result, I take a pass on most of the thrill rides. But I still love a good wooden coaster.

The past few years I have tried to coax my youngest onto a variety of coasters. My mistake was letting her ride her first really big wooden coaster, Rebel Yell, with her sister. I was in the seat behind them, and once we return to the station, she was almost in tears. There are a few bumps where you get some decent air time on that coaster, and it freaked her out. That incident was 3 years ago and it was a real chore to get her to give them another chance.

Last year she rode all the wooden coasters, but no steel. Progress.

This year she reached the height limit for every ride in the park – and her attitude changed. She rode almost everything. Her first inversion coaster? The Volcano – a ride I would never even consider going on unless there was a large sum of money involved.

Volcano: The Blast Coaster

My girls’ last ride yesterday was the Anaconda. It was nice in a coming full circle kind of way. My oldest passed the coaster riding torch to her younger sister. So now going to the park is 10 times more fun. Both girls can ride everything together, and me? I people watch, or read a chapter of my book until it’s time to board a ride that does not flip me upside down, or take me too high up for more than a few seconds.

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Oh, and I’ll also spend the summer trying to get up the nerve to ride this. No inversions – but that hill? I think I’d pass out from sheer terror before we reached the top…

Today I have to spend my day in two of my least favorite ways; wet and in a bathing suit.

The family is heading to a water park which is not one of my fantasy destinations. But it’s hubby’s birthday weekend and hubby LOVES water parks, as do the kids. I mean, what kid doesn’t? So we’re packing up the beach bag and driving 90 minutes to a place that has both indoor and outdoor water slides, lazy rivers and continually wet floors.

I haven’t had luck with water parks. I usually get hurt in the form of a scrape or a bruise. The final nail in the water park coffin was driven in about 8 years ago. The story is not one I wish to expand on – let’s just say a day at a Disney water park plus a certain monthly calamity does not equal good times for all.

Another reason I am not overly joyful about water parks is, I lean towards the chubby side. Therefore a day clad in a bathing suit translates into an extended & prolonged walk of shame. Thank goodness I’m a master at denial.

Not wanting to be the party pooper in the group, I am planning my water park outing offense. This includes a cover up, a book, and a lounge chair. Just yesterday I told myself I need a good weekend where all I do is read. Viola! That day? She’s a here!

I won’t be a complete dud. I’ll float down the lazy river, and I’ll escort my kids through a tangle or two of wet water mazes, but that’ll be it. I’ll leave the slides to daddy.

It’s his day after all.

I wanted to treat my two girls to a day of fun yesterday. They had worked hard during the recently ended year of school and deserved a day out of Dodge . So, we piled in the Slovie-mobile and went to King’s Dominion, one of Virginia’s two big name, massive theme parks.  We’ve been a ton of times in the 12.5 years we’ve lived in VA, and have seen many rides come and go. But one of my favorites is Rebel Yell, a classic out and back racer wooden coaster.

I always ride Rebel Yell. Even when my fanny has been a tad too plump to fit in the partitioned seat, I’ve gone on with one ass cheek painfully resting on the divider. It may have been the first big roller coaster my oldest girl ever rode. Now she is fearless. She will ride everything.

I took my first-born on her first looping coaster here at King’s Dominion, of that I am sure. It was the Anaconda which loops, corkscrews and bashes your head so senseless that you can’t quite recall if you actually enjoyed your ride. I was scared shitless to go on it, but she was ready, willing and able to take the leap to steel coasters and I didn’t want to dissuade her. Plus everyone else in our group had a case of the chicken shits. Mommy to the rescue once again.

Throw me for a loop

I hate looping coasters. I went on Lighting Loops at Great Adventure back in the 80’s and hated it. Then I was forced to ride Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa in the 90’s with a gaggle of in-laws. I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

But a wooden coaster? I’m almost always game. When my younger daughter reached coaster-riding age, I got her on the Scooby Doo Coaster at King’s Dominion and she loved it. So naturally when she finally reached the required height to ride the big coasters last summer, we took her on Rebel Yell.

She was scared, but willing to give it a try. When we got up to the loading area, my oldest asked if she could ride with her sister on her inaugural voyage. And this is the very point where my mommy senses went flying south for the winter. I said “yes.”

I sat behind them and watched as we flew out and back, up and down. When we got back to the station, I asked her how she liked it, and with a grave face she headed for the exit.

My stomach sank. Ruh Roh, Rorge.

When I asked her what was wrong, she said she was afraid the entire ride that she was going to fly out of her seat. See, if I had been riding with her, I would have snapped on the mommy seat belt – my arm across her body – and held her firmly in place while we laughed and enjoyed the ride. Instead, she rode with sister who held on for her own dear life and left my wee one to fend for herself.

There was no getting her on a coaster the rest of the day. Throughout summer, winter and fall, she was adamant that her big coaster days were over. Boy did I blow it. I had a vision of her at 42 riding the Scooby Coaster and knew that this season I had to get her back on the horse.

So when I suggested the trip to KD, I told my youngest to gird her loins for a trip on Rebel Yell. Panic flooded her face and I knew I had my work cut out for me.

The day was great. It had rained heavily the night before and the day was overcast and a bit cooler than it had been. It being Wednesday and early in the season, the park was pretty empty. It was an amusement park enthusiasts dream – cloudy skies and no lines. While my oldest and her friend went to ride the attractions I’d need 7 figures to even consider, kidlet #2 and I hit our favorites.

We were really having fun. I LOVE when I get one on one time with either of  my girls, and as the day progressed, I kept suggesting Rebel Yell. She would say no, but then add a maybe. Ah ha! A chink in the armor. I had some wiggle room.

By 3 pm, I knew I had to make my move. The park was closing at 6 (early season hours) and I still hadn’t squeezed my ample ass into a decent coaster. I told her it was time for us to ride, but that she didn’t have to come. I’d be willing to let her sit on a bench while sister and I rode – she could hold our keys and cell phones. As we neared the entrance, I wondered if she would actually come.

She entered the walkway with us, and the during long and winding walk to the loading platform remained silent. It was eerily like a death march. When we got to the loading slots, I told her she could still bail – she could wait on the exit platform for us, but I said, “you really should come. It’s so much fun and I promise I’ll hold you down with all my might.”

She got in. The entire ride up the hill she chanted “scoobydoocoaster, scoobydoocoaster” and then we reached the top. I tightened the mommy seat belt and we plunged down the first hill. The worst was over and we were racing up and down the hills, noisily rumbling along.

And she was laughing! She was screaming “yeah!” and having a fucking blast. I did not release my mom grip, and feeling the safety of my embrace she actually put her hands up. Only for a second, but she was a true coaster enthusiast for a second or two.

Party on Wayne. Party on Garth

After the ride was over and she declared total coaster awesomeness, she needed a fix and fast. So we headed over the Hurler. While this is a great coaster, the seat partitions are even more narrow than on Rebel Yell. As I tried to wedge myself in the seat I knew I was in trouble.

The fit was not a good one, but I couldn’t let my new coaster buddy down. I sat very much askew in the seat as the attendant jammed the safety bar deep into the flesh of my chubbylicous belly. I employed the mommy belt and off we went.

This coaster is notoriously rough, and I held onto her through every twist, turn, rise and rumble – and I felt every fucking shake and shimmy. By the time the train pulled back into the station I was physically exhausted.

My arm was shaking, my ass was throbbing, and I was almost out of breath. I realized that between hollers meant to persuade my daughter that this was fun, I was holding my breath the entire ride. The walk back to my oldest and her buddy was a slow one, but to hear my youngest rave about the ride she has just taken was worth every ache and throb.

It won’t be long before she’ll be looking towards the larger rides. The steel ones. The ones that invert, and twist and corkscrew and loop. And then it will be time to push my coaster girl out of the nest, cause mommy don’t go there.

Big sister will have to take her under her steel coaster wing and teach her how to fly.

To celebrate the end of the school year and reward my youngest for super grades, hubby and I purchased a zip line. We have a multitude of trees in our yard and figured we may as well put them to some good use! After some research, we agreed that purchasing one at a neighborhood toy store, rather than online, was our best option. The brand we were buying had received mostly positive reviews and a place close to my office sold them.

When we went to buy it on Friday, we asked the sales clerk and store manager a multitude of questions. They had sold many of them, none had ever been returned, and their return policy was one were you got store credit only. That bothered me a little. This is one of those joints that sells a lot of overpriced “educational” toys that look like they were all made in Sweden. But our girl had her heart set on having a zip line, and she really earned it. We paid the $100 and planned on installing it the following day.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, hubby and I marched out into the yard to start our big installation. After some deliberation, we found two trees that were a) the correct distance apart from each other, and b) did NOT have another tree in it’s path. It was somewhat of a challenge. Then we began the process of making this puppy operational.

We took our time to carefully read the instruction, measure, screw, hoist and tighten. It took us close to 3 hours in 93° heat, but by 2:30 pm the zip line was up and ready for her maiden voyage. We got daughter out and up on the ladder to give it a try. She was scared – it required a leap of faith to take her feet off the 2nd rung of that ladder. And when she finally let go to fly, all she did was slide right to the ground.

Cable wasn’t taught enough. hmmm. Hubby and I go back, tinker, raise the cable and try our damndest to make that cable as taught as humanly possible.

Daughter comes out for attempt #2. Now the cable is way higher, and she needs to climb to the 3rd rung of the ladder to grab the hand trolley. By this point she’s not just scared, I’m scared too! When she finally gathers up her nerve to go, she looses her grip on the trolley and lands on the grass. We tell her, “you have to hang on tight, and keep your feet up.”

She tries again, and she finally gets it…she zips on down the line to the halfway point, and then her feet hit the grass. This fucker is still not taught enough. Hubby and I look at each other in desperation. We cannot get this line any tighter – this is just not working properly. She’s still elated though. She races back to give it another try. After 2 or 3 more “rides” her hands are sore and she gives up and heads into the cool comfort of our home.

Wondering how to salvage this, we think of our options. Even if we find someone with a winch or discover a way to make the line taught enough so it doesn’t bow in the center, we are faced with other problems. Everytime the kids wanted to ride this thing, we’d have to drag out the ladder. The starting point is HIGH, and even though it’s on grass, someone must HOLD the ladder while child is on it. Suddenly the fun activity that your kid could just run outside and enjoy became another chore for mom and dad.

Add to that the fact that after a few rides it was glaringly apparent that my kids have zero upper body strength. While we know that the zip line would help build that strength, swollen and blistered hands deterred them from playing with it for more than 15 minutes. By Monday afternoon we realized that we had made a very bad purchase, regardless of all the positive reviews and the fact that the store had sold hundreds and none had been returned.

This mofo was going back. Daddy took it all down and packaged it back up, and I marched into the store today to get my store credit. The manager tried to give me shit about it. She claimed we had “used” it and they wouldn’t take it back. I argued that we had asked her tons of questions about their return policy just days before – she remembered me – and that had she told us we could not return it if it was opened and used, we wouldn’t have purchased it at all. She gave in and I have my credit voucher.

Next week I’ll take my girls in there and let them each pick something – a toy that will keep them occupied during the summer months. Hopefully one that will keep them active. As long as it doesn’t require me to hold a ladder.