We took advantage of the perfectly cool 78 degree and partly cloudy weather and hit the interstate. Given the girls' reactions to the attractions featured at this year's Carbon Hill Homecoming we thought this outing would be right up their alley. Their reactions were slightly subdued compared to the outright exuberance we witnessed at the Homecoming and Punkin was initially perplexed that she had no tickets to hand to each ride operator, but it didn't take long for them to get into the swing of things.
Prior to this ride, Shortcake made fast friends with another little girl her age. From this moment in the afternoon on, as The General observed, she made every attempt to ditch her loyal little sister for a more exciting riding partner at every opportunity.
After doing our rounds through all the little rides, the four of us headed to the other side of the park which featured more grown-up rides (including The Scrambler, the swinging pirate ship, The Tilt-A-Whirl, and bumper cars), none of which we allowed the girls to ride. I'm not even sure if they would have been tall enough for those rides, but I know that we would have been required to join them and that kind of jolt to my vestibular system was just not going to happen.
Both girls were excited to try the two water rides - the log ride and a blackout water slide - and those were something I was willing to try. I won't lie - the log ride was AWESOME, a definite highlight of the day for me. Like any good mother would, I stuck Punkin in the front of the ride so that she'd have an unobstructed view of the 45 degree drop to racing waters from our tall free fall (a screaming-like-a-lunatic mother gripping her tightly from behind, of course) and judging from the laughter of a couple of woman watching from the bottom her face must have been a real sight. (Or perhaps they were laughing at me.) (Either way, good times.) Shortcake was ready to take on the larger water slide next and after what felt like a four story climb we were on our way. This ride was more frightening for me than anything else. Again, I had Punkin with me and throughout the 30 second ride had a hundred horrible scenarios of losing my grip on her sending her rocketing down the reminder of the slide solo. I was glad when that ride was over. As for The General and Shortcake, the only thing they came away with from that ride were soaking wet butts. The General declared it a good time for a lunch break so that everyone could dry off.
It was this point in the day when thing started a slow decline down hill. I'm not sure if it's been mentioned here before, but Shortcake has a knack for needing to go to the bathroom within five minutes of sitting down for a meal. This happens at nearly every single meal even if she's instructed to go potty prior to eating. Why did I think a picnic lunch at Kiddieland would be any different? After exiting the park and getting the requisite hand stamp allowing our return, we trekked the half-mile back to our car and just as we had everyone situated with their PB&Js, juice boxes and blueberries I hear the dreaded words, "I have to go potty". We tried a "nature potty break" but that was a no-go so off we ran - her skipping, me fuming - to use the bathroom and hoofed it back as quick as we could. Just as we came into sight of our picnic blanket, Punkin starts running toward me proclaiming that now SHE needs to use the potty. The General took that round and you want to know the best part? Once he finally got her on the potty (using precautions to line the seat with toilet paper, bless his germ-fearing heart), she declared, "I don't need to go potty!". This is what I consider a stroke of luck on Punkin's part because had I been the parent escorting her to the bathroom in that moment she might not have made it out of the stall in one piece.
As the afternoon wore on and we approached the witching hour, our overall lovely day started to take a real nosedive primarily in the form of Kiddieland-induced exhaustion. Punkin was the primary victim, and as much as she had held it together, by about 4:30 pm she had finally had enough. The whining high a feverish pitch, we had a full-on sobbing meltdown on the race cars when I wouldn't allow her to drive the car off the track, and once again I was forbidden from riding near her on the train that ran around the perimeter of the park. Following our final ride we stopped for a end of the day snack (with all you can drink FREE PEPSI from the fountain, a Kiddieland perk the likes of which I've never seen). I thought we might have bypassed anymore freak outs, but alas there were three smacks to the butt between the two girls on the way out of the park and by the time we got back to the truck The General and I looked at each other with that "Let's get the hell out of here" silent exchange passing between us. It wasn't long before Punkin succumbed to the need for a nap, providing what was quite possibly the most hilarious part of the day for me (and yes, that is her snoring you hear):
Mrs. MC admitted after learning that we had taken up their suggestion that she was slightly concerned we would not enjoy our day at Kiddieland thereby forcing us to place all blame on them for the lousy recommendation. Quite the opposite was true. Despite a couple of hiccups along the way we had a great time. The park was clean and the rides were just the right size for the ages our girls are right now, the crowds were not bad at all (and we went two days before the holiday weekend), we never waited more than one round for our turns on the majority of the rides, and it was all within an easy hour's drive from our house. Plus, did I mention FREE PEPSI PRODUCTS anytime you want them?
If you're looking for a day of family fun, check out Kiddieland's website (and Jewel-Osco for money saving coupons) and consider making a day of it. Their hours are a little different than most parks so make sure you check that out for the day you are thinking about visiting and remember they're closing forever on September 27th.