Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I’ll start off by saying that we have never have so much fun at a vacation, I mean, after our trip to England. Nothing can top that, being in London and Edinburgh for 10 days, and visiting history every second you are there. Even if you don’t leave your hotel room and just look through the window, you’re seeing history. Awwww! We were there last year! How fun! But I digress; I’m supposed to talk about these three things we’ve done these last few days.
I’ll have to add pictures tomorrow though because the cable for the camera is in my room, and I don’t want to go in there and risk waking up my babies.

Dixie Stampede

Miss Dolly Parton had a genial idea when she created Dixie Stampede. What a money maker! And what a great value! We went to the one in Branson, of course, and we got the tickets over the phone. We spent about $150.00 for the 4 tickets that included pre-show, dinner/show. For some reason, they don’t let you buy online for the summer; they only had the Christmas shows available. But we got four tickets; kids under 3 don’t pay if they eat from some one’s plate and sit on some one’s lap. If you check out the menu you’ll realize why I didn’t hesitate about not getting an extra ticket for El Cangri. In regards to seating, I just had two chairs together, and the three kids sat there. Chubbers was on my lap and we were all comfortable until the baby wanted to wander and started fussing. We arrived early because we still had to get our tickets from the will-call, and I didn’t want to walk a long distance from the car. It was packed, so the parking lot was very crowded too. But it was great walking by the stables, on our way to the gates, and seeing the magnificent horses that are the stars of the show. There was also pre-show, and the juggler was awesome. We had a hard time finding a spot to watch him, but finally I found a little corner where we could huddle together and watch this guy balance 13 plates on little thin rods, balance a ladder on his chin, and even juggle torches. The kids were so excited!!!! And we all were getting worked out for the actual show. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t disappointed when we walked into an arena, with stadium like seating. There were benches, with a bar, all around the arena. We were right in the middle front, and had a great view. We were in the Yankee side, and I got the kids some blue flags they could wave when we had to cheer for the north. So, yes, it was a competition between the north and the south. There were ostrich races, pig races, chicken chase, acrobat riding, horseshoe (with toilet seats; it was hilarious), a demonstration of a pioneer dinner (with music, a real camp fire that was descended from the ceiling), white doves that knew the exact way they had to fly to; it was unbelievable. The children had a blast because the MC pulled people from the audience for a lot of the competitions. My kids kept waiting to be chosen, but even though they weren’t, they had a lot of fun just cheering for our team. The horses, like I said already, were the real stars of the show. Amazingly, the place didn’t smell of animals at all, and we could enjoy our abundant dinner while we were entertained. Each paying person got a whole barbecued chicken (they were small, but still …), a baked potato, vegetable soup and roll, apple turnover, and endless Pepsi. The children had Sierra Mist. We hadn’t drunk so much soda in all our lives. The kids couldn’t believe they were allowed, but what the heck! We’re on vacation, right. Our server was very good, and gave us extra drinks and rolls, since the smaller children were eating from their siblings’ plates. Oh! Did I mention they had no utensils? We had to eat with our hands, and Swan Princess was a little put off by that. Not Gorgeous Boy; he ate the whole chicken, which was delicious. The potato wasn’t that good, but the soup was. I had taken a spoon for Chubbers, and we all passed it around to eat our soup. Jeff just used his roll to spoon the soup up though.
The north was winning the competition, but we don’t exactly know how it happened, but he south ended with the most medals. Gorgeous Boy was a little sad about that. After that there was a message from Dolly Parton saying that even though the competition is fun, we’re not divided in north and south anymore. We’re one great country, with the same liberties and rights. She sang a beautiful song, and there were fireworks at the end. The children had sparkling eyes, and I, like always, got a knot in my throat. What an appropriate activity for the 4th of July weekend! We were all elated, and so full we could hardly walk. On our way to the car, we walked past the horses again. There was another show after ours, so people leaving were mixing with those coming in. We couldn’t get any pictures outside, and even though they don’t allow taking pictures inside, they do have a photographer that takes your picture as you go in. We got a package with a family picture. I think they did a great job, and we have a good souvenir from this outing. I heard people talk about the Christmas show that Dixie puts out for the holidays. I’d love to see it, and we’ll definitely do it if we’re in the area around Christmas time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home

OK, so this activity was a little more for me than for the kids, but they still had a good time, I think. Laura’s house, the actual place where she lived with her husband and daughter for years and years, and where she wrote the books, is in Mansfield, about an hour from Springfield, and I was not going to pass up the opportunity to go. I had to see this place. So I pleaded for the car, and I got it! And we went. The scenery is very beautiful, so green and lush and wild. I loved it! We got there without a hitch, and parked right across the street from the house. There is a very nice, shaded area with picnic tables and bathrooms, for people to eat and … go to the bathroom, I guess, what else? They don’t allow picnics in the actual property, so whatever you need to do, you better do it before crossing the street. The mosquito and stinging bugs species must be very prolific in this area because every little insect with a proboscis found my legs and left an imprint there. I’m still itching. Thanks goodness, it was me and not the kids, especially El Cangri. But, Ouch! Nevertheless, my heart was pounding with excitement as we approached the house. There was a plaque explaining the story of the place, and a bookstore on the right, and the museum and the house on the left. Admission is not very much, $4 for children under 5, and $8 for adults, so Gorgeous and I were the only ones who paid.
Chubbers and El Cangri were NOT happy to be in the stroller after an hour ride in the car. And that was my mistake #1, not letting them release their energy before we started. So we paid our admission, and each one of the babies wanted a ticket to play with, and I gave it to them. Mistake #2. We went into the museum, and it was full of treasure. Handkerchiefs that Laura embroidered when she was 7, family trees, Pa’s fiddle!, a letter from Carrie to Laura telling her of Mary’s illness and subsequent blindness. Everything was a feast to me who grew up watching Laura. I even remember the music from the show; I watched it every single day for years. But my kids have only watched a few episodes; it’s boring for them, and we started reading the books a while ago but they were still too young. A few months ago I got the entire collection, but as Gorgeous started reading the first book, The Spiderwick Chronicles movie came out, and he decided to read that series instead. So Laura, a book for girls (ha!) was left out. Like I said, I could feel Laura’s touch in every single thing, but the children don’t know her. They were a little bored. There was a little group of people, so we joined them for the guided tour. Mistake #3. The little old lady that did the tour… the poor thing. I thought she was going to have a heart attack. You’ll see why. The house is tiny; Laura was 4′ 11, and Almanzo 5′ 4. He build it especially for them, of course, so the house reflects the size if its inhabitants. It’s so charming! The kitchen had all the original pots and pans, china, plates, stoves, and even a fridge that Rose gave her parents. Still, he babies were not entertained. They squirmed and made noises, and to top it off, when we were looking at the tiny sitting room, which was all fenced off, El Cangri crossed the line and started jumping on a sofa that must have been 200 years old. I felt every single eye in the room dart towards me, and I wanted the earth to open right then and there and swallow me. The tour lady asked, “Can I please hold your baby so you can catch your son? (and strangle him for me please? she didn’t add, but she might as well)”
I know Gorgeous and Princess felt what I felt because they told me later, my proper little children, “I was so embarrassed!”
So I finally left the tour while my two older babies stayed to listen to the descriptions for me, and went outside to get pictures of the two little devils that were posing as my sweet children.
Check out the poses …

After he tour, we HAD to go to the gift shop, and I got the girls little bonnets (they’re the sweetest thing!), a straw hat for my Gorgeous, a pencil sharpener for El Cangri (don’t ask me why), and a book, of course.
The outing was exhausting, but I believe the kids liked it more than I had thought at first. The next day they were playing “Laura and Almanzo” all day, until they were tired of forgetting the “guy’s” name, and they switched to “Jeff and Yamile” Laura Ingalls’ style.
I definitely recommend this activity. 5 STARS +

Yesterday we went to the Springfield Discovery Center. We’ve been to the one in Salt Lake (when it was at the old location), and the one in Charlotte, NC. The Springfield one wins hands down. The price was very reasonable (I paid $22 for all of us) and they kids got to play all afternoon:

  • Free play area for children under 5. A place totally enclosed where the little ones could dress up and do all kinds of experiments.
  • Dinosaur fossils digging
  • Experiments: bridge building, arched bridge building, electricity conduction (the kids LOVED! this one)
  • Different play areas depicting professions: a newscast room, doctor’s office, theater, store, newspaper print
  • Human body

The kids were so happy and excited that they didn’t know what to do first. I’ll just let the pictures let you see how fun this activity was for them. Will we be back? As we were going back to the car, Swan asked, “Can we come back tomorrow?” I answered, “Yes”. So I guess we’ll go back before we return home.

Finally, the end of the post. Missouri is really the “Show Me State,” but I miss my beloved Utah. A few more days … and back to reality (which is not a bad thing necessarily)

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2 responses to “Three Great Reviews”

  1. Stacy says:

    I saw that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home was close on that list of things to do. I definately want to go see that when I go back!

  2. Kelly says:

    Found your blog through Catherine Newman’s blog. You have a beautiful family. I loved Laura Ingalls books and the show. Also watched it everyday for years. Her home sounds wonderful … I’ll have to put it on my list off places to go. 🙂

Yamile Saied Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is a fútbol-obsessed Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.

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