Tuesday, July 31, 2012


After a month spent in Minocqua and Madison, Wisconsin, the kids and I (as well as Tom, who joined us for the last three days of our journey) have returned home to College Station.

Our flight left Madison at 6:30am on Sunday morning, so we arrived at the airport around 5:15am. I expected empty terminals because of the ridiculously early hour, but when we stumbled through the sliding glass doors we found ourselves in line to check in behind a deploying United States Army unit. Had the circumstances been different - if our check-in had been delayed because of a group of teenagers on a choir trip or college students on spring break - I'd have been annoyed about the wait and worried about missing our flight. Instead, I found myself taking advantage of the relative quiet (the only real noise was Hallie singing like Ariel, The Little Mermaid) and reflecting on the gifts these soldiers were about to give - had already given, really - to our country, to me, and to my children. Freedom. Choice. Hope.

I "awoke" from my distracted state when, as the first soldier finished checking in and moved away from the counter, the line shifted forward. I watched this soldier walk toward the escalator at the end of the terminal, and I wished him strength and courage and luck in my head.

When he was about 25 yards away, he turned around to look at me (perhaps he'd heard Hallie's singing) and we locked eyes. He continued walking, but brought his left arm up and across his chest, stretched his left hand over his right shoulder, and with two fingers, gave me the sign of peace.

To be honest, the 24 hours leading up to that moment were not my best. The details aren't important; what's important is that I was struggling. As I lifted my own two fingers to mirror his, the meaning of the sign washed over me. Peace. As if he hadn't given me enough already.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic Moments

Are watching the Olympics? I certainly am. I used clear my calendar for the entire 17 days so I wouldn't miss a single swimming race, soccer game, or gymnastics event, but now, thanks to the wonder of DVR, I only have to clear my schedule from 8pm until 11pm every night. During those three hours you'll find me in front of the television, catching up on my favorite sports and athletes and familiarizing myself with those that interest me but are never shown during regular waking hours (archery, synchronized swimming, and rowing).

In honor of the 2012 Olympics, here are a few of my favorite and most memorable Olympic moments:

My all-time favorite Olympic moment is the US Men's Hockey Team gold medal victory at the Lake Placid Games in 1980. (Have you seen the movie "Miracle"? If not, pull up Netflix on your computer or drive right on over to Blockbuster to rent it - I promise you won't be disappointed.)

I remember sitting on the edge of my parents' coffee table - not even four feet from the television screen - and holding my breath as Kerri Strug charged toward her gold medal and vaulted herself into Olympic history during the 1996 Atlanta Games.

And I could barely contain my tears when, during the 400 meter semi-finals at 1992 Games in Barcelona, an injured Derek Redmond was helped across the finish line by his father.

How about you? What are your favorite and/or most memorable Olympic moments?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up (7.27.12)

Grown Up Teenage Girls
I promise this is the last time I'll talk about One Direction and their hit song, What Makes You Beautiful. This parody is dedicated to all of my 30-something friends who may or may not be willing to admit a love for a television show, movie, book, actor, musician - anything or anyone, really - with a teenage girl target audience.

The Worst Kitchen in America: Nightmare on Pearl Street
One of my best friends is the proud owner of the worst kitchen in America (she described her kitchen this way first, so it's alright for me to describe it that way as well), and has entered this hideous room in the DIY Network's "Worst Kitchen in America" contest. If you have a minute or two, would you click here to add another "view" to their entry's tally? She and her family would greatly appreciate it!

A Very Difficult Subject
My cousin, Jen (I call her my cousin, because that's simpler than explaining that she's actually Tom's cousin's wife and therefore my cousin-in-law-in-law) is a fantastic reporter, graphic/website designer, and writer. Among her many projects, Jen writes a blog entitled "Dillettantrum: Skipping through the winter of your discontent", which I read regularly and encourage you to check out - she's smart and funny and speaks a language I (and probably most of you who read my blog would) understand.

I bring Jen up because of a post she wrote last week, a post in which she explained how she addressed her five-year-old son, Elliot's, questions about equal rights and discrimination. Will and I have discussed these issues in the past, but I'd love to go back and have with Will the same conversation Jen had with Elliot. Her answers and explanations were perfect - she knew exactly when to push Elliot as well as when to redirect his train of thought. I've bookmarked this post and I plan to read through it periodically so that when Will asks again and Hallie asks for the first time about these challenging topics, I can follow Jen's lead.

Red Cross: You're Never too Young to Learn Something New
I'll be the first to admit that Will has spent too much time playing games - Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja are his favorites - on my phone this summer. It's been tough to keep the kids entertained on all of our long drives and airplane flights, so I often let him play while we're traveling. We're also in this weird place where Will doesn't nap, and Hallie sometimes naps, and I need a brief window of kid-free quiet time every afternoon regardless of whether or not kids are sleeping, and the phone comes in handy when I need Will to settle down. I used to feel a little guilty about Will's time on the phone, but now that I know he's learning how to save a life I feel a heck of a lot better.

Red Cross: Are You Stocked?
We learned the importance of having a well-stocked first aid kit (as well as how a little creativity can go a long way) after Will's most recent injury. Check out what my sister and I MacGyvered for Will so that he could swimming just 35 minutes after splitting his fingers open!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Proposal Sourpuss

Last weekend we walked downtown (I LOVE that we can WALK downtown here in Madison) to have breakfast and do a little shopping at the Farmers Market. At one point Hallie had to go to the bathroom, so we ventured into the Capitol - around which the Farmers Market is set up - to find a restroom. As we came out of the Capitol, we stumbled upon a young man proposing to his girlfriend on the Capitol steps. It was incredibly sweet, and judging by the kissing that followed the young man's question, we believe she said "yes".

It appeared as though the man had hired/brought along a photographer/friend who would discretely follow the couple around so to be there and then capture the proposal as it took place. The odd thing - in my opinion - was that the photographer was using a really crappy point-and-shoot camera, a camera that, when the couple wanted to take a picture like this:

...couldn't get the job done.

I, however, had my really good camera with me, and knew that it was capable of capturing the exact photo they were looking for. So after watching them try to capture this photo for like five straight minutes, I walked up to the couple and asked them if they'd like me to take the picture and then email it to them.

The man literally looked me up and down (for the record, I didn't look fantastic, as we'd walked to the Farmers Market and it was 100 degrees outside, but I certainly didn't look terrible either), and then informed me that they "had it covered". I was shocked at how rude this man was to me. And while I can understand that he might have felt like I was intruding on their "moment", I only approached them - kindly and with an offer to assist them in creating a memory of their special day - after I watched them struggle for quite a period of time.

It didn't leave a very good taste in my mouth.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stairway to...More Stairs

My parents live in a three-story house with a basement. The main floor hosts the living, dining, and music rooms, along with the kitchen and a small half bathroom. The second floor is home to the bedrooms and more bathrooms, while the third floor is a single bedroom (which was my bedroom in middle and high school - it rocked). The basement includes the family room, laundry room, and another small bathroom. I lay all this out for you to point out that we use nearly every room on every floor almost every day.

My house in Texas has ONE step, on the front porch. My parents' house has, if you include the front, side, and back porch steps, 54 steps. We've been here for two weeks and I, my kids, and my calves have yet to adjust.

It's been 15 years since I lived (full-time) in this four-story tower, and now, after living for a year-and-a-half in a one-stair house, I'm kind of over my love affair with stories. I'm already going to the gym every day while I'm on "vacation" - I don't want to feel like I'm spending my free time on a stair master. Yesterday I decided not to moisturize my unbelievably dry lips just because my Chapstick was in the second floor bathroom and I was in the basement family room. The day before I bribed Will to go upstairs, find my purse, and throw it down the laundry chute to me.

The look on his face says it
all - he's so over the stairs.
Will's not a huge fan of the stairs either. He's sleeping in the third-floor bedroom, and last night he loudly thumped all the way from the third floor to the basement family room to tell me he no longer wanted that bedroom because he had to go up too many stairs to get there. I told him he still needed to sleep there, as I wasn't about to play musical beds at 10pm, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that if he'd just stayed upstairs and gone to sleep he could have avoided 80 (40 down, 40 up) of those stairs.

Hallie, on the other hand, finds the stairs incredibly intriguing and not at all tiring. She purposely carries one item at a time up or down the stairs so that she'll have to make multiple trips, and whenever she uses the stairs she does so differently than the time before. Up on her feet, down on her butt. Up going backwards, down going sideways. Up on her knees, down with no hands. Up like a cat, down with her eyes closed.  I have "9" and "1" pre-pressed on my cell phone. The kicker is that whenever Hallie has to pee she makes sure to use a bathroom on a different floor. She'll be yelling "I HAVE TO PEE SO BAD" and pulling off her pants while standing in front of a bathroom, but she insists on heading up or down to relieve herself.

The positive in all of this?  When we return to Texas we're going to have calves of steel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Obsessed, Part 2

While visiting family in Nebraska I came across a copy of The Hunger Games and asked my father-in-law about it. As it turns out, the book belonged to my sister-in-law, who'd read and LOVED it. She'd lent it to my father-in-law, who'd also read and loved it. He told me to take it, and I did, though reluctantly and mostly to be polite, as my in-laws were moving in a few days and I figured if I took the book they'd be left with one less thing to pack, move, and unpack. When I returned home I went back to oscillating between yet another James Patterson mystery and The Lord of the Flies (which is, in my opinion, the slowest read on the planet), while The Hunger Games collected dust.

Two weeks later and while visiting me in Texas, my sister noticed the book - which I hadn't yet started - on my nightstand. "OMG HAVE YOU READ THIS YET?!" were the first words out of her mouth. She was mortified when I said I hadn't, and then she told me she'd watch my kids that afternoon so I could crack it open.

Now that the trilogy had the recommendation of three people whose opinions I greatly respect and none of whom I'd categorize as Sweet Valley High-reading young adults, I felt it safe to start reading.

Will/Hallie: "Can we have a snack?"
Erin: "Eat whatever you want.  Take it to the playroom
and watch a cartoon."  That's A+ parenting, people.
I have no idea what happened around the house that afternoon, because once I started the book I literally couldn't put it down. My sister was as engrossed in Mockingjay (the third book) as I was in The Hunger Games, so we read for hours every afternoon while our kids were napping. And while our kids were awake, we basically threw snacks in their general direction (it crossed my mind to attach their snacks to silver parachutes and drop them from the roof, until I realized that constructing silver parachutes would mean time away from the book) and then sent them outside to play so they'd leave us alone. When one of us had to step away from our reading, the other one read my book aloud so we'd never have to fully disengage from The Games. (I'm not kidding - she read aloud while I made dinner, I read aloud while she cut my hair, and one evening, while our husbands watched the NBA tournament, we climbed into bed together like we did when we shared a room as little girls and read aloud for hours.)

As soon as I finished The Hunger Games I moved on to Catching Fire (which my father-in-law had since mailed to me), and I bought Mockingjay just a few short hours after I'd finished Catching Fire. For the amount of time it took me to finish the three books I did essentially nothing but read and take care of my kids' most basic needs until Tom came home from work, and then I just read.

At the beginning of the month I spent a few days at The Lincoln Lodge in Northern Wisconsin with the kids, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law, Jenna. All of us were at various stages of reading the books, and Jenna and I spent much of our free time (free = not reading) reenacting our favorite Hunger Games and Katniss moments.
That's my FIL reading The Hunger Games, my MIL reading
Catching Fire, Jenna reading Mockingjay, and me reading
The Hunger Games Official Illustrated Movie Companion.
The way we're all crammed on the coach makes it look
like the Lodge has very limited seating.
Yes, I bought it.  It's awesome.
Jenna and I tried to buy a bow and arrows (real or toy - we'd have purchased either/both) at Wal-Mart, but the store that supposedly has everything had neither bows or arrows, or polite employees, for that matter.  (It was their loss, because in our state of Hunger Games obsession I think we would have spent quite a bit of money on anything even remotely resembling a bow.)  Instead we just pretended, or used other weaponry - wooden swords, rubber knives - we found lying around at the Lodge.
Taking aim while tubing - what can't that girl do?!
Preparing to attack the mosquitoes with
my bug-zappers-turned-bow.
Modeling the tribute jacket we found in
a downtown Minocqua gift shop.
We found this poster - which taught us which foods could
keep us alive in the forest - in a Minocqua antiques shop.
Matching Katniss braids.
Ready to do battle (somehow we arrived in the
arena with weapons already in hand).
While at the Lodge we actually had an experience that made us feel like we were in the arena, minus the children, tracker jackers, walls of fire, and mutts trying to kill us, of course...  One night an incredibly strong storm - thunder, lightening, torrential rains, and 80+ mph winds - blew through the area.  Around midnight, my FIL woke up, realized we'd only loosely anchored the boat to the shore earlier that day, and prepared to head down the steep hill to the water to remedy the situation.  Jenna and I were still up, watching movies and reading our books, so we decided to join him on his adventure.  We threw on light-weight parkas, hats, and flip-flops and headed out into the pitch-black night.

I can't remember the last time I went out in a storm like that one.  We slipped and slid down the stairs (of which there are MANY) and then trudged through the muddy sand to the water, where we discovered the boat still anchored to the shore.  We carefully maneuvered our way down the dock and into the boat to gather those things that hadn't yet but might very well be blown away, and then we waded into the lake to literally pull the boat further onto the shore with our bare hands.  We were absolutely drenched, incredibly cold, and covered in sand, mud, and pine needles.  And it was perhaps the most fun I had the entire time we were there.  

We've since returned to the real world, but a few days ago I received an email from Jenna with this picture attached:
I think Lionsgate studio has found their
understudy for Jennifer Lawrence.
I've harassed my mom and Tom into reading the books. Though neither seemed all that interested in the beginning, they're now completely hooked, as I assured them they'd be if they'd just give the series a chance.

The proof of Tom's commitment came in the form of a text he sent to me after finishing Catching Fire:

"Just saw a lizard on the bush outside the kitchen window. Is it weird that the first thing that came to mind was, 'If I were in the Hunger Games I could eat that'?"

I was so proud.

So my obsession has been hanging around for a few weeks now, and I don't really foresee it moving on until after November, 2015, when Mockingjay Part 2 arrives in theaters. (As a side note and teaser for a blog post to come, I'll mention that not only does Catching Fire premiere on my birthday in 2013, but Jenna and I have plans that will hopefully land us on the red carpet...) I'll admit this seems like a long time, but there IS a positive associated with this timeline - since the next three movies will all be released on or within two days of my birthday, Tom won't have to worry about coming up with how we'll celebrate. I can hear him breathing a sigh of relief as I type.

A few final thoughts to bring this two-day rant to a close:
- If you haven't already, read The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.
- If, once you've read the books, you need someone to get excited about them with, call/text/email/message me.
- Plan for a August 18th Hunger Games viewing party at my house.
- Tell me about your obsession(s) so I don't feel quite so childish and ridiculous!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Obsessed, Part 1

For as long as I can remember, and even before, according to my mother, I've had something of an obsessive personality. My minor obsessions are fleeting, the flame of interest lit and extinguished within a week or so. But my major obsessions stick around for anywhere between a couple of weeks and a few months, and often monopolize all of my free time. Here are a few examples:

- When I was eight I developed a huge crush on Chad Allen, who played David Witherspoon on Our House. The focus of my diaries from 1986-1988 was on the names of the children I planned to have with Chad once we'd met, fallen in love, and married.

- When I was 17 I was completely obsessed with gymnast Shannon Miller and the United States Women's Gymnastics Team, better know as the Magnificent 7 and for their team gold metal victory in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. I spent my Saturday nights making scrapbooks of newspaper articles in which these gymnasts were mentioned.

- When I was 18 I fell in love with the movie Titanic and it's star, Leonardo DiCaprio. I'd always been intrigued by the story of the Titanic and a fan of Leo (thanks, Growing Pains), but when they came together in the blockbuster of the decade I was beside myself. I saw the movie nine times in the theater and wore out my video cassette.

- Throughout high school and college I was a huge Friends fan. I never got the "Rachel" hair cut, but I followed the show religiously and threw regular Thursday night Friends-watching parties. And my friends and I may have taken pictures of ourselves in this Friends pose.

- And most recently (about five years ago), I obsessed over the musical Wicked. I eventually saw the show four times, bought the merchandise (two t-shirts for myself, one t-shirt for Will, one t-shirt for Hallie, and the CD), and learned every single word to every single song. Tom and I even recorded one of the songs - For Good, him on piano and me singing both vocal tracks - in the music studio at the University of Michigan as a wedding gift for my sister. I still perform the songs for Will and Hallie. (But only when we're in the car, where I have complete control of the music and they can't run away from and therefore must listen to me.)

So I guess it was about time for another obsession - something interesting and thought-provoking with large doses of adventure and danger and romance thrown in - to find its way into my life. The Hunger Games trilogy turned out to be exactly what I didn't know I needed, and it arrived on my doorstep when there was finally room in my life for a distraction.

My newest obsession is The Hunger Games.

Yes, I realize I'm more than a little late to this party. But with the exception of the Rascal Flatts, who I loved from the very moment their first single hit the airwaves, I have ALWAYS been a little late to the party. Email? A ridiculous way to communicate. It's never going to catch on. Cell phones? A waste of money. There's a pay phone two blocks up and four blocks over that I can use any time I want. I've eaten my words more often than I'd like to admit, especially with regard to technological developments and entertainment trends.

So it makes sense - if you consider my history of loving, appreciating, taking advantage of, or buying whatever everyone else loved, appreciated, took advantage of, or bought six months previously when the buzz first began - that I'd just now be jumping on the Hunger Games band wagon.

Though the first book in the trilogy (in case you've been living under a literary rock, as I was, the series includes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) was released in 2008, I hadn't heard of the series until earlier this year when The Hunger Games movie trailer was released. Friends and acquaintances who'd read the books described them as interesting, engrossing, and even amazing...young adult fiction.

The last books I'd heard described as young adult fiction were those in the Twilight series. I tried to read the first Twilight book and watch the first Twilight movie (were they both called Twilight? I have no idea), but both made me want to jam a pencil into my eye. I still ponder what I could have done with the hour I lost watching Edward and Bella sulk around their dreary high school cafeteria. Probably something amazing. Like laundry.

Not to mention the fact that I'm 33, people. I can't be seen reading young adult fiction (which in my head = Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters' Club) during Will's baseball practices or on the treadmill at the gym.

So when I heard The Hunger Games described as young adult fiction I made a decision - the wrongest of wrong decisions - to avoid all things hungry and game-related.

Since I've gone on for quite a while now, I think I'll go ahead and split this one post into two. Tune in tomorrow, when I'll share 1) how I came to obsess over this fantastic series, 2) how my children barely survived my obsession, and 3) a whole bunch of pictures of me and my SIL embarrassing ourselves with pretend bows and arrows.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up (7.20.12)

Call Me, Maybe
I'm sure you've heard the song, seen the original video, and watched the many popular covers on YouTube (you can watch Will, Hallie, and Lily's version here), just as we have. You may not, however, have seen this version, which was recently posted to the National American Red Cross blog. I found it incredibly entertaining and - though I'm not sure why - kind of heart-warming.

And as a huge fan of the Big 10 Conference, I enjoyed this one as well.

Nose Ring
My brother-in-law found the ring attached to the side of my mixing bowl incredibly annoying, so he removed it and wore it in his nose for the next 30 minutes. "When in Texas", he said. I think I see a resemblance.

Babies on a Plane
I fly fairly frequently, both on my own and with my children, and throughout the years I've been on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, when it comes to children as airplane travelers. As such, I can say with 100% certainty that it is exponentially worse to be the sweating, stressing parent of the tantruming three-year-old than it is to be the traveling-solo adult seated in the row in front of the tantruming three-year-old. Parents, am I right?

Recently I've seen quite a few articles written by authors who believe children and their families should be segregated from the rest of the adults on airplanes, or worse, that children shouldn't be allowed to fly at all. Though I understand how frustrating
having your seat kicked or being unable to hear yourself think over the screaming can be, I can't quite wrap my head around these suggestions. Neither can Devon Corneal, and I'm so grateful she was willing to share her commentary with all of us parents who have struggled (suffered?) through the ups and downs that accompany flying with our kids.
My "good" flyer...
...and my "not-so-good" flyer.

MomsEveryday: Farm Boy
MomsEveryday ran Farm Boy, about Will and Hallie's first trip to Grandma and Grandpa's temporary home on a Nebraska farm, this week. Check it out here if you missed it the first time around!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I'm worried Will might be starting to forget that he's a Hawkeye first.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

She Can't Get Me Thrown Out of This Library

The kids and I take frequent trips to the public library. Or at least we took frequent trips to the public library before Hallie decided that her primary purpose in life is to get me permanently kicked out of every library in America.

Luckily Madison has a new library system available to city residents, one out of which we can't be thrown.

Little Free Libraries began in Hudson, Wisconsin, and allow community members to freely share and borrow books of all kinds. The mission of these little wooden structures, found primarily on private property but near sidewalks, bike paths, and parks, is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide, to build a sense of community across generations, and to build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.

There are at least three Little Free Libraries in my parents' neighborhood, including one less than a block away from their front door, and I've seen more than 10 more as I've been walking and driving around Madison. They are unique, quaint, and almost inspiring, as to me, they represent the importance Madison places on community involvement, growth, and literacy.

Will's been perusing the books in our neighborhood's Little Free Libraries, but has yet to find one he felt strongly enough about to take with him. So this afternoon, in hopes of improving his Little Free Library karma, Will walked five of Grandma and Grandpa's old children's books down the block and dropped them off. I'm crossing my fingers this does the trick, because if he doesn't find a new book soon I'm going to have to take Will and Hallie to the real library, and we all know how well that's going to go.

I'm thinking about putting a Little Free Library in my yard. College Station friends - have you ever seen anything like this in town? What do you think HOAs would say? Do you think a LFL would be used?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Circus, Circus...Circus World!

Because the circus we attended in College Station went over so well with the kids, my mom and I decided to take them to Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

The Ringling Bros. Circus was founded in Baraboo in 1884. Between 1897 and 1916 the Ringling Brothers built extensive training facilities - quarters for the performers and staff, barns and stables for the animals, a train station, the wardrobe department, the mess hall, etc. - that eventually became the circus' winter quarters and were known to locals as "Ringlingville". This area is now a Wisconsin and National Historic Landmark Site.

Circus World began more than 50 years ago, when John M. Kelley, the Ringling Bros. attorney, and the Gollmar Family, cousins of the Ringling Family, turned their vision for a place where future generations could live and breath their beloved circus industry into a reality. The day after the park and museum opened on July 1, 1959, Circus World was deeded debt-free to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

According to their website, "Circus World's collection of circus artifacts is the largest in the world and includes over 210 original wagons and vehicles once used by American, English and Irish circuses. Circus World houses an exceptional collection of circus ads and posters...the collection also includes thousands of journals, manuscripts, business records, original fine art oil paintings, hand bills, heralds, programs, costumes, (and) personal artifacts of circus performers."

We drove the hour to Baraboo, watched the magic show (quite the thrill for Will, Hallie couldn't have cared less if we'd paid her), and then attended the performance under the Big Top. The circus itself wasn't nearly as impressive as the one we saw in College Station, but it was entertaining never-the-less.

At the end of the show the performers invited all the kids in the audience to join them in the ring. Will had no interest in leaving his seat, but Hallie headed on down all by herself. She looked so teeny tiny surrounded by all of the bigger and older kids.

My favorite part of the day was the old Ringling Bros. train cars and the miniature circus exhibit inside the museum - together they were worth the price of my admission ticket.

I think we're done with the circus for a while, but the experiences - especially this trip to a place with quite a bit of history and tradition - have been fun and educational for all of us. Not to mention the fact that they've introduced Will to his future profession: monkey bar aerialist. Should be interesting...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Circus, Circus

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus made a three-day pit stop in College Station, and on a whim, Tom and I decided to take the kids. I'd been to the circus only once before, when I was little, and had no idea what to expect; if anything, I assumed the circus would be kind of clumsy and a bit grungy, like the traveling carnivals that stumble through town and set up shop in the mall parking lot twice a year.

Boy was I wrong.

We arrived an hour before the show started because we didn't purchase tickets ahead of time and wanted to make sure we could get the best seats possible. As luck would have it, all tickets - that would usually cost between $15 and $25 - were $10. The doors opened a few minutes after we bought our tickets, and we were excited to head inside, if even just to walk circles around the exterior of the arena (the circus was held at Reed Arena, where the TAMU basketball teams play), because it was ridiculously hot outside. What we found when we walked through the doors was in and of itself worth the $40 total we spent on our tickets.

The kids had a blast watching the pre-show clown, trying to balance feathers on their fingers and noses, and checking out the animals. They also enjoyed the circus treats - baked pretzels, popcorn, nachos, and lemonade - we allowed them to indulge once we found our seats and were waiting for the show to start.

And then, holy cow the circus, people. It was amazing. Will was absolutely beside himself the entire show. He sat on the edge of his seat or jumped up and down for two hours straight. I literally saw his jaw drop three times, and he needed to be shushed often because his excited cries were distracting the people sitting around us. Hallie loved the animals, but wasn't all that impressed with the human stunts. She's in general difficult to impress, so I wasn't all that surprised. She was quiet for the first 45 minutes or so, but then started to get ants in her pants. Though it was too bad she missed the last 30 minutes of the circus, we were grateful when she finally fell asleep in Tom's lap.

Tom and I agreed that the circus was leaps and bounds (ha!) above anything we could have imagined. The human stunts were so awesome and death-defying - and I'm not exaggerating - that at times I had to look away because I was so scared for the performers' safety. I actually thought to myself, "if your mother knew what you were doing right now...", every time the aerialist jumped rope on the outside of the double spinning wheel or the acrobats hung from the ceiling of Reed Arena by their toes. I'm so old.

Here are a few more pics from our Night Under the Big Top!

At least four stories up,
hanging by her toes.
There's a man underneath that board.
Crossing the monkey bars, at least four stories up, by foot.
She would rock at Group Power and Core.
There are three motorcycles in there...
...along with a spinning girl in a
frighteningly bright spandex suit.
There's a man underneath that board.

The circus was such a collectively enjoyable and affordable experience for our family that we actually considered going a second time later in the weekend. Though the swimming pool won out as our Sunday afternoon activity, we'll definitely be in the arena the next time the circus comes to town!