My mother pointed out that this summer, it is imperative that we have extra fun to make up for the past two summers, which were awful. Our make-up work while school is out is to have more fun with our children than we ever thought possible.
Granted, two summers ago wasn't that bad. Particularly when put in perspective. Two summers ago, The Boy had outpatient chemo once a week on Thursdays. It was summer. We'd go to the treatment center, have a donut (they used to have really good treats there, and cream cheese for the bagels. Budget cuts necessitated the removal of cream cheese and donuts), play or rest, and come home. We'd have to take care of the diaper duty...you know, every 2 hour changes. But without us having work in the morning most of the time (Musical Daddy had a Monday through Thursday job), it wasn't such a big deal to sleep a little extra. Summer weekends meant farmer's market and walks to the diner. We took a short shore trip. We didn't do much, although with a child under age 1, you don't do so much anyway.
Last summer was pure hell. Mostly spent with The Boy in the hospital. So much of last summer was just constant misery. And while we did get Meatball out of the deal, his arrival did not make things much easier. I'm just glad that last summer is in the past.
This summer, with The Boy off treatment, with us living in a new location, and having Grandma and Grandpa around so frequently, we actually have the opportunity to have the best summer in a LONG time.
We have season passes to the zoo and to Sandcastle water park. We went to Sandcastle twice last week. We spent most of the time in the Tad Pool, which is a baby pool with a few little slides and some fountains. We also went to Wet Willie's, which has a pool similar in depth to the Tad Pool and has a playground structure with slides in the middle. The Boy's favorite part about Wet Willie's is the water control capabilities. Kids can redirect water coming from the play structure; they can cause the water to come up out of the floor or from the ceiling, and from one direction to the other, they can pick up hoses, and they can run under waterfalls. The Boy didn't go down these slides, but he did go down the Blue Tuba Luba with Daddy, which is a big slide that requires an inner tube and the only one where people are permitted to ride in pairs.
Surprisingly, the lower limit for this slide is 36" tall, and The Boy is taller than that. He was scared out of his mind but had a blast.
Today we went to Kennywood Park. Kennywood is a medium-sized amusement park, much smaller than Cedar Point (Ohio) or any of the Six Flags, but larger than Dorney Park (Eastern Pennsylvania). My father's company has always had a picnic at Kennywood--tickets are cheaper and food and drink are provided. Sign us up!
There was next to nothing for Meatball to do at Kennywood. The kiddie rides specify that the rider must be able to walk independently in order to ride. He could have ridden on the carousel with someone but we never got around to it. He got to eat, though, and he got to be outside and be walked around. He even napped for an hour while we were there.
The Boy, however, was having a blast. Not that you would have been able to tell by looking at him on the various rides. He looked grouchy and annoyed every time...and then he'd get off the ride and say "again?" Some of the kiddie rides were only for the kids; others were designed for an adult to accompany the child.
We were there when it was HOT outside. And it was the middle of the afternoon, so we were TIRED. We did end up staying about 3 hours. Musical Daddy and I got to go on two rollercoasters together while Grandma and Grandpa watched the kids (and gave them strawberries and cream). The lines weren't too long today, and we even went the extra mile and waited for the front seat on both coasters. We also took The Boy on the Log Jammer, which is one of those water roller coasters with a little splashdown at the end. He loved everything except the end.
I don't know when the last time was that Musical Daddy and I went to an amusement park together. I don't know if we ever have, in fact. Since I started working, I've been to amusement parks a handful of times with student groups. So has he.
The best decision that we made today was to get our hands stamped for reentry. Since we only live about 20 minutes from the park, we chose to leave before anyone got miserable, thinking that we could come back. Just two of us, or us with The Boy. We brought The Boy (who didn't do as much napping as we thought he might) and had even more fun! Carousel, Auto Race (twice) and almost everything else in Kiddieland that he might have missed. I took him on Garfield's Nightmare, which is a little boat ride haunted house (for the Kennywood fans, it's the Old Mill with new scenery and 3-D glasses). We rode the train and learned about Kennywood history. We ate Dippin' Dots.
He was a great sport and exhibited so much initiative. I was so proud of him for being independent enough to ride the kiddie rides by himself. He also did a great job of staying with us, listening to us, and waiting in line. He cheered as he watched the roller coasters.
I'm very excited for Meatball to be old enough for this stuff; physically he might be ready at the end of the summer, but I have a feeling that we'll have better luck next summer. The kids can do this stuff together.
Musical Daddy has a collection of walking routes in Pittsburgh that we'll check out. We might do one this week.
He has a job for 4 weeks this summer. Half-days, and 11:30 start. So we get up, have breakfast, play, he goes to work, the kids eat and nap, and it isn't long before he comes back. And then we go do something fun.
I think we're doing a good job on our make-up work.