July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you're all having a blast at cookouts, bbqs, picnics, firework shows, etc. this holiday weekend. I know mine has been jam-packed as Pete came down and we spent the bulk of the last few days with his mom, step-dad, sister, and nephew - who got to visit the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari and Petting Zoo in Gentry, play at Fun City in Springdale, and shoot (read: watch) fireworks galore Sunday evening after the great "hangburger" grilling feat.

While I took a few iPhone photos, out of respect for the privacy of other people's families, I won't be posting all of them, just one sweet one of an uncle helping his nephew hold his first sparkler in the shadows:
I love watching Peter with little ones, it makes my heart swell more than playing with them myself (which is saying something since I've chosen a career working with children & families and I would maybe say I'm closer to my nephews than my brothers). He loves to teach and explain how things work, and little ones are always so curious and full of questions. He finally gets an outlet for the overload of silliness inside of him that he constantly tries to pester into fellow adults (i.e. he's still very much a "little brother" at heart to all those around him).

If you're ever looking for things to do with kids in Northwest Arkansas,
the safari is a must - the drive-through alone is worth the drive out to the boonies; there's nothing quite like a caravan of camels sauntering past your windows or a zeal of zebras blocking the gravel road for a few minutes. I also think it's a little...hilarious...that this is in middle of nowhere Arkansas. But the petting zoo is great, too - you can buy $1 feed bags for the pigs, goats, cows, emus, etc. - but you might also feed a slice of apple to the pair of giraffes, pet a joey, ride a camel and/or pony, talk to the monkeys, say aww at the Siberian tiger cub playing with the St. Bernard pup, or see any other of the many animals in the barn area. Ticket prices to get inside were a little higher than I remembered but the souvenir and concession stand were quite reasonable.

Fun City was also a good call and a great affordable option for families liken to a Chuck E. Cheese. There was a fun play area that's totally free for little sock feet to climb about, plus little rides like you might see at a shopping mall, a ton of ticket-spitting arcade games, cheap pizza and a big area dedicated to putt-putt that we didn't even touch. I was surprised at how many of the games this three and a half year old could play (hitting buttons, pulling levers, or maybe getting his huncle Pete to help steady his gun while he rid the world of malicious velociraptors)!

We also discussed some other options for future visits that you might look into: the Amazeum at Crystal Bridges, Turpentine Creek (a big-cat refuge near Eureka Springs, which is a great getaway for adults), Lokomotion (go-carts, bumper boats, laser tag, mini golf, and arcade games), High Rise (trampoline park), Fast Lane (bowling, bumper cars, laser maze & tag, an indoor roller coaster, play gym, more arcade games), the Jones Center (community recreation center with pools, ice rink, fitness classes & more), the Springdale Aquatic Center (community pool with small waterslides and splash area), not the mention there is so much more. Not only is there plenty of hiking and parks and caves to explore, plus way more mini golf and bouncing-type places that haven't been listed, there are loads of kid-friendly events and shows and even the Arkansas-Missouri railroad!

A few other things that we did this weekend: indulged in beer, gin & tonics, cigars, Popeye's & Domino's. Pete & I escaped for a few hours to see Independence Day: Resurgence - I'd heard lots of bad reviews but his mom recommended it; he liked it fine and I probably appreciated it more so since I hadn't seen the original since I was 13. Pete's nephew rode the "tractor" (riding lawn mower) with his Opa after wearing me out with a classic giant bounce ball. I also finally watched an episode of Curious George and I rather like that monkey. I would've liked to have done something exciting with the dogs but there were horrible thunderstorms off and on all weekend (that luckily didn't ruin our trip to Gentry or the fireworks) - which reminds me that my part of my tree fell, blocking the street Friday afternoon. A mini adult lesson on who to call: City Transportation... still haven't gotten around on what to do with it now that it's been chopped and moved between my fence and the street curb...

It feels a little funny celebrating our independence from Great Britain after the turmoil of the U.K. leaving the EU, but alas, here we are. It's a holiday I've grown to appreciate long after my love for lighting fireworks outside of city limits has dulled. [As a sidenote, I'm so happy none of our dogs are bothered by fireworks, not sure how we lucked out with that - all of my family's dogs growing up were terrified.] While there are things that make me proud to be American, this isn't quite what makes the holiday for me... but grilling, eating, and spending time with people you care about sure does.

Not to mention, one of my favorite things about our Independence Day is that it's ten days away from France's Bastille Day...which just so happens to be my birthday ;) How do you think I should celebrate 25? I haven't a clue... which reminds me, my mom is coming up in a few days, just in time for her big 6-0 it just so happens - how to celebrate(?)!!!

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