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While driving around one day, I heard on a local radio station that they were running a contest for amusement park tickets to Kings Island. All participants had to do was submit a prom photo (to be crowned King or Queen winners…get it? Heehee…) and write a short blurb about why they should be considered. Since I have an old prom photo of Jack and me that I absolutely love, and I enjoy a writing exercise as much as the next author, I decided to go ahead and submit. I did, then promptly forgot about it. Imagine our surprise when we won!
One of our very favorite things to do together is to go to amusement parks, especially now that the kids are getting older. We managed to squeeze in a trip before school started and Jack left on a work trip. It was a scorching hot Monday but that meant the park wasn’t overly packed. Since we didn’t have the expense of tickets, we splurged on a few other items that we wouldn’t normally have bought, like meal and drink tickets–every hour and a half, we rotated through eating everything from hamburgers to BBQ, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and burritos.
I LOVE their faces!

Between all that eating, we rode as many rides as we could manage. The one downside of Kings Island is that there weren’t any overlapping rides we could go on–Jack took the three older girls and they spent an hour riding rollercoasters while Zoey, Peter, Henry and me kept to the little kid rides.

He spent a good majority of the day napping.
A definite challenge to the day was toting Peter along. Not that he wasn’t agreeable, but I spent a lot of time fussing that he wasn’t overheating, sitting wherever I could find a spot in the shade to feed him, and carrying him when he was done laying down. It’ll be a lot more fun to go with everyone when everyone can at least walk.
Between stints on the rollercoasters, we met up and tried to find a few rides that we could all do together. Mostly, Zoey was too small for everything but she’s happy for now being an observer. Henry bravely took on a few of the adult rides he was tall enough for, and I can confidently say he’s a thrill-seeker.
By mid-afternoon, we could all feel ourselves dragging. It was a combination of being hot, eating until we couldn’t take another bite, and that we’d gotten up early in order to make it to the park right as it opened. We’d find the occasional reprieve on a shady bench but we weren’t there to nap! To wake everyone up and refresh ourselves from the summer sun, we headed over to the waterpark side.

Everyone squeezed into their swimsuits but no matter how much I jostled Zoey, who’d crashed in the stroller, she wasn’t going to wake up. So, Peter, Zoey, and I hung out and watched the rest of the family zip down waterslides. Second only to being on a ride is getting a clear view of the kids coming down, their faces a mixture of terror and excitment all in one.

She didn’t get the memo that it wasn’t time to sleep.

One of the lovely side effects of doing something out-of-the-ordinary with the family is that for the day, everyone is best friends without exception. They’re riding the high of being excited and having the shared experience of facing their fears while going on rides. They gripped each other’s hands while looping and twisting and bolting on a ride and checked with one another afterward to see if everyone survived.


Eventually, Zoey woke up to the sound of splashing and it took her all of thirty seconds to shed her clothes and pull on her swimming suit (ah, to be an uninhibited toddler again…). Again, we divided and conquered. The older kids went with Jack while Zoey and Henry had a blast doing what they wanted to do on their very own kid-sized pirate ship.


For about an hour, they stayed put…then they discovered there was a back door to the pirate ship (when will amusement parks ever learn there should only be ONE entrance and exit to kids’ rides?!?) and decided they’d rather be going down some other rides. At least they stuck together and were going down the slides with the same amount of gusto as they had on the pirate ship.

And Peter? He’d had it with his sweaty onesie, so I pulled it off and let him dip his little toes in the water. If there’s one thing about babies, it’s that they’re not that complicated. He was fed, dry, not-too-hot, and sitting up so he could watch everyone. In short, he was happy.
Determined he’s going to join them someday.
As the waterpark side closed, we had everyone put their clothes over the top of their swimsuits so we could maximize the rest of our time at the main park. The weather had cooled off and the sun was setting…and then it started raining. We took shelter under an evergreen tree and were disappointed at our luck, worried that our day would be cut short by the weather. But, it rained for all of thirty seconds and scared off a majority of the people still hanging around the park. That meant the rides were all ours!
Rain, rain, go a-w-a-y.

The same rides that we’d previously had to stand in line for were practically vacant, so we picked which ones we wanted to go on in our final few hours. By far, one of my favorite rollercoasters was The Beast, an enormously long, fun-but-not-whiplash-or-puke-inducing wooden rollercoaster that lived up to its name. I’d go while Jack would watch the three youngest, then we’d swap. In about ten minutes, everyone would get to ride their choice of ride.


With the park practically at our disposal, we literally ran from ride to ride. Peter and Zoey sat in the stroller, Henry was on my back, and we bolted. No time to waste during the best time of the day to ride!

Hang on, Henry!

With no lines, I got to teach my kids the art of running to the rollercoaster. Running up the ramp, hopping on the ride, screaming through the entire trip, getting off, running down, only to run back up is one of the most satisfying experiences in life. I’m glad I got to share it with them.


At the very end of the evening, the park put on a fireworks display while running the last of the patrons on the rides. While the kids and Jack were spinning around some octopus-like ride, they were also treated to some booming artillery shells in the distance.

And just like that, our day was over with. We filed out of the park, got in our jammies, read scriptures and said family prayer, and the kids were out before we’d even left the parking lot.
The trip to Kings Island was the cherry on top of our fantastic, fast-paced summer. We hadn’t planned on going to a theme park because of all the other things we had going on but we’re so happy we were given the opportunity and made the time to go.
The closest we’ve gotten to the real Eiffel Tower.
I love their smiles!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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