The State Fair12:46 PM
As it's been a really long time since I'd been to the Fair (and I really love looking at the livestock, for some reason), when my mom said that Friday would be free entrance, parking and kiddie rides from 9-11, it sounded like fun. In hindsight, I should have given more consideration to the fact that my baby wasn't quite 3 weeks old and my body, while feeling back to normal, isn't totally.
But how often does the State Fair come around (once a year...) and offer free admission, rides, etc. Yeah.
So I woke up super early (6:45) and my parents showed up at 8:30 to ride with me and the kids to the Fair. Oh, and I hadn't told my kids what we were doing - just that it was a surprise.
|Anna and I (she's due in December), and I only look pregnant. Wyeth is nestled up in my wrap, sleeping soundly.|
They were super excited when they caught a glimpse of the towering rides and what to them, had to seem like the best place on EARTH! Here's where things got crazy: all my married siblings (minus Beth since Aden is just too little) came with their kids and their spouses. Plus Melissa's parents. That adds up to at least 17 people, if my math is correct. 11 of those are children. And the Fairgrounds were SWARMING with families and children. And here's where it got sticky - keeping up with the littles. As you can imagine.
|L-R - Avery and Merrick wait in line with Brooklyn and August|
Gage kept wandering off. The kids kept trying to run over to the rides they picked, not thinking that it took half a second to lose sight of them. For awhile, it worked fine. We all corralled whomever we saw, held any hands that weren't being held and generally helped each other out.
We bumped into lots of familiar faces from church, which was great, since I haven't been back since I had Wyeth. And I discovered which of my kids are super adventurous (Dorien) and which get really queasy (Brooklyn). They rode everything that didn't require us to wait in line for 30 minutes. Including the Crazy Bus. Wyeth and I were the official Guardians of the Strollers.
Notice above how my fearless 2 year old (top left on the chain bridge) is TUGGING on his older sister's hand, urging her to hurry up!
They all loved the Merry Go Round and we stayed here for quite awhile.
Brooklyn was ecstatic to pick and handle her own horse.
Dorien made sure DD didn't get scared or fall off her horse.
This little guy's favorite thing is Motorcycles. Imagine his GLEE when he got to ride one! Even if it was behind his older cousin, Merrick. The funniest thing was when the parents (Lauren, Melissa) hopped in the teensy side-cars.
And what I thought was an airplane ride turned out to be little Nemo fishies zooming about. August swims by in a blink of an eye!
And here comes Brooklyn!
And Dorien catching up!
Back to my story...as the free hours wrapped up, more crowds began pouring in to the Fairgrounds and our crew headed into the petting zoo barn. It was jammed pack full of kids and parents. And everything was A-ok, until I turned around to join the group and couldn't see Dorien or Brooklyn. I yelled to DD who said she had him, but no - she was holding hands with Tagg and Gage (who was wearing the same color shirt as Dorien). Dorien and B were nowhere in sight.
To make matters worse, I had dreamed the previous night that I lost Dorien. Imagine my horror when that appeared to be prophetic. If you've ever lost a child at the Fair, you can understand the terror that gripped me. My blood ran cold. My eyes were zooming over kids as fast as possible and I was calling their names while my siblings gathered in a group to watch the rest of the kids and help me look. I had perfect strangers coming to help me, asking what they were wearing...their names...I was praying hard and trying to think straight and not get overly emotional, but I was terrified. After several long long minutes, I saw Dad give me a thumbs up from across the way, indicating he'd found one. Dorien. A few minutes later, he came back from the MEMS station at the entrance holding a sobbing Brooklyn. She'd been petting a horse and turned around to find us and we were gone. A stranger had kindly taken her to the MEMS/Lost Child station where Dad found her. It was all I could do not to completely lose it right then and there. I could see on the faces of my siblings empathy and relief that it wasn't their children.
I didn't even tell Kyle about this until much later that day, as he would have left work immediately (in the middle of an important presentation) and raced to help look. I praise God for allowing us to find them and for the kind strangers who offered their help and who took B to the Lost Child station.
In the future, I will make sure Kyle is there with us and that the whole group of us talks with our children and develops a plan for if we get separated. I can't believe I didn't do that anyway. Bad Mommy. We also need to have a designated kid for each hand, and not assume someone else has a child.
Praise the Lord, things ended well. I was utterly exhausted, as were the kids. But a good time was had by all. I even indulged with a funnel cake. Yum.
Taking a final stroll down the midway towards our car, amidst the rows of hawkers and ginormous stuffed animals. It was a day to remember.