Kings Island 2013

I don’t know who was more excited about my brother and sister and brother-in-law coming in town – me or Maria and Mario. We had planned a Kings Island trip for a Monday hoping it would be less crowded. Sar and Jorge got in town on Sunday afternoon and we met them in my office so that I could hang Jorge’s photos that he framed for me. They look awesome.

Maria and Mario glued themselves onto Sar and Jorge from that point on insisting to ride home with them. I am as good as gone once those two come around. Jorge became a Candy Land whiz playing game after game with Mario.

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Meanwhile, Ri enjoyed some adult talk with Sarah, Jack, and me. This is her version of heaven.

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We woke up at 7:15 on Monday morning and got prepared for a day at KI! A mandatory Stauf’s run was in order and then we were off down I-71.

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We played the “Conversation” game that Ri loves. It consists of a deck of cards that contain questions about love, passions, secrets…. We learned a lot about each other on the way down (I.e., Jorge has jumped through a hoop of fire and Jack would love a night with Lindsay Lohan). We arrived at KI at exactly 10 am and the lot was already filled with people and cars. Amazing. We skipped towards the front gate energized to take on the roller coasters. We figured we’d better hit the Beast right in the beginning to avoid a long line. It took us ten minutes to get through the line. Ri didn’t hesitate to get in the seat with Sarah. I could not believe it. Mario seemed fine with the fact that he was too short to ride and I was fine standing back with him.

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It was Jorge’s first time on a roller coaster and although he was nervous as hell, he stood strong for Ri. I love this before and after shot of Ri and Sar.

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Ri was rather shaken after the four minute ride. Her stomach hurt for two hours afterwards. Poor girl. I think back and realize she was probably scared too death but wanted to impress her Aunt Sarah so stayed calm and quiet. I was proud of her intrepid spirit.
The kids and I headed to Kiddy Land after the Beast to let Ri’s stomach calm down. We went on a miniature ride where it shoots you up about 100 feet and back down. That was a thrill to Mario and me but I think Ri thought it was lame after the Beast experience. Ri and I begged Mario to ride the Log Floom. Last year, he freaked out because his shoes and shirt got a little wet so we were prepared this time. I brought his flip-flops and bathing suit. He changed on the steps leading to the canoe while Ri and I surrounded him. Luckily, he’s not shy. He ended up loving it this year. Next, we headed to the haunted house; the line was ridiculously long for it only being 11 am. The kids waited patiently but Mario was done waiting in lines after that ride. We rode the bumper cars and posed with some characters and went to meet Sarah, Jack and Jorge at the Vortex (Jorge’s favorite roller coaster!).

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We hit LaRosas for lunch knowing we would hit Skyline for dinner. Grandma M. would be so proud of us chowing at all the local eateries.

After lunch we went up the Eiffel Tower because Mario really wanted “to see the whole world.”

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While up on the Tower, I asked Ri if she wanted to go on the Racer with me. She agreed to do it because I promised her the hill was tiny compared to the Beast. I could tell she was a bit hesitant but she got into line with me and Sar and Jack while Mario strolled around with Jorge (and fell asleep for a few minutes). I think I was more nervous than Ri to get on the coaster.

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There are two different types of people on coasters – the “hold everything in” types and the “let it all out” types. Maria is the former and Sarah and I are the latter. I could barely talk after the ride. Sarah had hilarious pictures of Ri holding her breath with her cheeks puffed out like mini balloons. But we made it through alive and just a little shaken.
We headed to the water park next but stopped at the White Water Canyon first. We stood in line for a half hour with Sar worried about her shoes getting soaked for most of that time only to be told that Mario was an inch too short to ride the ride. Sar and I laid into the teenage girl worker but she held her ground. So all of us boycotted the ride in solidarity with Mario (who was mad as heck at the rules and the girl worker). Maria, always the positive one, chimed in as we walked away, “at least Aunt Sarah’s shoes will stay dry.”

We paid $12 for a locker at the water park – what a deal… and had high hopes for some water fun. It ended up bring a bit of a disappointment but we still had our laughs.

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We stood in line for 45 minutes for a rafting ride that Sarah remembered being scared half too death of as a kid. It was quite the disappointment after the long wait (Sar was ready to head back down but we made her wait) but the kids loved it! They also loved the Lazy River but us old foegy adults were freezing! Luckily, the kids started to get cold after a couple more slides so we packed it up and hit the games. Mario had been begging to play games since we walked in the park.
They always play the water gun game because someone is bound to win. Ri purposely lost the second game after winning the first so Mario could get an animal. Ri loves the Guess your Age or Weight game so we headed over there, too. She loves for them to guess her birth month. And they were wrong again so she got a prize. Mario used his Aunt Sarah to win his prize; she knew they’d guess a really low weight for her and they did so Mario got the famous hot pepper!

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We played two more games to ensure we’d walk out with three stuffed animals each and then called it quits (with just a tad bit of begging for more games from Ri). We had to buy the key chain at the end with all of us on it for memory sake (Ri and I are sentimentalists).
By the time we left at 6:30, we were fried and starving. We headed straight to Skyline and devoured the oyster crackers and then the five-ways and coneys. It’s like we hasn’t eaten on a year.

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We barely spoke a word as we shoveled food in our mouths. It was delightful. Jack and Ri passed out within ten minutes of our trip home. Jorge and Mario watched Looney Tunes. Sar and I talked about writing and blogs and definitely having to make this an annual event.

Second Annual Kings Island trip – check!

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We braved Kings Island yesterday for the last hoo-rah before school started. We took that amusement park by storm and were all over Snoopy Land (I miss Hannah Barbera land though)! The kids chose the haunted house ride first since its the closest to the entrance. When the ride ended, Mario begged to go on it again. This would be the theme after every ride – he would beg to go on the ride again. I tried to explain to him that if he went to a different ride, he ended up loving that one just as much if not more so he should give new ones a chance. I don't know that he quite got it – he probably was just so excited after each one that he had to proclaim "Let's go again!"

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Maria loved the roller coaster in Snoopy Land, which used to be called the “Beastie” when I was little. It was surreal to stand in the same stalls and wait for our turn on the coaster just as I did 30 years ago with my best friend, Beth. Beth and I would wait for an hour to get on that coaster; meanwhile chatting it up about things I cannot even begin to remember. And now I stood in that line with my kids – Mario climbing the rails and pretending to be a superhero and Maria staring off into space patiently waiting her turn. Life moves fast.

Maria held her arms up throughout the roller coaster ride while Mario sat by me and leaned into my side burying his face. He loved the ride but would never consider holding his arms up and watching us descend. Maria would have it no other way. She was ready for the Beast, and I think she would have tried it if I could have gone with her (Mario was just tall enough for the Beastie).

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We hit the water park right in the heat of the day – great timing. We did more water rides this year. Mario lost all fear of the kids’ slides – last year he was scared to go down and I had to hold onto him. This year he zoomed down them. But he drew the line at the enclosed slides. He does not like feeling trapped (he’s got mama’s issues!). Maria, on the other hand, conquered all three of them!

We also tubed down the Lazy River – Maria’s favorite. She loves to lay back in her tube and drift down the river. Meanwhile, Mario and I were chomping at the bit to walk or swim but were admonished to stay in our tubes.

We left the water park to ride the Beastie again and then to hit the kids’ games. Again, another déjà vu as we rolled the bowling ball on a track and tried to keep it in the little valley. I used to play this game all the time with Beth and score some serious stuffed animals. It was my favorite – and it’s still only 25 cents. I had my mojo back because I won twice. Maria chose a small frog the first win and Mario got to choose the second time. He wanted a big turtle but you had to turn in the small prize for it. Maria threw the man her frog and said “please give my brother the big turtle.” She takes care of that kid. We played the birthday guessing game where the attendant has to guess within two months of your birthday in order to win. We always win on these games so paying 5 dollars is a safe bet to get an animal. The attendant guessed October for Ri so she got her orca but he guessed September for Mario – dead on! Mario did not understand that he didn’t get a prize and when it sunk in, he showed his displeasure to the amusement of us all. We calmed him down at the water spraying game where he shot his water gun into the hole so well he won every time (he did reciprocate Ri’s kindness and got her a unicorn). When all was done, they each walked out with three animals (and I was down a mere $45! – what can I say – I am a sucker for stuffed animals!).

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We ended the day with tattoos. Mario chose a gold dragon.

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Mario chose a rose.

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Does that give insight into their personalities, or what?! We wrapped up the trip with the Eiffel Tower where we saw “all of the world” according to Mario. Six and a half hours of fun and games.

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We hit I-71 for the outlet malls and met my mom, who in keeping with a tradition set when Ri started kindergarten, bought her a load of new clothes (and clothes that were not “whore-ish” as Jon calls some of the outfits she desires!). She also bought Mario, “Mr. Particular”, a pair of flip flops (after he tried on ten pairs) and a pair of jeans and jean shorts (again after he assessed them for ten minutes; when we got changed out of our bathing suits at KI, Ri and I were done in three minutes; Mario took ten!).

We got home at 8:20 – just in time for a quick shower and some snuggle time with dad. Maria was knocked out in ten minutes; Mario stayed up with Jon a bit longer. He is all into dad time lately so Jon cuts him some slack.

Second Annual Kings Island trip – checked off for the year! Victory!

Tearing up Kings Island!

We tore up Kings Island yesterday!  On Wednesday, I watched the weather report for the rest of the week.  They called for beautiful weather on Thursday and Friday and storms all weekend.  Maria starts school this coming week and I had been wanting to do something special with her for the last week.  I pulled up Kings Island’s website and took a look at the rides.  I debated back and forth on whether to take the dive.  I finally called my girlfriend who has a Season’s Pass and asked her what she thought about taking M&M to the park.  She sealed the deal when she told me she had coupons for $20 a person to get into the park (normally $59 and $39).  Now was the time to brave it.

We woke up on Friday morning and gathered up our suits and shoes and movies and workbooks.  A couple of granola bars, waters and movies later (Maria found the headphones for the video player in the car so she gets to watch hers and Mario watches his (not spoiled at all)), we were already at the park.  The kids stood in awe of the gigantic roller coaster 100 feet away, and listened to the screams of the riders.  Mario exclaimed “Mom, you and dad could not ride that because you would be so scared!”  I asked him if he would ride it and to my surprise he said “No way!”  He is normally my daredevil.  Maria said she would though – she is my daredevil lately. 

Looking down below

We charged in the gates with our bag of cheese pretzels, raisins, waters, and cheese and crackers.  Jill pointed us to Kiddie Land.  The first ride we saw was the Boo Monster ride.  The line was just slightly out the door and the clock indicated that it would be a 30 minute wait.  Maria and Mario begged to go on it.  I was hopeful that they put the little hands on 30 minutes with the thought that you would probably get in within 15 minutes but if you didn’t, you would not get so irritated.  My hopes were shattered when we moved into the cave and there was a line twirling around 6 lanes.  I did not think that Maria and Mario would do too well in that line but they surprised their mama.  They barely whined at all as we crawled through the lanes and got to the ride.  Mario hung on the bars and danced to the music and Maria stood in her own little world thinking about what 6-year-old girls think (?!).  The ride was pretty lame by my standards, and I think Maria felt the same way.  Mario, on the other hand, loved it because it involved using a plastic gun to try to shoot ghosts and goblins that popped up while on the ride.  Any ride that involves guns and violence will win my boy over.

We moved over to a couple of “kiddie” rides (helicopters, cars, etc.) and then we made our way to the log floom.  My favorite when I was a kid.  My girlfriend, Beth and I would stand in line for an hour or longer just to get on this ride and get soaked by the water as we plunged down the hill.  I told stories about Beth and me while we waited.  Luckily, we were there early enough to only have to wait about a half hour before getting on the ride.  Mario had already taken off his shirt and shoes before we got in the boat.  Unfortunately, the workers made him put on his shoes.  This really bothered my little man.  He did not want to get his gym shoes wet.  Maria wore her suit, too and had begged to wear her flip-flops so she was in a good state.  When the boat took off, Mario wanted the front.  By the time we had moved 100 feet, water had splashed in the boat and gotten his shoes wet.  “I don’t like this ride, mom!”  I calmed him down until we got ot the top of the hill and got ready to take the plunge.  maria was so excited.  And then, swoosh!  We flew down the hill and Mario and I got a decent soaking (not as good as my teenage days)!  Maria was in the back so she didn’t get as much (and she is the one that wanted it!).  Mario stepped out of the boat pissed as can be.  “Mom, I never want to go on that again – my shoes are so wet and my hair is messed up!”  Yeah, I kid you not. 

Mario still contemplating the telescope

In order to make it up to him, I took them to the “Eiffel Tower.”  We rode up on the glass elevator and my stomach sunk with each additional foot we rose.  I cannot hang with heights any more.  When we stepped off, the kids darted straight to the edge to look down.  It took me two minutes to gain my composure and head their way.  Mario yelled “Mom, come here, you can see Africa and North Carolina!”  Maria wondered where Grandma Lolo and Grandma Menkedick lived.  They loved it.  I was happy when they wanted to head down ten minutes later.  Next, we went to the games area.  Why?  I still have that competitive kid in me that wants to win a stuffed animal.  When Beth and I went to the park, we spent hours at the games trying to win animals (how did we have that money?!).  I loved the bowling game (probably because it only cost 25 cents).  You have to push the bowling bowl over one hill and make it stay in the valley and not come back over the hill again.  It is hard as heck but when I was young, I had some knack for it.  I won many a stuffed bear and monkey playing that game.  As an adult, not so  lucky.  Maria and Mario and I tried numerous times and only left frustrated.  We moved to the slingshot game and the plinko but no wins.  Our only hope was the Guess your Weight or Birthdate game.  Maria walked up and asked the girl to guess her weight.  She got on the scale and topped 63 pounds.  The girl had guessed 59 and could only be off by three.  She won!  Mario was next and I knew should guess his weight so we did birth month.  She guessed May and she had to be within 2 months so Mario won!  Maria took two seconds to pick out her bear.  Mario took 20 minutes.  He could not choose between a telescope (that would have cost a $1 at the dollar store) and a whale stuffed animal.   He begged for both of them.  He finally chose the darling whale.  When we walked over to watch another game he told me he wanted the telescope.  We went to exchange it and he begged me again to let him have both.  After ten minutes, he decided to keep the whale but kept mouthing to me “And the telescope.”  He never stops.  As we left, he tried to bargain to come back to KI on Saturday to get the telescope.  He knows how to keep the pressure on.

Maria enjoying the lazy river

After the games, we were all starting to break down a bit.  The kids were leaning back in the stroller holding their animals and I was moving a lot slower.  But no rest for the weary!  We decided to trek it over to the waterpark for some water fun!  I asked where is was located and a worker told me where to catch the tram.  I asked if I could walk, and he laughed.  “Sure, but most people take the tram.”  When we got to the tram pick-up, I saw a path to the park.  I decided to walk with the kids.  The waterpark could not have been 1000 feet from the tram pick-up.  It would have taken more time to load up the stroller than to walk.  People need to move more.  ALl sorts of different folks packed the waterpark.  We hit the shallow pool and then moved onto the slides and squirters.  I got rather freaked at that station because I could not keep a good eye on Maria.  Mario was so cold that he clung to me but when Maria went up the stairs and through all of the jungle gym squirty stuff, I lost her.  I watched the slides hoping to see her.  Nothing.  I ran to the other side.  Nothing.  I ran back and climbed the steps. Nothing.  Finally, I looked down and saw her going down the slide.  “Maria!” SHe looked at me and it was love at first sight.  One of life’s greatest feelings – to find your kid when you think they are missing.  I warned her that she had to stay close.  Some of these parents just let their kids go on their own throughout the area but I am so not one of them.  I know I am going to be bad when she gets to the age that she can go off by herself – I get anxious already about the day.  We rode the lazy river next.  Mario and I got in an inner tube for about 3 minutes and then we were ready to walk and end the trip.  Maria, on the other hand, laid back in her inner tube, head propped on the headrest and eyes closed.  She enjoyed every minute of it.  

Family pose waiting for a ride (with Mr. Comedian)

After the water park, we headed back to the rides for some bumper cars (Mario loved hitting other kids’ cars but was mad he did not hit enough) and the “mini” roller coaster (cars go around in a circle and speed up around the corner).  We also hit a little bigger roller coaster that actually had a hill to it (albeit small) and Maria sat in the front and held up her arms.  Mario leaned into my chest to hide.  You get the picture of the daredevil in the family, heh? 

I finally persuaded them to leave the park 6 1/2 hours later by telling them we would go to McDonald’s play land up the street.  Yeah, I am not kidding.  I was craving a hamburger anyway.  I just needed out of the park, too.  The kids played in the Playland; we saw Grandma Lolo; and I loaded up on Diet Coke and fries to steer us back to Columbus.  On the way home, Maria and Mario held their animals tight as they watched the rest of their movies.  When we got home, Maria begged me to sleep with her.  I said no at first but then the thought of lying horizontal sounded too good.  I tapped her shoulder as she laid in her bed, and she came running into my room.  We laid together talking about KI and school and how much we would miss our house when we moved.

Ronald McDonald visited us!