A 10th Birthday Present

This month our niece turned 10. Ten is a big birthday than for no other reason that it marks the occasion when you will never be a single digit ever again.

To mark the big day required something more than a gift certificate to Barnes & Nobles so I came up with the idea that Blair and I should take my niece and a friend of her choosing to Carowinds, a big amusement park 2 1/2 hours south of us in Charlotte.

At the time, it sounded brilliant. Special day, special niece, special times. As with all good ideas though, sometimes they seem less brilliant the closer you get to implementation. This idea required us to drive to my brother-in-laws Friday evening (a 3 hour ride) and then drive everyone almost 4 hours to the park on Saturday and home again. I wondered if I would be cursing myself and my big ideas before the day was over.

Thankfully not. Although we started out on shaky ground, we had a good time and--most important--created a day to remember for our niece.

Getting Out of the House
As I said, Blair and I drove in on Friday so we were all in one place on Saturday. My brother and sister-in-law decided to join us, which turned out great because they drove the kids the 4 hours home while we took our car the 2 1/2 hours back to our house.

But we were worried about our stated departure time of 8am. My brother and sister in law --God love them-- are the same people who one year showed up three hours late for Thanksgiving dinner. They never EVER are on time for anything. EVER. I had visions of us leaving the house at noon.

But I was pleasantly put in my place. We left the house a mere 30 minutes behind schedule and I'll even say the reason for the delay was pretty much out of their control. So an A for effort on getting on the road.

The Drive
I will no longer mock parents who load up cars with toys and games for a 15 minute drive as if they were preparing to cross the Andes. The girls were angels on the trip, no doubt due to their being stocked in gameboy games, coloring books, books, DVD movies, and other asundries. Long live the video game.

Arriving At The Park
Here's something to make you feel safe. Even though we had pre-purchased our tickets, we had to stand in a long security line to enter the park. We obediently pulled out all our keys, jewelry, etc. and dumped it in a little plastic dish as we walked through a metal detector.

As we're waiting in line, we noted my brother-in-law would most likely be pulled aside for the metal plate he has in his arm where he broke it 6 years ago. But no, nothing. We all passed through.

"It didn't set the detector off?" asked my sister-in-law, surprised.

"No, it did," said Blair. "I saw the red light go on over the door when Brian walked through. The woman screening just wasn't paying any attention."

I feel safer already.

More tomorrow...