The McDonald's Houston Children's Festival benefiting Child Advocates happened last weekend and Dennis, Jack, and I were lucky enough to receive free tickets to go check it out and report back to ya'll (sponsored post, yo). We went last year, and it's pretty amazing how different the festival experience was this year. Last year at this time, Jack wasn't really walking independently yet, and, well, Jack is uber-mobile now. And he's Mr. Independent (I think his favorite phrase is, "Jack do it"). Plus he's big enough to be able to ride the rides and more importantly, big enough to want to ride the rides this year.
We tried to get to the festival early, before the crowds, but we as a family find it almost impossible to get anywhere on time (unless we really, really have to). Instead of getting there at 10 am, we got there closer to noon (when it was good and HOT). The first thing we came upon was a relatively short line for parents to get a FREE caricature of their kids. What?? FREE?!? Personal drawing of Jack?!? Please and thank you! Sign me up. And this was the biggest mistake I made of the day. I could write an entire blog post about waiting in this line for two and a half hours (yes, I waited in line for two and a half hours - I'm stubborn and after a while, I felt like I was 100% committed to getting that damn free drawing), but that's not what this post is about. Let's just say, I learned my lesson, but we did get a cute drawing that might look a little like Jack - sorta.....
While I was waiting in that hellish line (and all the lines were hellish), Dennis and Jack walked around and got some food and enjoyed themselves. They did some science experiments thanks to Mad Science (side note - I used to be a mad scientist and this company is amaze-balls), intently watched bigger kids play in the water bubbles, and found the best steak fries I've ever had in my entire life - I mean, I like potato wedges, but somehow these tasted like steak, like literally meaty, juicy steak. I don't know what else they did, but they had fun. And I waited in line.
Once we finally got the caricature, we meandered around the festival towards the Tot-Spot (and actually ran into a couple of people we know). Last year we had the luxury to stop into all the vendor tents, but not only did we feel a little more pressed for time (because of that line), we also had a very mobile, active, curious, and excited toddler with us. Sorry, vendors, maybe next year. And after waiting in that first line, we pretty much skipped all the rides, crafts, activities, and anything else that had a line attached to it. Jack is at an interesting age where he wants to do all the things, but doesn't have the patience to wait in the lines.
Back in the Tot-Spot, there was a line-free pony ride that Jack lunged for and a few other activities he was able to participate in. By this time, it was getting super hot and Jack was tired-cranky, so we decided to call it a day. On the way out, we stopped by the kid hand print mural that we did last year and Jack had to try all the colors. Then Jack spotted a bouncy obstacle course and HAD TO TRY IT. Luckily, there wasn't really a line and the admission was exactly the amount of tickets we had left. It was destiny. He thought that bouncy was the bee's knees. I thought he was going to break something the way he flopped and fell over the obstacles, but kids are surprisingly bendy and they bounce well.
Overall, we had fun. And most importantly, Jack had fun. This year's trip was a little more stressful - partly because of the stupid caricature line, partly because of the heat, and mostly because of a mobile toddler in a sea of people. We'll definitely go next year, where I'm sure our experience will be completely different again, lol. We missed most of the circus area, so that's going to be at the top of