So the weather’s been fun, eh? Good times, good times. I know we’re all in the same boat here, so complaining about it is lame, but when you’ve got a soon-to-be-three- and soon-to-be-five-year-old in the house and winter is … this … freakin’ … long … it’s like being locked in a madhouse with a couple of loonies. The more you protest your sanity the more crazy you feel.

So anyway, this Saturday was a one of those breaking point days. The kind of day where my mom used to say, “These kids are driving me to drink.”

Now I get it why she said that. (I, ahem, say it a lot).

Unfortunately, bourbon isn’t an option at 7:00 a.m., so after the early morning bedroom invasion–where I took a double knee drop to the chest–Nic and I went into the kitchen, looked outside, looked at each other, and saw despair in one another’s eyes.

How will we make it …

[loud bang in background]

… through …

[children suddenly crying]

… another …

[dog comes into the kitchen and craps on floor]

… godforsaken …

[barrel fire, escaped chickens running by]

… day?

Okay, it’s not that bad 😉 The girls are really quite good and we feel blessed by that. But still, not to be able to go outside with them, take them to a park, or just do anything outside the house in which we’ve been cooped up for ten million days starts to wear a person down. So I started searching for something to do. We just needed a reason to get out of the house with these kids. Target isn’t cutting it anymore. Kroger is a whine-fest. Do IKEA? Bad idea. We were at a loss.

And then it struck me. Yo, there’s always something big (literally) going down at the Suburban Collection Showplace, right? I mean, even if it was like a camper show or housewares show, it’s a huge, dry place to walk around and tire out these kids and they’ve probably got hot dogs, so win win, right?

But it wasn’t any of those lame shows.

It was The Shrine Circus.


Fast forward to walking through the freezing, lashing rain into the big top in the parking lot at Suburban Collection Showcase. We got inside and immediately the scents hit me. Corn dogs, onion rings, popcorn, cotton candy. It was awesome. This wasn’t some huge production. Maybe a couple thousand seats at best, and not a bad one in the house (unless you were caught under one of the drips).

The smallness is what made it so good. It was raw and real. Old school. Unpolished. When I was in line to get some snacks the guy in front of me was lamenting the cost and the carny behind the counter smirked and said, “Shut up, you’ll be back.”

THAT kind of awesome.

We grabbed our seats and the girls seemed excited, but antsy. We got them some cotton candy and waited for the show to begin. Heather was stoked about the cotton candy, but Sam, being Sam, thought it was yucky looking. Some times you gotta jab something in her mouth while she’s whining about how gross it is before she’ll love it. So it went with the cotton candy. Her eyes lit up and she went for some more.

The show began and got off to a slow start. The first act was kinda boring, and I thought it might be difficult to keep these kids going for two hours. But it was all good. After the first act things began to pick up speed. There were some really cool hoop jumping acrobats, an act where a couple swung around by a spinning cable, Cirque style, a fire eater, a dude who balanced ten folding chairs on his chin, some jugglers, etc. All of them were pretty good and the girls were entertained all throughout. Phew.

My two favorite things that happened at the circus:

One – I totally got sucked in. The final act was the ringmaster going up into the spinning circle cage deal (see above picture) and doing a bunch of tricks. At one point he appeared to sustain a knee injury, but he was going to tough it out and keep on going. I was literally like, “No dude, don’t do it. The show has been fine. Don’t risk it!” And then I had to laugh at myself because I was genuinely convinced he was hurt and was going to fall and die. Awesome.

Two – Sam. I already mentioned that the kid thinks all kinds of food is yucky before she even tries it, but I didn’t mention how much Sam likes to share. Whatever she’s eating, playing with, or whatever, she’ll take time out to share some of what she’s got with someone else. I’m always getting a piece of hot dog offered to me, or maybe a noodle, etc. She’s always offering her sister some of what she has, or Mom, and needless to say our dog Rudy loves Sam. Anyway, popcorn isn’t one of the foods Sam thinks is yucky. Both she and Heather love it, so as the show went on I stopped one of the vendors and got a box of popcorn. You know those thin, red and white striped boxes? Yeah, one of those. Heather ate her share and eventually Sam got a hold of the nearly empty box. She was sitting on my lap, her little head just below my chin as we watched the show. She was thrusting her short arm into the box to dig around for the remaining pops at the bottom, eyes riveted to the entertainers. As I said, I was getting sucked into the show, too, so I was watching intently when a little hand came up into view. It was Sam holding a piece of popcorn above her head for me to eat. She never took her eyes off the show, but wanted to make sure Dad got something to eat, too.

Thanks, Sammy.

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