I'm going to sum up the rest of our Christmas and trip to Dollywood in one post because this Christmas Retrospective is starting to run long, even to me, so I can't imagine how you folks are feeling about it.
The kids woke early, but not too early, on Christmas morning to their pile of wrapped gifts from Santa. Gifts were opened:
But guess what Santa forgot??? He forgot Punkin's dress up trunk! Santa had bought her three different dress up outfits and he completely forgot to leave them for her. He had stuff hidden all over our house and frankly it's a miracle that he didn't forget more. I've since given her two of the three, one of which is pictured here.
Lest anybody start attacking me in the comments about gender stereotypes and limiting her options to cheerleader and princess, I also bought her a doctor's costume with all the associated accessories. But in my own defense, do you know how HARD it is to find anything other than princess? I mean, good grief. I've read about princess mania, but I had never fully experienced it for myself until this year!
After opening gifts we all piled in the car to head to Dollywood. The trip was mainly uneventful though I did discover one more downside to the DVD player in the car -- no one will nap because they don't want to miss the movie!! We arrived in Dollywood in the late afternoon and had planned to eat dinner in the condo. BUT, this year there were several restaurants open and my dad and step-mom agreed to keep the kids while we went out to dinner, which was unexpected and lovely surprise.
On Wednesday we woke and prepared to head to DOLLYWOOD! Our condo was situated near the trolley line that runs to Dollywood, which we assumed was going to be very convenient. My step mother and I had scoped out the fact that there was a trolley stop right up the street about 100 yards from our condo. So, once everyone was ready, we all -- and by "we all" I mean 2 grandparents, 4 parents, and 4 kids ages 2, 3 1/2, 5, and 6, trooped down to the trolley stop. And by "trooped down" I mean we had to take our lives into our hands and cross a very busy street and walk about 100 yards to the stop. Where we were greeted by a sign telling us "This trolley stop is only open when Dollywood is closed." WHA? So Mr. Daddy and Bubba went into the nearby hotel whereupon they were told that there was another trolley stop another 100 yards down the road. So, we all trooped down to the next trolley stop -- an by trooped down I mean that I carried Punkin because a) she's sooo freaking slow and b) the street was very busy and I didn't trust her not to fling herself into traffic in a fit of toddler pique. Do you know that she weighs almost 30 pounds? When we arrived at the next sign, IT said, "This trolley stop is open from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm." It was currently about 10:45 am! WHA? So, Mr. Daddy took his life into hands again and crossed the busy street to inquire at a real estate office about the $%#$%^ trolley route whereupon he was told that the main trolley station was just around the corner. So, we were ll trooping off to the main trolley station when a trolley roared past us and we saw the driver motioning for us to GO BACK! He stopped at the trolley stop WE WERE JUST AT but very kindly waited while we all ran like goobers back to the trolley. By the time we reached Dollywood we were all exhausted!
BUT, can I just tell you how fun Dollywood was. It's a little confusing how it's laid out, but once you get the hang of it it's a pretty great place. It seems to be staffed almost entirely by retired persons, but they were all so friendly.
One of the highlights of the trip was the train ride at Dollywood. The conductor looks -- on purpose, I'm assuming -- JUST LIKE the conductor from the Polar Express. And he was so nice to Bubba and Punkin. He even had a little stopwatch thingy that would alternate between "Early" and "On Time." (That's what he's showing Bubba in this photo)
Here are me, Bubba, and Punkin on the train:
And the train is VERY realistic. As we rounded the curve we all got a face full of cinders and soot!
The other highlights -- other than the FUNNEL! CAKE! -- were the retro cars:
And the Bees. I mean, just look at these faces:
That night we attended a very late showing of the Dixie Stampede. They won't let you bring cameras in so I have no photos. The kids enjoyed this tremendously, though Bubba did ask "Why did they keep bringing me, bringing me, bringing me, bringing me food?!" It was quite a lot of food, even for an adult and for some reason there were no utensils. Try eating a piping hot Cornish hen with your fingers, sometime!
The second day was spent much like the first, though I did ride THIS roller coaster. I haven't ridden a roller coaster in about 8 years, but it's just like riding a bicycle -- you don't forget how. Just hold on tight and scream!
Although I didn't really expect to, I was disappointed that I didn't get to see Dolly, though her photo is everywhere. Mr. Daddy compared it to Chairman Mao, but I think Dolly is a much more benevolent leader. All in all, it was a good time!
5 years ago