"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

October 19, 2013

Fall festival

Another October, another HP fall festival at the Oil Ranch. This year, however, was remarkably different from last year. See if you can guess which festival was a better experience based on how they stack up next to each other.

Last year This year
Weather Clear, warm, and breezy Rainy, hot, and steamy
Time stayed 4 to 5 hours 2 hours (not a minute more)
My participation Highly engaged and energetic Low-key and mostly observational
Food Unpalatable, over-priced frito pie and cheese nachos because the line for the free barbeque was ridiculous Delicious burgers and fries at Five Guys because the free barbeque was late and couldn't have been worth waiting for in that ridiculous heat

I can see where you might pick last year, but if you did, you'd be half wrong. And if you pick this year solely because of the food, knowing how important it is to me, you'd be half right. Actually, it's a tie, because even though the experiences were different, they were both fabulous in their own way. Stay with me now ...

At the time, I wasn't thinking this year's event was so fabulous. The rain started soon after we arrived, but at least we were close to a pavilion where we quickly took cover. And the rain lasted just long enough for the kids to enjoy snow cones, which Angy got wet getting for them.
Sara, Evyn, Christian, Ezra
Thankfully, the clouds remained. Sun after rain on a hot day in southeast Texas means that it's time to go inside. But I imagine a lot of people were waiting to come after the weather cleared up, and I'm glad they did because we didn't have to wait in line for a thing.

We headed for the train as soon as the rain stopped. Last year, we had to wait in a very long line, only to have some people practically climb over us to steal our seats while we were trying to help the kids get on. So it was especially nice to walk right up and get all the seats together we needed without having to sit on top of each other.

The kids loved pointing out the ducks, geese, cows, and other animals as we circled the tracks. A few times, I commented on things I didn't remember seeing before, but Kelly and Angy assured me that nothing had changed. I must have been too busy last year complaining about the rude seat stealers to enjoy the ride.

The kids rode the horses next. Although they were having a good time, by then the adults were on a steady decline because of the heat and humidity. We started complaining about our clothes. I was especially hating my jeans, socks, and bra (i.e., sweat catcher) while longing for my capri pants and flip-flops.

Then we followed the little darlins' into the stifling barn where they climbed, jumped, and rolled around on a giant haystack, oblivious to the pieces of hay sticking to their sweaty little bodies and sweaty hair. I just stood back, trying not to move as if that would stem the tide of water pouring from my body.

After being rejuvenated from their moms splashing them off in the restroom sink, the kids ran around trying to throw Frisbees. Normally, I would have been out there with them to lend a hand instead of just watching from the sidelines. Although, I think once I might have offered something helpful like, "Put some wrist into it."

I lamented that God's answer to my prayer over the past two weeks for beautiful weather that day was a resounding no. Zach said his prayer had been that the festival wouldn't take up the whole day. He then talked of a new "one and done" philosophy about taking Evyn and Ezra to special events. For example, since he and Kelly took them to the circus last year, he expects the next time they go will be when they take their own kids. (Kelly's not going to let that fly.)

Apparently, Zach's prayer trumped mine. There was no way we were going to last much longer, so he was about to get half of his day back. Zach then reminded me that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him" (Rom. 8:28). So I started trusting that even this misery would work out for good. Right after that, my faith was tested. The clouds parted and the sun bared its teeth. The day was already a hot, sticky mess, and now it was a hot, sticky mess set on fire.

When we found out that the barbeque was postponed an hour and that pumpkin painting wasn't for another two hours, the kids were told to pick out their pumpkins because we were leaving. Their first protest was that they wanted to do the pumpkin painting at the festival. The answer was to paint them at home. Their second protest was that they didn't have any paint. The answer was to use markers.

As I bent over, combing through the piles to help find the perfect pumpkin—good shape and color, unblemished skin, slightly curled stem—I visualized myself suffering alongside farmhands as they toiled in cotton fields during the zenith of summer. Yes, I know, that's being pathetically spoiled by air conditioning.

By that time, it wasn't just the adults feeling the burn. The kids weren't too cooperative posing for the requisite picture at the pumpkin patch, and they didn't protest anymore about leaving early. As we started for the car, Evyn said, "I'm toasting ... I'm burnt toast!"

Now, let's compare pumpkin patch photos ...
Last year
This year
You see the difference, right?

It certainly wasn't what I had envisioned for the day. I had foreseen an experience just like last year, only better. And why not? My perpetual optimism tricks me into thinking every event and occasion is going to be exactly as I picture it—the weather is perfect, the food is to die for, everyone is in a great mood, peace and harmony reign, adorable little forest animals befriend me ... no wait, that's Snow White. But still, I always imagine things are going to turn out better than they do. Then again, it's all about perspective.

God saying no to my prayer for great weather had many positive effects. Leaving the festival early, we enjoyed a nice lunch together, with the adults at one table and the kids at another (they're getting big too fast!). With the afternoon suddenly freed up, Zach got to have the time he wanted to rest from a hard work week, and Angy and I had time to visit my mom.

Jackson spends every Saturday at Mom's house, and since he's not a festival goer anyway because of all the walking, we had to go pick him up. So we decided to stay and visit in lieu of our usual Sunday visit after church. Christian and Sara had fun playing outside with their water guns from the tiny air-conditioned souvenir shop at the Oil Ranch (a brief respite from the heat), then taking a bubble bath in Mom's big tub.

With no clean clothes to put on afterward, they wore only underwear and the bandanas they also got from the souvenir shop. Surely, it's a treat at that age to ride in the car in your underwear. On the way home, Angy and I were talking about how the day worked out so well. At one point, Sara had even said, "This is the most awesome day ever!" And what did we see in the sky out of the car window but a beautiful, glorious rainbow. We marveled at the sight and talked about rainbows being a reminder that God always keeps His promises. What a lovely ride home it was.

The next day, I had the afternoon free for a change. It was so pleasant to spend the rainy Sunday relaxing in my recliner and watching football with Robert. So thanks, Lord, for the lousy weather on Saturday. It made for a really great weekend.


  1. "Surely, it's a treat at that age to ride in the car in your underwear." I'm thinking that might be a treat at any age. :) Your weekend sounds divine.

    1. If you were to test your theory, would it be in your convertible and on video? :)