I started thinking about The Caterpillar's second birthday about a week before... or, more accurately, "Oh crap! What am I going to do for The Caterpillar's second birthday??!?" Our general rule is this: the first birthday is for the parents. It's a celebration of keeping them alive for a year and mom and dad deserve the accolades. We almost didn't make it with The Dormouse and had to rush her to the ER early one morning ten days before her first birthday. That's a story for another day, but it did make all that, "Hey, we kept her alive for a year, let's have a party," talk a little less appropriate.

For the second birthday, they pretty much have no concept of the occasion, but the parents are pretty much too tired by this time to be interested in any big celebration, but you should do something that will generate a lot of good pictures which you can show later on when they ask, "Mom, how did I celebrate my second birthday?" and you don't have to answer with, "Well,
I got a pedicure. I don't remember what YOU did."

So my brilliant brainstorm for The Caterpillar's second birthday was,

Da ta ta da.....

Dutch Wonderland - a kingdom for kids.

For those who aren't from this neck of the woods, Dutch Wonderland is a sweet little park in southern Pennsylvania that's been around for thirty years, at least. (Seriously, a guy standing in line behind me that day told me he was there when he was a kid and rode some of the exact same rides.) When The Dormouse was small, we were driving around one weekend and just happened across this place. It was perfect because we were on our way back from Hershey, where we had bypassed
Hershey Park after we looked and the ridiculous entry fee and the fact that The Dormouse, at age two, could ride on approximately two rides in the park.

Basically, Dutch Wonderland is a Six Flags for toddlers. Almost all of the rides in the park are ones that little kids can ride on - some by themselves and others with their parents. We thought this would be more interesting for her than any party, so we headed up to Dutch country bright and early that morning and that substituted for a party and cake.
The theme of the theme park is: Princess, Castle, Dragon.

You saw the castle. Here's the princess:

And meet the dragon.

The Dragon's name is Duke, by the way, although The Dormouse refuses to call him by his name. When she first met him at age two it went something like this:


"No, baby, that's not a scary monster. That's a nice dragon. His name is Duke."

"I love you Monster. Moooooooonster, come back!"

"Guess we didn't have to worry about her being afraid of the monster."

Some people did have to worry however. As we stood in line to board the lagoon ride this time, The Dormouse asked why all these boats were coming back from the lagoon empty.

The KingofHearts kindly explained that these boats had taken people out on the lagoon ride and the Dragon had eaten them all. So the boats were being sent back to fill up with new people because the Dragon was still hungry. Just then I heard a loud sigh and looked up to see a woman standing in line with her two little boys in front of us. The boys had overheard The KoH's explanation and were panicking. "They were already scared," she said, "I was just trying to tell them everything was all right."

We muttered, "Sorry" and The KoH told the boys that he was just joking, but apparently they didn't buy it because a couple of seconds later the whole family got out of line for the ride and left, mom in a huff. In a related story, I have a brilliant new plan for making the wait for amusement park rides shorter.

Here's the full view of the lagoon. See? The Dragon is totally not scary at all.

However, just to the left of the frame I hear there is a turtle who loves to eat wussy boys.

Some of the less scary rides included, "Ride a Dump truck."

See how exciting?

And possibly the loudest ride in the park, the panda bears circling the beehive.

Let us pause here for an announcement from The Caterpillar.

"I believe for birthdays you are supposed to have cake. I see no cake here."

We couldn't scare
everyone out of line, so The Caterpillar entertained herself while waiting.

I'm pretty sure someone could just set up a bunch of stanchions and charge admission. I know at least a couple of girls who would be perfectly happy playing on those with no rides whatsoever.

This cute little ride seemed like a great idea until I put The Caterpillar on the train and then they handed me a big stick. Because apparently, they don't expect someone who is small enough to be able to ride the train, to have the physical dexterity to be able to propel the train. So moms and dads have to follow the train around with the stick and push it.

Which isn't so awful until the ten year old behind you who
can propel the train by herself keeps running into your heels with her train and then finally asks you in an exasperated voice, "Can you please Move. A. Little. FASTER???" And then you have to use every ounce of self control to keep from pushing that little girl backwards with your stick.

The one ride that The Caterpillar couldn't ride was the roller coaster. But The Dormouse could, and as we got there pretty early in the morning there was no line for the roller coaster. I was thrilled to send The Caterpillar off with Daddia and Gramma and teach The Dormouse one of my favorite theme park past times: riding the roller coaster, getting off and running hell bent for election back to the other side, and immediately getting on the roller coaster again. We rode in the front car. We rode in the back car. We rode in the middle. Then we discussed where the "best ride" was and went back once more to take that ride again. I also taught her that it is completely inappropriate to ride a roller coaster while holding onto the guard rail. The proper position is, of course, with arms in the air. Fortunately, my adrenaline gene was passed down to her and she loved every minute of it.

My other little adrenaline junkie tried to assume the position in more tame rides and threw her hands up in the air too.

Aw, this does my heart proud. As does the look on her face here:

Dutch Wonderland also has a water park section. Which we enjoyed until someone couldn't keep her teeth from chattering and had to take refuge in the sun.

So we went back to the non-water portion of the park and rode the carousel.

It was no roller coaster, that's for sure.

But eventually, you get the romantic notion of it and can enjoy the ride.

While you contemplate just what it is that makes those horsies go up and down.