Sunday, April 20, 2014

Friday, Mar. 29, 2013

Stacey Hatton - Kicking up our sequined boots for spring

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What’s with spring break marathoning? I’m not talking about running a crazy amount of miles. I mean when did 11 days of no school in March seem like the right thing to do?

When I was a kid (some time after the invention of the cotton gin and before rap music), spring break consisted of approximately 5 days. Nothing happened. We didn’t go anywhere. There were no Disney cruises. Never did you hear of families traipsing to Europe — no time for that nonsense.

We had shows to choreograph, jump ropes and hairbrushes to sing into and epic problems to solves, like who was a little bit country and who was going to be a little bit rock ’n’ roll?

But times have changed. Spring Break is such a huge family production. I know — bigger than Donny and Marie? Yes! So my hubby and I decided we needed to up our game and teach our girls about the finer things in life. We headed to “Little Hillbilly Vegas” — yes, we grabbed our cans of Aqua Net hairspray and our BeDazzler Bead Kit and set our GPS for…Branson!

For the previous family vacation, we traveled to our state’s capital, Topeka. Aim low was our goal. If you can get the kids thrilled to be in middle of nowhere and spending no money, that’s a pretty great vacation. Our girls bragged to everyone about their love of Topeka: their teachers, their pastor, strangers, even their grandparents.

But for spring break, we knew we had a brilliant master plan and was going to work out just fine.

Entering Branson’s city limits, we saw billboards almost stacked on top of each other. Our girls thought they were watching a movie on both sides of the road. Talk about ADHD distractions! How can you even get into Branson with all the promotional roadside reading material? Thankfully both our children are now readers so I didn’t have to translate each sign, for that might have sent me over the edge. Word to the advertising agencies of Branson: you did an excellent job for the 5- 8-year-old crowd. One of my daughters saw all those signs and said she is going to “honeymoon in Branson.” Thank Heavens she didn’t say get married!

After driving down the strip and screaming out for my husband to stop so I could take a picture of a two-story chicken — which, thank you, he wouldn’t — we were able to window shop all the attraction spots from the car. We saw the outdoor mini pirate golf, mini dinosaur golf, go-carts, kids’ fun center and water park, Silver Dollar City amusement park and our biggest destination, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.

We checked into a lovely resort, luckily, because the next morning it snowed 4 inches in a town that doesn’t see snow that time of year. Mini-golf, amusement parks and go-carts…oh, my! Not going to happen. So we put on our happy face, pulled on our creative thinking caps and found the fun.

Truly, when you have children who have not experienced big, fancy family trips yet, they aren’t too disappointed when things go downhill. Plus, on our last day we had Dolly’s Dixie Stampede, which I have to admit was one of the most outrageous things I have experienced. It had plenty of big hair and falsies (eyelashes, silly!), pretty ladies stunt riding on horses, and handsome men in uniform riding around the arena and waving their flags. Bands played, doves were released and indoor fireworks were shot off. And if you have never noshed on a Cornish game hen with no utensils while cheering for racing baby pigs or women riding ostriches, you haven’t partied at Dolly’s house.

We had to leave Branson a day early due to another threat of snow because you can bet your bottom casino chip that I wasn’t about to let snow trap me in that city of kiddie speed.

Our trip was entertaining. The children enjoyed themselves and now we can claim we are one step above Topeka in our travel experience.

Omaha is sounding nice. I hear they have a great zoo and not as many billboards and sequins.

Stacey Hatton is a co-author of the new best-selling book “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” available on Amazon and her website,

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