Circus Weekend Part 1: Pre-Circus

Well, Michael and I have joined the circus. Well, almost. For the past two weekends, we’ve been at the circus. The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus to be exact. Here’s the story:

And yes, that’s me.

Ever since I bought a copy of Toby Tyler and showed it to the grandkids, I knew I wanted to take them to a Circus.

Each year when the Circus came to town, I toyed with buying the tickets. But I waited. I waited until they got to THE perfect age.

I wanted them to be old enough to appreciate the talent and skill demonstrated by the performers. And I wanted their experience of the Circus to be one that they would never forget and hold forever dear in their treasure box of memories. This was the year.

Our four oldest grandchildren are now ages 5-9. Perfect! Here they are: Fionn 9, Libby 5, Felicity 7, and Ellie 7.

It helps that they’re so cute because you’d better not
take your eyes off of them for a second.

So I began planning. After some discussion, Mike and I decided that it would be best to go to two separate circuses and take two children at a time.

We really wanted to give them special, undivided attention. Plus, let’s be honest, WE wanted special, undivided attention from THEM—no competition!

Scheduling issues also came into play so we settled on Nashville and Birmingham on the last two Satrudays of January.

(Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey have several different shows that play simultaneously around the country.)

Once we settled on the “when” we had to work out the “how.” We decided that we would give the kids the gift of the Circus for their Christmas presents.

I found a circus-related toy for each of them, and hid a handmade card inside each of the toys. On the outside of the card it said, “Guess What?”

When the card  was opened it said, in big red letters, “WE’RE GOING TO THE CIRCUS!”

And inside there was a big, yellow ticket which read, “ADMIT ONE!”

Christmas morning. The kids were thrilled!

This moment alone was worth the whole idea!

Fast forward …

Now, let’s fast forward to January and the start of the Circus Weekends. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to combine the weekends into one. The second weekend was pretty much a repeat performance of the first.

Like I said above, I wanted the kid’s Circus Weekend to be memorable. So I began planning. Here are some of the things I decided to do:

1. We would have the kids come over Friday night to spend the night. But this would be no ordinary spend-the-night.

2. I would greet them at the door, on Friday—Circus theme playing over the speakers. (Listen here.)—in a full clown costume complete w/ giant shoes, balloons and a classic classic clown horn, all the while jumping up and down and chanting:

“We’re going to the Circus! We’re going to the Circus!”

They had NO idea what to say!! Never in all my born days …. Grandmommy?????

(By the way, part of determining the “perfect age” is knowing that they won’t completely roll their eyes and walk off because they’re “too cool.” Fionn, age 9, was on the borderline.)

3. We would read Circus books before bed.

Our very favorite is If I Ran the Circus, by Dr. Seuss. We’ve about got it memorized.

4. We would wake up Saturday morning and make famous Circus Waffles for breakfast!

I bought this waffle maker, years ago, from Williams Sonoma.
It’s made me a legend!! Find one.

5. And they would have to be the chefs.

Clown Iron Chefs!

A lot of concentration is needed. Priceless.

Taa Daa!

One final step and we’re ready!!

6. And we’d eat …

… every …

… last …

… bite …

… until there was nothing left to do but lick our fingers clean.

Needless to say, a fun time was had by all.

Next post, Circus Weekend, Part 2, At the Circus! Stay Tuned.

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28 Responses to “Circus Weekend Part 1: Pre-Circus”

  1. April 21, 2011 at 9:35 am


    I’m a new grandma, my grandbaby is only 3 months old, but I can’t wait to take her someday to the circus.


  2. Wow Gail. I want to go to the circus with you! My husband and I took our kids last weekend – he got sick and had to go sit in the car. I bought lousy $20 chicken nuggets to feed the kids during intermission. It was pretty much the opposite of your magic! I’ll be sure not to let them see your post 😉

  3. Love it Gail!!! can’t wait for the next post!

  4. Barbara Parentini February 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Oh, Gail! Your delightful post and pictures of these adorable grandchildren really brightened my day. (Also brought a tear to my eye!) Thank you for sharing such love and laughter with us. God bless you and Mike for being the “wonderfulest” grandparents you are. Can’t wait for Part 2!

  5. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. Our little secret.

  6. I’m sorry, Andy.

  7. Don’t get to see them at all.

  8. How FUN!!! I’m so thankful you’re sharing all this with the rest of us– I have to admit it took me a minute to realize it WAS you in the clown costume! 😉

  9. Not a bad idea. They should put together an e-kit entitled “How to get the most out of your circus experience” or something like that. 🙂

  10. Wow!! Sounds like the kids had a lot of fun and you have not even gotten to the part when you actually go to the circus. Perhaps Barnum and Baily should hire you guys as consultants.

  11. Well, you keep having such precious children. You make it easy for me!!! I’m so proud of you.

  12. Oh, that sounds wonderful! I’ve never been to any Cirque dd Soliel. It’s definitely on my bucket list. Enjoy!!

  13. Thank you, Debbie. 🙂

  14. Mom-My kids are so incredibly blessed to have you and Dad as grandparents. You have definitely created memories that will last a lifetime!

  15. How very very precious! Two weekends at the circus with 2 x 2 grandchildren!! You two are fabulous! I’m doing almost the same thing. When I found out Cirque du Soliel was coming to itty-bitty Knoxville, I got tickets for the grand-girls and their parents and gave a note to them for Christmas. We have to wait til March.
    Looking forward to reading part two of your circus adventures.

  16. Oh my, oh my, oh my!!!! WONDERFUL! I am pretty sure that God wa clapping His hands, chuckeling with delight and simply beaming at this absolutley amazing and wonderful gift you gave your Grandchildren. What a delight and an inspiration to others. You are what God intended when He made Grandparents, I am sure. You know what — I think He just may even want parents to get a little schoolin’ from this.

    Thank you for sharing this. It brought a smile to my heart.

    Bless you, Gail


  17. Hmmm. Maybe there’s a business opportunity here. I mean who’d know with a clown costume on. Maybe you’re on to something.

    By the way, what happened to that son of yours. Have you been putting him on a stretching machine?

  18. This is awesome! How fun are you and Mike!!?? I’m dropping my kids off at your house Friday at 5 PM, okay?

  19. Delightful Reportage Blogging, Gail.

  20. Thank you. No I’m not. But it’s amazing what you can do when you’re intentional about it. The years go by TOO fast. We have to make the memories happen.

  21. I could watch that movie over and over. Can’t you hear little Toby Tyler saying, in his worried, husky little voice, “Mr. Stubbs, Mr. Stubbs!”

  22. Do they not live close? I didn’t live close to my parents for the first eight years of our marriage. It was really hard not to have near when our kids were little. By the time my oldest was eight, they moved to the same town. What a blessing.

  23. Thank you, Tami.

    I have NO doubt whatsoever that you will be an INCREDIBLE Grandmother.

    You need to be thankful that Zoe isn’t in TN right now. Having the children while in Korea would be REALLY hard for all of you. (Though I know that the Lord would give you just the grace you need to handle it if it turns out to be His will that they stay.)

    I’ll pray that when the time is right, and those precious babies are on their way, Mommy and Daddy will be living right here close to you!

    Thank you very much for your encouraging words.

    Love you lots!

  24. You and Mike are awesome grandparents. I wish I could see my grandkids.

  25. Oh Gail – this is simply wonderful. I can’t wait for Part II.

    (I also can’t wait to be a grandmother. I’ve been ready for what feels like a long time. I’m waiting for my sweet kids in Korea to catch my enthusiasm.)

    You are an inspiration. Everything you do is filled with such joy, love, and laughter. I’m taking good notes and storing your posts. Thanks for bringing us with you on the adventures. The kids are adorable and growing up way too fast.

    You are the BEST! Much love!

  26. You have to be the best grandparents ever! SO fun!!

  27. What fun! I remember watching Toby Tyler as a kid in the gym of my elementary school–one of those memories that never leaves. I bet the circus weekend will be that same kind of memory for your grandkids!


  1. Cirque Du Soleil Clown Costume - February 11, 2011

    […] Circus Weekend Part 1: Pre-Circus « Treasure Hunt by Gail Hyatt in a full clown costume complete w/ giant shoes, balloons and a classic classic clown horn, all the while jumping up and down and chanting: “We're going to the Circus! We're going to the Circus!” They had NO idea what to say! When I found out Cirque du Soliel was coming to itty-bitty Knoxville, I got tickets for the grand-girls and their parents and gave a note to them for Christmas. We have to wait til March. Looking forward to reading part two of your circus . […]

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