In my excitement to share about our Fat Tuesday parade, I completely skipped over our other exciting day this week. On Monday Armed Forces Entertainment brought a FREE show to all the military families in the Stuttgart community. My entire family was against going. Unlike me, with my great love for Cirque du Soleil, the rest was pretty sure this would not be their cup of tea.

However, as a mom of six, I’m a huge fan of FREE. We’ve also been in the midst of a winter sick-a-thon, it was President’s day (Dave was off) and winter break (no one was in school). I insisted we go. Of course, by insisting I was the one that got to stand outside in the freezing cold and get our free tickets. After 40 minutes, even my spectacular snow boots were no longer keeping my toes very warm. Luckily seating came soon after.

My grumbling family joined me in line and martyrfully sat in their seats. It took another 20 minutes for the show to start, and a little bit of whining from my crew, not much thanks to some very enthusiastic kids in front of us. The ringleader started us all of off with a round of interactive fun. More mime than clown, he spun a shiny ball on his finger (think Harlem Globetrotters), and then gave young & old a chance to show off their finger balancing skills. That Tess was not picked for live audience participation is due in no part to her wild waving “Pick me! Pick me!”

Our ringleader retired way too early for the start of the real show. I have to say, when the first ostrich crossed the stage, I was afraid Dave would leave then & there. The ostrich was a set of bare men’s legs, topped with an ostrich body (the man bent over & covered in ostrich feathers), with the man’s arm extended as the ostrich neck and head. It was actually amazingly well done, and once he pooped out an egg, my crew, and the crew of boys in front of us, was completely sucked in and riveted.

Dave loved the pole dancer best. Tess was enamored with the two gymnasts circling a hoop above the stage. Cole loved the two pictured below, with the stronger man spinning, flipping & tossing the lighter one with his feet. Dane loved the “butterfly” man swinging from his silken fabric. I love the violinist, you can see his shadow below, featured in some of the acts, and I would pay top dollar to see the cow bells again.

Halfway through the performance the ringleader again came out, and again choose volunteers, again not choosing a very disappointed Tess. He did pick five adults, spread strategically in a half circle throughout the audience. Each volunteer received a set of two cow bells (any Will Ferrell fans out there, wishing they’d been there too?). The ringleader stood center stage and like a magical, deranged, composer, waved his wand at one, and then another. He spared no punches, making great fun of the volunteers lack of coordination, lack of musical ability, lack of endurance… all without saying a word. I do not have words enough for the gales of the laughter this forth. This man was amazing.

And then, cue the music, beautiful music, and he conducted his five volunteers to play along with a hauntingly beautiful piece. Perfectly. On cow bells. That sums up what a perfect afternoon we had courtesy of Armed Forces Entertainment. Every one of us went home smiling, happy and so incredibly glad we had the opportunity to see Cirque Dreams. It’s not easy being a military family, but afternoons like that, especially when our soldier can be there too, makes it 100% worth it.

Cirque Dreams