Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Family Staycation - August 29-31

While we planned to go a water park in Duluth for a family vacation this year, Colton being sick and van trouble/uncertainty in the reliability of our vehicle led us to change plans and hang out in Apple Valley instead.  While we were all bummed about cancelling our original reservations, we ended up having SO MUCH FUN on our family staycation.  All three days we planned vacation activities, ate meals out (no cooking!), and avoided all chores ;).  We simply used our house to sleep, and that actually was ideal because everyone could get a good night's sleep in their own bed. 

Monday: Day 1: Waterpark of America

Because our original vacation plans included staying at a waterpark, we resolved to make sure to do a local waterpark instead.  Last spring we were gifted tickets to Waterpark of America, and although we were originally planning to use them in the winter months as a family activity as the waterpark is indoors, this ended up being the perfect time to use them. We had So. Much. Fun!!!!  We played HARD all day, checking out all the slides, lazy river, and kids area.  Some of my favorite memories include
  • Larkyns love of the big kids' slides, which are curly slides just like the big ones but shorter in length.  She would say "again" as soon as she reached the bottom and probably went down them around 50 times!    
  • Summer and Colton's love of the REALLY BIG slides!  Summer was so uncharacteristically brave and loved the 10th floor slide!  Colton especially liked the 7th floor slide and loved to race others down, as there were two slides on this floor.
  • Going on the Lazy River as a family
  • Taking turns with Paul doing "big slides" with the bigs and "little slides" with Larkyn and getting special time with each.
  • Playing all day!
 I didn't take many pictures as we were all too busy playing in the water ;), but here is one just before we put our phones in a locker.  Larkyn was too interested in the water behind her to look at the camera!

After a full day of play, we showered up and put on dry clothes to head to dinner.  We didn't pack any conditioner, so rather than taking a long time to detangle we three girls hair, we all matched with messy wet buns... Larkyn's first high ponytail :).

We headed to Chevy's, a delicious Mexican-American restaurant that had an outdoor patio table in the perfect spot to view the many lightrail trains that went by roughly every 10 minutes, and the multiple airplanes that flew overhead (I lost count of how many we saw) because we were right by the airport.  This provided much dinnertime entertainment and excitment.  Oh, and the food was delicious!

One of many airplanes we saw

Family Selfie

One of many light rail trains we saw from our table

Um, Can you say AMAZING?  This was mine...and was soooo delicious!

Paul's goodness

Colton wearing Mommy's sunglasses :)


Larkyn loved her meal...and watching her eat made me realize how fun it is to be at this "new to us" "big kid" stage of restaurants! Everyone is pretty independent eaters!  I have to admit this stage of  kids is pretty fun!

Tuesday: Day 2: Mall of America

For all you local folk, you know that Tuesdays are Toddler Tuesdays at Mall of America (which means that wristbands for the Nickelodeon Universe Amusement Park are only $11.99 a piece for 5 hours of unlimited kid-size rides, the only ones our kids can go on anyway!).  Oh, and a bonus - required adult chaperones ride free!  Summer didn't need any chaperone, but the younger two did, which meant that Paul and I got to ride most of the rides too!  We knew that this would be the perfect activity for the Tuesday of our family staycation, and it really was the perfect setup for a full day of fun for our family, with kids aged 2,4, and 6 years old.  The lines were short on almost all of the many (14?) rides and the kids played/rode hard for the whole time!  We had a blast and I loved watching their giggles!

Miss Independent LOVED being able to ride by herself while her sibs had to have a parent ;)

No hands!

Lunch at A&W (btw kids eat free at many places at MOA on Toddler Tuesdays so we took advantage of that for both lunch and dinner!)

The "crazy" spinners....I got dizzy just watching how fast they made this ride spin!

Family Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

Kiddo Bumper cars were the total highlight for the older two...I lost track of how many times they ran back in line and did the ride "again"!

This kid!  He LOVED driving a car!

His giant smile everytime he crashed into his sister was so funny!

Both kids had a permanent REAL smile on their face almost the entire ride of this ride...every time they rode!

We finished up the day at Cadillac Ranch at MOA for dinner.  I didn't take a picture, but it was a fun way to end our day!

Wednesday: Day 3: Hyland Park (a.k.a Chutes and Ladders)

I have been hearing about Hyland Park for a while but we had never made the drive to go.  It is the largest and coolest outdoor park I have ever seen in my entire life - seriously.  I stole this picture from the website I linked to above, but even this picture doesn't show all of the park (it cuts off the whole toddler play area to the left of the picture).

There were so many cool features about this park, including...

"Water misters" to cool you off when you get hot!

Rockwalls to climb to get to different levels of the park

Tons of climbing with massive slides to come down when you get to the top (hence the name "chutes and ladders")

Summer in the giant web

Colton climbing in the giant web (light blue shirt, in the middle of the picture, on his tummy)
All three kids on the tire swing...

And when Larkyn got off, the ride got REALLY crazy ;)

We went to Olive Garden for a late afternoon lunch and the kids menus were so fun, complete with stickers!

Love these two!
We had the most amazing three days, and I honestly can't imagine it being any better, even if our original plans hadn't been cancelled.  We made lots of memories, packed in a lot of play, and most importantly, were all together.  I am so grateful for this time together!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cabin Weekend - August 26-28

We headed to my parents cabin for a Kirkwood family weekend August 26-28.  I didn't take many pictures and the weekend went a little different than planned.  Among our unexpected adventures included...

A visit to the ER with Colton, who despite the previous full day of low grade fever, popped back up to over 103 degrees making 8 straight days of fever in a row.  Combined with a horrible cough that made sleeping difficult, we drove the half hour to the doctor on Friday night and were prescribed the most amazing antibiotic.  Although getting Colton to drink the horrible tasting medicine was an adventure ;), it set to work almost immediately helping our little guy feel back to normal!

Our van's check engine light came on during the ride to the doctor Friday night (this is a picture of Paul under the hood).  While it turned out to be nothing major, it changed our travel plans and also required some extra work during the weekend.
Despite our unexpected adventures and rather rainy and cold weekend, we couldn't help but still have fun with our amazing family! 

We celebrated Auntie Kristin's 30th birthday!

The kids all got special craft/activities from my mom's friend Margo (thanks Margo!) and Summer enjoyed making this paper tiara/crown, Colton loved his parachute men, and Larkyn had fun wandering all over the cabin playing with dolls.  A much played game this weekend was "Oh Where oh Where", a form of hide-and-seek which included the kids and Grandpa taking turns hiding a special animal, and the others looking for where it was hidden.

As always, delicious food! (Paul is sweaty from after a long marathon training run!)

And, one of the major HIGHLIGHTS of the weekend, was hanging out with my favorite nephew and stealing cuddles from him as much as possible throughout the weekend!
Thanks for letting us come to your cabin Mom and Dad and for all the delicious food!  We loved hanging out with everyone, playing games, and chatting!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer 6 year pictures

As we always do on the kids birthdays, we took Summer for her 6 year pictures at JCPenney Portraits.  Summer loved getting all ready, including Mommy painting her nails and curling her hair!  She also loved posing and commented several times about how it went so fast, she was sad it was done already, etc!  I think she would enjoy a career in modeling ;).  Anyway, here are her 6 year pictures.