March 8, 2010

A Family Vacation

We haven't been on a family vacation since our trip out to California nearly 4 years ago (oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been that long since we saw my family) when Marah was 1 1/2 which is about how old Alex is now! So when we got our tax refund this February I had originally hoped to buy a new serger and some lovely fabric and maybe go on a little getaway with just my good looking husband to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. The thing is... I changed my mind. I'm good at that, you see? So I thought about it and decided that I would rather splurge on a family vacation and enjoy a few fun filled days with the four people I love most in this world.

That is how we ended up in the Minn/St. Paul area also known as "The Cities" to anyone around here. Now, I may live in a little po' dunk town now but growing up I was a big city girl through and through and so it's pretty crazy when I think about the fact that I have lived here in NW Minnesota for 8 years and never visited The Cities. The thought depressed me everytime it popped into my head and so I was very excited to finally get to go!

I had an agenda. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted it to be both fun AND a chance to introduce a bit of culture and education into my poor, big city deprived, children! So what do you think we did as soon as we pulled into the metro area? Check in to the hotel? No. Eat something? No. We went straight to the Minneapolis Institute of Art! I had no idea what to expect as it was a free museum and I think in my mind I was just stuck in rural Minnesota and did not remember what a real art museum was like. Oh, how my children have been deprived!

Marah's expressions during this entire trip were so fun and just made every bit of exhaustion so worth it!

To get an idea of the size of this painting, check out the people underneath it!

Seriously, do they come any hotter than this? :)

Had to get a photo of this gorgeous embroidery.

Making Valentines in the art center.

Marah literally pet the man's privates twice... it was hilarious and embarrassing.

Jenna was so exhausted.

Alex was just on the go as usual.

I can't explain how much this picture makes me wish that A.) I had worn make-up while travelling and B.) I hadn't accidentally shaved off half my left eyebrow.

The Korean Drum Dancing performance allowed the children in the audience to come up and learn how to play some of the drums. This little blonde haired, clearly not Korean, girl was so sweet with Marah and cracked me up as she encouraged her with a very sweet voice and told her how good she was.

We ended this Sunday very, very tired and slept very well in the hotel that night. The next day I was adamant about my desire to go to IKEA and so that is where we headed first, with the intention of going back to the room for a nap for Alex afterward and then heading over to the Mall of America with a well rested brood.

We had lunch at IKEA after we roamed the store shopping. Jenna ate Princess Cake which had raspberry and creme filling and a marzipan coating on top. It was delicious!

Alex enjoyed the Swedish meatballs.

Marah ate her usual chicken strips and fries :)

At this point it was evident that Alex could use a nap.

Eric just seemed wired. He, unexpectedly, enjoyed IKEA very much!

So, at this point Alex fell asleep in his stroller and, about 20 minutes later, we left the store to head back to the hotel room. Once we put Alex in his carseat, however, he was wide awake and I knew that it was pointless to go back to the room because he probably wouldn't nap anymore. Plus, we were literally right next door to the mall and to go all the way back just seemed ridiculous. Looking back, I'm glad that we didn't try to fit in a nap and a trip to the mall in the same day BUT I think we should have just gone to the mall the next day and had more time. But oh well. We learned a lot on this trip, including how to save a lot of money next time. Yeah, it nearly kills me to think of how much we could have saved if we had planned a bit better and if I had remembered my coupons from the hotel room. I just had to remind myself that the memories were worth it... and they were.

So we headed to the Mall of America and went straight to the Underwater Adventure Aquarium. The aquarium is overpriced in my opinion, but the kids did enjoy it. I know I enjoyed the Monterey Bay Aquarium so much more, but I guess we live in Minnesota, not on the beach, so it's to be expected, right?

I love this picture because I have a very similar one of myself with my dad at Sea World trying to touch a sea star in the tidepools.

The last known place that we had Alex's precious silky blanket. Later that night, when we discovered it had gone missing, I had to give Alex a pair of my satin underwear to sleep with (luckily I had some with me, luckier still that they were not yet used). The next day we had to buy a new silky blanket at Target.

Marah hurt her leg on the escalator and we had to have a security guard called to give her a band aid. She was devastated.
A trip to the Build-a-Bear Workshop cheered her right up!

One of my very favorite pictures from the trip.

The workers have you rub the heart all over your body to warm it up, make the bear smart, strong, etc.

Stuffing Alex's bear. He didn't really get a say in it ;)

Jenna's rubbing the heart on her muscles to make her bunny strong!

Giving the animals their air bath.

Dressing the puppy. Marah chose a Greek goddess costume and Jenna chose a Girl Scout uniform. We chose a Minnesota Twins shirt for Alex's bear. I forgot to get a picture of the kids with their fully dressed new stuffed animals. I'm lame.

Next we headed over to Nickelodeon Zone where the girls rode several rides, Eric and I rode a few, and Alex sat in his stroller getting more and more restless every moment.

The girls first ride was Diego's bus. Marah got super excited after this ride and wanted to go on everything!

The Lego Store was right next to the park so we stopped in there for a bit so that Alex could get out and burn off some energy.

Um, wipe the tear from my eye! My two favorite boys just being boys. Love.

Seriously, it doesn't get much cuter.

See how much Marah loved this ride? She's the one on the right in the pink sweater with her arms flung out!

The girls weren't scared to go on the roller coaster with us. I'm so glad they're not big fraidy cats like my brother and I were at this age!

You can barely see the girls with their dad in the ferris wheel bucket on the bottom there.

Jenna tries her luck at a game. She didn't win.

Check out the tongue action :)

Jenna and I wait in line for Jimmy Neutron's Atom Collider. That ride was seriously intense! I was screaming and laughing the entire time!

Oh my, the eyes. Oh, I can't take it!

After "losing" his pacifier and then finally finding a store that had one left in stock for only $8.00 (ugh) we made our way to the Rainforest Cafe with three tired but reasonably well-behaved children.

You would never know how crabby he had been just minutes before!

Ha! Couldn't help but post this one.

The flash nearly made Alex invisible!

It is a big beer. It was a long day.

Eric thought he'd be funny and take a candid shot of me. Nice one. It reminds me of a photo I took of my Grandmere when she didn't have her teeth in LOL (I do, however, have my teeth in haha)
A photo in front of Marah's favorite Backyardigan, Tasha.

I hope you can see the sheer terror in Marah's face in this photo! It cracks me up!

Eric hops onto the Splat Zone! ride (one of those towers that drops you into a free fall and then takes you back up and drops you again over and over).

He was a little freaked out. I went too and we were both so proud of ourselves :)

Last ride of the day. So fun :)

The next day we decided to take it easy. We went to Benihana for lunch and then let Alex have his first real nap of the trip. Afterward we headed out to a different mall so that the kids could play at the bookstore and the indoor play area. We got lost on the way there and so the drive took us about 3 times as long as it should have. Still a good day overall.

The girls wear their Benihana chef hats.

The hat stayed on for about 1/2 a second!

"Take a picture of me with my smoothie."

Finally, on Wednesday it was time to head home. But first I wanted to take the kids to the Children's Museum. This was something I had to insist on and Eric was a trooper even though his back was killing him (he hurt his back while loading up the car to go home). Parking was a disaster and we had to walk much too far, but it was worth it. The museum was so cool! I wish we could have stayed longer but at lunch time it was time to pack it up and make the long trek home.

Getting dressed up in the community workers area.

Stayed on for about 30 seconds. :)

These next two photos crack me up! Check out the little blonde boy and then how Jenna is so into her guitar that she doesn't even notice!

Marah cooks in the Korean restaurant.

Oh, the difference of a boy! They just know what to do with dinosaurs! LOL

The water play areas were Alex's favorite. He enjoyed sticking his face in the water and drinking up all the germs! Of course he got sick as soon as we got home. I knew he would. Fun.


Whew! Finally got this post done!

Make each day count!


  1. Enjoyed your pics -- fun! Our tax refund bought us an Alaskan cruise at the end of August... woo hoo!

  2. I think the pictures bring me into your family and life. I love that you post these. Makes me feel closer to my family that I haven't met in person. Next best thing!

  3. That is one fun trip. :) I'm glad you guys had such a great time. And Eric is SO IKEA. Haha.

  4. Seriously Ashley, this post has it all! I cried, I laughed and I loved every bit of it!

    On a very, very sad note; our tax refund bought us one credit card closer to being debt free. Nothing new to show for it! Maybe next year (if we stay on track) a Carribean cruise would be devine!

  5. LOVE it! Your vacation seems a lot like our vacations. Doesn't matter where we are...we just love being together! Great photos, and great narrative to go with them! Thanks for sharing!


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