Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Getaway: The Twin Cities Pt 1

I'm being nice and breaking up our getaway into different post so you're not bombarded by pictures of my kids doing this and that, eating this or that, and crying at this and/or that. I mean, you still will be, just in smaller doses. In all seriousness, it was a great trip and the kids did fantastic with our constant going. We left home right on time Friday night, took one bathroom break that took 20 minutes, ran into rain and lightening, and lots of construction.

 Leaving town selfie.

 The stop at the rest area was quite the experience. It took 20 minutes for five of us to pee, see a puppy that stopped too, get out our car snacks, and put in a quiet DVD. I was impressed that we only needed to have one potty break during our four hour drive, but not so impressed that the one we did take took so long.

 My favorite part of road trips: flipping through stations and finding songs we like and singing along. We listened to oldies, country, rap, rock, and everything in between. The kids heard "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" for the first time and thought it was the funniest song ever!

 One of my ultimate road trip snacks.

 The added bonus of travel at night: sleepy kids! After our potty break, the kids fell asleep easily and slept until we were just outside of Minneapolis.
 The not so fun part of sleeping kids in the car: they viewed it as a nap and were up until 1:45 a.m.! The kids were beyond excited to see the city at night and spoke excitedly about our plans while we were in the Twin Cities. Elizabeth even exclaimed "never sleep again, me mom!" In Elizabeth terms: "I'm never going to sleep again mom!" and she was the last one to fall asleep in the wee hours of the morning.

 It was loads of fun trying to have the kids be quiet as they skipped through the hotel halls chanting "we're here! We're here! We're here!" Thankfully, as we found out the next day, there were LOTS of kids staying at the hotel too....and very understanding parents!

 We had a surprise package waiting for us at the front desk! This definitely made 1:45 a.m. a little more friendly! My aunt and uncle live in Minneapolis. We planned things so well and went up to the Cities the same weekend they came home to Des Moines. We were bummed we didn't get to see them, but we all loved these delicious donuts the next morning!

 We stayed in Bloomington near the Mall of America and the airport. The minis planted themselves on the beds and watched planes take off and land. We scored once again with hotels. I highly recommend using Hotwire for hotels. We snagged our hotel suite for 70% less than the regular charge. The microwave, refrigerator, and living room area were a huge plus with our room.

 Our first destination of the trip: The Minnesota Zoo. I still like Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo the best (it's one of the top zoos in the country and only two hours from Des Moines. If you haven't visited yet, I highly recommend you do!), but the Minnesota Zoo scores big points for having the animals in as-natural-as-you-can-get-for-a-zoo habitats. The bad part of this is that it makes finding and seeing the animals very difficult. Other big bummers: the monorail isn't running anymore and the zoo no longer has dolphins. The last time I went to the zoo (which was nearly twenty years ago....holy crap. Another story on that later) they had a massive tank and performed dolphin shows. Not only did they not have dolphins, but the aquarium portion was rather dull and didn't have a lot of features.

 The Minnesota Zoo has numerous bears. This was one of our favorite animals to see.

 The camels were quite entertaining while we watched them. 
 All of us but Harrison loved the Big Bugs exhibit. They were very well done and life like....too life like for big H!

 This bug was real. I was very happy to hear they are only found in Asia.

 I was amazed at this zoo's food court! Yes, an indoor food court....with good food, prices and good variety as well! I would visit this zoo again simply because they actually had great food options.
 The coolest thing at the aquarium....and I failed to remember what it was called.

 After the Minnesota Zoo, we went to the Sculpture Garden in downtown Minneapolis. This place was amazing and we all enjoyed walking through the park.
 Harrison tried not stepping on any cracks.

 We crossed "the cool bridge" as Max called it and walked on the other side of the park. The kids were thrilled to find a playground.

 A very full and busy day and only one meltdown for the day....all because I wouldn't let her sit clear to the right on the edge of the ledge (far out of sight from the camera). I'm a mean mommy.

 The artists designed golf course was amazing! We didn't take the time to play (something about having three kids with us), but watched other people playing. It looked like a blast.

 A "short" trip to IKEA to get daycare items. The daycare got new furniture (play tables for all of our sensory activities), puppets with a theater, stuffed animals, a new rug to play games on this winter, and the best find of the day: new umbrellas for the fam for only $3 a piece! Major score.

 After IKEA, hubs and I were ready to call it a day with a pizza party in the hotel room. As soon as the kids finished their pizza, they begged to go swimming. so down 10 floors we went to the pool.

 We had a Caribou in our hotel lobby. It was a life saver for this trip that was not very restful.

 We all had a great time at the pool! It was huge for a hotel swimming pool. Max got to practice his swimming moves, Harrison braved the water, but mostly enjoyed the hot tub, and Elizabeth shocked us all. The pool was full of other kids and when she saw a couple of older girls swimming, she HAD to do what they were doing. She told me "let go mom" and tried swimming on her own. She kept going under water, I'd pull her back up, and she'd yell at me "let go mom!" She never gave up until she got the kicking her legs part. Very proud of my big two year old!

After two hours of swimming, we finally made it back to the hotel room and crashed. Our legs hurt from all of the walking and our eyes burned from too little sleep (how the kids kept going and going I'll never know!), but we had a great day in Minneapolis.