Monday, June 24, 2013

Cross-country Adventure, Day 2: Iowa Children's Museum

 Day two consisted of plenty more driving.  We stopped for lunch and fuel near a Cabella's.  A certain daddy begged requested to go inside, but there seemed to be something there for everyone to love.  For our little naturalist, it was, of course, the animals!

We arrived in Coralville, Iowa later that evening with just enough time to get a taste of the children's museum there.  When you grew up near the world's largest children's museum you expect to be disappointed by any other.  This children's museum, though, was FANTASTIC!

All of our kiddos found something to love, in the same areas so my husband and I didn't feel like we spent two hours simply chasing kiddos around.

We spent a good deal of time in the flight room.  There was a plane cockpit, an air traffic control tower (complete with slide), and a hot air balloon.

Ruby adored the craft room too with every craft supply known to man.

After many times down the slide, David found the Thomas the Tank Engine train table.

Eli spent probably an hour making his own paper rocket and launching it and then making modifications and launching again.  (I love his mad scientist cackle here!)

As we were walking out we found many areas we didn't have time for... a mock-surgery area, a grocery store, and a theatre.  We can not wait to go back on the next trip to Indiana!

We made it out to the car as the children's museum (and mall that it is within) was closing.  Walking up to the Suburban we noticed that the lights had been left on.  When we got in, Jason turned the key and... nothing.  One of the mall cops was paged and, thankfully, he was able to revive it... temporarily.  But the rest is a story for another day.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cross-country Adventure, Day 1: Mall of America

(Almost) a year ago we moved from Indiana to North Dakota.  We decided to make a trek back to our "homeland" in early June.  The idea of a 20 hour trip (one way) with three kids was more than a little scary.  We decided that on the way down we would have an adventure a day.

We woke up at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning with the goal of making it to Mall of America by the time it opened at 10 a.m.  By 2 p.m., we finally arrived.  (We seriously underestimated the potty breaks!)

We started our day at Mall of America with the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium.  Admission for our family of 5 was $99.  I have to say, after paying I was thinking to myself, "This had better be good!".  I was NOT disappointed.  There were lots of tanks, and petting tanks, as well as numerous tank tunnels.  Although it was a completely kid-friendly environment, I almost wished to be there without children so I could just stand as long as I wanted and take it all in.  

After some time with our fishy friends, we went to the American Girl store!  Ruby had been waiting for this moment for quite some time.

One thing that surprised me about the American Girl store was it way it was set up kind of like a museum.  Yes, there was plenty to buy, but there was also plenty to look at.  They had the dolls displayed with their accessories in a kind of scene and each doll displayed with her many outfits.  Ruby had many things she wished to buy, but in the end she walked out with one soccer outfit for her doll Kit.  I was also delighted that the tea room was on the 2nd level so she never even had a chance to see (or beg) to go there.

Our last stop was by far a favorite with all three of our children... the Lego store!  Even more so than the American Girl store, there was so much to see and do here!

After spending time looking at the huge sculptures, "paintings", and 3D creations, it was time to shop!  This store really did have something for everyone.  Even Jason and I debated getting things for ourselves!  In the end, each child came away with one set: Eli bought a Hobbit hole set.  Ruby settled on Olivia's tree house and David was delighted to buy his own first set-- two construction vehicles.

Before we left, we just had to spend some quality time at the play tables!  With three children, each four years apart, it is often difficult to find something that all of them can enjoy.  Both the aquarium and the Lego store fit the bill perfectly!

After three stores, it was definitely time to get our tired, over-stimulated three year old of the mall.  It would have been fun to do more (Our Ruby had her eye on the rollercoasters!), but it just didn't work out for us this trip.  We learned the hard way that when you book a hotel room "at Mall of America", it very well could actually mean that it's 30 minutes away from Mall of America!  Lesson learned.

That gave us the rest of the night, though, to have a nice dinner, a little swim time in the pool, and do a bit of Lego building in the hotel room.  Next stop:  Coralville, Iowa!