Hey, Internet friends, did absence make the heart grow fonder?
Sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I know some of you have apparently been dying to know how our “moochcation” went, especially after my little teaser on Monday.
All in all, we had a really good time, although I am still recovering sleep-wise. But as would be expected when our brood ventures out into the world, the trips were not without accidents and incidents.
Here goes. *Deep breath.*
The Moochcation—Part I
Kansas City, Missouri
Time in Van (One-Way): 3 hours
Our moochcation started when we drove down to KC to invade my BFF from high school and her family. The trip started out as usual—fighting over which movies to watch. And the fighting continued until I think I had an out-of-body experience about a block from our destination. (Serenity now. Serenity now.)
Once we arrived and were no longer trapped in a vehicle together, we all became a bit more relaxed. We headed right to a water park where Boys #1 and #2 enjoyed play-fighting on their inner tubes while floating down the lazy river, and Boy #3 busied himself by repeating, “Mommy…carry me!” when the water only came up to his waist.
My BFF and her family are currently renting a duplex on the campus of the ministry they work for until they leave for Slovenia in October, where they will live for five years and plant a church. (Kinda makes the fact that I plan the craft once a month for Sunday School seem like not quite such a sacrifice!) I told them that I’m fairly certain that there would be a picture of our family up in the office after we leave with a big slash through us and the warning, “If you see this family on campus, report it to the authorities immediately!” Why? Oh, I don’t know. It may have something to do with the fact that my boys were kicking balls, riding bikes, throwing water balloons and being wild-and-crazy boys for two days. Or possibly because Boy #2 pulled his pants down and peed on the neighbor’s tree. In the front yard. In front of everyone.
One morning Husband, BFF’s Husband, and Boy #1 all went golfing, so BFF and I thought we’d take the other four kids to Union Station and Crown Center. The kids had fun, anyway. BFF and I? After a couple hours we could’ve used a drink. Here are a few pictures of the day.
Boy #2 loved the Lego gallery. (Yes, it’s a Monopoly board made out of Legos.) He made me take a photo of him doing a thumbs-up with every single exhibit. Kind of lost its meaning after a while…
BFF’s little boy and Boy #3 enjoyed playing with the Legos. What? How did Boy #3 get so buff, you ask? So buff—and so green? Oh, did I neglect to mention the part about Boy #3 insisting on wearing an Incredible Hulk costume? Yeah…
One good thing about taking kids ages 3 to 7 with us is that they’re easily entertained. They thought the skywalks between Crown Center and Union Station were just about the coolest things ever! (Nevermind that we have skywalks in Des Moines.) It was all fun and games until BFF’s little boy took a dive after running about 100 yards ahead of us (and a couple grandma-type ladies looked at us like we were the worst moms ever). After that we all walked.
Another good thing about taking kids of this age with us is that they can be easily duped. Take the Narnia exhibit, for instance. After learning the price of the tickets and realizing how much our kids would actually get out of the exhibit, it wasn’t hard to convince them that the little foyer outside the exhibit was actually the exhibit itself. “Wasn’t Narnia great, kids?”
We ate lunch at the Crayola Cafe, which was a fun little joint with a nice variety of meals that appeal to both kids and their parents. They also have really cool place mats and, of course, crayons for the kids to color them with. Incidentally, this photo was taken approximately 5 seconds before Boy #2 knocked his full glass of root beer all over the floor and the manager of the restaurant. Good times, good times.
After braving it through Kaleidoscope, sponsored by Hallmark, which allows kids to create all kids of crafts for free, and the candy shop, we let the kids play in the fountains at Crown Center. I’m pretty sure this was the highlight of the trip for them!
I just have to get this pic of BFF in here. She’s just too cute for words! (And the most awesome part is that she has always been beautiful on the outside AND the inside.)
I had to capture this moment. Awww, they really do like each other sometimes! (And yes, Boy #2 is actually giving his little bro a protective hand-on-the-back, not pushing him down!)
The boys enjoyed it when the fountains would all go down. They would run and sit on one of the grates where they knew a stream of water would soon shoot up from.
Here’s how Boy #2 entertained himself. Seriously, if it’s not real urine, it’s faux urine!
When BFF and I got home that afternoon, we were exhausted! But the next morning we managed to sneak away for a couple hours of “alone time.” Ahhh, breakfast and conversation followed by rifling through the clearance racks at Old Navy. Just a little slice of heaven. I was sad to leave that afternoon, but we had terrorized the neighborhood long enough. So it was back to Iowa, a day home to do laundry, and then up bright and early the next day for . . .
The Moochcation—Part 2
Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota
Time in Van (One-Way): 3.5 hours
Husband’s parents and grandma joined us for Part 2 of our moochcation. The first stop was Como Zoo in St. Paul. This is a great place to go because it’s just the right size—not too big and not too small—and it’s free. I’m all about free!
The zoo contains a nice variety of animals, including gorillas and orangutans (my favorites). Although I did feel a certain connection with this ostrich…
Hey, Mr. Ostrich, I have days like that too.
We didn’t get to actually see any wolves, but we did enjoy embarrassing Boy #1 by all doing our best wolf howls!
I’m not sure who Boy #3 is angry with in this picture, but if I were a zebra, I’d be watching my back…
Husband lives to make fun of me, so you can imagine his cracks about me and the butterfly garden. It was the last place we went in the zoo, and I wasn’t about to miss it! (Hence, me mentioning it about 37 times.) I think Husband wasn’t that excited by it, but I could’ve stayed in there all day. The boys seemed to love it too, especially when butterflies kept landing on Boy #2’s green hat!
Como Park is also home to a mini golf course, Putter There! So after the zoo we headed on over for 18 holes, including Husband’s 87-year-old grandmother who we had pushed in a wheelchair around the zoo. (Well, I say “we” but I really mean “everyone but me” after an unfortunate incident where I ran her into the door…)
Granny tore up the golf course—literally. After trying unsuccessfully to get the ball past the windmill about 15 times, she proceeded to just hit the windmill with the club instead. But as she reminded us later (when we were teasing her about her snoring, which honestly sounded like a cat in heat), “Who all here got a hole in one, huh?” Yes, Granny had most of us beat there, getting a hole in one on Hole 17!
After spending the night in a hotel, we got up the next morning and headed to IKEA. Did I mention that Boy #1 had started developing a rash the day before? He has really sensitive skin, so I wasn’t too concerned at first, but by morning it was all over his face and his arms, stomach, and legs.
But did that stop us from packing up the car and heading to IKEA for some power shopping? Heck no! Our plan was to take him to a walk-in clinic in Rochester when we arrived later that afternoon. However, when I ran into my sister and her family, who were also vacationing in Minneapolis, in the children’s department of IKEA and she gasped and said, “What’s wrong with him?” when she saw her nephew’s swollen face, I started to think maybe I need to worry less about finding that set of kids’ plastic silverware I wanted and worry more about the state of my eldest.
Finally, when he told us that his throat was feeling funny and it was getting harder to breathe, Husband and I left our cart and our other two kids with the grandparents and used our iPhones to track down the nearest emergency room. That would be Hennepin County Hospital, downtown Minneapolis, 4 city blocks long. We navigated our way downtown and parked at a meter across from a random hospital entrance. Husband put in enough change for 5 1/2 hours and we jokingly said, “Yeah, like we’ll need all that!” Uh, yeah, he had to go feed the meter again.
After finding an Information booth and walking another block to the ER, we were taken back right away to a room that we would come to know quite well. We had no idea what had caused Boy #1’s allergic reaction, but after a shot of epinephrine and another shot of Benadryl, as well as a dose of Prednisone, I thought we were in the clear. His face started looking more normal and the swelling was going down. However, just when the doctor came in to release us, we noticed that the swelling had gone back up again and the redness was back. This really concerned the doctors and we were told we’d have to stay longer while they determined how to treat him.
By this time, it was mid-afternoon and we hadn’t eaten lunch. We were stuck in a room about the size of a walk-in closet with two magazines in English, one from 2006, and one in Spanish and two hard plastic chairs. We had been so concerned about getting Boy #1 to the ER that we hadn’t grabbed a book to read or anything to do while we waited. We started to get a little bit bored. And a little bit hungry. And a little bit silly.
Husband entertained us by playing “The Alphabet Game,” usually reserved for car trips, in the room. A nurse walked in right as he found the “Z” and did a fist pump in excitement. She promptly mumbled something we couldn’t understand, turned, and left. We never saw her again.
Next we tried charades, but I was so hungry that I couldn’t even think of anything to act out, so Husband had to be “it” every time. I even tried to do a little tap dance to get the circulation moving in my legs. Need I remind you that I’ve never taken a dance class in my life.
Just to cut the boredom, I think, Boy #1 pulled out a tooth while we were waiting. (Ooh, I just remembered that it’s still wrapped in a paper towel in my purse.)
Finally after another shot and another couple hours, we were allowed to leave. Freedom had never looked so good. Even walking past the “Stab Closet” on the way out of the hospital didn’t dampen our spirits.
And so it was on to Rochester to visit Husband’s sister and her family. It was a fun weekend, as it always is when we get together. We got up early and hit garage sales, which is always an adventure with my sister-in-law. (“First law of garage sales: no showering!”) We even managed to squeeze in a trip to Rochester Goodwill, which is like the Mecca of all Goodwill stores. It’s about 15 times bigger than any Goodwill store I’ve ever been in, although it is a bit pricier than the Goodwill stores I frequent. (Yes, I’m a bit of a Goodwill snob, I’ll admit.)
The boys had fun playing with their cousins and alternating between being frightened of and enamored with their extremely obese cats. (They are currently undergoing medical treatment for their weight conditions, but DANG! Those cats are FAT!)
The kids all loved playing in the awesome playhouse my brother-in-law is building. Can you tell he’s an architect? This place is awesome! And it’s not even done yet. He’s got more siding to put on and a table to build for the inside yet. Seriously, my kids are lucky if there’s a mudhole they can jump in in our backyard! Boy #3 had an accident and peed all over the floor of the playhouse before we left last weekend. Of course he did!
Here’s my cute MIL and my cute niece and nephew with my boys.
And one last photo to leave you with. There are a total of three photos of me on this moochcation because I am the one who usually takes the pictures. The other two photos are of me putting on the mini golf course, and they don’t show my face. And the other one is THIS ONE.
Could it be any worse? Let’s see, I’m sporting my “no shower” garage sale look, I’m making a face that could scare a whole posse of vermin . . . and my precious baby is picking his nose.