edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

I’m Just A Girl in the World August 8, 2016

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 11:29 am
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O: Outings

Gwen_Stefani_Ava_JenNothing like your first concert experience. Mine was the Rolling Stones. For my daughter, Ava, I wanted the same mind-blowingness and Gwen Stefani delivered. I’m feeling Hella Good about it. In fact, when I cracked open my laptop at my co-working space this morning and Gwen belted out Misery right where she left off on my YouTube stream yesterday, I didn’t scramble to mute it.
 

It’s okay that Ava’s next concert-going experience will be different and maybe even better. She only knew about one-third of Gwen’s songs because I only just got in on tickets a few days prior to the concert. We listened to her new stuff off of #ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLike, but how could there possibly be enough time over three busy days to impart all of the Stefani magic upon her? And I realize, it could be more fun with friends than your mom with an artist you’re currently all gaga over.
 

Gwen_Stefani_Scar8That aside, it was more about getting to experience that excitement for the first time with her. We did our hair and make-up (applied some false eyelashes in the Target parking lot en route) and chose our attire carefully — denim and black — always a wise choice. Other words of wisdom included you must wear a tank for a quick new concert t wardrobe swap (pictured here, I’m wearing her shirt as a scarf :); you must wear flats because despite having assigned seats, you will be on your feet the entire time (which I did not heed due to my must wear camo wedges); and go big on make-up, casual on clothes so you look like you don’t care too much.
 

We arrived at 6:20 to the Xcel to survey the hazy scene and hear opening act, Eve (@therealeve). Always loved that Gwen back to No Doubt days had a ska/ hip-hop vibe to her music and it makes so much sense that artistry continues to inform and weave through her versatile vibe. From Eve’s portion I say holla to the flag corp girls! I leaned over to share with Ava that our militant flag corp routines from junior highschool looked nothing like that and could have used a booty-shaking infusion. Response: eye-rolling.
 

Gwen_Stefani_TIn anticipation of Gwen, we snapped some photos, surveyed the scene which include a mom and her five-year-old in front of us. We did that t-shirt swap I had hinted about earlier in the day after she got over disbelief that I allowed a $40 t-shirt purchase without batting an eye. Later I explained how amazingly cool it felt to come back to my small town Jackson, MN, after a Tuesday night seeing The Stones in the cities. I was unapologetically exhausted (from 3:00a.m. arrival home), but my t-shirt with Jagger’s tongue spoke volumes of coolness for me. Ava’s Gwen t of choice — the one with photo booth shots and a list of 26 cities on her tour — could bring the same transcendence to her.
 

We were ready. In the first of four outfits, Gwen opted for tartan, black boots and yodeling with Wind It Up, a ska meets Sound of Music loveliness, lilt and lyrical genius. Wardrobe change two featured a bodysuit with ornate details that might possibly have included a necklace of ostrich features and denim low-rise jeans with lots of zippers. I know we’re Cool. Then she went army green militant in jeans with a glittery brilliant green top in contrast. Whatcha Waiting For?  She ended with short black shorts, a black and white half scarf/half skirt and white feathered top. She closed on more serene notes with This Is What The Truth Feels Like and Sweet Escape. 
 

Gwen_Stefani_Swiss2Amidst all of that fashion, style and lyrical variety, Blake Shelton came out for Go Ahead and Break My Heart. And because the audience knows this love story intimately, everyone seemed to get swept up in this number. Even Ava turned to me, like really? could it be? when Gwen hinted that “my favorite person in the whole world is here.” Admittedly, my heart did a few backflips, but I would never say that Blake (and Eve) were the stars of the show as the Strib review noted. C’mon, Jon! We want her to come hollaback : ) (check out PiPress review too, which is more favorable)
 

Yes, on one more Strib review follow-up note, the Stefani experience is larger than her music because she is so much larger than that. As a mom of three who I feel like I grew up with (we’re only two years apart), a fashionista (L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers), her wide open love life and all its drama, and her story about making this album for her, I feel like all of those things only make her stronger, more relevant.
 

And one final note, the two times I’ve seen Gwen in concert (Nov 2002 and Aug 2016), I was sober. The first time, I was three months pregnant with Ava and this time, completely by choice to enjoy the eve with my daughter. In 2002, I recall being awed by the number of push-ups Gwen did on stage; in 2016, I’m awed by how amazing she looks and sounds and that she’s even better. She seems truly happy just being a girl in the world.
 

— Cheers, Gwen and come back to Minnesota next time ’round!

 

 

 

 

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Omnifest at Its Best February 17, 2015

O: Outings

I’ve never been one for movie marathons, but on a recent outing to the Science Museum of Minnesota, we tested our viewing limits. It was, after all, Omnifest, a unique five-film festival with the 45 minute films running continuously on the hour. And it was only running through February 19th, which made President’s Day weekend the ultimate opportunity to sit back and take in some quality IMAX.
 

SMM_ScaleMy parents and my two kids and I ventured over to St Paul on Friday, February 13, with a general sort of sense on how we’d spend our time there. Our membership had expired in August 2014, so the first item of business was to look at renewing. Rather than do cost comparisons online, we enlisted the museum staff to help us determine the ideal membership level based on our plans for the day and upcoming perks we’d actually use. In the past we opted for the household membership (parents and kids), however, with the grandparents in tow it seemed to make sense to move up to the Supporting (or Darwin) level so extended family members could get in on the action.
 

Chomp Cafe Next to Diplodocus

Chomp Cafe Next to Diplodocus

With entrance fees, five tickets for three films and anticipated discounts and guest passes for future trips (i.e. the Feb. 20 – Sept. 7, Space: An Out-Of-Gravity Experience) included, we chose the Supporting level membership. Given we had the whole day open, we optimistically committed to the 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 Omni shows The Living Sea, D-Day and Hubble and opted to bypass Flight of Butterflies and The Greatest Places. I had some doubts about back-to-back films retaining our interest, especially for the 11 and 9 year-old contingency.
 

We hit the gift shop and the native Minnesota (or Collectors) level before giving into hunger pangs at Chomp, the museum’s main café. I’d recommend sticking with Sarpino’s pizza. We marveled a bit at the gigantic $2.2M, 36-foot tall astronaut being assembled on the third floor (first seen at Cochella 2014) before heading over to the area devoted to the science of wind and airflow.

Testing Pneumatic Know-How for Flow

Testing Pneumatic Know-How for Flow


 

We paused and got caught up in a discussion about the wind turbines that pepper southwestern Minnesota’s Buffalo Ridge region. The town where I grew up, Jackson, MN, is not technically in this region, but just east of it. I never officially knew Buffalo Ridge existed, but having driven on I-90 in this part of the state during many a whipping winter wind, I knew some sort of high wind weather-pattern phenomenon was in play. My Dad, the outdoorsman, and I challenged the exhibit’s assertion that winds were generally higher at night than during the day. More research to come on that front.
 

After that discussion died down, we headed to the IMAX entrance for our first of three films we would see that day, The Living Sea, narrated by Meryl Streep. The highlights were the surfing, Bay of Fundy tides and U.S. Coast Guard rescue training in rough waters (i.e. The Perfect Storm). The low lights for me: the jellyfish and the ocean-bottom dwelling creature that spanned the length of a full football field. The 1995 film felt all of its 20 years.
 

We shuffled out of the sold-out theater, past the sixth-level Elements Café and looped right back down the motion-induced Musical Stairs to the fifth floor (lobby level) Omni entrance. Some of us could have used a java infusion from Java Lab, but no food or drink is allowed in the theater and downing a latte in only six minutes was not an option. The doors opened for the 3:00 film – D-Day: Normandy 1944. We filed in and sat in the same row and nearly the same seats as the previous show.
 

D-Day was the only new one of the five films showing during this Science Museum’s 18th annual Omnifest (see the Tangential review and the Strib review). My mom shot me a look before it started – were we sure the content would be suitable for the kids? Narrated by Tom Brokaw, the film used maps to make sense of military strategy, still photography, historical re-enactments and live-action aerial footage to retrace the momentous World War II turning point. It dealt with history and the subject matter in a non-violent, contextual and educational way. And it was perfectly suitable for the kids. In fact, we unanimously agreed that this was our favorite film of the day.
 

Giant Astronaut

Giant Astronaut

Again, we filed out of the theater and back into the line for our third film of the day at 4:00, Hubble. A routine set in as we took nearly the same seats in the second row at center, evoking an uneasy feeling like Bill Murray experiences in the film Groundhog Day. Hubble proved to be enlightening for our group and especially for my parents, who understood Hubble’s complexities only as they were conveyed via media in a pre-internet era.
 

This film posed questions about the human race and our place in space. Questions we’ve always debated and continue to ask. Drawing from my recent viewing of Gravity, I posed a question to NASA astronaut Mike Fossum on the Science Museum’s Instagram page: “Do you ever feel claustrophobic in space? #ironic.” The film seemed like the appropriate film to end our Omnifest experience and launch our interests in a return trip to the Science Museum when Space opens, February 20.

 

A Twisted Princess Birthday Party June 7, 2014

E: Eats; O: Outings

When we last hosted a princess-themed birthday party, my daughter, Ava, was five. For her 11th birthday, the princess party in pink evolved to the Twisted Princess party. In years past, I had always taken the lead as party-planner. This year, I turned the reigns over to her. She handled it like a pro!

 

Party Planning

Princess Punch

Princess Punch

She made out a plan for the party including games, food, decor and sleeping arrangements and the main event – a trip to the movie theater to see Maleficent on opening night. We discussed theme options at length. Disney movies like Tangled and Frozen were too little girl like. Plus, every girl would want to be more individual and show their own style thus the Twisted Princess theme. We were going to do full hair and make-up to resemble a randomly selected princess, but our make-up artist (my sister-in-law, Katie), was not available. So Ava opted to throw princess options into a hat for her and five guests including Goldilocks, Snow White, Rapunzel, Alice in Wonderland, Gretel from Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella. They did their own make-up in frighteningly fairy tale style.

 

Eat Me Cupcakes

Eat Me Cupcakes

We chose eats and drinks for the party based on our princesses. Apple Orchard Punch (Drink Me!) and stacked frosted two-tier cupcakes (Eat Me!) from Alice in Wonderland went over particularly well. Snacks on hand included mini shortbread cookies from Hansel and Gretel and caramel apple slices inspired by Snow White. I’m not sure where Pizza Luce enters into a fairy tale, but I let that one slide. For breakfast the morning after, we went with porridge courtesy of Goldilocks and pancakes just because. Rapunzel and Cinderella did not make the menu.

 

Party Day

Six Twisted Princesses

Six Twisted Princesses

Per the usual, I am cleaning, running to Target and the grocery store several times and hitting up Party City the day before. Ava and I make the red velvet and white cupcakes the night before, I frost and decorate them the day of. Party City has some great theme decor, but Ava has outgrown a lot of it. I land on a pattern (Sweet Stuff) that has stripes and polka-dots and walk out of there with a huge fancy balloon and six smaller ones so each girl can have her own color.

 

I pick up Ava and two of her friends from school around 3:00 on Friday. The other two girls join around 4:30. Plenty of time for a full evening of fun! Pizza arrives around 5:15 then we load up and head to Southdale Center for the movie. The ride over is full of who likes who (or more like who doesn’t like who) in typical fifth-grade girl fashion. We get our tickets and then because we have time, rush the mall. I wasn’t prepared to see these girls so crazed about shopping – – I could not control them! After breezing through Len, See’s Candies and Francesca’s, we wrap it up and head back to the theater.

 

 

Shopping-Crazed Girls

Shopping-Crazed Girls

Maleficent starts with a promise of Disney magic and Angelina is amazing in high cheek bones, wings and horns. Much wrath, life-like tree fighters and a mythological world evoked scenes from Lord of the Rings and Avatar. The girls agree it was a good movie, but it did not leave them raving about it.

 

We arrive at our house post movie and the girls engage in an art contest – there are creators and judges. The rules: no winners or losers, every entry gets a “best of” award for something. How very diplomatic of them! … I personally love that it’s quiet for a short while. Then my 8 year-old son, Calvin, descends upon them to control the tunes. Then dancing.  We break for cupcakes (which served as her birthday cake) and more punch. On to a movie and more make-up. I leave them to their own. I head to bed and they are up until at least 1:00.

 

The next morning, we have some groggy girls. Some have to leave early for family stuff, sports and other activities. I am worn out from all of the planning and party and per the usual, could use a nap now!

— Happy 11th Birthday, Ava! We love you!

 

 

An American Girl Birthday Whirl July 18, 2013

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 10:17 am
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O: Outings

BD Girls and Grandma

BD Girls and Grandma

What better way to ring in your tenth birthday than at the American Girl Cafe? My 10 year-old daughter and I had often times thought about going – – just the two of us — but never had. It had to be for a special occasion. Goodness knows we’re at the Mall of America quite a bit. So when grandma Susie brought up the idea for us girls to go, we jumped at the opportunity.

 

Mia and Piper, Ava’s American Girl dolls, were pretty stoked too. Ava’s cousin Amy, who’s a year older, has a birthday the day prior to hers. In total we were three grown-ups, two birthday girls and three American Girls. We had reservations on a Thursday in June for the seven of us.

 

AG Two-Layer BD Cake

AG Two-Layer BD Cake

When grandma booked, the AG Cafe sent her AG invites to send out to her granddaughters. She mailed them to the girls to make it official. Ava planned out the morning of the luncheon and made sure Mia and Piper were in their party dresses, hair loosely curled for one and a sock bun (new technique we learned) for the other, and on their best behavior.

 

We met our party at the AG Cafe. We had strolled by it many times, but could appreciate first-hand the decked out pink decor this time around. You really can’t get more girly. Our server greeted us and the birthday girls by name. The AG girls had their own chairs at the table too. We ordered a round of pink lemonade because it just seemed fitting.

 

Cake & Fake (Flower)

Cake & Fake (Flower)

We ordered off of the Birthday Bistro Celebration menu with pricing set for one appetizer, one entree and one dessert per person. The warm-artichoke spinach dip was a serious favorite, followed by the avocado chicken sandwich. I thought there might be more tea party like options, but they were clearly going for classed up comfort food (mac n cheese, chicken nuggets) that kids and moms (I would say parents, but I didn’t spot a single dad in the place) could enjoy.

 

The AG girls got some cool fake balloons form-fitted for their little hands out of the deal. We were served a yummy two layer white and chocolate cake on a cake stand and my personal favorite — ice cream in mini flower pots with fake yellow flowers on top. The birthday song might as well be continuously played there. Our server joined us in the tune, then cut and served the cake.

 

All of us girls had a special, fancy luncheon with two gift bags to boot that contained an AG t-shirt and scrapbook. Good swag considering a retail purchase of these items would run up to $25 total. It was a birthday celebration for the books no doubt. If you’re looking to celebrate with a special young lady in your life, I’d definitely recommend giving the cafe (and spa, if you have time) a whirl!

 

—  Happy Birthday to Ava (10) and Amy (11)!
check out the video below on YouTube or VINE at jengilhoi : https://vine.co/v/bltAKww9Wmx



 

A Castle, a Courtyard and a Cafe November 18, 2012

O: Outings

Who doesn’t have an obsession with castles? The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis does and with the new addition by HGA Architects, you can go from historic to modern with a courtyard in between.

 

Trolling for Swedish Fish

Trolling for Swedish Fish

I hadn’t visited ASI for years and since the opening of the new addition, it’s been on my list. With relatives in town, not of Swedish but Scandinavian heritage (close enough!), and the holidays approaching, we opt for a Friday afternoon visit. Our group includes my mom, aunt, my two kids and me.

 

ASI lies just south of downtown Minneapolis on Park Avenue, the first asphalt road in the Twin Cities which is also known as the Golden Mile. The institute’s new signage, parking lot and landscaping greatly enhance its presence and ease of access. They also designate close parking spots for fuel-efficient vehicles only, our first hint at the sustainable features for the site’s new design.

 

Upon entering we’re drawn to the right, right into their gift shop featuring Scandinavian designed goods and to my kids’ delight – a candy store. Might they have Swedish Fish? Bulk candy is $12 a pound so after a quick study, the kids chose a few items that occupy them while the grown-ups check out the shop a bit more. The kids discover the Norwegian (our ancestry) version of Ticket to Ride. I file that idea away for later.

 

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

Just (Scandinavian) Desserts

The cafe, Fika, runs the length of the courtyard’s southside. There is plenty of daylight streaming in at 3:00 in the afternoon and many larger groups  of people dining in the cafe. We peruse the chalkboard menu for some time and place an order for various coffees and desserts from lattes to hot chocolates (both of which are served with fancy swirls) and flourless chocolate torte to bread pudding. Our order is served to us at the table along with real linens and silverware. The minute I insist I have to try my 7-year-old son’s dessert, he picks up the last large section of it to shove in his mouth. I manage to talk him down from that to share a bite with me. The rest of us are sharing politely.

 

Third Floor Children's  Playhouse

Third Floor Children’s Playhouse

After dessert, we pay our admission fees for the castle portion of the institute (the cafe, gift shop and access to the courtyard are all free). Fees run $7 for adults and $4 for kids (ages 6-18; under 6 are free). Upon arriving at the paid portion of the museum, the kids immediately assume we are in some sort of Harry Potter-like adventure (we are in the process of reading the books together). The castle-like vibe is heightened here because we are inside at the old to new transition point, yet can touch the exposed exterior stone of the castle.

 

In the Castle's Shadow

In the Castle’s Shadow

We explore all three levels of the castle including the solarium in about an hour. It was the right amount of time considering we had a nine and seven-year old with us. Many of the rooms were set with holiday decor including some very elaborate table settings and Christmas tree decor. I would like to get the kids in for napkin folding instruction, please!

 

We spend more time on the third floor at the kids’ playhouse and Turret area, where Tomte, the elf, is now accepting written holiday wishes. The kids each scribe a letter to drop into the post. From our perch, we also discover the new addition’s green roof and miscellaneous hidden goats, gargoyles and gnomes. Before leaving, we take one last walk around the courtyard. I envision that us adults could easily come back and explore the museum more, and that for free, the kids and I could come back to shop, dine and just be in the shadow of Minnesota’s only castle.

 

Medieval Wayfinding October 1, 2012

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 9:24 pm
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O: Outings

Enter The Unicorn

Enter The Unicorn

It was a cool and dusty fall Saturday afternoon in Minnesota (yes, it gets dusty here). Your options are: pick apples at an orchard or head to the Renaissance Festival. We opted to fest and as it turns out, it serves as a Halloween trial-run. We pull out our Halloween boxes and try to explain the fest dress to my 7 and 9 year-olds so they will have a few ideas for their persona for the day.

 

My husband starts by channeling Shrek. We reference pictures from a few years back when we bid and won a silent auction for full outfitting by Sandy Brown of M’Lord and Tailor. We offer extreme interpretations of the Medieval age – a hobo and a pirate. They take us up on it. Ava, my 9-year-old, recalls a dress of mine from Halloween’s’ past and somehow locates my pirate costume. We make some slight adjustments. Calvin, my 7-year-old, will work any excuse to wear his Dad’s old army jacket and black jeans with a good 6″ rip across each kneecap…. oh and his sister’s black boots from last year. My husband, a lover of Halloween, goes all or nothing for this type of thing. It was nothing today. I admire that. I fall into a nondescript middle-of-the-road option with a tan suede skirt and boots.

 

Medieval Elephant Rides?

Medieval Elephant Rides?

We have a full day lined up. My son has a 10:00 -11:00 football game coached by his Dad so the plan is to leave right after that. That did not quite happen, but all just as well as the party we were scheduled to meet up with — my brother, Paul, and his wife, Katie — was running late too. We arrive in Chanhassen for the fest (a good 25 minute drive from our house) at 12:45.  The parking lot is full. By the time we entered I was starved. I grab and map and we hang a hard left and I b-line for the soup line. A long line ensured popularity, right? I opt for the tomato basil soup served ala breadbowl for $7.50. I couldn’t for the life of me locate my husband and kids at this point, so continue on. I finish the soup and decided to hold onto its breadbowl container until my brother and/or kids say they do not want it.

 

After loosely informing our second party on our whereabouts, I randomly ran into them. Text to husband: We are at Ye Old Pub, join us here. Unbeknownst to us – there are chain pubs, stores and retail outlets in Medieval times too. Ye Old Pub has numerous locations, so does Ye Old Blacksmith and Jacob’s Ladder. At this point, I could see that the writing (texting) was on the wall and the tone of wayfinding challenges was set for the day, despite the most elaborate picture map they provide.

 

The Honey Shoppe

The Honey Shoppe

After finding our way to the pub, my brother and I get a beer while adhering to their strict one beer per person per trip rule. They ID too. All of the “hosts” at the fest are actors posing as townspeople. They help people get food and drink to your group. You can actually call out for help with this. We get sassy with these staged townspeople — they love to push buttons — and respond to the noble 19-year-old pub manager’s request to throw away my empty plastic cup with a Do you recycle in Medieval times?

 

Paul, Katie and I visit the Mermaid’s Cove and share a turkey leg,while no less than 25 texts are exchanged to find the whereabouts of my husband and kids. Annoying! They move quick. We finally merge the group in the NW quadrant around 2:45, a mere two hours after we entered. We test out the Crystal Stix (video) then move on to the Blacksmith and Walking Stick stores (an artist crafts wood-swirling walking sticks from the leftover broken jousting wood that are covered with glitter). My Ava is dying for one of these. I’m thinking yes. Anything to replace the tree branches she collects and brings into the car for travel.

 

Jousting Horses Meet Their Fans

Jousting Horses Meet Their Fans

The kids ride on an elephant. We watch jousting matches and scout out good honey and garlic. The dust settles. They are tired. We do a quick vote  and agreed to head home. It’s 5:00 which puts this at a three hour outing. I could have stayed longer or been more enjoyably text-free while I was there. The kids are agreeable, if not oddly crazed on the long ride home. One kid actually has to pee in his/her Renaissance mug because traffic is horribly backed up at the Huron exit to drop off Chad for the Gopher’s game. They are in stitches so much over this that I’m convinced that will be the only memory ingrained upon them from this day.

 

Next year, you can be sure I will plan dress/costume in advance, arrive early, plan to stay late (minimum five hours required!), allow time for facepainting, hairbraiding, lines of all sorts, shows (Bad Manor is a good way to experience the theatrical effects (we went in 2010)) and leisurely lounging. The kids enjoyed it and warmed up to the fact that anyone, anywhere could heckle you about anything and you were required to respond or run. Although don’t run to far — you are sure to be split up from your party and experience wayfinding issues if so. Oh, and good luck finding your car in the parking lot.

 

 

 

Fairly Expensive Fun Factory September 2, 2012

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 9:25 pm
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O: Outings

SkyGlider over Kidway

SkyGlider over Kidway

It takes a fair amount of cash to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair. Prior to our annual visit, I always under-estimate and end up with too little cash on hand. This year, with me as the sole possessor of the cash for our crew, I was not going to be doling it out. My 7 and 9 year-olds agreed to the sensible plan I laid out and for the most part, did not complain as we put it in action over the course of our six-hour visit.

 

The plan consisted of this: 1. Anything we get to eat or drink is sharable 2. In most cases, we are just getting one of something and sharing it three ways 3. We are not eating while walking or standing  4. We need to stay hydrated  5. We will all take restroom breaks at the same time 5. We leave when I say we leave. Overkill?  Perhaps, but also prevention. The plan took us past our usual four-hour max to six.

 

We arrive on Saturday, September 1, day 10 of 12. Entrance fee: $12 for me, $10 for each kid ($32). Day 10 was much better than last year’s Labor Day Monday visit when none of the workers could muster up any energy to rival mine – OMG, Cheese Curds! was met with glares. This year, upon our 10:00a.m. arrival from a nearby free Park & Ride, the Fresh Cut Fries guys were rocking out to Love is a Battlefield. I give them a fist pump. Love the energy. So fries…. check. First thing on this fair-goers list every year. We opt for the small $5 cup and a $3 lemonade and take up a spot at the MPR booth.

 

Space Tower Observation Before Committing

Space Tower Observation Before Committing

With a quick stop at my insistence at French Meadow for three Risotto Poppers at $2 a pop, the kids have their sights on the next door Giant Slide ride. The hot poppers aren’t delish as hoped and the sorry sauce adds to the disappointment.  They were so impatient, that I make an exception to the eat and walk rule for myself (because I can) and head over to the slide. I give them $8 for two rides each on the slide. Check.

 

I almost miss spotting them leaving the slide. When I lay eyes on them, they insist they are dying of thirst. That will be $3 please. Unless you want to wait at the KARE11 booth for free water in the line that is insanely long at 11:00a.m. Hydrated we pay $9.50 ($3.50 each one way) for the gondola to take us north to the very far ends of the fairgrounds. It’s a 10 minute ride that feels even longer because my daughter, Ava, is mad that the three of us crammed into one car. We are also delayed at the exit conversing with the three teen workers who are appalled at the next door Sing-Along’s Moves Like Mic Jagger lyrics that 9&10 year-olds were lip syncing. Really?

 

Since we had just sailed over Kidway, they know the rides are just within reach. I buy the $20 pack – knowing that it’s always incorrect for the actual amount we need. They go on some maze adventure ride (5 tickets each) while I engage with my iphone. Then it’s Tilt-A-Whirl time (again 5 tickets each). Loads of fun, if not predictable. We have 8 tickets left that will be burning a hole in their pocket until they can spend them.

 

Rosemary Store - Kidstuff

Rosemary Store – Kidstuff

But it is time for me to choose something I want to do. Ummm, Leinie Lodge. We catch some of Home Free’s act while I enjoy a 12 oz beverage ($4.50) before the kids get way too distracted with the Space Tower. Ava is way pouty and Calvin, my 7-year-old, is terrified that the tower is the ride that drops you 330 feet to the ground. We watch it a few times to be sure, while I down my brew finally seated on a bench.

 

We get the overview of the grounds via the tower ($9 total). It was a good thing until Ava became fixated on the Haunted House and insisted we head there next. Yes, we can go, but it’ll be on the way out I tell her. It’s like 1:30p.m. now and we make our way over to the International Bazaar. Calvin gets creative and orders a slice of cheese pizza ($4?). Ava is so focused on the Haunted House, she can’t eat. She’s whining about it. It is pretty toasty out. We find a spot near the stage and take in the Chinese dancer performances for 15 minutes. Calvin is dying of thirst again, really. That will be $3 please.

 

At The International Bazaar, we visit the Rosemary store, knitted clothes and gifts for kids, and a glitzy kiosk that gets our only take-away for the day – two snakes $3 each. Two teenage boys squeeze the small, medium and large snakes and say something about size does matter before they meet my wide-eyes. I’m sure my kids don’t even catch it. 

 

Pre Fun Factory: A New Ride at the Fair

Pre Fun Factory: A New Ride at the Fair

Some how, impossibly, we are still hungry. Calvin coaxes me into giving him a piggyback ride. We order up some Cheese curds ($5) and meander around for a table. We find one at the Italian Kitchen and rudely, us non-patrons sit down. From previous experience I know we need to degrease them. Calvin marvels at the grease swimming in the bottom of the dish – They should just call them Grease Curds he observes. Yeah, I agree. So good though….

 

Again, dying of thirst. $3. Oh no, we can’t go yet. We need a ProntoPup (corn dog). We wait in line on the shaded size of the trailer – the kids delighted beyond a doubt with their snakes. It only takes that one little thing. I get them to agree to give me one bite of each of their corndogs. I think that’s another $9. We end up sitting on the ground in a shaded spot to eat. Our feet in flip-flops are filthy. There’s a few caramel apple leave-behinds next to us. Lovely.

 

It’s about 3:30. Okay – last rides? We purchase two more tickets to round out our 8 and the kids each go on one more ride – the Maze in Midway for Calvin and the Fun Factory for Ava. Ava’s ride is a bit intense. The other two people in her four-car ride are a mother and daughter. When I check glimpses of them, the Mom is holding the daughter’s chin to one side and the girl is freaking. Ava gets off and breaks down a bit saying she kept hitting her head. She quickly recovers and it’s the most awesome ride ever.

 

Stratosphere Stuck Again

Stratosphere Stuck Again

We need to be done.  Ahh, but there is the frozen yogurt  stand. $7 for a large with two swirls, two toppings and Mom gets to share. Half “original” which the workers remind us five times is not vanilla, and half chocolate. Blueberries on the original side and Oreos on the chocolate side. We find a bench. The Stratosphere ride breaks down. Again. I get a picture and tweet it. Not so fun for those people. Let’s hope they have sunscreen.

 

One last thing:  The Haunted House. $4 each (I am not in for this one) and I’m a bit concerned, considering all the kids coming out with parents are in tears. One older teen is breaking down sobbing. My kids aren’t out yet.  When they do come out Calvin is angry. He’s mad that people grabbed him. The lights totally went out at one point. We hug it out. They are so ready to go. We spent $150, I’m still hungry due to snacking all day and I didn’t go on any substantial rides. All we have are two snakes to show for it. We even passed up Sweet Martha’s Cookies.

 

Minnesotan’s attend the State Fair no doubt, but I think it’s a love/hate thing for many. We’ll be going back next year because it is the Great Minnesota Get-Together, but you can be sure I’ll fine tune our strategy – and our budget – a bit more.

 

 
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