Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You're Gonna Love it at Adventureland

Written on July 18, 2016...

As I type this post, Mason and I are sitting outside on our patio, drinks in hand, watching the fire dance around our new Target-special fire pit.  (99 bucks right now! Go order it!) We're a little sunburned and our feet are a little achy and we're crazy tired, but these small things were the price we paid for a sweet day at Adventureland.

Today marked our third family excursion at Adventureland, and each year it seems to be better than the year before.  Of course, Charlie's always a little taller-- which seems to help when you're visiting amusement parks.  At this moment in time, the thing he wants most in the world is to be 48 inches tall.  48 inches seems to be the magical height to ride the "big rides" and brave the "big waterslides".  (Unless it's a dreaded 52 or 54 incher-- which seems like an eternity away for Charlie.)  And while he's creeping closer, there's no way he'll get there this summer--- much to his dismay.  Fortunately, three of the four roller coasters at Adventureland are 42" requirements-- meaning, he's been riding them since he was four years old and loves every second of them.

This morning, we surprised Charlie with a little road trip.  We didn't give him any hints and until we were literally entering the Adventureland gates, he thought we might be going to Chuck E. Cheese's.  ("We're going to drive right by Adventureland, Charlie! Look!  There it is on the right!" Finally, Mason clued him in by asking, "Charlie, what does that big sign say?"
Charlie peered around the seat, straining to see the sign and read, "Welcome....to....Adventureland......WHAT!?!?  We're HERE!?! Wa-hoooo!  Yes!"

We proceeded to parking lot 4, applied heavy coats of sunscreen, grabbed waterbottles and extra diapers and some snacks, shoved everything into a bag and jammed it all onto Anna's stroller.  We clicked her in and took off for the gates.  And before you knew it we were standing in line for the Carousel and then The Galleon and then The Sky Wheel....

(Charlie, ever the danger ranger, did NOT think this was a good idea at all.  We saw them boarding the ride from our position in line at the Galleon and Charlie looked at me and said, "Oh Mom, I don't like this at all. I think this is a bad idea.  Daddy better hold on to her with all his might!")  Mason mentioned that Anna loved this ride and was thrilled not to sit on his lap.  Glad I didn't know that before they went on it.  

Dippin' Dots!!  

Anna's favorite ride-- though she wasn't too excited to realize that she was strapped in....

She kept yelling, "Mama! Up!" but couldn't figure out that the lever would make her go up.  Poor thing.  Her plane never got off the ground. :) 

We didn't know how Anna would handle the whole day, especially one that was predicted to be 90+ degrees with humidity that might possibly melt even me-- the biggest lover of Midwest heat and humidity out there.  So we hatched a plan B that involved Sara's house or a long car ride or maybe a trip to Bass Pro Shop.  But surprisingly (why were we surprised?!),  Little Sister took everything in stride--loving every minute, and then stretching out in her stroller for two hours to refresh and take on the afternoon.

This year, we braved AdventureBay-- the waterpark attached to Adventureland-- for the first time.  We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of things to do--and how age-appropriate everything was.  And after having a little reminder chat of what do if you're lost from us (that probably sounded more like, "Thank the good lord in Heaven you're alive!  Now where the hell were you!?  We were scared to death! We thought you drowned!  You could have DIED!  Jesus!  What were you thinking?!? We are so mad!..... Because we love you so much!!!...."--this is all hypothetical of course.)  we had a fantastic time.

After water-parking it, we saved a little time to do a few more rides, grab a bite to eat, and then hit the road.  By the time we reached Bondurant, both kiddies were asleep and their mama was not far behind.  If you're from central Iowa, that catchy little Adventureland jingle (that seems to play constantly on the radio and tv), is one that sticks with you.  And for us, the memories made while there, will be ones that stick with us--like that little jingle-- played on repeat for years to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bucket List: Go to Mindy's 2016

"And you say you never do anything! It seems like you and the kids are always on the go."  A friend of mine recently said this to me as we were standing at the Felix-Grundy celebration, watching our kids risk their lives on ill-looking carnival rides that had to be older than most people in attendance.  I looked at her and laughed.  "Well, summers off--will travel!" I replied.

We had been talking about how summer was going, how quickly it passes, and whether or not we had plans for the upcoming weekend.  I had mentioned that Kelly had been in town for a week, we spent three days in Des Moines, hung out at Holiday lake over the 4th of July weekend, and we were just getting ready to head down to St. Louis the next morning.  I've become accustomed to this look of surprise and sometimes bewilderment that results when people hear about our summer.   But as I explained to Kelly when she was here, summer fills me up.  It's ten weeks of ultra-precious time (and lots of warmth and Vitamin D)-- and I literally imagine my body as a vessel that gets re-charged each summer.  Things like early sunrises and late sunsets and drinking wine on the patio, lightning bugs, pool trips after supper, and even the sticky feeling of humidity all seem to add a bit of energy to my depleted vessel.  Then, school starts, autumn comes (and then the season that shall not be mentioned) and I tap into my charged up energy.  I coast through the next 42 weeks on that stored up goodness that comes from summer. 

And a huge charge comes from traveling.  Right now, we're visiting Mindy in a northern suburb of St. Louis.  This year marks our sixth year-- so it's definitely a tradition and one of my favorite parts of summer. I'm pretty sure I forgot to write a post about it last year so I wanted to make sure to write about it this year.  Here goes...

After a change in plans (Jeremy's work schedule changed and we needed to make a last-minute switch in our planning-- which resulted in us coming with two days notice because sadly, every other week and weekend is spoken for....) we woke up bright and early and hit the road.  The kids were super troopers in the car and we lucked out with beautiful weather--allowing us to take a few pit stops and not be limited by skyrocketing temperatures. 

Of course, we stopped in Donnellson, a town with a population of 899 (according to Google) and managed to kill an hour and a half.  We found the library (took some pictures for The Library Express!) and then played and picnicked at the park. 

After hopping back in the car, I powered up the dvd player for Charlie (Star Wars--"the one with the ewoks") and popped Anna's binkie in her mouth, silently praying for a long summer's nap.  (She did sleep until we hit the evil Hannibal with its numerous stop lights and ability to wake up sleeping babies.  Sigh.  And though we had a few rough minutes, we made it to Mindy's safe and sound by Saturday afternoon.  We surveyed the landscape (rooted through all of their toys), found our bearings (got the Wi-Fi password and broke out the devices), and relaxed (drank some of Jeremy's beer from the garage fridge). 

The next day, we day-tripped to Indian Creek Park, where we enjoyed some creek walking and minnow catching and bucket filling and mud-pie making fun.  Definitely one of my favorite places to visit. 

Later that afternoon, Anna took a signature 90 minute nap and then joined the party-- devices, snacks, and trashing Mindy's house with games and blocks and dolls and random toys. 

That night we bathed the kiddos, I braided the girls hair (I think that's become another tradition...), and we loaded up the minivan for a jammie-clad ice cream trip.  (Oh, and Anna loves Jeremy-- sat by him the whole time with her little hand on his leg, calling him Daddy all night long.  Adorable.)

Anna loved our vacation so much that she chose to wake up early and take in as much of the day as possible (yay!).  She and I enjoyed some quality time together and hit the streets with the stroller for a nice muggy morning walk. (Not her favorite activity)  Later that day, we loaded up the troops and hit the pool and though the water slides weren't operating (Charlie was SO disappointed-- he's been talking about them for weeks!  Weeks!) we ended up having a sweet time.  Oh, except the part where Charlie got stung by a bee and about went into hysterics over it.  Don't worry, eventually he calmed down (with the help of a lifeguard's ice-filled rubber glove and a Milky Way).

We ended our visit with a relaxing evening and our traditional date night-- that's when Mindy and I run to Target or the Gap and use coupons that are about to expire.  It's one of my favorite things of the trip. (This year we hit up Von Maur and NY&Co before Target--good times!)

And while our time with the Carmichael's is always short, it's ever so sweet-- and something that is definitely cherished.  We look forward to it each year and it's become something that is as much a part of summer as watermelon and bomb pops.  We eagerly list things we want to do in the summer-- roast marshmallows, catch lightning bugs, star gaze....  and "go to Mindy's" is always at the top of the list. And since I'm such a sweet and indulging mama, I happily oblige.

We finished our trip with a pit-stop at the Iowa Children's Museum-- always a hit and a great way to get toddlers tuckered out and ready for a nap. :)

Charlie wanted me to take a picture of his Cheese-It "Grooves" crackers.  (ha!)

Signing off from the road~
 The Spahns