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And We're Off

April 10th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

We are heading out for a vacation. I have been saving so that we won't have to use the credit card or at least if we do for hotels and stuff we have the money to repay it right away. We are headed to GA to see family (eldest son and family) and then to Epcot. We will also see my sister there. We are going to NC to see our eldest daughter and her family and hope to see a couple people that I talk to online all the time. This will count as our visit to Florida and Georgia as the 50 states so we will be 3 down and 47 to go!! Later this summer we are going to go to Michigan and see a bit of Wisconsin. In the fall we will hit Ohio on our way East again.

Minnesota

February 24th, 2009 at 05:17 am

We left around noon for Mall of America and waymarked our way across Wisconsin and into Minnesota. We went there for dinner after checking into the hotel. We stayed at a Ramada because they had an indoor pool and a couple fun packages. We took one package for one night that was called Shop til you Drop. It included a Mall of America booklet of coupons that sells for 9.95 and two free breakfast entrees. The other package we did for the second night has the booklet, 2 entrees, and two free tickets to the aquarium. We bought two more for only ten dollars each. DH took the Monday off so we ended up staying an extra night. That first night we went to the Mall for dinner. We ate at a place called Tucci Benucci's and used our coupon for a free dessert. The kids had baked spaghetti (as did DH but his had no tomato) and ravioli. I shared theirs. For dessert I had a couple bites of their chocolate pie. Was more bitter than I liked but DH liked it a couple days later. It was a hard fudge consistency so we saved it. He had a apple dessert that was great (he shared). The kids had ice cream. Back at the hotel we had to practically threaten the kids with going home to get them to go to sleep. They go to bed so nicely here and so horribly away. Guess it is better that way than reversed though! The next morning bright and early DH left us to go waymarking. The kids and I went to breakfast (mostly free) and then looked at the pool and some of the statuary around the hotel. It was mostly Native American art or art depicting Native Americans. Really nice. When nine oclock came along we got on the hotel van to ride to the Mall of America. DH left me the boosters so they could ride safely. DD2 pointed out that i wasn't in a seatbelt on the way over of course! At the Mall we rented lockers to store said boosters in until it was time to use them again and then we went exploring. I had made a board with pictures on it of things for them to look for in the mall. I promised a prize if they found all the stuff. They had fun with that and gave me a chance to look around. It was volunteer day there so there was even more stuff to look at. About eleven they were tired and so was I so I rented a double stroller and off we went again. By then we had done a little shopping so I stowed the stuff in the lockers and had hands free again. We explored the Nickolodean playland (didn't do any rides yet), Lego store and stopped to play for a bit, Build a Bear and Build a Doll, (made plans to come back there) and lots of other places. They said they weren't hungry but i was so I stopped at the food court and grabbed some lunch. They decided they were hurngry (no surprise there) and we all ate. After lunch it was time to let them spend the money they had been saving, and find out what was on another floor. DS2 bought a lego set and we explored some more. I called DH several times (usually when one or the other kids misbehaved) just to make sure he was having fun! Around 2 we had to take a cookie break and listen to a Christian group that was singing. They were part of Volunteer day. We walked past a shop with an amazing sign up. Seems they had Wii's in stock! I called DH who said to get it. I bought a Wii and a Wii fit and asked them to hold them till DH got back. Around 4 we got in line at Build A Bear. I was sooooooooooo disgusted with myslef for not letting her just do it the first time we were there since they had just opened and there was no line. I had told her we'd come back and that she needed to think about what she wanted in case she changed her mind (she didn't) So we waited in line to pick up a pink monkey and watch someone shove fluff into it for around 40 minutes. WE then waite din line another 15 minutes to pay for it. I had a coupon and she had been saving so it was pretty painless to pay. DH got back around 5 and we made plans to have dinner there. First of all we had to go on a few rides, well they did not us grown ups. They gave us a pass so I could hold her on the rides (brace on a leg doesn't make ride workers feel real secure) and we got free all day ride passes cause we'd bought the Wii. in fact we got 3 of em!. After an hour of rides I was way too tired! We ate at a place called Kokomo's with a free appitizer and free dessert coupon. Again I shared. We got key lime pie for dessert. We crawled back to the room planning to put two sleepy kids in quick. the best laid plans and all that. DD screamed and cried till finally I managed to quiet her and rock her to sleep. DS went to sleep sooner but not happily. The next morning we went to breakfast (mostly free) again. They managed to mess up DD2's order as well as DH's so we told them to forget it. It had already taken way too long to get the wrong food. DS2 shared with DD2 and I shared with DH. We had the last two coupons so paid very little. Off to the Mall we went again. This time we were headed to the Aquarium. We went thru the "tunnel" and watched the sharks and rays swim over us. It was cool and I hope i got some good video footage of it. We paid extra for a behind the scenes tour and it was awesome. WE got to look down into the tanks. We also saw where they prepare food and were shown some fo the food that the sharks eat. We did a bit more shopping and then realized it was five o clock! WE went back to the hotel and ordered pizza. I took my 4 year old down to "help" pick it up and found out I had to go into the bar to get it so returned her to her Dad and went back down. The desk clerk laughed at me for not taking her into a place that served alcohol. Pizza and a movie for dinner and then bed. i rocked an unhappy little boy to sleep (he wanted time to build his lego set) while a good little girl put herself to sleep with her new pink monkey (she hadn't been allowed to play with it all day because of how poorly she behaved the night before) Day three we woke up stiff and sore (again) and spent a relaxing time in the room for a bit. Then we went swimming. I chickened out and headed for the hot tub. Actually I hobbled to it. Everyone joined me there shortly although the kids could only put their feet in. DD requested that she be allowed back in the "cool pool" and DH pulled himself to his feet muttering "I love my children, I love my children" He hobbled over to the pool and stood waiting in the cold water for her. She walked halfway over and said I want Mommy and came back to me. He stood in the pool shivering and incredulously said you mean I did this for nothing!!!??? Both kids decided to take pity on Daddy and get in for a few more minutes. It was really funny. WE went back to the room for breakfast (cold pizza and poptarts) Start them early on that college fare! Finally we built his lego set and gve him an hour or so to play while DH mapped out our route home. We decided to stop at the birthdplace of Laura Ignalls Wilder so the route he'd originally planned wouldn't work. He found lots of new waymarks to do so was pretty happy with the new plans. We checked our around 1130 and went on the way. WE visited the house and then picked up some literature about the area. I saw an Eagle Education center in it and we decided to stop. It was the best part of the trip. WE saw 4 live Eagles. One Golden and the rest Bald. WE watched two of them eat a dead rat and got our picture taken with one. It was really cool. Then we ate at an old four mill converted to a pizza, chocolate, coffee place. I shared with the kids again. It was a great trip. DD slept almost all the way home after that. When we got home I carried her in and set her down. I sent her to the potty and then to take off her shoes and brace. She fell asleep again taking them off. I am giving them a day off school tomorrow. We are all too tired. I am dropping off as I type. I think the only thing keeping me awake is the pain in my ankles and feet! The bottom of my heel is one big blister and there are multiple others on the foot! My ankles are so swollen I can't put my shoes on. Oh well they'll recover. Maybe the Wii fit will help with that!