“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character” ~ Henry David Thoreau


Bye, bye, spring (Day 1): We took a family adventure up to Minneapolis a few weeks ago during Grace’s Spring Break. We left on a 75 degree Wednesday evening. As we were driving, the thermometer in the car was dropping a degree every 15 miles. I realized why it is so common for folks to go South for Spring Break. It was us and the geese going North. We made it to Waterloo, Iowa that night.

Music – Jazz, et al (Day 2): We love the drive through Iowa, winter, summer or “spring”. It is full of beautiful farms the whole way on the Avenue of the Saints. We got up Thursday morning and drove the rest of the way in to Minneapolis. My mom happened to be in town overlapping our visit, so we dropped the kids at Alli and Rob’s and were lucky enough to meet up with our friends, Matt and Melissa Wohlers (aka Mr and Mrs Jazz Wohlers) and got to meet their new peanut, Foster. After a kid-free coffee with the Wohler crew, we attended music class with Addie and Nolan. The kids all loved it – and so did we.

The MOA (Day 3): On Friday we ventured out to the Mall of America to spend some quality time at the indoor theme park. Lucky for us, the theme is now Nickelodeon and Grace and Max are both big fans of the Backyardigans and Dora the Explorer. Grace was thrilled to finally be big enough for some of the bigger rides and Max was equally heartbroken to be too small for many of the rides (his heart was simply crushed that he didn’t get to go on the bumper cars, for obvious reasons). We did sneak him on to the log ride and have a great picture where everyone but Dan looks like we made the wrong decision about that ride. Grace rode her first real roller coaster!  They have also added an American Girl store in the Mall of America and Grace and I spent a little time in there. I was so proud of how calmly and patiently she chose two items out of all of the goodies there. She picked a dog named Honey and a Vet Kit (which broke the minute it was opened – see Saturday’s activities for the end of that story). The best part of the day was walking all four cousins up to have lunch. Grace took Addie and Nolan’s hands and was trying to lead them into the restaurant. She said “they are kinda hard to control”. She got a little taste of herding 18 month old twins, which I’m sure their parents would agree can be kinda hard.  I love to see them all holding hands.

Civilized Leisure (Day 4): On Saturday we all went to the Minneapolis Zoo. It is a gorgeous place with wide open spaces for the animals. It was a beautiful spring-ish day and we walked all around and then had an outdoor lunch. We swung by the MOA on the way back from the zoo to exchange our vet kit. Saturday night was our parents-night-out! We had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant who’s tag line is “civilized leisure”. It felt like it! We also saw the movie Duplicity, which wasn’t as good as we expected but still civilized.

Friends, Family and More Family (Day 5): On Sunday we had another heck of a day! I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school. We had recently reconnected via Facebook (!) and she had recently moved to the Twin Cities, so we had coffee. It was great fun and a nice way to start the day. Then Rob and Dan went downtown to see the Jayhawks play in the March Madness tournament. Alli and I took the kids to her parents house where we were lucky enough to take part in another Christensen family celebration (Alli’s nephew’s birthday). The kids had a blast jumping their hearts out on the trampoline and playing with Alli’s nieces and nephews. I feel all warm and fuzzy when we are a part of these parties at Jan and Ron’s house. Jan pulls together a wonderful event with great food and lots of warmth. Both Jan and Ron are so welcoming to us. I didn’t grow up with a large extended family, so it is fun to see four generations of people together in one place enjoying each other. I had always heard that these situations existed, but had never taken part.  I am thankful to witness it and enjoy the company (and food!).  We ended the day some time spent on the joint venture that Rob and Dan have been cooking up.  It was fun to work and be together.

I’m sad to say, I’m on my way (Day 6): On Monday, we got up early and headed out of town.  It was raining as we pulled away.  Addie and Nolan were standing at the front door waving to us.  We all waved and waved and felt sad to be leaving our beloved little Minnesota twins behind.  Dan beelined us home, only stopping three times in 9 straight hours to use the restroom.  We ate sandwiches as I made them in the car.  It was unbelievable (well, unbelievable if you’ve ever been on a road trip with Dan.  He meanders and is never in a rush to get anywhere.)  Anyway, the next day, we were listening to a CD that the Minnesota Barmann’s had given Max.  On it, there is a song that I learned in my ukulele class called Jamaica Farewell.  It was one of my favorite uke songs – it is lovely.  I sing it to Grace in her bed.  It says:

But I’m sad to say, I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Grace has always thought this was a sad song.  We were talking about why someone would sing a sad song and we were listening to it over and over again.  We talked about how if you are sad, it might help to sing a song about it, to let your feelings out.  She has never understood why the person in the song was leaving.  So we talked about how we had left Minneapolis the day before and how we were a little sad as we waved and waved out our car windows to little Addie and Nolan standing in the front door of their house.

Then I changed the words of the song to “I had to leave my little cousins in Edina town”.  We sang it over and over like that.  I turned to look at Grace at a stop light and she had GIANT tears in her eyes.  When I looked at her, she burst into tears and said “I miss them so much.  I love them so much.”

Ever since we have had kids and have taken them on trips, I notice them change as we travel and upon return home.  I think they experience a change to their routine that is welcome.  They see how other people live.  They get to feel the joy and love of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents; of new friends and situations.  I think these experiences are so shaping for them and I am so pleased that we are able to do it.  I am incredibly thankful for it.  And I can’t wait for the next adventure.