Today, we went on a mini family vacation to the MOA.
Not that MOA. This MOA. In Bloomington, MN. The Mecca of Consumerism.
While there, we went to "The Park at MOA." It used to be "Camp Snoopy," But recently, they lost the rights to use that mild mannered little dog as their mascot - it's all about money, no doubt - so now it's just a generic "park." It's still damned expensive. The general consumer did not benefit from the loss of the mascot. Maybe the MOA is saving up for a new mascot...?
So, we broke open the piggy bank and took the girls on a few rides. One of their favorites was the "Tree Swing." It's suprisingly charming. It's a giant tree constructed from some sort of brightly colored plastic polymer that has many bright red swings dangling from chains that are attached to "branches" on the underside of the "canopy." When everyone is safely buckled into their swing/chairs, the tree top raises several feet into the air and begins to whirl around, swinging the riders through the air.
This elicited giggles from our two older girls. Giggles and shrieks and belly laughs and the chanting - "Again! Again! We want to do it again! Again!"
We didn't let them. We are heartless and cruel. We forced them to ride a giant ferris wheel instead.
The ferris wheel elicited giggles from the two older girls. And Rick. Giggles and shrieks and belly laughs and chanting, "Again! Again! We want to do it again! Again!"
I left and went to H&M.
All of that giggling and shrieking and shopping can build up quite an appetite. So we headed off in search of food. We found ourselves at The Rain Forest Cafe. It was a loud and yummy and expensive and exhausting event. Everyone was full and happy. Then, the dinner event was put right over the top on the Fun-O-Meter when we gave in to the pleading of our darling girls and opted to finished dinner with a "volcano" dessert.
For those of you who have never dared this world of chocolate chaos, let me explain: It is 15 lbs of chocolate cake and a gallon of vanilla ice cream covered in a vat of chocolate fudge and caramel syrup then smothered in mounds of whipped cream.
As if that riotous explosion of sugar and caffeine wasn't enough, the restaurant folk top the whole dessert thing off with a sparkler - yes, a real Fourth of July sparkler - and then, every single server in the enormous restaurant chants "Vol-ca-no! Vol-ca-no!" as one small, anorexic server struggles this chocolate monstrosity to the table. They keep chanting "Vol-ca-no. Vol-ca-no!" until the sparkler goes out. By its' self. It takes a while. The girls were thrilled. They chanted, "Again! Again! Let's do the volcano again!"
We didn't let them. We are cruel and uncaring parents.
Instead we let them loose in the hallways of the MOA.
Directly outside the Rain Forest Cafe there are several plastic creatures that help "create the ambiance" of a rain forest. (My personal feelings regarding the amount of toxins used to create this atmosphere is for another time... ACK!) Among these plastic injection-molded oddities is this very 'gator.
Now, I did not take this photo, and these girls are not my girls, but the reaction to this thing was exactly the same. Go figure. Noni and Via dangled their little bodies over the edge of the plastic injection-molded leaves and vines while machines pumped "fog" into the gator swamp area. The gator "roared." They giggled and shrieked. They chanted, "Again. Again..." They thought it was the greatest show on earth.
Yaya, however, was not amused. She ran shrieking in the other direction, tears streaming down her pink cheeks. In her blind three-year-old fear, she grabbed the first pair of hairy man-legs that she ran into. Her crying slowed. Then, she looking up and realized that these legs did not belong to her father. She ran on - grabbing new, hairy man-legs. She ran, grabbing and shrieking her way halfway down a very long corridor.
Now, most reasonable people would have chased their 3 year old daughter down the hall to catch her and comforted her in her moment of terror. We are not most reasonable parents. We had been stuck motionless from laughing. We were weak. We were unable to move. We tried to go after her, honestly, but we couldn't. We were already crashing from the sugar overload. It was pathetic, really. Two largish adults lying in a heap of shopping bags and left-over boxes at the feet of a plastic 'gator, the fog rolling over the edge of the plastic leaves...
Don't worry. She eventually came back. Children are amazingly adept at following their parents voices in a crowd. We held her and comforted her, and after a quick nap on the nearest bench...
We all headed off to do a little more school shopping.
Ahhhh. Vacation. You gotta love it.