Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Great Vander Waal Family Vacation

So, this post is long overdue. :(

You could probably tell from last week's POTDs that the four of us were vacationing in the great state of Minnesota a couple weeks ago. I guess my attention was distracted with so many other things upon returning home that my time to post more pictures got delayed.

(I'm sure you have all been on the edge of your seats.)

We had a most fabulous time.

In the spirit of David Letterman, here is our top ten list of things that made this Vander Waal Family Vacation so great.

10. Spontaneity - We decided on Sunday, August 28 to head out for vacation the very next day. It certainly adds adventure to ones travel itinerary, but it also lends itself to just a wee bit of stress trying to do laundry, and pack, all on Sunday afternoon.

9. The Scenic Route - In a tradition similar to one my own dad enjoys (hi, dad!), Brad took us off the interstate and onto many Mississippi River roads so that we could enjoy a different view. We took a few wrong turns, but that just adds to the spontaneity, right?

8. A Portable DVD Player - I'm thinking that a nine hour van ride with two small children pretty much makes an explanation for this unnecessary.

7. Flexability - Again, traveling with two small children should make this self-explanatory.

6. Carbone's Pizza - Delish. And we had it twice.

5. Amusement Park Rides - At two different parks. Drew's an animal. He wouldn't stick a toe in the hotel pool, but he doesn't want to stop on rides like "The Scrambler" and "The Monster." Not to be outdone, Reed has his fair share of fun on the rides, as well.

4. Minnesota - It's a great, great state. There's something about wearing Twins apparel in Minnesota that really gets a girl excited.

3. Friends - We were able to spend some time with some really close friends while vacationing. And we're talking about the best kind of friends; the kind that even though you don't see each other very often, you just kind of pick up where you left off last time, like you just saw each other yesterday. And the kind that take care of you when you really need to be taken care of. (To the Johnson's and Vrieze's, we love and adore you. Thank you!)

2. Family - Our week away included time spent with both the Clifton's and the Vander Waal's. Really no obligations to speak of, just time to spend together as a family. Loved that.

1. The Four of Us - This was the first vacation that included time for just the four of us. Our first family vacation. We were itching for some time away, where we could concentrate on each other and ignore some of our other duties, chores, and work. ("Parenthood" didn't get a assured, the boys were bathed, fed, and entertained on a regular basis.)

Coming home with over 500 pictures taken during the span of our week, you'd think I'd have some pretty impressive things to share. Uh, nope. We're still playing around with our new camera, so many pictures are duplicates (or more), and apparently the amusement park rides were really a highlight as many of our pictures are of either Nickelodeon Universe or Valleyfair.

Or maybe we just didn't do much. Because that's exactly the kind of vacation we wanted.

We arrived in Eagan around 7pm on Monday 8/29, and were able to catch dinner with Justin, Mindy and Perry (Carbone's pizza, round 1).

Pop tarts for breakfast, hotel style.

There are no words.

We spent Tuesday morning at the Mall of America, with the intentions of taking the boys to Legoland and the Underwater Adventure Aquarium. Well, Legoland was "under construction" and the aquarium would have wiped out our budget on our second day of vacation. So, the rides at Nickelodeon Universe were a better option. With Drew's timid and non-adventurous disposition, I thought for sure he wouldn't want to ride. He fooled me!

Drew and Brad rode on four or five different rides, and then Drew became super generous and let Reed and I have a try at the cars pictured above. There's a reason I'm not posting those pictures. Those cars aren't made for sissies, and the expressions on my face? Horrifying.

We spent Tuesday afternoon with the Johnson's. Along with playing Superheroes, Drew drooled over Elijah's Cars collection.

Meeting Lucy, the Johnson's youngest.

We spent Wednesday at the Como Zoo. We saw such a variety of animals, many of which Drew had never seen before (flamingos, orangoutangs, reindeer...). Not posting those pictures either. I'm sure you've all been to a zoo. :)

The Como Zoo also has a conservatory and flower garden. This was amazing. I spent several minutes in here taking many photos of the beautiful flowers.

Wednesday night we shared dinner with the Vriezes.


and Norah. Not sure if the highlight for Drew was the pizza and popsicles for dinner, or playing with Gracie's Buzz Lightyear with wings that shoot out!

With my family Thursday and Friday.

We celebrated Addy's baptism, and ate a delicious dinner at Jeremy and Ashley's afterwards.

Stinkin' hilarious. Self-entertainment at its best.

Back up to the Cities on Saturday to finish off vacation with the Vander Waal's.

A picnic lunch

followed by games at the park.
(Drew getting soccer tips from cousin Elise.)

Swimming and movies in the hotel for us, while everyone else shopped at the Mall of America. Rainforest Cafe for supper that night.

More pop tarts, hotel style.

To Valleyfair on Sunday.
This is the ride that surprised me. We explained to Drew that if he wanted to ride it, he'd have to go by himself. No problem! (Why can't he be this willing to go to preschool all by himself!)

Both Brad and I were able to get in a few "big kid" rides, as well.

"The Monster." Drew's last ride, and his favorite. See his little hand poking up??

The Vander Waals

Oh, it was good to be away.

Really really good.

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