Tuesday, September 09, 2014

State Fair 2014

The Minnesota State Fair is one of my favorite, favorite events of the summer... and I'm not alone in that! It's the largest fair in the country by average daily attendance, and the second-largest by total attendance (Texas' fair draws more people, but it's also twice as long!). I always like to go at least twice, once with the girls and once on my own so I can spend as much time as I like in the Creative Activities building checking out all the crafts. :)

This year, the girls and I went on opening day, joined by Gramma Liisa!
It turned out to be a great day to go. It was kind of cool and cloudy, which was a pleasant change from years past when it was over 90 degrees. It also rained earlier in the morning, but the rain had totally stopped by 9. It was a perfect day for walking around outside!

There are a couple things we always make sure to do at the State Fair. Ella particularly loves the butterfly house.

Ella actually loves all things insect and creepy-crawly. She handles millipedes, beetles, worms, and butterflies equally carefully. Maisie, on the other hand, does NOT. Unlike Ella, who is planning on being a "bug scientist" when she grows up, Maisie says that butterflies (and all insects) creep her out. When we were planning our activities, Maisie insisted that she was NOT going in the butterfly house, thankyouverymuch! So, Gramma and Ella went... until Maisie changed her mind.

We were so proud of her for going in! She wore her hat the whole time so they wouldn't land in her hair. But she didn't swat at the butterflies!

Unlike the butterfly house, EVERYONE loves the Giant Slide - me included! It's hard to get a picture of someone going down the slide (or take one while you're sliding), so the girls always like to pose with these cutouts near the bottom of the slide.

The carousel is near the giant slide... it's another favorite of the girls.

So sweet!

Another family favorite is "Little Farm Hands." It's an interactive thing where the kids pretend to be farmers, and walk through a series of exhibits/activities. They get to plant seeds, harvest crops, feed chickens & collect eggs, etc. They also drive tractors around.

This year was probably the last year that Maisie'll get to drive the tractors... you have to be below a certain height, and she was right at the edge of it this year.

You can see how small the tractor looks... she actually had a hard time pedaling because her legs were too long for it.

We stopped by the AFL/CIO and DFL booths...

I feel woefully underdressed next to the First Lady.

And of course ate a ton of yummy food.

I think Ella ate two ears of corn BY HERSELF!

We had a great day with Gramma Liisa at the State Fair. At one point Maisie said, "when I'm a teenager I'm going to come to the fair by myself with just my friends!" And yeah, the girls probably will be doing that before too long. So for now, I'm happy that they're not too cool to have fun hanging out with me. :)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Chris & Kim's Wedding

On Saturday, August 23, Aaron's oldest brother Chris got married to his longtime partner Kim. Lucky for us, Kim's family lives in Eden Prairie (a suburb of Minneapolis), so the wedding was local for us!

Most of Aaron's family got into town later Thursday, so we didn't see them then. (Instead, the girls and I spent the day at the State Fair with Gramma Liisa, which will be its own post!) On Friday morning, Jason (Aaron's youngest sister's husband) was looking for something to do with their older son Sullivan. So, why not go to the State Fair with me and the girls?!??
Pre-Tilt-a-whirl selfie. We all had fun even though Sully looks REALLY apprehensive!
After all, I'm almost always up for a trip to the fair! :) We had a lot of fun riding rides, eating yummy food, looking at animals... Jason was especially impressed. I think they're planning a trip up to Minnesota next year, so they can spend some real time at our awesome fair. YAY! Friday evening was the rehearsal dinner in a local park, and then home after a long day so we'd be ready for the wedding!

Saturday we arrived at the wedding venue around 12:30 for family pictures. Everyone liked the girls' fancy dresses (especially the girls themselves).

The wedding began at 2:00, and was over by 2:08. Nice work Chris and Kim - short and sweet! :) The girls had fun playing with cousins... there were whole packs of little kids running around so there was never a shortage of playmates.

We got them to sit down for dinner, which marked a first for us - our kids were (more or less) ready for a kids' table! The grownups - us, Aaron's siblings & their spouses - sat at one table, with the kids all at the next table over. It was surprisingly successful for a first kids' table attempt!

Then, it was time for dancing! First Chris and Kim had their first dance...
Then everyone joined in.
That's Maya, Ella, and Maisie twirling...
and whirling!
The girls would've liked to have danced all night, but it had been a long few days so we left relatively early. At least, it seemed early at the time... but they both collapsed into tears over nothing much at all during the car ride home, so I really think we made the right choice to leave when we did. :)

After a good night's sleep, we were ready for MORE cousin time on Sunday... this time with the Dieter Shedecks at the Mall of America!
Ella has a penny on her nose, because why not?
We spent a few hours hanging out at the MOA with Clare, Kyle, Maya, and Rowan riding on rides, eating lunch, and doing a little shopping. It was an especially nice sort of split, because Maisie and Maya are so close in age and size, and so are Ella and Rowan. So, while we spent some time doing things with all 4 kids, there were a number of rides where the "big girls" would split off.
Waiting for the log ride...
Congratulations Chris and Kim! We had a wonderful time at your wedding, and the whole weekend. What a beautiful reason for family to come together to celebrate!