Minnesota Summer/Fall Fun

I had a lovely package sent to me this summer by the “More to Explore” team. The package included goodies and passes from Explore Minnesota Tourism, the Minnesota Zoo, the Science Museum of Minnesota and Valleyfair.

The first items we used were the Valleyfair tickets. My mom was visiting at the end of July, and the five of us went together. We thought it was a great value, especially for the kids. For less than what they would pay at a county fair, they could ride to their hearts’ content. And the rides are a bit safer, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ They have added a new four-acre park just for the little ones called Planet Snoopy. We had a blast there! And Husband made me try a new “big kid” ride, even though I’m not great with heights. ๐Ÿ™‚

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In August, the kids and I went to the Dinosaurs! Exhibit at the MN Zoo. We are already members there, but we hadn’t yet been to that part of the zoo. They were pretty nervous about all the lifelike dinosaurs at first (Markus got really jumpy when I turned him around for a picture and the dinosaur was behind him), but after awhile they relaxed and enjoyed learning about the different species.

Then, just before it ended, Husband and I had a date night and got to check out the Real Pirates exhibit at the Science Museum. It was much more exciting and interesting than we expected. We thought we would blow through it in an hour and be off to dinner, but we spent so long looking that we had to hustle through the last part of the exhibit before it closed! We had a membership at the Science Museum for about 3 years prior to and after Anja was born, and we’ll probably get one again once the kids are both a little older (for now we stick with theย Children’s Museum).

Thanks again to the “More to Explore” team for giving us some great summer fun!

Candy Land Birthday Party

Before Anja was even born, I found a cute Candy Land cake on the back of a Taste of Home magazine. I clipped it out and put it in my binder (this was before Pinterest, people). Fast forward 5 years, and my girl starts talking about how she wants a Candy Land birthday. I freak out a little bit because I will actually get to USE the idea. After more scouring of the Internet for ideas and some creative-but-cheap homemade decor, this little party was born.

It was also her first party to get to invite friends. We kept the guest list short since we included them in our family party and our house is only so big, but Anja had a blast. I hope this is one she’ll remember forever. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had so much help, too. My mom made the buns and the peanut brittle (yum!), and my friend Maggie made the amazing gumdrop topiary (she has much more patience for those type of projects than me, and I’m so thankful for that). Maggie also loaned me the chalkboard, the glass containers for the candy buffet, and the cute little vintage flash cards.

Oh, and guess who ended up decorating the cake? Husband. After all those years of anticipation, I decided it would be the perfect job for him, since his dad used to decorate his birthday cakes. And he did a stellar job.

Anja, 5 Years

So five, to me, is kind of the pinnacle of toddlerhood, when some of your ill-pronounced words (which I love) and completely non-self-conscious behaviors (like jumping up and down flapping your arms in excitement no matter the appropriateness) will disappear. I am dreading that. Since you start Kindergarten in two days, I have been drinking up every minute I have left with you at home…we’ve knocked almost everything off our “Summer Fun 2012” list. We’re going to miss having you with us during playdates and errands and zoo trips. But I’m so thrilled that you will learn and make new friends and develop more and more into the girl God wants you to be. So…

Anja, at five years old, you:

  • Still have a penchant for story-telling. You can take two inanimate objects, such as a salt and pepper shaker set or two travel shampoo bottles or a couple of Q-tips, and weave a 30-minute long adventure story. I hope this creativity sticks with you through formal education. Don’t lose it!!
  • Say that your favorite food is macaroni and cheese (we had it after swimming lessons each week last spring as a treat…bad mom!), but you will eat most anything. Sometimes with a fuss, but you finish it. You’ve even gotten over your aversion to plain avocados.
  • Have become much more responsible and helpful. Sometimes the politeness that emanates from your mouth makes me blink a few times and have a moment of realization that all my repetitive “please” and “thank you” and “sure, Mama” reminders over the past 3 years have NOT been unheard. Hallelujah, thank you Jesus! It truly is a blessing to see the fruits of one’s labors borne in your child. I do not take it for granted.
  • Are getting better at involving your brother in your playtimes. As long as he’s content to play whatever role you put him in, that is. When he does voice an opinion you are getting better at listening to it as well. I love seeing you mature in your dealings with him. Though you didย bite him last week.
  • Call yourself an “artist.” I am not sure where the line is when I should stop letting you tell people that because it will come across as pompous. I think you’re still safe for now.
  • Are getting your own room soon. Again, these transitions are bittersweet. I love having you two share, but since you can’t fall asleep together in the same room, I’m ready to have the “transfer from my bed once you are both asleep” part done with. And it has been SO fun being able to finally decorate a girls’ room.
  • Love taking pictures. I’m not sure if it’s because of me or your own thing, but you actually asked me the other night if you could be sure to get a picture of your new room before you sleep in it the first time so you remember what it looks like. Adorable.
  • Are riding your bike very well. We have gone for lots of bike rides this summer, and though you still have training wheels, I think by sometime next summer you’ll be ready to have them off. Sometimes it takes you a while to gain confidence in yourself, and you give up easily, but once you have the skills, you’re pretty bold and fearless. So unlike me, and I love it.
  • Are unaware of what people think of you. I love love love that about you. You don’t really care if your friend has a Barbie and you have a soft doll whose tummy rattles. You proudly introduce your doll and don’t even notice the look of slight disgust on their face. I am hoping you don’t get jaded by your classmates this year…Kindergarten will be far less of the safe little bubble that preschool was. *gulp*
  • Are becoming more protective of your brother and other little friends around you. If he heads toward the street or is touching something he shouldn’t, you often try to drag him away or tackle him to get him to stop. Not the best methodology, but your motivation is pure.
  • Miss some of your friends from preschool. There was one little boy you played with almost every day you were there, and you have asked many times over the summer to play with him or invite him to our house. I didn’t even meet his parents, so I have had to say no dozens of times. Breaks my heart, but I’m sure there will be a new “best friend” by the end of September.
  • Are getting taller all the time (duh). But seriously, tall girl. You got to ride some of the big kid rides at Valleyfair because you’re 46″ tall. Even though you were 4 at the time. 5T pants are starting to be a bit short on you, so we have had to move up to buying in the girls’ department. I don’t like the sassy clothes and how the shorts are shorter in size 7 than they were in 3T. Ick. Thank goodness forย Crazy 8. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • You have a great desire to love God. You spontaneously ask to pray for things/people and often volunteer to say prayers for events/trips/people in need. My favorite is that whenever you or Markus hear a siren of any kind, you ask to pray for whoever might be involved in the accident/fire. You are bringing your Bible as your favorite book in your All About Me bag to share at Kindergarten, and I couldn’t be more proud (that seems really out of place right there…pride…). I hope that you continue to grow in your faith and trust in Jesus fully.
  • Have become my little helper. I ask you to run and get this or that for me or pick up the toys, and (here’s the kicker) you DO IT. Usually right away (unless you’re super tired or hungry). I appreciate this a lot, so keep it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, Anja, we are loving being a part of your life, watching you grow. You are an enthusiastic, loving, strong-willed girl, and you’ll always be our little peanut.

Mama & Daddy

081812 Anja 5th b-day 050

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