Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Summer winding down with or without us

The worst part of summer is watching the end come so quickly. I feel like it flew by this year, and that we hardly did anything, and that's definitely our fault. We just let work and other things get ahead of us doing fun things. I've been trying to squeeze the last bit of fun into this last two weeks as I can. I know that fall, winter, and spring doesn't really get packed with fun things, not to say we're sitting at home bored though. We always seem to be on the go, but it isn't the kind of go you look forward to doing, you know? It's just stuff you do, places you're kind of obligated to be.  

Already our calendar is filling up with dance, swim lessons, driver's ed, band performances, school commitments, doctor appointments, etc, but not much room for fun. Summer has always been our fun season, so the fact we haven't done a whole lot of fun is really bumming me out. Next year? Next year I'm planning fun all over the place. Just you wait. 

The week we came back from Iowa we still had a couple of days to put some fun into, so we decided to go to the Como Zoo in St. Paul, MN. It's a free zoo, we like to go at least once during the summer and we haven't gone since 2019 because of the pandemic. You have to make reservations though so it's a bit harder to plan since we're a solid 2.5 hours away, so it isn't like we can go on a whim- it's a whole day of planning. 

I'm so glad we did it though because we had a great day. I'll be honest, the zoo isn't as nice as we remember it, and it is probably because of the pandemic. Lack of visitors = lack of donations = not as many funds for aesthetic upkeep. The animals all look well and cared for, I will say that. The other bummer? No Como Town (a small amusement park area), no animal shows (the little girls were hoping to see the seals), and of course we go on a day it's tremendously warm so the majority of animals were hanging lazily in the shade. 
Lucy was living her best life though because during our entire trip to Iowa, all Lucy wanted was a giraffe. I have no idea where the love of giraffes has come from, but it's intense and no matter where we went, she asked about a giraffe. Of course, we couldn't find a giraffe anywhere, including the zoo we went to in Iowa! One of the first areas of Como Zoo that we went into opens back up to the outdoors and there's a small gift area with, bum bum bum..... a GIRAFFE. Matt beelined it to the store, purchased a giraffe, and that my friends, is the face of a very happy girl. 
Penelope really liked this gorilla. She was pretty interested in his feet and how similar (but also different) they were to hers and she kept hoping he'd wake up and interact, but he was far more interested in his nap and honestly, I was wishing I could take a nap, myself. 

After the zoo we went to an outlet shopping center called Albertville, spent the rest of the money we had on school clothes for four kids (that isn't cheap and that outlet mall is far bigger than it looked from the road). I was exhausted by the time we were done but I managed to rally so we could go to a weird space/alien restaurant with a small arcade. The kids had a fun time, but Matt and I sat there like overtired vegetables. 
The next day we took a drive to Port Wing, Wisconsin, which is where Matt went to school. He showed the kids his old school (which was very tiny, especially considered the high school here or even just the middle school), we went to Twin Falls, and got back into the car. 
We ate lunch in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, and I managed to find a scrapbook store (I haven't been inside of an actual scrapbook store in 10 years!!) and I remembered how much I loved scrapbooking and how I really need to get back into it. Another summer bucket list item was a sunflower field. Last year was the year of dead sunflowers, so this year I told the kids I'll get it together for us to go when they are still alive. 

We barely made it but you know what? They were alive! We went to a different maze this year and it wasn't nearly as nice as last year's. At least last year there were props to take photos on and then a look out area... this place.... nothing. Literally nothing. Also, we were the only people there so it felt very horror movie-ish. The field was in Sarona, Wisconsin and if you have younger kids and need a five minute activity to stretch your legs? This is probably the stop for you. If you want more of a leisurely stroll with pretty views and fun photo areas? Go to the one we did last year for sure. I'd send us there again but then the flowers would for sure be dead. Maybe that should be our tradition. HA! 

I'm trying to decide if we do something this weekend or not, but I do have our corn maze/pumpkin patch weekend marked off already! It felt like fall the other day here and oy... I'm just not ready. 

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