Thursday, July 12, 2012

Memories in Minnesota (and also: How my kids got an education in criminal justice)

We had a GREAT time visiting our McCutcheon family in Minnesota last weekend... Julie (Matt's first wife, and Luke's first Mom) was a triplet, and both of her sisters live in the twin cities. We see them multiple times a year, but the was the first time we've been to MN since the summer Luke was 6. Such fun times (I love big cities. I don't think I ever realized how much until I was so far away from them.)

The Minnesota and Nebraska cousins...
Luke with his Aunt Jo, under the tree she planted in Julie's memory (Isn't it beautiful?)
We love Caleb.
My boys are all nuts for MaKayla. She & Luke were horsing around, and Luke's Viking sunglasses got broken. Tobin gets mad every time it comes up (which it only has b/c Luke is wanting new sunglasses), insisting that MaKayla had NOTHING to do with that. Out of the blue, he'll tell me, "I don't know WHY Wukie thinks MaKayla broke his sunglasses!" Hee hee!

Just clowning around...

And then... we went to the Mall of America. Apparently I've neglected a major part of Tobin's education. He found the Mall alarming at first, because it's so big and open and multiple stories. He held tight to my hand and just seemed really nervous about where he was. Poor child doesn't even know what a mall is!!

Of course when he figured out the Mall was big enough to have an amusement park inside of it... All was well.

Matt & Jeff took the older 2 boys to ride big kid rides, while Jeana and I took Lydia and my two youngest on Dora's explorer bus....
...the Swiper cars... (Yea. I don't know why Tobin decided he needed a cutesy pose in so many of these pictures...)

Micah LOVED the train.

Hot Air balloons (there's that pose again!)
Look, Micah is doing it too!
Oh, I love his expression here, just as we were taking off!

And our favorite, Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Collider. Tobin was really just a smidge too short, but he REALLY wanted to ride, so they let him. I think Lydia only went for it because Tobin is 3 years younger than her and she didn't want him showing her up. She was nervous, but ended up LOVING IT and they rode it 3 more times (the last 2 with Luke and Jonas, once we met back up with them, they loved it too.) She told me that during the first ride, they "weren't sure we were going to make it", so they shouted, "We love you Renee/Mommy!" HA HA HA!

We love the Log Chute. After going down the big hill, Micah shouted, "I GO AGAIN!!" :)

Aaaaaand: the highlight. Meeting Nickelodeon characters (not that we pay for Nickelodeon programming...but thank goodness for Netflix!)

Micah was terrified at first, and didn't want me to put him down. But once he saw Lydia and Tobin giving high fives and hugs, he pushed away from me and ran to join in the fun. Then he was just disappointed we couldn't stay there with them all night.

Dorah and Diego...

And my kids' TV Besties, The Backyardigans. We've watched every episode of all 4 seasons on Netflix. We sing the songs, we reinact the stories. They were THRILLED to meet Tyrone, Uniqua, and Pablo (we just with Tasha was there, because for some reason, she's their favorite.)

Back to riding rides... We took a spin with Blue and Magenta (Favorites of Tobin's.) Micah was nervous about being in Magenta by himself when I strapped him in and took pictures...I did ride with him. Woo Hoo.)

My girl Lydia...
Imagine Micah's excitement to get to drive a FRUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! Even if we just went in circles, he loved it (and honked his horn the whole time!)

And my crazy husband did the climbing tower. Starting here....

And ending up WAY HIGH.

The Pepsi Coaster (or, as Tobin calls it, the Popsicle Coaster). The kids rode this between 8-12 times. Except Micah, who was too short.
So we took him on the Barnyard coaster.
He loved it. :)
We had a great time.

AND THEN. We rode the log chute one last time - Jeana has some neck problems, so she had to sit out the log ride, and stopped by Old Navy. As we were waiting outside the bathrooms to meet up with her, Tobin said, "Wow, there's lots of Police at the Mall! Why are they just standing around, not even catching any bad guys??" (A few weeks ago, he was obsessed with playing police officer - before he got into the Lone Ranger phase - and I explained that a police officer's job is to keep us safe and catch bad guys.) I was in the middle of explaining what a Mall Cop is (again: neglected education), when I noticed there were FOUR mall cops within 15 feet of us.

Then the lady sitting next to me (admiring how cute Micah is and making borderline inappropriate comments like, "Boy, I could take one like that home." Um, OK, lady, but children are not commodities. And this particular cutie is mine.) warned me that  I might want to keep an eye on my kids because the cops were talking to the lady on the other side of the bench from us and she was using really foul language. In her words: "I think something's about to go DOWN." Then we noticed that one of the Mall cops was blocking the entrance to the bathroom, telling everyone who tried to go in that they'd have to use another one. The kids' eyes were as big as tennis balls.

THEN 3 or 4 actual police officers showed up, and marched right into the bathroom. As it turned out, they caught a pair of shoplifters, one of which was sitting right next to us, and the other of which presumably was holed up in the bathroom with the stolen goods. They brought the bathroom lady out in handcuffs, along with about 4 bags that looked like they were full. And then they came over and cuffed the lady sitting next to us. The older 4 kids were DYING (Micah was on Matt's shoulders, and oblivious.) The lady who had been next to us had a little girl in a stroller, and one of the mall cops pushed the stroller after the police and the handcuffed ladies.

Then the flood of questions started:
What's going to happen to that little girl?
Where are they taking them?
How did the police know they'd been stealing?
Are they going to jail?
What do you think they tried to steal?
Where did she hide all of that stuff to get it into the bathroom?
And every other question you could think of. My small city kids got a big city education.

I asked Luke and Jonas (who were closest to where the lady was sitting) if she was using foul language. "Um. YEAH." At least Tobin was further away and didn't hear anything, he would probably have loudly asked, "MOMMY, WHAT DOES *%$&$ MEAN??"

Fun times in the Twin Cities. I just realized I could have titled this post, "Dora and the Mall Cops in Action." I bet that would have gotten a lot of hits.