Category: Winter Family Fun

Skating in T-Shirts

Right after New Years, we headed back to the Gaylord Rockies to use the tickets for the things we had to miss out on over our Christmas stay. We totally lucked out and bought Cirque Dreams Holidaze tickets for a 60 degree January day. It was wonderful.

If you haven’t snow tubed or ice skated or bumper car’ed in 60 degrees, I highly recommend it. The Gaylord Rockies had a wonderful holiday fun package, and I’m already looking forward to booking it next year.

When we went back for the day to the Gaylord, the hotel was much less busy, and all of the fun things outside were totally manageable. Lines were short, and the staff made sure everyone moved through and did what they were supposed to do. While I’m bummed our Christmas stay was such a bust, we definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun doing all these outside things in the brisk 30’s.

We kept swapping between bumper cars and snow tubing, depending on which line was longer. Matilda and I took a break from the boys and did some ice skating. We heading inside for snacks and hit the pool side restaurant for the chicken nuggets I know my kids will eat.

We took a break for the Cirque show. It was incredible! But we learned that seat choices definitely matter. The seats were all on the same level, so the kids struggled to see over some heads. Next year, I’ll definitely spend more money for better seats.

We hit the s’more station at 3pm even though we weren’t staying at the hotel. Wilson tried his first s’more! And, believe it or not, he liked it. It got two sticky thumbs up.

After s’mores, we did one more round of everything awesome. We stayed until bedtime, soaking in the beautiful day and the unlimited passes of the tubing, bumper cars, and skating.

It was a wonderful day of family fun. I’m excited for a warm winter day next year to do the same.

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A Weekend at the Gaylord

This year we had no Christmas plans. We knew we didn’t want to travel. I am a terrible cook. Our friends were busy. And then I found a screaming good deal at the Gaylord Rockies. I was pumped.

I planned this elaborate gift baskets that I’d set up in the room before the kids arrived. I bought snacks. I remembered swim suits and goggles and snow gear, to take advantage of the ticketed outdoor events that were going on. I was ready.

And then Matilda got the flu. Not the stomach flu, which everyone assumes you have. The legit Influenza B flu. Girl was down for the count. She missed a whole week of school, her Christmas concert, her holiday parties, her friend’s Nutcracker ballet. It was intense. But she got over it. She had 2 days to sleep and recover, everyone else was healthy. We were in the clear.

We check in. Wilson sneezes. I repress all memories of the last week and convince myself that we’re fine. It’s fine. He’s fine. We go to see ICE! It’s so fricken crowded I can’t even see the sculptures. Apparently all of Denver decided that December 23rd was the best day to stay at the Gaylord with us. Cool. (I mean, it’s like 9 degrees in there, so it was literally cool.)

We leave ICE! and Wilson is just done. Poor kid spikes a fever and just wants to go back to the hotel room. LUCKILY I had awesome swag bags waiting and a room full of snacks. SADLY I had just spent a bunch of money on this weekend and didn’t want to spend it inside our un-upgraded non-suite hotel room.

With Wilson down with what I assume was a very contagious Influenza B and us being at the hotel on what I assume is the busiest day of their year because it was packed, Matilda and I ventured down to the front desk to beg them to adjust our reservation. The only thing worse than being in a beautiful and fun hotel with a sick kid for one night was being there for 2. The staff at the hotel was amazing, she quickly adjusted our stay and offered any flu supplies we needed. We did what any other mother-daughter duo would do at a hotel with an expensive spa: we hit the pool.

The indoor pool at the Gaylord Rockies.

The pool is what I’m most looking forward to enjoying when we head back this summer! They have an outdoor pool with a lazy river, a huge indoor pool with a slide. It was pretty nuts for the holiday weekend, and a little chilly with the giant garage doors open, but it was fun while it lasted. I’m looking forward to the lazy river this summer, and the pool-side restaurant with chicken nuggets my kids both approve of, a small miracle in and of itself.

After the pool, we picked up the boys for free 3-5pm s’mores outside. Matilda had fun. Wilson ran around (the ibuprofen had kicked in by this point). It was crazy crowded, which I don’t think is the norm, but the staff was wonderful.

We had purchased tickets to snow tubing and bumper cars, but they let us reschedule them for the following week, when we were heading back for the Cirque show. Matilda and I sent the boys back to the room while we went ice skating.

Once everyone woke up, we at goldfish and animal crackers in bed until Build a Bear opened. We headed down to Mistletoe Village, made our bears, and then headed home for a lazy and quarantined Christmas Eve at home.

While we didn’t get to stay overnight, our second attempt at the holiday fun at the Gaylord, was much more successful.

Overall, I’m hoping that one day we’ll be able to go back without sick kids. Fingers crossed that the stars and room rates align for a summer stay. It’s a wonderful staycation, close to home with lots to do and a welcoming and accommodating staff to help with anything and everything you need.

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January Zoo Trips

Today, the high was 55 degrees. We spent it at the Denver Zoo. We brought coats, and didn’t need them. Hats, not a chance. We did need boots, which was what we forgot.

We waited until 11 to finally show up, having a slow morning. Doing life and laundry. We packed a lunch and snacks.

The thing about Denver weather is you have to be ready when it is. It’s not about your schedule for the day, it’ll be ready when it’s ready. We just waited out the chilly morning, missed the chilly evening, and soaked in the warm sun all afternoon.

I remember last winter, sitting in Minnesota, and watching the Colorado forecasts enviously. Always a 50 degree day somewhere in the 10 day forecast. And man, is it amazing.

Also, our fabulous hats are from the very talented Nickichicki, a lovely Minnesota friend of mine. Check out her stuff. You’ll look forward to chilly days. 😉

2018 in Review

2018 was quite the year. We started January with a trip to Rice Park to see the ice sculptures. I took found a new studio space with a friend. We spent the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, swimming and climbing, for our annual staycation in lieu of Christmas presents. We had some pretty chill days.

We spent the day down in Nicolette Mall exploring all of the Super Bowl shenanigans. I’m not one for football or being out in the cold, but it was pretty cool to see it.

We went to the Ice Castles, roller skating, we finished our kitchen remodel.

In February, we spent a lot of time painting mom’s new studio. We played with friends. We had pizza and grandma and papa Owie’s. We played with our best friends at all the local indoor spots. The mall. The children’s museum. The zoo.

Matilda lost her first tooth. And her second. She participated in her first science fair. We hugged our friends again for the first time in a while because they moved back home from Thailand.

In March, we had a brief warm up and explored our favorite local beach. We spring break’ed at a local hotel with a fancy pool with friends. We played free video games in their sketchy basement. The snow melted and we played outside, we went on walks, we rode our bikes.

Matilda made green eggs and ham for Dr Seuss’s birthday. Wilson was totally unimpressed. We went to the roller rink so Wilson could do cool tricks on his scooter and Matilda could master skates.

In April, we got 24″ of snow and had 2 snow days. It was a mess. We spent the first nice weekend of the year in Duluth, exploring giant ice mountains from the blizzard the week before, and it was absolutely beautiful.

May. May was pretty great. Wilson turned 4. Matilda had her track and field, and it didn’t rain like the year before, but it was annoyingly hot.

Wilson ended up at Children’s Hospital one morning when his eye wouldn’t stop crossing. The whole thing was a disaster, but his skull wasn’t fractured and he just needed some followup care and an eyepatch. We hit up the Art A Whirl and got one of my favorite family photos to date, with a random stranger photobombing and all.

We spent Mother’s Day climbing Minnehaha Falls. We finished our ECFE class. We opened the ComoTown park for the season and rode the swings 6 times in a row.

We made a summer bucket list and checked most of it off.

June started with a trip to a Twins game. It was all of 20 minutes before Wilson got bored. Enough time to go searching for the most expensive hat of ice cream we’ve ever ordered. We went fishing at Grandma and Grandpa Sue’s, and almost got stuck in the middle of the lake when the boat broke down.

We did many county fairs. The colors and the cheesy rides and the bright blue skies make for one of my favorite summer outings.

We made it to the flag wall for 4th of July photos. We spent Father’s Day (just like we did every year) at the Stone Arch Bridge festival. We went to the circus. We went to Duluth with the Carroll’s. We chased a couple waterfalls. We spent the weekend at Lake Mille Lacs. We went to a parade, our first parade. We had our last day of first grade.

July, we had Matilda’s party quite a bit late. We went to Lutsen for a magical week i. Lake Superior. We went swimming. A lot. We kept on with our tour of County Fairs. We explored the Sculpture Garden. We had plenty of coffee dates.

Both kids did swim lessons and Matilda had summer school, which sucked up our days.

In August, we went to Denver to visit my cousin, Jen. We stayed in the mountains and watched my other cousin get married. We went to the zoo and the Children’s Museum. Ryan interviewed for a few jobs.

The 6 week road construction project in front of our house continued, well beyond the 6 week window. We went to more county fairs. We went to the State Fair, twice. We Minnesota summered hard, knowing it could be our maybe last one.

In September, we announced that we were moving to Denver. It was a pretty big deal, with pretty big feelings. We listed our house on my birthday, and man, was I exhausted after repainting almost the whole house because of all of my photos. We dealt with the stress of showings, moving, goodbyes. To celebrate our house being listed, we spent the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. It didn’t sell that weekend like we’d hoped, but it was nice not to have to keep it clean.

We pumpkin patched and corn pitted. We closed down ComoTown for the season. We went to all of our favorite places. We hugged all of our favorite friends.

We sold our house.

October was pretty nuts. We moved. I’d be lying if I said that was easy, but it was totally worth it. We rolled in to town and looked a house before even unpacking. We saw about 84 houses in 12 days. We put an offer on one.

It snowed our first day here, and then the kids did Halloween at the zoo in t-shirts. The weather here is nuts. We went on bike rides and walks. We did Colorado Halloween activities instead of Minnesota.

We lived with my cousin. And she was the absolute best, so incredibly patient with all our chaos. And my kids love her dearly.

In November, we started school. As soon as I had a signed purchase agreement, we enrolled Matilda. We started the first grade, again. And it was totally the right choice. Maybe I’ll blog that one day.

We spent a lot of time at Chik Fil A. We went to the Children’s Museum a lot. Matilda fell in love with the Denver Art Museum. Matilda made cake pops with Jen. Wilson played with the cat. We went to our first 3 school activities and really fell in love with our community. We closed on a house, 32 days after we rolled in to town.

Wilson begged to start preschool. We found one with an opening and a friend for him to play with.

We celebrated our first holiday in Colorado, Thanksgiving at our friends’ house.

December was a lot of fun. We totally enjoyed being able to do winter things outside and not freeze. We did a few winter light tours, one at the Denver Zoo, and one at the Botanical Gardens. We went to Georgetown in the mountains and attended their Christmas Mart. We explored downtown. We found new playgrounds on warm, sunny days.

We played GoFish, Old Made, and Crazy 8’s. We waited until 3 days before Christmas to wrap anything and then still lost our minds waiting.

We spent our first Christmas in Colorado, totally and completely different than any Christmas we’ve ever had ever. Everything was different, but we were the same. We were together, laughing and hugging and loving. And that was the same. And it was beautiful.

I just finished my 3rd Project 365. And I’m one day into my next one. Such a rewarding project, but this year, I’m going to blog it.

Ice Skating in St Paul

Some families see Santa once. That’s their Santa. That’s not how we roll. Much like fall, we’re working on exploring as much of our local seasonal activities as we can. We’ve learned a lot this last month. I think we’ve tallied our list on things we would try again, things we’d pass on, things we’d do earlier.

I am a huge wuss when it comes to the cold. I’d rather experience it as little as possible. This late winter arrival surprised us with one last glorious weekend to do two things that were on our to-do list all of last winter and we never got to (or even attempted to do…).

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Saturday night, we loaded up the kids, threw the coats in the trunk, and headed down to Rice Park in St Paul for Christmas lights and Wells Fargo WinterSkate. You guys. It was wonderful. It certainly helped that it was a balmy 40 degrees out, but it was so fun to be out after dar, surrounded by so many of my favorite things: little white lights. And my family, obviously.

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Parking was a breeze, even during a Wild game (leaving was another story. IDK WTF St Paul Police was doing to route traffic, but it was a mess.). Parking stresses me out, and I like to be close knowing that we will soon lose our shit and need to book it to the car. Even with the accidentally leaving at the same time the game got out SNAFU, I did prefer the parking situation in St Paul over the Minneapolis one.

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We wandered Rice Park and headed to the Wells Fargo rink. Totally worth the $4 to skate. One thing that I did prefer at the Holidazzle was that they have the little handle bar contraptions to help kids skate. For newbies, like us, those would have been pretty awesome.

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect out of skating. Wilson can be one of the grumpiest kids you’ve ever met and has strong opinions about most things in life, including all winter outerwear. He happily ripped off his shoes in exchange for skates, and even willingly wore his hat and gloves.

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We will definitely do this again. Okay, let’s be real. If it’s open and it’s above freezing, we will definitely do this again. Any recommendations for indoor skating rinks in the metro?

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Next time, I think I’d like to make more of an evening out of it. I’d like to check out the European Christmas Market at Union Depot, but we ran out of time (and patience).