Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Hunting!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled vacation (one more day to go) to present to you - The Jungle Book!  Right after we got home from vacation, the Missoula Children's Theatre arrived in town.  Marissa and Maren also started swimming lessons that morning at nine and the auditions were at ten.  This is when I am thankful for small town living.  We barely made the four minute commute - or so the Captain tells me.  I had to be back at work myself.

About 60 kids tried out locally and they had parts for 40 or so.  Although MCT had been here in summer's past, Maren wasn't old enough and Marissa just wasn't interested.  So low and behold, we were pretty thrilled when Marissa got the part of part of Kaa ( the snake) and no that wasn't a typo.  She was PART of Kaa as in 1 of 8 kids playing Kaa. But she was the neck of Kaa.  The neck holds up the head of Kaa, so this was a major supporting role. ( Do snakes even have necks?)  Maren got the part of a monkey. How fitting is that?

The girls and I couldn't be happier with their experience with the MCT.  Have you heard of it?  I guess they are a nationwide and even an international deal.  They travel throughout the country in teams and give the small towns some exposure to the whole theatre experience.  Dylan and Amy were great with the kids and the girls came home excited and giggling after each practice.  Some of the kids practiced for 5 hours every day for a week.  It was amazing what a great show they put on after that short amount of time. Make-up, sets, costumes, songs, and speaking parts - it was the real deal!

So here is Kaa.  Even if Marissa hadn't been the neck of Kaa, Kaa would have been one of my favorite characters.  They all came winding around and slithered across the stage.  Noah (the head of Kaa which Marissa supported) would speak his line and the rest of Kaa's body would repeat it.  Very effective and a little creepy. And just darn cute. ( Did I really just say that a snake was cute?)

 Kaa taking a little nap...

Kaa listening to Baloo giving his sage advice..

Kaa hanging out with Bagheri...

Interestingly enough, Kaa and the Monkey people have sort of an adversarial relationship.  Maybe that's why the girls got the parts they did.  The monkeys made fun of Kaa and called him a "yellow nightcrawler" and many times we heard Kaa refer to the monkeys as "nasty creatures".   Life has imitated art a few times in the past few days.  When the girls aren't getting along they refer to each other with their stage insults.  Have to say it is a refreshing change from "Dork" and "Brat."

So here is Maren as a monkey.  I didn't get such good shots of her in the actual play since she was on the opposite side of the stage from where I was sitting.  They provided some nice photo ops for us proud parents at the end of the show though.  There were many proud parents I might add.  All the kids did such a great job!

Such a cute little monkey! Anyway, what a fun thing to do for the week! Can't wait until next year... and neither can the girls!

Friday, July 23, 2010

MSP: Day 2

Friday, we slept in and then went for breakfast at the Salty Tart. This is a story of hometown girl done good.  Michelle was one year ahead of me in school.  She was always pretty fun, creative and definitely unique.  She could pull off all those crazy 80's fashion trends and somehow it would look just right for her - in a good way.  Anyway, she became a pastry chef - big time.  This past year she was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award, which is the foodie equivalent of an Oscar, pretty much.

I had read a bunch of her reviews (which were all raving , by the way) and I guess I am a bit of skeptic.  Could it really be as good as everyone says?  Oh My. Yes it was.  I had a chocolate chunk scone.  The Captain had some sort of raspberry butter tart.  The girls had a passionfruit filled cupcake and chocolate chip cookies.  And then we went back for more.  We bought a baguette to take along to Como Park (our next stop) thinking we would eat it later in the day, but it was seriously gone before we even pulled up to the park. Everything was delish.  In some ways it was simple everyday food, but the complex layers of texture and flavor were out of this world.  I swear Michelle pulls little pieces of heaven from her ovens.

I am wiping the drool from my computer just thinking of it now.  I would have taken more pics, but we ate everything too fast. 

After snarfing down that baguette, we though we were energized to hit Como Park Zoo.  The energy lasted about 2.2 seconds.  It was so hot!  I couldn't help but think those animals were just too heavily haired.  And polar bears?  In 90 plus degree heat?  They had to missing their natural habitat.  We didn't last too long at the zoo and we won't mention the Princess Maren's blister inducing shoes.  Sigh.

So, back to the hotel to regroup.  The Captain and Marissa were off to the Twins game and Maren and I were off to IKEA.  It was a win win situation.

Speaking of winning, the Twins also won that night against the White Sox.  The Captain treated Marissa to the whole experience.  The took the train from the hotel to the game downtown.  They came home with their souvenier caps.  Marissa was pretty certain she had never seen so many people in one single location in her life.  I think she was right.

The Captain says the new Target Field is a beautiful stadium.  I remember going to pro games when I was groing up. Good memories to be sure.  I know it will be a keeper for  both the Captain and Sweet Marissa both. I have good memories of IKEA too. : )

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MSP: Day 1

Being a pilot wife I have to put up with airport codes and aviation abbreviation interpretation or AAI (made that up).  The Captain leaves me his schedule tacked to the fridge and I have to figure out the code before I know where he is on overnight. I just wait for him to call that night and he lets me know where he ended up.  I can't keep track.  Then again I work in the medical field, where we too have our share of abbreviations.  Conversations regarding our workdays can get somewhat muddled. 
Anyway, what I was getting at was MSP is Minneapolis/St. Paul.  And that is where we went on a little mini vacation this past week.  The girls had a small taste of MOA (Mall of America) and NU (Nickolodean Universe) last year when we flew out of MSP to go to RSW (Fort Myers, FL) and on to Captiva Island. They have been begging to go back ever since.  So being the endlessly accomodating parents that we seem to be these days, (slight note of sarcasm - but it is birthday month after all) and wanting to stay relatively close to home to help out with Dad if needed, we complied.

Honestly, I am not a big lover of theme parks. I can handle a mild roller coaster or two, but the circles and the up and down along with the circles give me the queasies real quick like.  But, I have to give credit to whomever designed NU.  They crammed a large amount of entertainment into relatively low square footage.  It is indoors, air-conditioned, but has a glass ceiling so you don't feel all closed in and the lighting is great.  See?

These were taken on the Ferris wheel, aka, EL CIRCULO DEL CIELO.  I can handle el Circulo Del Cielo with Dora y Boots.  Puke Factor: 0 (on a 0-5 scale. 0=no puke 5=highly likely and almost guaranteed)

This is JIMMY NUETRON'S ATOMIC COLLIDER. Puke Factor: 3.5 I did not ride this ride. EVER.

This is the SPLAT-O-SPHERE.  Puke Factor 3.  Princess Maren survived it.  The funniest part was that every time it dropped M&M would scream at about the exact same decible level for about 3 seconds or so and then stop at the exact same time when the ride would go up again. 

The sound your puke would make when hitting the MOA floor.

Your good old log ride.  The girls hit this one three times in a row.  Once with Dad and the the other two by themselves.  Puke factor: about a 1. Puke factor after eating Qdoba rises to about a 3, so I passed.

If you think NU is just for the kiddos, think again and go find the Avatar Airbender and Sponge Bob's Rock Bottom Plunge.  The  puke factor is off the charts in my book. Only the Captain was brave enough to do the
Rock Bottom plunge.  He is a pilot and it's required of him, but he screamed like a little girl the whole ride.

Sweet Marissa gave into her Daddy's pressure and rode the Airbender with him.  It is this giant skateboard with two circular platforms that have four seats strapped to it so the platforms spin independently while this giant skateboard drops into a stationary halfpipe dug into the MOA floor.  My puke factor rose just watching people get on it, let alone my firstborn and my daredevil hubby.

Sweet Marissa looked positively pale after getting off this ride.  Bless her little NU lovin' heart.

Believe me, we rode a whole lot more rides, multiple times over.  If you go after 5 pm the unlimited ride wrist band is $20.00.  We happened to go on a weekday night and the lines were short and many times the girls could hop off the ride they were on and jump right back on again.  If we needed a little break, Legoland and the American Girl store were right there for the perusing.  It was great fun.  Bet you can hardly wait for MSP Day 2.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Because I'm Not Brave Like Baloney...

Maren wanted some sort of rodent like creature for her birthday.  Or a fish.  Like, the real things.  We have a dog and I feel that is sufficient in meeting the domestic animal quota.  I don't DO rodents.  Fish? Well, fish are pretty harmless, but are they worth the effort?  Then they die and then you flush. 

Maybe I have been damaged in my youth.  My mom did let us have hamsters, gerbils, and we did have a couple fish, one of which we believe was eaten alive by my cousin Randy. We also had any sort of abandoned animal on our farm place - little runt pigs and calves that needed to be bottle fed - cats, dogs, even a baby doe Dad rescued out of the field one spring.  And then there were the lambs, Sparkle and Jewel, that mom brought home from the salebarn where she ran the lunch counter.  Nobody wanted them and they were so pathetic - so we actually housed them in our basement for a month or so. Ewww. (or should I say ewe - HA)

Inevitably with all those animals - there were deaths.  We had a two rows of honeysuckle bushes in the middle of which was our own little Pet Cemetary.  Stephen King had nothing on us.

But mice, mice I can no longer tolerate, unlike Baloney who is truly a great mom.  So we caved to the annoying kid-targeted marketing and bought Maren the start of the endless Zhu-Zhu Pet dynasty.  Gotta admit they are sort of cute.

They are acutally a bit too life like at times.  They scurry like mice.  Especially on  the hardwoods. And they make mice-like sounds.  Except when it crows like a rooster.  I have no idea why.

So I can do zhu-zhu.  Although I have done my share of double takes as it scurries across our floor.  Maren is quite pleased too.  She has made a nice little home for her in her bedside table;  ripped up paper towels, water bowl, pet rock, exercise wheel.  Miss Zhu-Zhu's got it made.

 What kills me is the shish kebab skewer locking the doors.  That's my girl.

Monday, July 5, 2010

6 on the 4th!

We had some serious celebrating to do yesterday.  Our sparkly firecracker baby turned six.  Yes. Yes. I know. I can hardly call her a baby anymore.  But she's MY baby. 

We brought a birthday lunch over to my folks. Slop-sloppy joes (or taverns as we call them here in IA), chips, fresh fruit, veggies and dip, cupcakes, brownies and great day in the morning - homemade ice cream. Love that homemade ice cream.  Opened her gifts.  ZHU-ZHU pet, LIV dolls, (plural) flip flops, (too big or not too big with a large discussion on the pros and cons of flip flops to follow) new sparkly markers (how apropos) and a journal, books, and cold hard cash from Grandma GiGi. Life is remarkably good at six. Here she is making her wish and checking it twice.

The birthday girl and her big sister spent the afternoon playing with the plural LIV dolls. Princess Maren was in heaven.  Sometimes it takes a little cajoling, bargaining and frank manipulation to get her preteen sister Marissa to play with her these days.   Yesterday was not one of those days. Who knows, maybe six year old birthday wishes do come true?

Then off on a family bike ride to Mr. Movies.  We picked out Alice in Wonderland  - the new version - with a little trepidation on my part.  Tim Burton is just so out there.  But the newly bonded LIV girls prevailed.  And yes it was weird - very weird - but charmingly so.  At one point in the movie I asked Maren if it was too scary and she said "Yes - but I love it!" and she snuggled in a little closer.  A momma can't argue too much with that.

We hemmed and hawed about going up to the lakes for the fireworks, but since we can go local tonight, the drive and the crowds and the logistics just seemed too daunting.  Have to say we enjoyed our low key day and Miss Maren confirmed that "it was the best birthday ever". Happy Birthday Maren!! Love you so!