Ah, yes. "There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." --Jane Austen
My husband and I are homebodies. We aren't much the social butterflies. We are introverts (extroverts when need be). Sometimes bordering on boring. So far our daughter seems to do just fine socializing at daycares and doesn't get too terribly shy in front of strangers (a few minutes of clinging and then she's off discovering fabulous things she should not be playing with). I feel for her, though. She's going to go to school some day and some kid is going to say, "Have you been here?" or "Have you gone here?" And she'll answer something like, "No." "What's the zoo?"or "The mall, what is that?" Get the picture, dear reader??
So, imagine my surprise (and my husband's, I think), when we started talking about actually doing something on Saturday afternoon that did not involve either A. a nap, B. grocery or Target shopping? We've heard on good authority from friends that the Mall of America's Underwater Adventures is a fun family outing and that the Rainforest Cafe is a great place for kiddos. And so we started talking. And planning.
Because that's another thing about us. We plan. We are not spontaneous people. We have trouble making decisions. Um, and it should be noted that it took quite awhile make the decision to go out yesterday...) We discovered that with my Teacher ID badge, we could get a free single annual membership to Underwater Adventures. Add the dual membership (Miss L is still free!) and we scored a dual annual membership for around the cost of one adult admission price. I see rainy, wet days at the MOA in our future and some too hot to go outside summer days, too. Even if we are homebodies, we need to get out of the house sometimes.
This was a pretty big adventure for us because even though we live in the same metro area as the nation's largest mall, we live on the opposite end of the mall and it takes 30 minutes to get there. It is not somewhere where most locals go frequently. (Ok, these locals.) And after we got there, we wondered what we were thinking. MOA on a Saturday afternoon/evening in below zero weather = hoards of people! It took us almost as long to park as it did to drive down to the MOA. Sigh.
Thankfully the ticket line at Underwater Adventures moved quickly. Unthankfully, we were surrounded not only by an underwater labyrinth of aquarium tunnels (if you are claustrophobic this place is not for you), but also by everyone with children in the tri-state area. Even so, Miss L was quite enthralled and pointed and followed the big sharks & fish with her eyes, and head and body--almost tipping over in Daddy's arms. We saw seahorses and pretty tropical fish that Miss L watched intently and pointed to and said, "Uh, uh, uh." I think that's fish in Klingon. She and I even touched a starfish.
After our Underwater Adventure, we walked (conveniently only one length of the mall and the same floor) to the Rainforest Cafe, where we had reservations for 5:10. (Note, always make reservations for this place! Sheesh! I think I heard it was a two hour wait last night.) Now folks, for us, this is a big deal. We don't go out to eat very much. Especially with a 14 month old. It's just not quite the dining experience one wants to, well, experience. But we went for it anyway and figure we could always pack up our meals to go and find the car quickly (or as quickly as one can find their car at the MOA...)
We really didn't have to wait and found ourselves seated next to one of the fish tanks. We quickly ordered off of the children's menu and got settled in and looked at menus. Miss L did very well--she thought the mini cheeseburgers and corn were great! (Mom and Dad appreciated the fact that her meal was served on a plastic kid-friendly plate.) She was not a fan of cold 2% milk though. (This is what we get for usually giving her quasi warm milk.) But she was so mesmerized by the the fish swimming across from us and the children that sat next to us, that in between leaning out of her highchair, waving and clapping at the fish, she did eat some food and didn't throw too much of it on the floor. We got to actually eat our meals and she was still eating. (Thank you to the rainforest thunderstorm and its distracting capabilities!) Miss L ate a bit more, cooed & clapped at the fish some more and we marveled at how well our afternoon had gone! We were quite proud of ourselves, these homebodies getting out of the house and all.
As we walked back around the mall, we walked by the Rainforest Cafe again and who should be there? Mr. Gecko! Laura was very enamored with him, as you can clearly see from the photo. (Almost or equally as enamored as she is with Goldy Gopher when we go to Basketball games! Picture from last weekend.)
All in all, a good night for homebodies who ventured out to visit the Mall on a insanely busy Saturday afternoon.