one morning after gracie's nap, we got all packed up to go to the historic kelley farm, but after looking online for directions to the farm, we realized that they were actually closed on that particular day! suck! so we brainstormed about other activities we could do, since we had put all that effort and energy into getting gracie and ourselves ready to go out the door...
... and my mom (the fun, always-adventurous grandma that she is), said, "why don't we go to the aquarium at the mall of america?"
great idea, ma!
so off we went, to the giant mall of america, to show gracie the fishies in the aquarium!
i haven't been to the mall of america since college, when the novelty of shopping at all these specialty touristy shops wore off pretty quickly. but, if i was a mom living in the minneapolis area, i think i'd totally take my kids to the mall on a semi-regular basis. especially in the winter. i wouldn't be able to take my kids outside to play all that often, since it's BUTTCOLD outside, but i would be able to take them to the mall, where there are a million and a half activities for the little ones... there's an amusement park, this aquarium, and obviously lots of space to run around. it's amazing the things i notice now that i'm a mom. cuz before, i just thought the mall of america was kinda dumb, with too many overpriced restaurants and fancy back support stores and kitchy minnesota souvenirs all over the place. (seriously, how many loon wine openers and viking beer coozies does one person need?) but now that i'm a mom, i'm all "cool! look at that thing that gracie can climb in!" and "oh, i'd bet she'd like those flashing lights over there on that ferris wheel!" suddenly the mall of america is kinda cool again!
anyway, we first had lunch at the rainforest cafe, where it would simulate a thunderstorm right behind our table, and there were crazy flashing lights everywhere and giant fish tanks and just SO MUCH ACTIVITY OH MY GOD. it took about 10 minutes before gracie had just had enough, she was soooo overstimulated, and our food hadn't even arrived yet! but she was a super trooper, and munched on her crackers while we all ate our delicious lunches, and her mema bought her a fancy toy that she still loves all these months later, and it was fun.
after lunch we went to the aquarium, but by this time it was nearly her naptime again. no matter, that's what the sling is for! we put her in that, and off we went. the aquarium is underground, and there's this glass hallway basically at the floor of it that you walk through, so that the fish and sharks and even scuba divers are on three sides of you. too cool!
we made it through the biggest part of the aquarium with her mostly asleep in the sling. so when we were finished with the underwater hallway part, we stopped in a little movie theater there and sat down to rest while she finished her nap. about 20 or 30 minutes later she was awake and ready to go again, so we started out once more.
we stopped at some smaller tanks, that were more gracie-sized. she liked the piranhas and the "finding nemo" tank (they had the movie showing on a tv next to the tank with a clown fish in it). it was very bright and small, and easy for her to look at, so we stayed there for a long time. her favorite of all those little tanks, though, was the jellyfish tank. they were glowing! they were very ooozy and they glowed a pretty ultraviolet color, and she liked watching them pulse in the water. i tried taking pictures, but it was too dark in there, so none of them turned out. bummer!
after those little tanks, there was a section where we could pet these manta rays as they swam around in a tank. that part was really neat! they felt all tough and rubbery and cool and sleek as they glided under our fingertips.
by now the doodlebug was wide awake, and since we had all-day passes to the aquarium, we decided to do the whole thing all over again so gracie could really see it this time!
so we went through it once more, this time pointing out all the fishies and watching the sharkies swim overhead. she really liked being upside down so she could see what was going on above her. and daddy was such a good daddy, carrying her tubby butt the whole way so she could kick and wave her arms easier than she could if i had her in the sling.
it's so much fun having a kid! i totally would never have gone to the mall that day if i didn't have a baby -- but somehow having a little mind to stimulate gives me an excuse to go out and do things like this! yay for being young at heart!