Groovin’ in the Garden

I was so excited for this experience. I had read that there would be a rock climbing wall and a bouncy house for the kids to play in while we listened to the music of a local band and figured that G would get a kick out of the bouncy house at least.

We arrived late – when am I not late nowadays – and were able to find a decent parking spot right in the area the concert is held. After finagling the stroller out of the car and getting both of the kids strapped in I walked over to the conservatory lawn. There was still ample space to spread out our blanket and I snagged a spot next to the bouncy house since I knew that’s where G would want to spend most of his time.

The band continued to play and the crowd continued to grow. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who didn’t show up right at 6. The concert’s take place between 6 and 8 p.m. I know for our family this is a difficult time to do much. We typically have dinner, do bath time (obviously not every day – haha) and get ready for bed during that time. I think that it might be a difficult time for other families as well – a lot seemed to show up at 7 and many families were picnicking during the concert.

Due to the crowds the bounce house timed waves of children for about a minute worth of jumping before ushering in the next crowd and repeated this throughout the event. At one point they lost power to the bounce houses air supply and it collapsed on a group of children including G. The employees handled the situation calmly and quickly and had the children out in a very timely matter. The bounce house was back up and running in a timely manner as well, which kept the kiddos happy.

We didn’t bother standing in line for the rock climbing wall as I suspect G is too young to participate anyway, but it did draw quite the crowd of older kids.

The band, The April Fools, played a blend of rock, country and pop. The music was great, even though for me it was background music to a jumping toddler.

I wasn’t able to locate the concessions, mostly out of lack of trying because it wasn’t right in plain sight and G wouldn’t leave the line for the bounce house except to use the restroom.

This is definitely a favorite of mine, as I love music. Unfortunately, I’ll probably only attend one more this summer with the timing and my kiddos bedtimes. Definitely recommend though.

Choo Choo Bob’s Story Time

I added Choo Choo Bob’s story time to my summer bucket list because toddlers and trains seem to go together like cake and ice cream… besides that though, it seemed like every mom blogger in the cities had written about it at some point. Most of these blogs are at least a couple of years old, so maybe things are different now, but I was underwhelmed by the whole experience. While story time itself has all the makings of a wonderful experience, the store itself left me wondering when they would be closing down.

We entered the store about 10:05 and story time begins at 10 and it had already begun. Normally promptness is admirable but for some reason when toddlers are involved, having a little wiggle room in your start time seems appropriate. The seating area, while adorable and well decorated for a train store, could definitely use more seating. Every seat was filled with plenty of people standing. Engineer Paul was reading a story book related to trains though I didn’t catch the name as he was already into the story when we were able to finally get settled standing at the back of the crowd.

G became bored rather quickly so we headed over to where they have the train tables set up. The concept is fantastic and the kids seem to really enjoy playing with the trains. Sharing can get a bit dicey but most figure it out without too many tantrums ensuing.

The store itself was full of empty shelves and toys that felt overpriced – used trains seemed to be marked rather high. I do know that the train sets themselves tend to be a bit spendy… it was the used toys that took me by surprise.

And as a warning to those with toddlers that enjoy touching everything that they shouldn’t – there is a fantastic electric train in the shops front window that explicitly states DO NOT TOUCH. I bet you can guess how many kiddos can actually read that and heed its warning. Just keep an eye out for your kiddo knocking the train off its track.

Overall, a decent experience… G didn’t want to leave when it was time to go. I was expecting so much more for some reason, but the story time itself – although in need of more seating in my opinion – was cute and interactive and definitely worth at least one visit while your kids still like trains. I won’t be making this one of our regular stops but I’m glad we got to experience something together, even if it left a bit to be desired on my end.

The Lorax, a toddler and a village

** I would like to apologize in advance for how all over the place this post is – xoxo Brix**

Do you ever feel like your life is a never ending loop? A Bill Murray-less Groundhog’s Day? I feel like life as a mom can basically be summed up in that way. Are there special moments that break up the monotony? Of course. But even in a lot of those moments I feel as though there is still that repetitiveness of every day life. Even when you plan something special there can be that expected change of plans that nearly always happen.

I clean pee from the same toilets, wash the same food covered clothes, follow the kids around the house picking up the same toys as they follow me around the house undoing all of my hard work.

Their behavior is always predictable. And always repetitive.

Take this past weekend. I had tickets to see The Lorax. I bought these tickets because of my “ah-ha” moment when writing Burnt Pancakes. I planned on bringing ALL of my boys to something that had been special to me as a child and that I enjoy. It was no surprise whatsoever to me that my plans didn’t go smoothly. Mr B had to work. Because of that fact, B decided he would rather stay home and hang out with his friends. So I forced D to go even though he wanted to go to his dad’s to watch the Timberwolves play. Just D, G, O and myself – although I gave the two extra tickets to a friend of mine so she could bring her son. What the hell was I thinking?

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Don’t they look thrilled?

I wasn’t surprised when there was traffic. I wasn’t surprised when G boycotted a nap for the day. I wasn’t surprised when 2 minutes before the play was supposed to begin, G decided he had to potty. Or again when he had to go potty 20 minutes into the first act. Definitely not surprised when D argued with me the whole way to the play that he wasn’t going to like it and it would be the same as the ones he sees at the high school. And I wasn’t surprised when O, who is definitely too young for a play, became overly restless. I was however, surprised when we made it through the whole first act.

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Almost got a good picture.

So for the second half, I had to leave my friend and go to the Quiet Room. This room is pure genius and I couldn’t ask for anything more enjoyable. Every single movie theater should have these as well. O was able to crawl around, which of course led to G crawling around and D watched the whole second act, even though there’s no possible way he would like it.

And you know what was amazing. That we weren’t the only ones in the quiet room. I wasn’t the only person that had children that weren’t able to stay focused. In fact, there was one mama that was there with her two boys and expecting her third (yes, I was that person and asked her). She was struggling with her 2 year old who was at the same point as my 2 year old, but her older boy really wanted to finish the play. I heard her say to her son, “I can’t do this anymore H. It’s too hard for me. We’re going to have to go.” The constant battle to keep her toddler occupied was taking its toll. And without asking or thinking or judging, I asked O if he wanted to play with G. I asked if he likes to “make new friends, because G LOVES to make new friends.” And for the remaining 15 minutes of the play, that mama got to stand next to her other son and finish watching the play while O and G crawled around pretending to be monkeys. She thanked me.

I got to thinking though…. why? She shouldn’t have to thank me for my help. That should be something we innately do as mothers. Help each other out. It takes a village. I’m just happy I could be a member of hers for her in that moment. I think we’ve created a society that is failing our mothers if we’re scared to offer help to another mom in need. Be someone’s village. Cause I know there are plenty of days I would love to have someone help me when G is running around like a crazed banshee.

Trapped Puzzle Rooms

My mother in law was kind enough to set us up for an escape room experience in St Paul. D has been dying to do one so this seemed like a perfect experience! There are a TON of places doing these puzzle rooms right now – definitely a popular attraction.

We were signed up for A Very Potter Escape Room experience at Trapped St. Paul. Located on Snelling Ave in St Paul, it’s actually inside of an old house.

When you walk in there’s a large waiting area, a coat room and a sitting room.

There was a puzzle being completed on the table in the sitting room that my kiddos were fairly obsessed with.

The staff were all super friendly – especially since we actually showed up on Saturday on accident and were actually registered for Sunday. When we got there Sunday for our actual timeslot we were paired up with 4 other people. We were given our mission – make our way into the Headmaster’s office and retrieve the Elder Wand.

This location doesn’t actually lock you in the room, however the door is closed and you are set about to solve multiple puzzles that will lead you to your final puzzle and the Elder Wand. The great thing about this location is that I was able to bring G with despite his age – although I wouldn’t recommend it. I was also able to wear O throughout the experience.

I would definitely say that these rooms are geared towards older kids, teens and adults – which honestly most of them state clearly on their websites. We were able to complete our puzzle in 52 minutes… 8 minutes left to spare despite the fact that 2 of our participants were too young to help.

We had a fantastic time though and are looking forward to trying out some other rooms soon. Pricing for these experiences range from about $24-$40/person and lasts an hour. This location specifically is on the cheaper end of the price range at $24/person. If you’re looking for something fun to do with your older kids or a cool group date, a puzzle room or escape room is definitely a choice I would recommend.

Check out their website here!