Earlier in the summer, I took The Boy with me to Seattle. This weekend, it was The Girl's and The Tot's turn for an out-of-town trip. I rented a Toyota Prius (55 mpg, baby!), packed The Girl and The Tot in the car, and headed up to Minneapolis-St. Paul to visit my friend Prema and her family. Prema's daughter and The Girl share a birthday. They haven't seen each other since just before their first birthdays. Although originally from Minneapolis, Prema now lives in Norway; I figure if she can spend 10 hours on a plane with a preschooler to come to the U.S., I can spend 7 hours in a car with a preschooler (and a toddler) to drive up to Minnesota.
I have to say: my kids did really well on the 8-hour trip up and 7-hour return trip, in a strange car, with only each other, some music CDs, small toys, Color Wonder markers, and the scenery ("look! It's a farm!") for entertainment. Both The Girl and The Tot slept on the way up. We stopped just north of Madison at a giant cheese sign to buy cheese curds and eat our picnic lunch. Unfortunately, we crossed the Mississippi River into Twin Cities traffic just at the 5 o'clock-on-a-Friday hour, so the drive into Ramsey was a bit slow. We visited with Prema and her family; The Girl and The Tot enjoyed some serious run-around-and-play time. Then we had dinner and went to bed.
On Saturday, I discovered that I had forgot The Girl's suitcase in our living room in Chicago. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a few things from Prema's daughter, although she is quite a bit smaller than The Girl. We had a lazy day in Ramsey -- playing at the playground, going on a pontoon boat ride down the river, and then splitting up to attend events in the cities. Prema headed in to her old St. Paul neighborhood for a cocktail party, while The Tot, The Girl, and I got hopelessly lost going to visit an online friend in Minneapolis. We did eventually find it, however, and the kids played with our host's kids' toys, and we all enjoyed a yummy dinner of quesadillas and Southwestern pasta salad.
On Sunday, we returned to the playground in the morning and had another lazy morning of playing, then got on the road to home at noon. On the way home, I stopped at IKEA in Schaumburg so we could have dinner and stretch our legs.
Truthfully, I did not see much of Minneapolis or St. Paul while I was there, but I'll leave that visit for another time.