A Warm Day in September may be the Best Time to go to Valley Fair!

When I was 19, I lived in Virginia Beach, VA. My friend, Carlos, and I both loved theme parks, so we both bought a season pass to Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Water Country USA. The day I got my pass (I had the day off work, he didn’t) we were having so much fun he decided to call into our work sick. The bad news was… our BOSS was also at Busch Gardens. Oops… Well, 14 years later we are still friends, and when he came to Minneapolis, this past weekend, we both decided to get new theme park passes. I purchased 3 GOLD passes, which includes unlimited admission for the rest of the 2018 season and ALL of the 2019 season. The pass also gives you FREE parking, and FREE admission to ValleySCARE, Dinosaurs Alive, and Soak City. In addition, I was able to sign my daughter up for the Pre-k pass, a FREE pass for kids 3-5. My friend, who is visiting, signed up for the Cedar fair Amusement parks Platinum Pass; this pass allows him entry into 13 parks around the country; his lifestyle allows for him to travel frequently, so this pass was perfect for him.

Our day at Valley Fair was not preplanned, at all. We literally decided at 10am to go and were there with preregistered passes at roughly 11:30am.

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We immediately stopped at Dinosaurs Alive. My 5 year old is fascinated with dinosaurs and currently wants to be a paleontologist or a professional skateboarder when she grows up. I had zero expectations of anything we were doing, and I hadn’t been to Valley Fair in over 3 years so everything was new and fun. The moving dinosaurs were a bit of a surprise. The kids and I pretended we were in Jurassic Park. I personally liked all the dinosaur signs through-out the exhibit.

 

We made our way through Planet Snoopy, and were sure to get my daughter on as many rides as she was tall enough. She is a daredevil. So she was pretty bummed her brother got to go on bigger roller-coasters, but she wasn’t tall enough. 48in seemed to be the height requirement for most of the rides (outside of Planet Snoopy). Luckily, for my daughter, she is roughly 45 inches and is growing like a weed (we are giants in our family). I told her she may be tall enough by next summer. My son was only brave enough to try the High Roller roller-coaster; he did it twice.

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Unlike my daughter, I am a chicken and have a serious fear of heights, but lately I have been working on going on higher things. I made it on the High Roller, Renagade, and even the North Star Swing. There are a lot of rides at Valley fair that can continue to scare the crap out of me. Honestly, getting on the rides was almost scarier to me than the actual rides themselves. As my friend and I walked to get on the North Star, we both were wondering what kind of crazy things we were doing in our 30s. My husband was bummed he missed watching how scared I was getting on (he was with the kids on another ride). Chains, a metal-bar and a seat-belt were the only things holding you on this swing which took you 230 feet into the air. It went way faster than I anticipated, 40mph is what I’ve now learned.

The Great Pumpkin Fest was an awesome surprise to me. I have only been to Valley Fair 3 times before (once when I was 13, 23, and 30). So deciding to go the weekend Halloween festivities started, on a 75 degree day, with barely any lines anywhere was AMAZING. Our family LOVES Halloween! The Great Pumpkin Fest was a huge hit for both of my kids. While my daughter was singing and dancing on stage with Sally Brown, my husband had allowed my son to enter Pigpen’s People Washer. Once my son was out…. I asked him what his plans were with his very wet everything. Our friend took him to the bathroom to stand under a hand dryer. I was very thankful for the warm weather because he dried out pretty quickly. The rest of the Great Pumpkin Fest had mazes, games, and trick or treating (many of the kids wore costumes).

 

Seriously, going to Valley Fair on a weekend in September was an awesome choice. If you plan to go more than 1x in the year, I absolutely recommend getting a season pass, but make sure you sign up on line before you go so you aren’t charged $17 in parking.

 

3 Suggestions to Have the Best Birthday

I feel as though I am still on vacation, writing this, but I haven’t gone anywhere. This birthday, my 33rd birthday, I was so fortunate to have so many people I love in the same place. If you want to celebrate a birthday, or any random day, in the best way possible, here are some suggestions:

I. Have a long-time friend (my sister’s college roommate) fly in from England, who you haven’t seen in 15 years, with her child.

In November, 2017, my older sister’s college roommate, Salome, booked tickets to visit Minnesota for the first time in 15 years. I met Salome when I was 14. She never made me feel like a friend’s little sister; she always treated me as a friend. The last time I had seen her was when she came to Minneapolis, when my older sister and I moved to Minneapolis, in 2003. Since Facebook allows for me to know what it is going on in her life, it didn’t feel like it had been 15 years since I had seen her. During this time, my sister, myself, and Salome all had children of our own. Salome’s son, Freddie, and my son Caleb are 1 month apart.

After an 8 hour flight, Salome and Freddie landed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport; 3:45pm Central time, 10:45pm London time. Ignoring jet-leg, they came to a get together at my Uncle Matt’s. As Caleb and Freddie both shyly hid behind both of their mom’s, listening intently to each other’s accents and differing words, Freddie smiled and starting flossing. They were instant friends after that. My mom was curious how Freddie knew how to floss dance; I exclaimed that they have the internet in England, too. 😉

II. Offer to host a party, in your backyard, and have it rain

Salome visiting over my birthday also happened to coincide with the 1 year anniversary of learning of my mom’s younger sister. After 33 years, I celebrated my birthday with my new aunt (who my dad dreamed looked exactly like my grandfather only with really long hair; luckily for her, she is much prettier than that mental image).  We had many people travel near and far; it’s not every day you celebrate a birthday in which people travel to get there by Airplane, Car, and Bicycle.

I offered to host a build your own hot dog bar. The ease of being able to prep ahead of time was super helpful. I chopped up all the toppings and purchased side dishes from Costco. The hotdogs, we placed in a crock pot and finished them off on the grill.

We were excited to host in our newly almost completed backyard. We haven’t had much space to host a bigger group, so it was nice that we would be able to. A family walk was taken around to show off the changes happening in our neighborhood. Then, it started to downpour. For a while, roughly 20 of us crammed into our small living room and kitchen; however, the kids found it far more exciting to run around in the rain. A family dance party broke out, in my living room. My mom and I completed our eyebrow challenge which we agreed to the week before, and many of us ended the night with a competitive game of Catch Phrase.

III. Try New Things: Foods and Experiences

I was super fortunate to have breakfast with my mom and step-dad the morning after they arrived in Minneapolis. My kids had their last day of camp, so I had very rare, much needed adult time. I suggested the Hen House Eatery because they are known for their gluten friendly options, and I cannot consume gluten or dairy. It didn’t disappoint!

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The day of my actual birthday, a group of us went to Fort Snelling for the first time. I wasn’t aware of the full history surrounding this place, and couldn’t believe it took me 15 years to check it out. (Earlier in the summer, my family upgraded to a Minnesota History Membership after visiting Split Rock Lighthouse – we plan to get to as many History locations in our state as possible.) After Fort Snelling, we ventured to Fort Snelling beach…another place I hadn’t been to in the Twin Cities. We had a picnic and let the kids swim, until the sunny skies released another downpour.

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The evening of my birthday, we had a lovely birthday dinner at Hai Hai. This restaurant opened in NE Minneapolis, the end of 2017, and was named one of the best new restaurants in America according to Eater.com. Definitely put this on your list to check out. I told my son a good birthday present for me would be for him to start trying new foods.

The morning after my birthday, I had previously scheduled to try Reiki for the first time, as my birthday present from my husband, needing to get my chakras aligned. After originally knocking on the wrong person’s door, I made my way to the home of the massage therapist/Reiki practitioner. As I lay on a massage table with alchemy bowls playing, I could feel the sound waves moving through my body. The therapist placed her hands gently on or above different areas of my body; I could feel the energy moving through me. She then placed her hands on my head, I could feel where my varicose veins were removed and it almost felt like the energy escaped out of my feet. When she placed her hands on my feet, I seriously felt air leave my ears. And as she stood with her hands above my stomach, my intestines started to move and my stomach started to growl. Most people may think I was only hungry, but I had recently eaten AND I have suffered from IBS almost my entire life. My experience with Reiki was incredible. I will go back. I offer you a suggestion if you ever want to try it: don’t have any expectations because everyone has different experiences; you get out of something what you put into it.

We ended the weekend with swimming and dinner, hosted by my always aunt and uncle before they flew back to Denver. The long weekend was amazing, but wore this old gal out. This year, I plan to live as my best self. I do not have expectations of what may lie ahead, but I can tell you I have a LOT of fun planned for the coming year.