Our third day started early at the hotel. The alarm sounded; Vi voiced her discontent and went back to sleep. Marshall jumped out of bed to look out the window and adore the glorious buildings he could see from our fourth floor room.
We had breakfast and checked out of the hotel so we could begin our day of fun.
Our first stop was Home Depot to take part in their free kid’s workshop. Today’s project was a gingerbread man candy dish.
Home Depot was kind enough to give each child a bag full of candy to fill their dish and a special pin to show off their accomplished project for their work apron. We picked up a sheet of plywood for a project tomorrow and headed to our next destination.
Bachman’s Floral shop had a free Christmas play featuring Santa & Albert the Elf! I didn’t know what to expect so we arrived dressed pretty casually- but my goodness most people were dressed in their Christmas Eve best! Little did I know, but this play is a family favorite among many in the Twin Cities; some making this tradition for decades.
It was towards the end of Vi’s nap, she was snuggled up in the Tula on Brad’s chest, so only Marshall got a picture with Santa before the show.
If you opt to go to this play, arrive early. We got pretty great seats but it was solely because of arriving early and patiently waiting. By the time the play started, Vi woke up and was ready to enjoy the show with Marshall.
The play was about Albert’s favorite musician: Elfis! That’s right folks, Elvis is alive and well in the North Pole- and has been an Elf all along! Santa talked about gifts he gave famous singers throughout time (like Beyoncé got a stuffed bunny rabbit when she was three and named it Sasha Fierce) and sang songs from The Rolling Stones-his favorite band, of course- and Taylor Swift, Mrs. Claus’ favorite singer.
Elfis had to go help fix the lego machine. When they said the lego machine broke and if it didn’t get fixed immediately, there would be no legos for Christmas there was an audible gasp from the children. Poor Marshall looked just as broken as the machine! Albert arrived to announce that they successfully fixed the lego machine and to celebrate they invited some kids onto stage to sing Christmas carols.
Marshall was one of the kids and he was just beaming. He felt so special to be on stage and get to sing for everyone. It’s not easy for him to use his words, but he loves to sing and tries so hard. Brad and I are very proud of him.
With the conclusion of the play, we made our way back to my Aunt C’s. Every Saturday she makes my grandma’s famous acini di pepe soup; it was impossible for us to not stop by when she invited us for lunch! She was kind enough to buy surprise gifts for the kids and they were both so thrilled. We also were given crocheted ornaments from my Aunt K! Our kids are so lucky to be surrounded by so many who love them.
After playing with cousins (and dogs) for a few hours, we headed to Hollidazzle. When Brad and I were a younger couple, we would go with my little cousin to Hollidazzle. Then, it was parking at Mall of America and taking the light rail downtown. We would go to Barnes & Noble and read together, drinking hot chocolate from the Starbucks that was tucked in the corner of the bookstore. When it was time, we would head outside to watch the Hollidazzle parade- a grand show of music and lights.
A few years ago they changed this beloved Minnesota tradition and opted for a Hollidazzle village. I was kind of surprised at the lack of child/ family friendly activities there were. Instead of a craft tent there was a craft beer tent. It seemed more geared towards adults who were looking for unique microbrews, pub snacks, and shopping. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely had a different feel from the parades of past.
We hit up as much of the family orientated things as possible.
It didn’t take long to make our way through, so we made our way back to the car. We had to have been quite the sight, Marshall was walking too slow through crosswalks so we told him he had to speed up. Cue him running through the next one, huge pregnant me literally run-waddling after him and Brad just moseying behind us monotonically calling to me “Why are you running? Stop running you’re pregnant.” Just more Dingman family ridiculousness really.
On the car ride home Brad decided to show off that he’s not just a regular dad- he’s a cool dad by perfectly rapping “Gangsta Paradise” with the radio. Marshall did not approve.
Eventually we made it home after a lovely, uneventful car ride (code for: the kids slept on the way home and Brad’s Hip-Hop oldies were turned off). So ended our few days in the Twin Cities experiencing the free events and extended family excitement. We had such a great time and cannot wait for the day that we get to make the move to the metro. But rest assured that we will make the best of country dwelling for now. Tomorrow, Brad has some dad-orientated fun planned as he continues a rich tradition from his side of the extended family.
May you sing as lovingly as Marshall and stay as close to those you love as Vi does in her Tula! Until tomorrow friends!