Not Occurring in Nature

A convergence of events led to the following string of photos.

First, my city is revamping its entire school system (in a really logical fashion that is entirely in the best interests of the children because its end result will be at least 32 kids in EVERY classroom and not just in most of them), and the immediate effect of that revamping on my kids’ particular school was that their school year finished a day earlier than other schools in the district so as to begin the remodeling pronto.

Secondly, my sister had long ago planned a trip to visit us during the last week of school, once her own teaching year was finished, so that she could come to Duluth and go to school with her niece and nephew. For her, this experience would be entitled Inner City Bilingual Teacher Observes Upper Middle Class Nordic Children At Play.

Thirdly, my sister asked, before her visit, what her niece and nephew (aka Girl and Paco Niblet) might want to do, in terms of experiences, that would cement her status as The Auntie of All Time.

Fourthly, the demolition of our kitchen begins tomorrow, which means we have needed to pack up that entire room (along with moving the furniture in other rooms to compensate for walls coming down/being moved). Packing up an entire kitchen while still living in it is The Suck with Sprinkles on Top.

All of these things taken together meant we had a bit of extra non-school-day time during my sister’s visit with which to do Auntie of All Time activities…along with a strong need to clear the house and make some time for kitchen packing.

The plan was this: Auntie and Jocelyn would take the kids–for the first time ever–to The Mall of America and The Waterpark of America. We committed ourselves to two days of artifical lights, recycled air, and being surrounded by plastic objects in primary colors.

Auntie and Girl wonder what just happened to them

Niblet lives out a superhero fantasy…in a world where superheroes have tubes in their ears and therefore wear swim caps…and in which all water depths are just above the superhero’s nostrils, resulting in a life vest costume

Speaking of Paco living out a fantasy, there was also this one, thanks to Mall of America having a Lego Store. Interesting sidenote: this Bobo Fett (or whoever the hell he is…help me out here, 38-year-old white guys!) then picked up Niblet and tossed him straight into the Pretzel Time stand

Once he recovered from the pretzel toss, Niblet went back in time, to The Land of the Lost, where Chaka no like fire and Paco do like Legos

Mall of America has an amusement park in its middle. The Mama of All Time rides the swings with Girl. That’s my back, in the greenish/bluish shirt. Some of the rest of me was in that shirt, too, like my arms and collar bone

Getting an ice cream float at the cafe in The American Girl Place was way big fun. Dolls Molly and Emily enjoyed their pink lemonade, especially because they are the WWII dolls, and so, what with rationing, they hadn’t had sweets in ever-so-long. Girl REALLY enjoyed her float once she spilled it all over herself, causing Auntie to declare, “I guess I’m just going to need to buy you a new shirt”

Shortly after buying Girl a new shirt, Auntie also declared that the Molly doll needed a matching outfit. Yea, it’s a particular kind of mental illness that The American Girl Place engenders. I totally get it at the same time that I’m kind of horrified by it

Oh, but Auntie was only getting started. The Mall of America also features a Build-a-Bear Workshop, something else Paco and Girl had never experienced. They both swear the Build-a-Bear store was the best part of the whole trip. Paco created a monkey named Chico Bon Bon who has a karate suit and a Batman costume; Girl created a puppy named Scruffy who wears capris and a frog shirt. Jocelyn created a monster, complete with bolts on his neck and a lightning strike that brought him to life. I call him Jeeves

This is what a trip to Mall of America looks like when Auntie of All Time gets back home and holds the fist full of receipts. She only cried for a minute

Later that night, after wiping away Auntie’s tears, we remembered that you can always just make your own fun

And for those of you who love an O. Henry-like twist at the end: Her brain forever altered by the Legos and floats and stuffed animals, Jocelyn found herself compelled to smash all symbols of rampant consumerism. Slowly, slowly she raised the sledgehammer.

Just don’t ask where Auntie is now.

Wait! What’s that I hear from under the floor boards?

Thu-thump. Thu-thump. Thu-thump.






21 responses to “Not Occurring in Nature”

  1. kmkat Avatar

    Mama and Auntie of All Time are definitely sisters. I could pick you two out of a crowd. You are both very brave to take two children to the MoA. (I do not like that place.)

  2. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Really cool to see you and your sister's likeness. And it's so great to have all the cousins together. The swim park is just icing on an excellent cake! (You deserve a big break after packing up that kitchen — whoah, that's a lot of work!)

  3. ArtSparker Avatar

    Thanks for the tour…We've heard of Mall of America out here in the sticks, it is some sort of shopping equivalent of Mount rushmore evidently. If only Hitchcock were still alive, imagine what he could have done with it as a setting…

  4. Shania Avatar

    LOVE the spam shirt!

  5. geewits Avatar

    Geez, are you guys twins? It all sounds like stuff I would have really hated but probably would have done when my daughter was young. They have no idea what we go through for them, do they?

  6. chelle Avatar

    That was all in a MALL? Wow you Americans sure know how to build em'!

    Looks like a fabulous visit! Good luck with the renos!

  7. Jazz Avatar

    Well, at least you got to spend two days at the mall. When they remodeled our place they did the kitchen, the bathroom, the floors all over the apartment, took down the burlap and plaster walls and put up drywall instead – while we were living there. It was hell and then some. I dealt with it much better than Mr. Jazz until the final day, when the sink arrived and it was finally over.

    He came to pick me up at work and said, "um, problem, the sink was broken" at which point I promptly had a metltdown. At which point, taken aback he told me it was a joke. At which point I didn't speak to him for two days.

  8. Jeni Avatar

    Ah, the Auntie and Mama of all time, huh? I can buy that reasoning.
    I laughed out loud, kind of shocked my daughter when I did that so I had to tell her it was over reading your line, "Suck with sprinkles on top! -which she definitely loved as much as I did. I didn't however tell her what the line was in reference to as when that stuff happened here, she was old enough to remember it but not old enough to really realize what a pain in the dupa it was to have your kitchen and dining areas remodeled simultaneously while you are still residing in the house! We lived out of boxes and bags and even drawers from some of the old cupboards strategically (yeah, believe that one there's a bridge someplace)scattered throughout the downstairs with all the supplies or most anyway, that I needed to try to prepare nutritious, as well as delicious (another joke) meals on a daily basis for the family. So any kind of remodeling is a pain for sure, but a kitchen -most certainly does suck with sprinkles on top. Big Time!

  9. Pearl Avatar

    I'll be there next week. 🙂 Hope you left ME some worthless crap to buy!!


  10. Chantal Avatar

    That place sounds like a credit card company's heaven.

  11. Minnesota Matron Avatar
    Minnesota Matron

    Hey – you were in the Matron's neck of the Nordic frolic. Glad you survived the water park. Hope kitchen remodeling goes so well.. . you might be under more than floorboards!

  12. KarraCrow Avatar

    as an occasional reader and a 28 year old white woman, i hope my authority is enough to vouch for the fact that it is a (color-incorrect) boba fett. 🙂

    and i second all those other commenters giving kudos for bravery — you couldn't get me into a mall that big with a stick!

  13. flutter Avatar

    I'm sorry, I was lost in the sparkling glory of that mall, all of my smart comment just went away…

  14. actonbell Avatar

    "end result will be at least 32 kids in EVERY classroom…" our governor is trying to drastically reduce the number of school districts, and no one is even saying that it's in the best interest of the kids. Crazy times.

    Ah, I hope Kitchen Remodeling goes fast–as I say, this is suck.

    BUT the Mall of America and the park look like so much fun!

  15. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    They were just building the Mall of America when I left Minnesota so I've never been there. It sounds utterly grotesque in unimaginable ways, like being held down and forced to eat an entire wedding cake by oneself.

    Best of all, it got you out of your condemned kitchen for two days. I think Auntie definitely wins the title, but I suppose I'd have to ask the incredibly lucky upper middle class Nordic children to be sure.

  16. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    "Her brain forever altered by the Legos and floats and stuffed animals, Jocelyn found herself compelled to smash all symbols of rampant consumerism."

    Ha! Good luck with that. Oh, and just think of the fine, fine family memories you'll always have the mall. Even scarier? I know people who have gone there for their vacation — again and again.

    Enjoyed it.

  17. Karen MEG Avatar
    Karen MEG

    Wow, that place looks awesome… well, maybe not so much for Aunties and Moms, but kids look glassy-eyed with fun overload!

    And wow, do you two ever look like sisters!

    My sympathies re: kitchen remodel. We did get to move out for about 6 weeks, which was a good thing as we ripped out our entire main floor flooring … the dust was overwhelming. But the kitchen we got was more than worth it.

    Good luck!

  18. Voyager Avatar

    Please please can I go to the Mall of Americas next time you go? I have the same coloured hair as you, you can pass me off as another sister. I have a secret love of water parks.
    And my house is under reno too. Puuleese?

  19. yinyang Avatar

    For a minute there I thought Girl had spilled something on her second shirt, but it was just a yellowish castle thing.

    I've never been near the Mall of America, but I did go into a mall once that had a two-story carousel.

  20. Bethany Avatar

    Will Auntie please be my Auntie? I'm not as cute as your girl, but I do spill on my shirt a lot.

  21. Kylie w Warszawie Avatar
    Kylie w Warszawie

    To agree with everyone else, yes, you and Auntie look a great deal alike.

    I've never been to Mall of America, although I think it would be interesting to do once. We're hitting LegoLand Deutschland this summer. It's our big thing. That and picking dandelions out of our garden with a Fiskars dandelion picker. I'm not sure which the kids will enjoy more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *