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Nathan’s mom (the kids’ Mima) came to town for a visit last week. Once again, we played proud momma and poppa to our new city of C. Springs, showing it off and basking in our new-found pride. (Isn’t she beautiful? Absolutely perfect! And she even sleeps through the night!) We played tourist again. And I said “Isn’t this awesome?!?” way too many times.

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There are two things that are a must-do for us when someone comes to visit. First – Garden of the Gods. Second; Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They are a good “bang for your buck” since one is free and we are members to the zoo, and they are both quintessential Colorado Springs experiences.

Finn is always excited when Mima comes to town; I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that she always brings a suitcase of presents every time she visits. Mima also has more patience for Finn’s antics than anyone else. And he makes every effort to see how far he can push it until the happy-go-lucky visit implodes. I always lose my cool well before Mima even winces. So Finn pushes harder, culminating in a shit-storm big enough to get Nathan involved. Thankfully, we evaded any major drama with him this time around, almost to the point where he was tolerable to be around.

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While waiting for Nathan to get off work on Wednesday, we headed to Target and spent over an hour perusing all the new toys. Christmas toys are up, folks… Children, get your roll of paper and pencils ready. We examined every toy in the store and rocked out Chick-fil-a for dinner. Then came Garden of the Gods. I love it there. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a soul who doesn’t. We hiked a little, let the kids run wild and headed out to Manitou Springs for ice cream.

Hitting Manitou Springs on Wednesday was a great idea… On Thursday, we were hit with another epic storm, meaning more flooding and destruction in Manitou. I love it there, but adding mudslides to the crazy tourist season in the summer and getting up and down the hills in the winter makes me glad that we live far enough away where none of that affects us.

Finny had his second day of school on Thursday (more on that later – the jury is still out); meaning we were stuck hanging around the house for most of the day since preschool is smack-dab in the middle of the day. After everyone had been schooled, Mima treated us to dinner and a visit to Seven Falls. We had never been. Remember that awesome storm on Thursday night? Yeah, we arrived just as it started… Visiting a place that has just shy of 400 steps… In the rain… Not the greatest activity ever. It ended up being totally fine, though. They stamped our tickets – a real “rain check” if ever there was one – and we called it a day.

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Finn was looking forward most to Friday. Zoo day! We took Mima through all the regular zoo attractions; giraffe-feeding, lion-gazing and giant-sandwich-eating, but this time, we got to do something new. They let you feed the elephants, too.

Good lord, I almost cried when I found out.

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Sadly, the experience was a little less magical than feeding the giraffes, since space is limited and everyone waits in line to feed the same elephant. I made the mistake of snapping the carrot in half so each of the kids could have a turn, and was promptly scolded… “It is a per-person charge, ma’am. Ugh. You can’t break them in half.” (Cue the epic eye roll directed at me.) Whatever. Mima forked over another fiver so Alice could be terrified of the beast without her brother standing beside her.

Having zoo-ed ourselves out, the kids and Mima napped when we got home. We took Mima to Garbanzos for dinner, one of the best fast-food joints out here (because we like to keep it classy), and tried Seven Falls again.

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This time, the weather was be-a-utiful and we had no problem getting the full experience. We climbed the 180+ steps to the overlook of the falls.

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Mima is none-too-fond of heights, but she was a trooper and braved her way to the top of the steps running adjacent to the falls. We all arrived safely at the top. The four of us, Mima, and Alice’s Pony. It is a little plastic My Little Pony that goes everywhere with her. She clutches it at night when she sleeps. Though all six of us made it up in one piece, only five came down together. Sure enough, after an exhausting day, Alice decided the wisest course of action was to pitch Pony right into the falls after I refused to take her out of the carrier.

I have watched too much Toy Story; all I could think about was that poor little Pony loosing her Alice… It sat in an eddy at the top of the falls, bobbing sadly in one spot. Nathan booked down the 200 steps to wait for it at the bottom, but we couldn’t get it to move. We headed down, defeated and forlorn, but the security guard gave us a little hope. This apparently happens all the time, and Nathan and a custodian high-tailed it back to the top with pool skimmers attached to long poles. Sadly, in the time it took us to climb down and Nathan to climb up, Pony had tumbled. And was lost forever.

This one's for you, Pony.

This one’s for you, Pony.

Moment of silence, please?

Good thing Target is littered with Ponys. We stopped and picked up a new one on the way home – just as Alice was starting to panic about impending bedtime.

Mima left early the next morning, before the kids had woken up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Successful visit in the bag!! I kept waiting for a major Finny-Meltdown, but it never happened.

There is always next time.

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