The lesson from day #1 painfully and indelibly learned, day #2 of our endless summer of fun dawned with a plan. We piled in the car at a reasonably early hour, okay is was 10:30, but, hey, that's reasonable for vacation, and headed to, wait for it....IKEA! Okay, I know what you're thinking...IKEA!?!?! But, you are only thinking that if 1) you have never been to IKEA or 2) you have never been to IKEA with, and this is the important part, potty-trained children. Because if you have, then you know all about
Småland is dubbed, by the ingenious IKEA folks, "the magic forest." I've never been past the child-sized entrance so I cannot speak to what happens inside Småland and whether or not it lives up to its name, but if the excitement that exudes from my children at the mere mention of IKEA is any indication, it is indeed magical. For 30 to 60 minutes, depending upon how crowded they are, your child, again, as long as he or she is potty-trained (no pull-ups allowed), can play to their hearts content under the supervision of IKEA staff. You, the parent, can then visit the showroom, marketplace, and/or restaurant unaccompanied. Did you catch that, UNACCOMPANIED shopping! I KNOW! Everybody wins.
And, though unplanned, kids eat free at IKEA on Tuesdays, so after mine had worked up a good lather, and I mean this literally (it was actually kind of gross), I dried them off and we headed to the restaurant where we stuffed ourselves on ridiculously cheap (mostly free, in fact) chicken strips, mashed potatoes, Swedish meatballs, Lingonberry juice, macaroni and cheese, and mixed vegetables (yellow carrots, another indicator of IKEA genius, my kids yummed them up purely because of their novelty).
After eating ourselves into very satisfying food comas, we made a pit-stop at the strategically placed toy department adjacent the restaurant. Those IKEA people really are brilliant, you can't get out of the store without passing through the extremely enticing aisles of kid friendly wares. And so, after much hemming and hawing and debate we found ourselves the proud owners of these,
and one of these (in white - and yes, they are RATS!),
and one of these, because the little, white baby rat needed a big, white daddy rat, of course. YUCK!
Plus, I managed to find a few must have things that I didn't know I needed before my almost-solo (I still had Claire with me) turn through the racks and bins that make up IKEA. In fact, I do not frequent IKEA all that much, but on this day, including travel time, our visit spanned over 4 hours and everyone was happy the ENTIRE time. Souvenir rats notwithstanding, ours was a wholly successful expedition.