This past weekend Jon and I had a chance to head up to Minnesota.  It was so long overdue and we were excited to be able to celebrate some birthdays- namely Justin, Heather and Jon.  Of course, no trip to the cities is complete without a trip to the Mall of America where we headed before first thing upon arrival.  Where did we hit- well I at last found DSW after walking in circles (no matter how many times I go to that mall I have trouble finding the stores I want), Jon headed to the Apple store and came out the proud owner of a brand spanking new generation Ipod, next was lunch where we had a pleasant surprise when Brett called and said he could meet us for lunch.  It was so much fun catching up with him at the food court, despite all the craziness of the mall.  Next we were off to find a couple of other fav spots to pick up our fav Minneapolis foods.  Irish on Grand is the only place on this side of the pond where we can buy Flahavan’s Irish oatmeal.  Once you taste the creaminess of this Irish porridge you will want nothing other!  Of course, somehow 2 packages of Hobnobs made it into the bag along with a box of Bewley’s Irish Afternoon Tea.  Next we were off to the Holy Land Deli for pita bread.  I’m sure that by now the kids were getting tired of us calling for directions, but thanks to Brett and his knowledge of the city we found our way without getting too lost.  Next stop- check into the hotel, meet Justin and Susie at Barnes and Noble in Eden Prairie (how could we say no) and a quick walk through the mall.  By now I’m feeling real international.  Typical american mall (2 of them), a quick chat with the Irish folks and then shopping with Middle Easterners.  How awesome this city is!  Then it’s on to Italy for dinner.  As we all crammed into a booth at Punch Pizza we soon filled the table with 3 different kinds of salad, and 4 different kinds of woodfire pizzas.  I’m not sure how we found room to eat cake back at the hotel afterwards, but somehow several pieces were consumed by all of us.
Saturday morning we joined Justin and Susie at Mocha Monkey in Waconia for an absolutely wonderful lunch.  Yetti was so patiently waiting in the car and since we had some time before we needed to meet Brett and Heather and it was a beautiful day we headed out and about in Waconia.
Our day continued at the U-M Arboretum in Chanhassen.  Oh my gosh was a beautiful place!  Minnesota was out and about and I think they were all there, but how could you help it with the beauty of the leaves, the wonderful fall day and a slight fall chill in the air!  I really do believe that the 6 of us could’ve spent more time there than what we had, but it was time to move on and finish our day out.
Of course we had time for a quick stop at the “antique” store in Waconia, but none of us found anything that we couldn’t live without. Last stop- time to feed our stomachs!  Justin was just dying to take us all to Whole Hog Heaven and I’ll tell you I think that we all felt like we had eaten the whole hog by the time we were finished.  Between pulled chicken or pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, fries, baked beans, coleslaw, homemade chips, potato salad and corn bread muffins we had eaten enough to last us for the next week.
Our weekend came to an end way too quickly as the kids all headed back home and we had to head back to Iowa.  But, as usual we had an absolute blast with our family and we are so thankful that we were able to all find the time to come together in a world of busy lives and crazy schedules.  So J & S and B & H if you guys are reading this- thanks for an awesome and wonderful weekend!!  You guys are the best and we are proud to be the parental people!

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