Monday, September 24, 2012

Cousins, Goombahs And An Uncle

Beautiful handmade gifts from my cousins
 Busy, busy, busy.....but all good.  On Friday, my cousin Maryann (who lives in Colorado) came in to town to go on a quilting weekend with her sister (also my cousin....who lives here in MN), Judy.  After picking up Maryann from the airport and prior to their departure to their quilting retreat, my cousins came over to my house for lunch.  Prior to my move to Minnesota, geographical circumstances had us not see each other in about 35 years.  I am so glad that I am now able to reconnect with this side of the family.  We had a great chit chat, caught up on each other, and shared lunch.  Unfortunately, because we were so busy chatting, I forgot to take a picture of us to share.  I have, however, posted a picture of the beautiful gifts Judy and Maryann had made for me.  LOOK at their amazing handiwork!.....and they are trying to convince me to join them on one of their quilting trips.  Although the idea behind that sounds wonderful.....LOOK at their work!!  I can't even sew a straight line!!  Are you sure you girls would want an extreme novice in tow?? Hmmmm.....maybe instead I can talk Maryann back to MN for a trip that would coincide with my own sisters' visits.  Our activities typically revolve around Christmas shopping, eating, wine, and girl talk.... and novices can quickly be brought to speed ;-)  In all seriousness, I really did enjoy our afternoon together and hope that the two of you had a wonderful sister's weekend.

Walking along the Mississippi
Holding up that leaning tower!
David's silly girls
David and his "chick magnet"
Our Italian Fest Dinner
Friday evening, David, the kids and I continued our quest to experience the local scene.  We decided to head into Harriett Island in St. Paul for the Festa Italiana.  It was a cool, but beautiful evening and so our walk along the Mississippi River was a welcomed family moment.  The Italian Fest here is a bit smaller in scale than Buffalo's Italian Fest, however, I actually enjoyed this one here much more.  The experience seemed more cultural in its offerings.  It was also less carnival-like in its feel and more intimate.  Although the kids were satisfied with a dose of spaghetti for dinner, David and I enjoyed a sampling of Italian cuisine from various local Italian restaurants.  The jumbo cheese tortellini from a restaurant in St. Paul called DiGidio's was to die for!  I will definitely need to make a stop there.....maybe on a future date night???  While at the fest, Madeline and I also had a good time posing for pictures in the various cut-out stand ups.  Madeline and Jonathan had a great time "dancing" (more like running around in circles).  Madeline also got a 10 minute pass for a line-up of various bounce house type activities......I decided to join Madeline (sorry, no pictures).  Who knew that bouncing was such a workout!!!! .Whew!!!  I have to admit, the more I am experiencing in the Twin Cities, the more I am enjoying the area.  Our Friday's activities were a great kick off to our weekend!

On Saturday afternoon, our good friend, Jon (or "Uncle Jon" to our kids), came up from New Orleans for a visit.  Jon is not exactly a big shopper so we decided to simply go to the Mall of America for dinner after we picked him up from the airport.  Jon can now cross the Mall of America off of his bucket list......okay, I guess he needs to first add it to his bucket list and then cross it off.  Regardless, Jon can now say that he has been there.  Since we had the kids with us, and Jon really had zero interest in shopping, we decided to make a quick run of the mall's aquarium (Jonathan loves fishies!) and of course, going to the Mall of America with Madeline means an obligatory ride at the mall's Nickelodeon Universe.  Jon, being the awesome uncle that he is, agreed to ride a ride with Madeline.  How wild of a ride could a 6 year old actually like??  Unfortunately I was a camera slacker at the mall.  As we stood in line for the ride, a coaster filled with screaming kids whizzed by on a track above us.  The look on Jon's face when he realized *that* was the ride we were waiting for was priceless.  Despite the fact that it has probably been almost 20 years since he rode an amusement park ride, Jon was a good sport.

Our football lunch - trying to get a picture of all 4 of them was near impossible
Sundays being Sundays in fall, afternoons are filled with football.  With David and Jon together, Sunday football was a given.  Madeline and I did a little bit of shopping earlier in the day and we ended up meeting the guys out for lunch.  Awesome tip for dinning with kids: go to a restaurant that is loud enough that no one will notice if the children will act up. And so, a sport restaurant with a gazillion TVs showing football Sunday was a great choice.  We all enjoyed lunch and the guys were able to simultaneously catch a few games.  Even better, the restaurant was holding a few raffles during the game and I won a gift card to the restaurant.  As a result, lunch for all of us was free - WooHoo!!  After eating, I took the kids home and let the guys have a some football, testosterone, male-bonding time.

Oktoberfest  dinner
Not exactly Munich....maybe next year I'll buy a Dirndl Dress (ha!)
For those of you that know me, you know that our family enjoys cultural food evenings at home.  In the evening, we planned our first official Oktoberfest.  Earlier in the day, I had attempted to find some Oktoberfest decorations at Party City and was disappointed to find out that the store did not carry them.  Later in the day, I asked David to run to the store to pick up a grocery item that I had forgotten. Props to addition to the requested grocery item, he also surprising me with red, black & yellow crepe paper. With this we now had decorations and were able to hang some steamers that shared the colors of the German flag.  Although I have already decided that next year I will do things a little differently for Oktoberfest,  this year we enjoyed two types of sausages, spaetzle, sweet & sour red cabbage and German beer. 

Jon will be here until Thursday and so I am sure more tales of his visit will follow.  Stay tuned.....

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