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    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Dragons at LARK Toys
    This weekend we took a trip east to Kellogg, Minnesota to meet Mike's parents at one of our favorite local places: Lark Toys. The visit was made even sweeter because of our recent reconnection with a college friend, Miranda, who just happens to now own the store along with her husband and parents! We've always enjoyed Lark and have visited many times in the past. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is a toy store on steroids. There is an indoor Merry-Go-Round, a toy museum, candy store, fudge/ice cream/concessions, two separate toy stores, outdoor mini-golf and just generally really awesome stuff all around.

    It was so fun to see Miranda and to catch up with her on the past ELEVEN years since she graduated from Winona State. She has a daughter who is also in a Montessori school so we talked about how much we are all loving school right now.

    Benjamin went on the Merry-Go-Round twice, once with Grandma and once with Grandpa. We all enjoyed ice cream cones and we literally spent hours looking at the toys. We finished our visit with Grandma and Grandpa off with a meal at a restaurant in Wabasha that Miranda recommended to us: The Olde Triangle Pub. It is an Irish-themed pub that serves all typical Irish foods, which was perfect on a crisp fall day. Mike's parents had tickets to see a play in Red Wing, so they had to hurry off after dinner to make it to the show. We drove back to Rochester through the winding country roads, which allowed us to get the most out of one of the last days that the trees still had their colorful leaves. Many of them had already fallen thanks to an unseasonal snow storm we had experienced on Friday.

    Playing in the snow

    I was home alone on Friday and was downstairs in the basement with the blinds closed so I hadn't realized what was happening outside. When I came up to get ready to go pick up Benjamin from school, I realized that we had quite a Winter Wonderland already. Driving was horrible. The first couple of major snowfalls always seem to bring out the worst in drivers and if they're not tearing down the streets at speeds much too high for the conditions, they're driving way way waaaay under the speed limit and therefore putting everyone at risk for getting stuck in the snow. Benjamin's school sits atop a HUGE hill and the drive up is treacherous under normal circumstances. The person who does the plowing of that driveway hadn't even connected his shovel-thingy up to his truck yet, so they couldn't plow the snow. They instead layed sand down and people were getting stuck and sliding back down. It was my first experience of driving my Rondo on the snow and I am pleased to report it did splendidly. I made it up that hill and drove the both of us home with no problem. Benjamin and I spent some time playing in the snow when we got home. After we were sufficiently cold and tired we went inside to make some hot chocolate and warm up. When we got inside I was surprised to find that our power had gone off due to rolling black outs from our power company. I couldn't even close the garage door, the furnace was off and I wasn't going to be able to make hot chocolate in the microwave. We skipped the hot chocolate and instead cuddled under a blanket and read books until Mike got home. Luckily the power came back on a short while later and all was well.

    On Sunday, Mike discovered that the Packers game was not going to be broadcast to Minnesota stations because the Vikings were playing at the same time, so he headed off to Whistle Binkies to watch the game. Benjamin and I did some Halloween costume shopping. After the game(s) were over, we met up with my friend Lora and her two girls for some laser tag and bouncing at House of Bounce. The four girls all played laser tag for two games and had an absolute blast. Benjamin and Mike did some bouncing on all of the slides and bouncy houses and when all was said and done, we were all pooped! It was a great afternoon.

    I think we are all ready with our Halloween costumes. I have one more piece to find for my costume and then I am done! Benjamin and I have a Halloween event tonight at the Plummer House Mansion and then all three of us are going to an event at IBM on Thursday. We'll be up in the cities for the weekend for a half marathon, HallZOOween, a Halloween party and the Packers vs. Vikings game. We can't wait!