Since I was a child, I have gone to Iowa every year. I have typically gone in the summertime for the 4th of July, but there were a few years in college that I would go during Christmas. My dad was from Iowa (but he moved to California after his Vietnam days,) so we always went back to visit his side of the family (my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.) It is definitely my second home, and my family members there are basically a second set of parents and siblings. They are so awesome, that they took in Aaron like he had always been a member of our family, and they’re the same way with the girls.
What do we do in
Ohio Idaho Iowa? If I had to answer it simply: we spend quality time together. But guess what, that sounds boring…and our trip there is very far from boring, so let me elaborate. Our flight departed at 5:20 am (you heard me right!) We thought we could bring our City Select double stroller to leisurely cruise through the airports, but it quickly got taken away from us when we were checking in our bags. Boy, am I glad that Aaron got the stroller bag so that we could pack that thing up nice and safe (I couldn’t believe it fit!) We had hopes that the girls would sleep on the flights, and Sadie (the MVP) cooperated nicely, Hadley though? Not so much. I will admit she was still so good, and she only got upset at the very end of our last flight to Cedar Rapids (she was so done with the seat belt!) What made the flights work: using a Boppy pillow to have Sadie sleep on my lap, bringing her swaddle (yes, she still likes being swaddled,) and having a white noise app on my phone that helped get her to quickly fall asleep. For Hadley, having plenty of Curious George on our tablet helped, a baby and baby bottle, and I bought this book for Hadley to look at with me. Our time in Iowa began with an indoor farmer’s market called Newbo, that is very reminiscent of the Embarcadero in SF (I am serious!) We all got to pick our own lunch, and of course I chose a fancy grilled cheese with tomato soup. Hadley got to play with some over-sized Jenga blocks and roam free for a while…she loved it!
Our days would be spent visiting, eating yummy snacks, and taking it easy. I don’t think I could shut up about how beautiful and green it was there (I’m so used to seeing everything tan in dry California!) After we’d get the girls to bed, we would typically have an adult beverage (my drink of choice being a black pearl, a secret item from Disneyland’s Cove Bar that my dear friends introduced me to,) gather around the fire-pit, and play Heads-Up on the patio. Kelly and I had some amazing vibe going on whenever I would do the “Brand” section of that game–I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing to be so savvy with brands, but that’s just the way it went down! We went to the country club for a family dinner one night, where both girls decided to unleash their inner beasts. The food was amazing (I opted for crab cakes, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and french onion soup,) but we all took turns walking the girls around so that they weren’t crazy. When it was my turn, Hadley decided to beeline straight to a tether-ball court and accidentally slip in dirt. I almost laid down with her (Sadie in my arms) and submitted to defeat! So thankful my family could embrace the adventure that can be having a baby and a toddler, gosh I love them.
We went to the Cedar Rapids farmer’s market on the morning of the 4th of July, which is one of my favorite things to do there. I love that it seems as if the entire community is there, it’s huge! All of the adults got breakfast burritos, and I got some fresh, hot donuts for Hadley. Oh, she was a fan (I was too, just sayin’!)
With the girls having early bedtimes, we opted to stay home for the evening. I got to sit down and spend some quality time talking to my grandma, who is one of the strongest, wisest, and most loving women I know (she would light up with joy whenever the girls were around, it was so sweet.) We played corn hole (Aaron, we need to get one of those!) had appetizers, lit some sparklers, and watched big fireworks from the patio. We of course played more heads up, and sang very patriotic songs in obnoxious voices. 🙂 My uncle’s bank participates in the Zach Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament, and nonchalantly said that The Bachelor (Chris Soules) was going to be there! Kelly and I are big fans, and got ridiculously excited. My aunt and uncle went to a dinner the night before the tournament where I told her she had to get a picture with him…she did not fail me! 🙂 My uncle got us VIP passes for the tournament, so Aaron was a sweetheart and watched the girls so I could go! After watching my uncle golf a few holes, we set out to find Chris. At first, I got nervous, but then when I saw teenage girls taking initiative and getting a picture with him, I knew we had to make it happen. It made for a fun story and after we got to meet him, we couldn’t stop laughing about it. That night, we tuned into The Bachelorette. 🙂 This time, I had a hard time saying goodbye. I loved my late nights of staying up talking to my aunt and cousins, all of the sarcastic fun in making fun of each other, and laughter (my uncle has the best laugh!) I have such dear memories of going every year, and my aunt has a way of taking care of all of us that reminds me of the sweet days of childhood. (For example: we were talking about how puppy chow [muddy buddies] sounded so good, and wa-la, we get home and she made some for us!) She is one of the most incredible mothers I have ever met, I mean…her children made an actual song and performed it for her on her 60th birthday—only an amazing mom gets that kind of love! She stays up late with us, she would do anything for any of us, and she is also filled with tremendous wisdom. Even when my dad passed away, she has treated me like I was her 5th child. <3 The girls did well on our flights home (even though we agree the Dallas Fort-Worth airport is still our least favorite,) and Hadley–Miss “I only sleep in my crib”–even fell asleep on my lap! Traveling with a nugget and a toddler isn’t the easiest, but it sure is easier when you are surrounded by family at home and far to help make it easier!
Happy Monday, and thank you for reading!
PS: Scotch-a-roos! Is this just a Midwest thing? We were introduced to these pieces of peanut butter rice krispie treat covered in a butterscotch-milk chocolate on our trip! My whole family was shocked we didn’t know what they were. To. Die. For! Aaron and I both succeeded in taking a picture of Aunt Jan’s recipe to share with the California world! 🙂