I'm Back! Highlights from My Trip

I'm back from my vacation in the Midwest, and consequently, I'm back to blogging! Here's the highlights from my one and a half weeks away.

Phase 1: The Parties

Iowa at last!
This was the second time I've flown alone, and I'm still pretty new to flying even with someone. Thankfully, everything went well, I didn't loose a bag this time, and I survived the turbulence on the little plane that took me from Minneapolis to my home town.

Right away, I had a few graduation parties for kids from my home church, my niece's first birthday party, and my younger sister's graduation party. I guess as a result of my somewhat solitary life in Arizona, my immune system wasn't prepared for the large crowds of people. I came down with a sore throat that weekend, which rapidly progressed to a sinus infection that made me miserable for the rest of my vacation, even though I got antibiotics early on.

This is my niece's first birthday party! As you can see, there's quite a crowd. Around 30 people came. 

They had cookies, cake pops, cupcakes, AND a birthday cake!

I'm not sure what she enjoyed more, the balloon or the wrapping paper from her gifts.

Happy first birthday! I can't believe it's already been a YEAR!

Unfortunately, I was too busy talking to people at my sister's graduation party to take any pictures. I don't have any pictures of the scrapbook I made for her either, but it did turn out well and she really appreciated it. I was very impressed by how well everything came together for her party, and as far as I could tell, people really enjoyed it. 

After all the weekend craziness, I hung out with my BFF for an afternoon. She and I checked out the new bookstore in the mall, went to dinner at Applebees, and scoured the Goodwill. I scored this sheer red and white ruffled top for $3, and a pair of Clarks heels in new condition, also for $3! We also watched Tangled (My verdict- adorable! Go see it if you haven't!). We had a great time catching up, and I'm really glad it worked out with her busy work schedule and summer classes. I miss her already.

This is the shirt, and I'll show you the heels next week. 

I brought this project dress that I found at Goodwill awhile back to work on with my MIL. She was very skeptical about my plan to turn it into something cute. 

But we did! However, I'm saving that for a later post! Stay tuned for the tutorial!

Also during the week, I spent a few hours learning from my brother-in-law how to use the software for my church's website. He was extremely helpful! 

I had lunch with my older sister and helped her find a gift for the upcoming wedding, and I got to spend some one on one time with my younger sister over coffee, followed by shopping. And, we sisters had a girl's night at my older sister's house and watched Ever After and ate popcorn and leftover birthday cake. That was fun!

I went to the promotion ceremony for the Christian school my youngest brother attends. The teachers say something nice about each student and give them character awards. Eric was awarded for humility and excellence in science.  

The boy in the light blue shirt is him. I was too far to get any good pictures.

Overall, I really enjoyed this phase of the trip. I'm grateful that I got to spend quality time with friends and immediate family members, and see my old church family and extended family members too.

Phase 2: The Wedding
After Eric's ceremony on Friday, I rode with my in-laws to Des Moines to the rehearsal dinner for Brian's cousin's wedding. We were quite a bit late, so we missed the boring part and were just in time for the dinner! Brian flew in to Des Moines a few hours earlier, so we were finally reunited! 

After the dinner and talking with the relatives, we arranged to meet Brian's best friend at Village Inn to hang out. We talked until late, which probably wasn't the best thing for my health, because I took a turn for the worse the next day. But, it was totally worth it to see Jay and catch up on each other's lives. 

Saturday was the wedding!

Bride and Groom
The ceremony was beautiful. I'm so glad Brian and I could attend.

I can't believe we've been married almost a year!

Phase 3: The Retirement Ceremony
The morning after the wedding, we began the 13 hour drive to Dayton, Ohio for Brian's uncle's retirement ceremony. His uncle was a colonel and had been in the air force for 30 years after graduating from the Air Force Academy. 

I was excited for this phase of the trip, because I hadn't met many of Brian's relatives on his dad's side. They live all over the place, and I'd only meet some of them the night before our wedding, and didn't have time to really talk to them much then. 

Getting down there was quite the deal. It poured most of the way, and at some point, the van broke down. We had to pull to the side of the interstate, rocked by every passing semi. My FIL proceeded to work on the problem in the driving rain, but a large gust of wind from a semi truck passing by blew the hood off of it's prop and smashed it down, latching it, with his hand inside! Brian jumped over the seat and popped the hood, and dashed out to lift it up. Miraculously, my FIL's hand wasn't broken. It's possible that his wedding ring saved his fingers. 

After that ordeal, with Brian holding up the hood, my FIL fixed the issue. Unfortunately, he'd left the headlights on, and the battery was dead. We figured out where we were, and my MIL called Triple A to jump start us. They arrived in 15 minutes, and we were on our way!

We crashed at the hotel when we made it to Dayton, but the next morning I went over to Brian's uncle's house and got to meet the family. Brian and I and my in-laws spent most of the day at the Air Force Museum. I didn't bring my camera, so you'll have to take my word for it that it's really, REALLY awesome! 

That evening, Brian's uncle had a casual open house, so I got to meet the rest of the family and spend the evening getting to know them. 

The next morning I spent alone in the hotel, writing and recharging. I enjoy people, but it can be really draining for me to meet and talk to so many at once. I enjoyed some alone time after all the busyness. 

Then it was time for the ceremony! We got all dressed up, and got there early. The ceremony was very well done and emotional, but the four star general who spoke and Brian's uncle focused on keeping it light and positive. It was clear that Uncle Lansen was a respected and admired leader. I loved that they took the time to honor his family, especially his wife and his mother. 

This is us, "hob-nobbing with the big shots" as my dad would say

Lansen's medals
Traveling with Brian is so much more enjoyable! We had two uneventful flights and arrived home in good time to get some groceries before sleeping in our own beds.

I read A Cowboy's Touch in it's entirety on just the flights to Iowa; I didn't even read it during the hour of layover I had. Then I read Something Borrowed on the way home and during maybe 2 hours of our layover, with fifteen minutes to spare before we landed! Yeah, romantic fiction doesn't take me too long! Brian was impressed with my reading speed. I tried reading some solid classical literature, but I got about four chapters into Uncle Tom's Cabin and realized I wasn't in the mood. Light, predictable, fun reading was what I craved, and while I don't recommend either of these books if you are a literature snob like me, they fit the bill perfectly this time. 

I miss our family and friends, but while we were in Ohio, I remembered just how miserable summers are in the Midwest. The temperature was in the 90's, but the humidity! Unbelievable! You'd walk outside, instantly start sweating, and it would just stay on your skin. Sticky and miserable! I definitely prefer 100 degrees in Arizona!  Interestingly, I was sick the whole time I was there, but almost right away after getting back, I'm greatly improved. I'm convinced it has to do with our drier air!

So, there you have it! It's good to be back!

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