Thursday, October 21, 2021

Parks and Dresses and Red Lobster, Oh My!

 We went to two different types of parks on our second full day in Iowa, both of them quite different, as you will see!

Before going to the first park, we went to the church building that we attended for seven years. During our last year in Iowa the ward boundaries changed and we were moved to a different ward in a different building, but this building here is where we went to church and to many fun activities for the majority of our time in Iowa. I have very fond memories of good friends and ward members and meetings and events from this building. 

(John spent most of the week at Craig and Cyle's, so it was just Sam, me, and my mom for a lot of these things.)

Sam went to church here from ten months to eight years old! This is also the church where he was baptized. He's our Iowa boy.

Then we went to nearby Mormon Handcart Park, which is a nice little walking trail that commemorates the Mormon Pioneers who were here in the 1850s during their trek west. Some of my ancestors were among them. I always liked that about Iowa City, that I had family history there.

This is an apt reference for life, too.
  Stay safe by staying firmly on the gospel path that leads back to Heavenly Father!

Next I stopped in at my favorite department store, Von Maur. I say "I" because Sam and my mom weren't interested in joining me. 😆 There were some really cute dresses on display that were very much my style and I tried them on but they weren't quite the right fit. Pretty though!

I got this cute little jar of powdered lemonade. Big spender, I know. 😆 (I did get a few other things too. I've already forgotten what they were!)

This is the second park we went to that day, a trampoline park that we went to when we visited in the summer of 2019. Tragically this park opened after we moved away, otherwise we would have spent a lot of time here! I brought John, Sam, and John's friends there for the afternoon.

Dodgeball! John and Craig and their friend Alex are on the right.

Sam and Cyle are sitting on the left. They were out!

John and Sam are both in this picture on opposite sides. John was in it to win it!

And finally, we had dinner at Red Lobster, Sam's favorite. Because we live in the coastal state of Massachusetts there are no Red Lobsters here. So we had to get plenty of their famous biscuits while we could!  

My steak and lobster dinner was so delicious! I'm not a snooty New Englander when it comes to seafood. As long as it tastes good I'm happy.

We were having such a good time being back in Iowa!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fossils and Playgrounds and Other Fun Things

 On our first full day back in Iowa, we went to some of our favorite old familiar places. First we went to the Fossil Gorge, which was only a few minutes away from our old house. I have a lot of happy memories of bringing the boys here when they were little. Plus, it's a cool prehistoric spot to explore!

This is an ancient sea floor!

A baby waterfall 

A baby cave

A baby doll 😘 

It's so neat to think about how hundreds of millions of years ago, this was the bottom of a tropical sea.

Look at that! A very old and historic imprint, just sitting there in the rock!

Then we went to the playground at the boys' old elementary school, which was a really great little school that we still miss. If we hadn't moved, this would be Sam's final year there. 

John spent time with his friend Isaac that day. They became friends at this school when they were in 5th grade. Now they were almost in 11th grade, but playgrounds can still be kind of fun even at that age.

Sam looked in the woods for a mysterious log that used to haunt him and his friends. 🤷

That afternoon, I brought the boys and Isaac to the North Liberty pool that they used to have so much fun at. The Iowa City area has really fun public pools, something that Massachusetts is very much lacking in!

The boys liked being able to use a diving board again.

John's sequential three-picture backflip off the high dive.

And Sam's simple but classic pencil dive

After the pool we went down the street to one of our favorite ice cream places, Heyn's. Their ice cream is so good!

"Forget love, I'd rather fall in ice cream" 🍦 This is mostly accurate for me at this point 😄

That evening, we visited Brody's grave. I still miss that feisty little cat so much.

His grave is under this tree. It's a nice, peaceful setting.

And finally, before we headed over to a barbecue that was being held in our honor by good friends from our old ward, we went to the boys' favorite playground. It just happened to be across the street from our old church building too, and up the street from the recreation center where they did so many activities when they were little. Needless to say, I was feeling very nostalgic. (And I still am as I put this post together!)

It was so good to be back! Even though I'm really glad to be living in Massachusetts again, there is definitely a part of me that wishes that we'd never moved away from Iowa.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Road Trip to Iowa!

 In the summer of 2019 the boys and I took a trip back to Iowa to see friends a year after we had moved away. We wanted to do it again in 2020, but Covid put the kibosh on that. So this year I wanted to make sure it happened for sure, especially after the hard time we'd had that winter and spring. And happened, it did! We decided to drive out instead of fly, and my mom came with us to help, and it turned out to be a fun ten-day road trip halfway across the country and back to very special places that are near and dear to our hearts.

We stopped for the night in Westlake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. My favorite hotel chain is Holiday Inn Express. Among other things, they (usually) have nice pools.

Here we are the next day at a rest stop in Indiana, where we had stopped for lunch. 

Hello Illinois!

And hello Iowa! 🙌

We pulled over at a rest stop soon after getting into Iowa so that we could switch drivers (my mom drove most of the way, thank you Mom!). There was this neat plaque there about the Mormon Handcart Trail. I love the Midwest's church history.

This was another relevant plaque that was there. I loved living in Iowa City for eight great years.

That evening after we'd arrived we picked up John's friends Craig and Cyle (they're brothers) and went out to dinner at HuHot, one of our favorite Iowa restaurants. (We really wish there were a HuHot in Massachusetts!)

And then just like old times we went next door to Cold Stone for dessert. It was so good to be back here again. (In Iowa, not Cold Stone. Well, there too actually. 😆)

The boys were thrilled to be together again!

And finally, after a very long (but good) day, we stopped at our old HyVee to pick up a few things. I loved this grocery store! Maybe it's a little weird to love your grocery store, but I really did love it. It was nice and new and well-organized and clean and very homey feeling and not far from my house. I had missed it, and I still miss it! 

We were looking forward to spending the next five days in our former home sweet home of beautiful, wonderful Iowa!