We headed to Iowa on Tuesday, December 20. To give a play by play of the 8 days we enjoyed there would be a novel, so here are the highlights.
Before leaving town we picked up a museum pass from Imagination Station that gives us access to 300 museums around the world, including two in the Quad Cities. On Wednesday we went to the Family Museum with Derick, followed by another trip with Derick and Christine a week later. The set up was incredible and we all enjoyed exploring the town and water table. Emily loved trying on all the different pairs of shoes at the shoe store. Nathan enjoyed holding the animals at the vet. Emily and Andrew made a present for Aunt Hannah at the maker lab. Derick and Andrew made a huge lego tower that Emily stayed inside until it was time to head home.
We went to the John Deere Pavillon to take family pictures. While I was taking pictures, everyone explore the big green equipment.
We let Emily stay up with us one night and watched Elf together. Emily snuggled with Aunt Christine and Uncle Brian in Christine’s bowl chair while Andrew and Derick worked on the other couch, oblivious to the holiday flick.
Christine and Emily often disappeared to to hair and nails. Christine corrected my current braiding technique and taught me another type of braid. Now I just have to practice!
There was lots of roughhousing and gymnastics with Uncle Derick and Aunt Christine throughout the week.
There was also an abundance of music. Brian played his new oboe, Mom and Brian prepared for their Sunday musical number, and Emily sang and danced around the house. She watched frozen twice while we were there and was usually singing, “Let it go!”. Mom, Christine, and I spent time one evening singing a number of Christmas songs.
We played Nertz almost every night.
On Christmas Eve we had the sister missionaries over for dinner. Partway through the meal we got on the topic of bonfires and smores. Next thing we know Christine and Dad are in the car heading to the local gas station to buy firewood, graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. We are hoping a Christmas Eve bonfire becomes a yearly tradition. Emily ran all around the snow with a big stick going on bear hunts, going to Kisty’s house (inspired by a friend that moved a year ago), and finishing up her work in California (inspired by a friend’s recent move).
After the fire we returned inside to continue with our usual festivities: acting out the nativity, playing bells, and having pie for dessert. Emily disapeared during dessert and we found her cuddled under a blanket pretending to be Mary with baby Jesus in the manger.
Christmas Eve was like all the other nights for Andrew and I these days – we were up for a couple hours with Nathan during the night. He ended up falling asleep in the early morning hours and sleeping until 8:30am. Instead of starting Christmas morning at 7am as usual we delayed until he joined us. Emily was content to eat breakfast and Derick, Brian, and Christine didn’t seem to mind the extra sleep either.
Instead of putting names on presents this year, Mom put numbers. We went from youngest to oldest picking a number and then giving it to the person to open. Emily was happy to help everyone open presents that invited her to join. Nathan loved the stocking from his orange and playing with the new balls from Grandma and Grandpa Moose. Both kids love their new duplos, puzzles, and signing time movies. Derick gave everyone a spoon with a clever personalized note about how to use it (always ending with to escape from jail or eat cereal) to help alleviate the lack of spoons in the drawer when everyone comes home. Brian and Christine gave gifts of experiences and time, including free babysitting so Andrew and I could go on a date, and Derick, Brian, and I taking Christine on her first double date.
We had pancakes, bacon and eggs for an early lunch and then went to church. Dad spoke and Mom and Brian had a special musical number. After church we raced home to talk to Aunt Hannah on a mission in Alaska and Andrew’s family!
On Monday we turned our double date into a family outing, sans Grandma Moose. Derick, Brian, and Christine helped Emily while Andrew and I switched back and forth between holding Nathan and skating with Emily.
On Tuesday Andrew and I went on a date to the Putnam Museum, leaving the kids with Brian, Christine, and grandparent support. We made a high flying pneumatic rocket while reminiscing about the first homework assignment we worked on together as a married couple which was building a rocket. We also made a stop motion animation, built a bridge, learned about food consumption around the world, and explored the midwest’s caves and prairies.
On Wednesday we all went to the Arsenal Museum in Rock Island. It is the second oldest war museum in the United States. We learned a lot about the history of the arsenal and America’s history. Emily’s favorite part was building a replica fort and trying on clothes. Nathan enjoyed a nap in the stroller.
Wednesday night we were up again most of the night with Nathan, so we were a little slower out the door Thursday than we planned. Andrew pushed through and got us heading in the right direction. It was an incredible Christmas for the books, one that was the perfect balance of adventures and hanging out.