I never posted about our last two trips to Iowa. We first went back in October and attended the Iowa vs. Penn State football game. Then we traveled to Iowa again for Christmas.
We drove both times and our kids did great! In October, we strategically picked some parks off the interstate where we could stop to let the kids have some car-free time. And in December, we left a little later in the day, and they slept during a lot of the drive. We honestly could not have asked for better drives. The one challenge of our December trip was I got really sick a couple days before we were supposed to leave. I was the sickest I ever remember being. John commented that he’d never seen me knocked down so hard by sickness. Consequently, we delayed our trip a couple of days.
Highlights of the October trip, aside from attending an Iowa football game, included visiting a pumpkin patch and visiting the John Deere Museum. John and I also went to the Nauvoo Temple and a special dinner to celebrate our anniversary.
We also tried to take some family pictures in my in-laws backyard (they back up to a golf course and it’s beautiful!), but David just wanted to run ha. Here are some of my favorite pictures. John/his dad took these pictures.
I’ll update soon with a post about our Christmas trip!
This year for Thanksgiving we went to Iowa. We left the Saturday before and drove back the Saturday after. I was actually somewhat excited for the long drive there because during the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, John had been in Hawaii and Europe. I looked forward to spending time with him on the drive. We discussed many things on the drive to Iowa, including potential baby girl names. We narrowed our list to five names.
We left at 6 in the morning the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The first few hours of the drive were extremely beautiful. It had snowed just a few days prior, and the tree branches were coated with frozen snow as we drove through the mountains of West Virginia. David was a champ the entire drive. Prior to the trip, we bought a headrest iPad holder to prop up one of our iPads for David to see. We didn’t end up using the iPad until the very last hour (it was a 14-hour drive). We turned on the iPad not because David was whiny, but because we wanted him to stay awake so we could feed him, bathe him, and put him to bed once we arrived.
Highlights of the trip included visiting the Festival of Trees, watching David interact with his 2nd cousins who are close to his age, watching David interact with John’s parent’s dog, a family lunch date to a trendy, new restaurant in downtown Davenport we had heard about (truth be told we would give the restaurant a B- if we were grading it), a visit to the Chocolate Manor (they have amazing chocolate caramels), visiting with John’s extended family, celebrating John’s mom’s birthday, a getaway to Chicago for a night without David (thanks to the grandparents for watching him!), and a visit to the Chicago LDS Temple. John, his dad, and his uncle also went to the Hawkeyes last football game of the season, which they won thankfully!
The Friday before Memorial Day, we headed to Iowa. We left Friday evening and drove a few hours to a hotel. We got up the next morning and drove the rest of the way. We drove home the following Saturday.
Highlights of the trip include a cookout with the extended Longenecker family, a Memorial Day service at the Walcott Cemetery (where John’s Grandpa’s name was read), eating delicious Whitey’s ice cream, attending the Nauvoo Temple, and simply enjoying time together as a family.
Our trip also included the funeral of a family friend of the Longeneckers. The passing of this friend was unexpected. It was a tender time. I wrote about my experience attending the funeral in my last blog post.
Since we went to Iowa this year for Christmas, John, David, and I had our own Christmas celebration on the Wednesday prior to Christmas. We had a “red and green” dinner with sparkling cider, exchanged Christmas gifts, and then watched a Christmas show.
On December 23rd, we drove 17 hours to Iowa (a drive that normally only takes us 13 hours). We rented an SUV since John had some free rental car days that were going to expire. John’s Uncle David came with us. Baby David was a champ. He didn’t get fussy until about the 15-hour mark. It was a long day, and to make things more interesting, we received a call from our security system company saying our house alarm went off (thankfully, our home was fine).
On Christmas Eve, the extended Longenecker family came over to my in-laws for dinner and a gift exchange. On Christmas Day, we headed over to John’s aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas dinner and an afternoon of games. It was a white Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is something I’ve rarely experienced as a Virginian. The beautiful white coating on the ground made it feel extra Christmasy. At the end of Christmas Day, John, baby David, and I drove around looking at Christmas lights.
On the 27th and 28th, we headed to Nauvoo, Illinois so John’s family could participate in services at the LDS Temple (it’s the closest LDS Temple to their house). While they were in the Temple, baby David and I explored Nauvoo. It was fun to be back where I served as an LDS missionary.
On the 30th, we headed home. The drive back home didn’t take us quite as long as the drive to Iowa, but we did run into some snowy weather. Thankfully we made it home safe and sound.
On New Year’s Eve, we went over to my parents’ house for some delicious food (we’re a foodie family) and we played Telestrations. John, David, and I left before midnight. John and I watched the ball drop in bed on my iPad right before we went to sleep. On New Year’s Day, my parents and brothers, as well as John’s Uncle David, came over. John grilled brats and I made homemade potato chips. My parents thought he was crazy for grilling since it was FREEZING. When I told them I asked him to grill, they thought I was crazy haha. We had fun watching football and playing Hoopla. Sadly, I didn’t really get any pictures of our New Year’s celebrations 😦 I stole this one from my brother’s Instagram…
Here’s to a new year! I hope to do a 2017 year-in-review blog post soon 🙂
We make an effort to get back to Iowa (John’s home) twice each year to visit his family. One of those visits is either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and the other generally falls sometime near the summer. This year we decided to head to Iowa for the 4th of July and John’s cousin’s wedding on July 8.
On July 1, we packed up our new car and headed West. I haven’t mentioned the new car on the blog, but we did buy a new car back in May. John and I have always been a one car family (sort of). You see, right before we got married, John’s Taurus died. We decided not to put money towards fixing or replacing it. I took the metro to work each day, and so we didn’t really need two cars. Plus, John’s uncle who lives in Taiwan had asked us to keep his van at our home and drive it around every few weeks. If we ever needed to be in two separate places at the same time, one of us could drive the van. John’s uncle returns from Taiwan this summer, and with a baby on the way, we decided it was time to get a second car. Since the new car is the main car John will drive, he got to pick it out. We wanted something fuel efficient since our commute to work each day is 40 miles one way. We ended up with a Honda Civic. The gas mileage really has been phenomenal. Our roundtrip gas cost to and from Iowa was less than $100 total (we drove over 1600 miles).
The trip was a nice break from normal life. His mom and sister threw me a baby shower with family and friends in Iowa. Our little boy will be very loved once he arrives, and his impending October arrival is becoming more and more real as we begin to accumulate baby items. Sometimes John and I walk into our (currently empty) nursery and look at the few baby clothes we have hanging in the closet. It’s crazy to think that those clothes will soon be worn in just a few months.
To celebrate Independence Day, we attended “Red, White, and Boom,” the annual Quad Cities fireworks show on the Mississippi, which was very impressive. The fireworks show actually took place on the eve of the 4th. On the actual 4th of July, we watched the Quad Cities 4th of July parade and had a cookout with the extended Longenecker family.
The 4th of July also marks the anniversary of when John and I got engaged. It’s been two years since this next picture was taken on that very day right after we got engaged.
On Wednesday, we took a day trip to Chicago with John’s immediate family. I had never been to Chicago, so it was fun to cross another major U.S. city off the list of cities I’ve visited. We spent the majority of the day in the Museum of Science and Industry (John’s favorite). There we toured a real German U-boat and visited exhibits on space, weather, agriculture, and the human body. We were able to see what a baby looks like inside the womb at 25 weeks. Since I’m 25 weeks pregnant, it was really neat. It was amazing to see how a baby at 25 weeks looks like a real baby. Afterwards, we went to a park to see the Chicago skyline and then went and visited the iconic “Bean.”
On Thursday and Friday, we had a nice time bowling, shopping, eating Whitey’s ice cream (twice in two days!), playing games, reading, and relaxing. John found his old guitars at his parents house and starting playing them again. We ended up taking one of them home with us back to West Virginia.
On Saturday, we attended John’s cousin’s wedding. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the happy couple to post on my blog. The ceremony and reception were beautiful. This cousin is on John’s mom’s side of the family. It was nice to visit with the extended family for a happy occasion. Last year, we saw the extended Urmie family twice but both times it was for funerals.
We left bright and early Sunday morning and made the 13-hour drive back to West Virginia. It’s crazy to think the next time we go to Iowa we’ll have a baby with us.
May seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. To be honest, it was a harder month for me. John was out of town for work every week. He would leave on Sundays right after our church ended at 4 p.m. and then would get home around 10 p.m. on Fridays. I was super surprised how hard being alone would be. I didn’t think it would be that hard at all. We’ve only been married seven months and before getting married we didn’t live together, so I was used to coming home and him not being there. But marriage has changed me in ways that I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t realize how even in a few short months after becoming one in the eyes of God, you really feel like that person is “your other half.” The other day the thought occurred to me that each of our lives is like a string of thread that weaves together the pieces of our lives. When we get married, suddenly there are now two threads weaving together the pieces of our lives. The more stitches those threads make together, the stronger the threads become as one unit inseparable from one another without tearing apart the pieces they’ve woven together. While this month was hard, it made me more grateful for John in ways that I didn’t expect.
At the beginning of the month, my brother Trevor came home to visit from BYU. It was fun to have him in town for a few days. We went to the movies as a family, had a bonfire, and also FaceTimed with Blake (our brother on a mission for the LDS Church in Arizona). As a missionary, Blake focuses on serving God and the people of Arizona. To help missionaries stay focused, they only FaceTime with their families on Mother’s Day and Christmas, so it was a big deal to have all of us there to FaceTime with him on Mother’s Day.
At the end of the month, we headed to Iowa to visit John’s family. We spent time visiting each of his grandparents, but sadly didn’t get any pictures with any of them 😦 We also made two stops at Whitey’s (my favorite ice cream shop), and we stopped by The American Pickers store in Le Claire, Iowa. We drove 14 hours there and 14 hours back. Because John had been gone so much this month, being in a car with him for 14 hours was something I actually really looked forward to all month haha 🙂
So, I’ve never followed college football. Ever. I attended Brigham Young University, and while I went to a number of games, I really had no idea what was going on. I am not certain I ever sat through an entire football game.
Then a year and a half ago I meet John, my now husband, who happens to be a huge Iowa Hawkeyes football fan. Such a big fan that our wedding date had to be Iowa’s bye week (October 24), so he didn’t have to miss a game. Okay, okay that part isn’t actually true. We did get married on October 24, but it has nothing to do with Iowa’s football schedule. Although I am certain that was a nice bonus for him 😉
As the college football season began, my participation level in the experience was toleration. As the season progressed and as Iowa experienced win after win, my interest grew stronger. By the time the Nebraska game rolled around, I didn’t want anyone to talk to me during the game because I was so nervous for the Hawkeyes. I wanted them to win so badly.
A little over halfway through the season, I found incredibly priced airline tickets to Indianapolis for the weekend of the B1G Ten Championship game. John and I decided that we would go ahead and purchase tickets, even though we weren’t sure the Hawkeyes would be joining us in Indianapolis for the big game. Well, guess what, they did. Thanks, boys!
When we bought the tickets, I was excited for John to be able to go to the game, but I was somewhat indifferent. However, my attitude changed as I began to understand more and more about football. John was very patient with me the whole season and would explain and re-explain the strategy. Who knew penalties and field goals made such a difference?!
I loved my B1G Ten Championship experience, although the ending was a true heart breaker. Thank you Hawkeyes for a great season and thank you Iowa fans for the spirit you brought to that game! It was amazing.
I’ve missed posting the last five days. Life has been full and fun. John and I went to Indianapolis for the B1G Ten Championship this weekend (I’ll write about that in my next post), and we’re spending time soaking up the Christmas season. To make up for the five days I missed, I will write about five experiences that have brought joy.
1. Celebrating Sinter Klaas Day with my extended family – My great grandma came to America from Holland. Because of her and her heritage, we celebrate Sinter Klaas Day on December 5. We put out our shoes, and if we’ve been good, Sinter Klass fills them with little presents. Our extended Morgan family in the DC area usually always have a dinner to celebrate this day and sometimes “Sinter Klaas” makes an appearance 😉 This year was no different. We enjoyed yummy food and a special visitor!
2. Seeing how happy John was to be at the B1G Ten Championship – John loves Iowa football and seeing them play in the B1G Ten Championship was such a treat. I loved seeing how happy he was to be there. Even though the ending was really sad!
3. Driving past houses decorated for Christmas – I love seeing Christmas lights on people’s homes. Seeing Christmas lights has brought joy and happiness to my heart.
4. Wrapping Christmas presents in front of the Christmas Tree – Last night I dimmed the lights in the apartment and let the lights of the Christmas tree glow as I wrapped presents. I am trying to do something Christmasy each day.
5. Feeling peace and happiness while attending a Spanish speaking congregation – John and I attended a different church congregation than normal since we were out of town this weekend. We didn’t realize until we got to church that we would be attending a Spanish speaking congregation. Even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying for the most part, the spirit I felt as they shared their belief in Christ filled my soul with peace.
My mom made the above muffins to celebrate Iowa’s win yesterday. Seeing the muffins not only made me smile, but made me grateful for my mom and her ability to make others feel special. She brings so much joy to my life and is an example to me of the kind of service-oriented and thoughtful woman I want to be.
The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s the first official day of the Christmas season, my favorite time of the year, and it’s Black Friday. My mom, sister, and I have the tradition of going to the outlets near my parents home at 8 p.m. to shop for Christmas gifts. By 8 p.m. most of the shopping crowds have died down, the stores are calm, and the good deals are still available.
The day after Thanksgiving this year was especially fun as it was Iowa’s final football game of the season. The game was at 3:30 p.m. We headed to my parents’ house and watched the game with them. The Hawkeyes won! Making for an undefeated season.
Before the game, John and I pulled out Christmas decorations from the storage closet. By the time we left for my parents’ house, our living room looked like a Christmas store exploded. Friday was a day of joy filled with family, fun traditions, and memories.
On Saturday, John and I went to the Temple in the morning. I love the Temple, and I am so grateful how close we live to an LDS Temple. I felt joy being in the Temple and refocusing on what is most important in life, God and our families.
The afternoon was spent cleaning, running errands, and preparing dinner for the missionaries who serve in our church congregation. My favorite part of the day was relaxing in the evening in front of the Christmas tree. I love turning off all the lights except for the Christmas lights. I haven’t taken a picture of the tree yet, but will do so before the season is over.