Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas 2014: Home for the Holidays

We arrived in Iowa on Friday night, December 19. I always love returning to my hometown and being at either of our family's homes. It's such a warm, relaxing, and happy feeling to be home and with people who know us and love us so much! We're so blessed to have both of our families living in the same area, so that we can lots of time with each one and get all caught up!

We spent Friday evening with my family, then were with Curtis' family on Saturday. While we were there, Curtis replaced the alternator in his truck and got it running again. 

Got all 4 Cocoa beans. #blessed

Christmas break means lots of games will be played! Above is Bohnanza, or "The Bean Game." Our new favorite game is 7 Wonders!

The older, more mature male dogs watch as the young female makes a fool of herself to gain attention.

This year, another highlight of our Christmas vacation was watching our puppy Charlotte interact with our families and their dogs. As always, she loved every person she met, but she also turned out to be not so shy when it came to meeting the other dogs! At Curtis' parent's house, she enjoyed chasing their dog around. At my family's, she would pick on Tank (the yellow lab on the left) until he would beg to go outside because he was fed up with her. However, she and my sister's dog Teddy (black Bichon-poo on the right) got along very well and would play together any time they were together. It was adorable! 

But then, there was my family's cat, Snow, and Curtis' sister's bunny, Copper. Charlotte was very nervous around them. She wouldn't go anywhere near the bunny. Basset Hounds are supposed to hunt rabbits. There's no way she's a purebred! She was also weary of the cat, and it wasn't until the last couple days when her curiosity got the best of her, and she started getting closer to smell him. She spent a lot of our vacation watching and growling at him from a long distance.

This is the first time I've ever gotten a picture of her ears like this! She normally never sits still for us. Thank you, Teddy, for wearing her out for us :)

On Sunday, relatives from my dad's side came over and we spent the day with them. My mom did a fantastic job hosting and putting together a delicious lunch! We had a wonderful and relaxing time getting caught up with everyone!

Mississippi River

We stayed in Iowa 2 more days, visiting with my family and my grandparents on my mom's side, then left Iowa on Christmas Eve to spend some time in Michigan with Curtis' relatives. My family very graciously agreed to puppysit Charlotte for us, and we know that she had way more fun playing with my siblings and the dogs than she would have if she had to be in the car for 20+ extra hours! Thank you, family, for watching her, and for sending us pictures to help with our puppy withdraws! :)

On our way to the West side of Michigan, it was dreary and raining most of the way. We stopped for a letterbox just to break up the drive. Oh, and there wasn't any snow...not in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, OR Michigan. Seriously! We saw more snow in Kansas, for crying out loud!

We were thankful for light traffic around Chicago, and we found an interesting radio program about President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife.

Finally, in Michigan! Now, one of my biggest problems here is that all of my pictures from break are of traveling or things we saw, not of the people we spent time with. When I'm in a car, there's obviously not a lot to do so I take lots of pictures to remember the trip. However, when I'm with family, I always get too caught up in enjoying time with them that I don't have pictures to remember these moments. :(

Okay, that actually isn't a problem so I'm not apologizing for it. I just want to say to all family reading this that we really enjoyed time with you, so much so that I forgot to document it!

We spent a few days at Curtis' dad's family on the West side of Michigan. On the day after Christmas, we went with his family to tour the USS Silverside museum and submarine. The Silverside is a sub that was used in WW2, and is now on display for visitors. 

I can't remember if this is the first time I've been on a sub, but even if it wasn't, it was still like a whole new experience to me: this is a tiny glimpse into my husband's life in a few years. Of course this one is old and dated, but it was nice to get an idea of what to picture when I think about it. I did enjoy being inside the sub, out of the cold and crisp winter breeze outside of the boat!

Grabbed lunch at a Tim Horton's one day, and it brought back happy memories of discovering these on our honeymoon. :)

After a few days on the West side, we left for the Eastern side of Michigan to spend some time with Curtis' Mom's side of the family. On the second day, we went on a little letterboxing adventure with Curtis' dad and siblings to a state park, and then took a ferry to Hansen's Island.

We caught an incredible sunset as we were finding our last box! You can't see it very well from the picture, but the Detroit skyline is in the far distance of this picture.

Facing the opposite direction.

Always love a good opportunity to get a cute kissing picture :)

The next day, (December 29), we headed back to Iowa. Traffic was quite a bit heavier and the drive was longer, but we had a good time chatting with Curtis' brother.

Another sunset, West of Chicago. The temperatures dropped as we got closer, so that by the end of the day, it had gone from almost 40 to 20 - our lowest point yet. Yikes!

Crossing the Mississippi one last time. :) We returned to my family's house for the remaining 6 days of our vacation!

My sister, Sarah, always gives up her room for us when we come. It happens to be one of the warmest in the house. Thank you Sarah for your hospitality! :) Charlotte especially enjoyed the great view out the window. We'd wake up to find her like this, just staring out to the front yard!

Fun with my beautiful sisters!

The day after we got back, I spent some quality time with my mom and sisters for our first annual "Girls Day"! We went out for coffee and then to the pottery shop!

Mom, Gina, and I - youngest and oldest kids in the family :)

Gina, me, Sarah!

On New Year's Eve, we went over to Curtis' to see his family. Here's a picture of Curtis with his favorite gift. :) After spending the morning and early afternoon with them, we went to go hang out with some of Curtis' high school friends for Game Night. 

We made it back to my family's in time for midnight, which was celebrated not with a proposal (like it was 2 years ago!), but instead with Silly String all over the living room. :)

On Friday, January 2, I went to meet my friend Lizzy for breakfast and much-needed catch up time. We've been friends since 2nd grade, and even though we may only see each other 1-2 times a year, we will be friends forever. :)

Gina, Sarah, me, Joanna. My sisters, and my forever friends!

After that, we went to my mom's parent's home to have our final Christmas celebration. We finally were able to get some family pictures there!

My family - even the dogs cooperated!!
We were there for only 2 days, but had a wonderful time with everyone and eating Nana's delicious food. Her German Chocolate Pie will forever be my favorite pie in the whole world. :) 

Siblings and cousins!

Finally, a picture with Curtis' family, thanks to Julie for reminding me!

Saturday night, we came back and had dinner at Cheddar's with Curtis' family. The forecast was predicting snow and cold for the next week, and so we tentatively planned to leave on Sunday morning, as long as there wasn't too much snow. With all the traveling we had done, this trip felt like it went way too fast, but we were so thankful for each moment we got to spend with everyone.

This picture was from our wedding day (obviously), and I just wanted to share it again because I feel so blessed that we were able to visit with each one of these couples - our parents and grandparents. We're so thankful to have them all in our lives, teaching us by example and supporting our young marriage. Thank you to everyone for making this a wonderful 2nd Christmas together!

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