Thursday, April 3, 2014

Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois - Oh My!

The kids and I drove back with my parents to Iowa City, after they visited in Utah for a week.

The drive went considerably well, thanks to constant movies playing. It got rough at the end of the 19 hour drive when Lincoln's teething turned to diarrhea symptoms. Poor guy.

We got into Iowa City late Sunday night, and headed to visit my sister in Wisconsin Monday afternoon! We got yummy local Heyn's ice cream just before leaving town. Then brother Aaron drove us down with grandma. Scarlett and Lincoln got to spend quality time with their cousins. They jumped in their bouncy house, Lincoln loved the rocking horse - A Lot. I got to visit with Alicia, and it actually soaked in a little that she was expecting #4, even due in just a few weeks. (Alicia actually had her baby the night before we headed back to Utah!)

Scarlett played very well with Ellia and Beck, they played "school" and I got to be the principal when a student was acting out. Lincoln and Cam had some rough patches, Lincoln had to warm up to Cam's strong personality. He is a hilarious little guy! Personality bursting out of every expression and grunt, move that thick little man strutted.

Tuesday night my mom walked the 3 oldest to dine-in at Mcdonalds, a few blocks away. I'm sure this was very liberating for mom, since she is still unable to drive. Scarlett ate her first cheeseburger! Well, she thought she was getting just cheese on a bun - but they took of the patty for her. (a few days later she had a few bites of an actual cheeseburger! First time actually going for it. There is hope for my picky eater!)

We headed back to Iowa City Wednesday afternoon. The kids LOVE my parent's Bearded Dragon, her name is Abby. Scarlett couldn't stop asking to hold her. We got to feed her crickets and watched her run around a little bit. Scarlett decided Abby is her granddaughter. Joy.

We got to see Brian and Gloria Wed night, they watched Frozen with us for a little while. The next morning Scarlett said first thing, "Mom, remember when Brian and Gloria came over? That was a lot of fun." She quickly attached to the both of them.

Thursday morning dad took us down to the new lab. It Is Incredible! The framing is done inside, and the windows are in. It looks a lot bigger than before, even though it is over 1,000 square feet smaller.  The city wouldn't let them rebuild it as big as before. It does have a double car garage though, so that isn't included in the 4,000 sq feet. The lay out is much nicer than before. The fire was devastating, and a burden of great stress for my parents and brother Brian the last year. But seeing the progress was very awesome. I feel much better for my parents, for my dad. The tenant who accidentally started the grease fire that led to the lab being 100% destroyed, January 2013, actually passed away a few weeks ago.

Thursday, mom and I took the kids to run a few errands, which turned into a successful shopping trip. Scarlett got a beautiful new dress for the wedding (and easter) and couldn't stop talking about it, couldn't wait to wear it for the wedding.  Then the kids and I headed to Nauvoo!! I got to eat Pancheros on the way out of town, and the kids scarfed down the cheese quesadilla. We NEED a Pancheros in Utah. The second half of the drive it down poured, it was so exciting! There was some lightning and thunder. Right when we got to Ft. Madison there was a double rainbow, that followed us all the way across the Mississippi bridge and into Nauvoo.

The next few days the kids played a lot with my cousin's kids and I got to catch up with some of my most favorite people ever. Originially I was really excited to go see some sites with the kids, but figured that will be much easier to do when Seth is with us when we go back in May for his cousin's wedding.

Friday I got to go to the temple for a session and afterward was a dinner party with the wedding party's family. There were just under 200 total family members there for my cousin Lyndee and the groom Robbie. Lyndee's extended family on both sides is very large. Robbie is the last of 8 to get married and he has 40 nieces/nephews under the age of 16! Seriously, huge family!

Saturday morning was the sealing, standing room only! Possibly the largest group they've ever had during a ceremony. It was very neat to be there, and Susan Easton Black's husband, George Durrant, was the sealer. Afterward, when Lyndee and Robbie came out of the temple and Scarlett was absolutely awe struck.

 Scarlett wanted to hug Lyndee and see her dress closer, but she was overwhelmed with everyone else hugging her, she started crying. Lyndee noticed this after a few minutes and came over to give her a huge. It was the sweetest thing. Scarlett was just beaming, and loved admiring Lyndee with Reese too.

We headed back to Iowa City Sunday afternoon and dad made his infamous Norwegian pancakes for dinner - YUM. Grandma and Grandpa Hartley came for a short visit. We watched Frozen - again. Grandma hid Easter eggs for Scarlett to find, over and over and over. That kept her entertained until bedtime.

Our flight left Monday morning at 6:30. So our day started at 4:45 am and it was a complete blast, traveling with the kids alone.

 When we boarded the first flight, at 6am, I told the older lady while we were getting situated, "You have been chosen!" She didn't think it was funny. IN fact she actually asked to change seats after everyone was boarded and there were a few open seats. I'm so glad she was chosen. :) We got to have our own row. We had a short half hour layover in Denver, and then it was the last stretch to SLC. The kids cooperated much better on the second flight actually, I was very glad to be home though!

It was a wonderful trip! I have a lot of favorite parts, and there were some very difficult parts too. But my favorite part is perhaps the three nights I was in Nauvoo. Before I went to bed, I went on a drive down on the flats. Where the sites are, where the Nauvoo house is, and Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith's gravesite. I drove down Parley street, to the Mississippi where the saints started their trek West, and left the City Beautiful. The Tinsmith, Scovil bakery, Cultural hall where they danced. High up on the hill was the Nauvoo Temple, shining brightly over the flats.  I circled the old stage area and backstage of The City of Joseph pageant. Too many memories, significant memories that grounded my testimony of Joseph's First Vision, and his great character. It's where I fell in love with missionary work. Where I felt over, and over a deep love from my Father in Heaven, that he knows me and loves me individually. And I learned how aware my Savior, Jesus Christ is of me personally. Nauvoo is my place. There is an energy on those flats, that is incomparable to any other. It was so nice to have those moments to myself. And my testimony was strengthened that, "God Lives. Jesus is His Son. And someday, with our families, He wants us to come home."

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