My Home Away From Home

It’s strange how two places can feel like home at the same time. Going to Iowa and spending time with my family, the church I grew up in, and long-time friends felt like coming home. But so does arriving in Arizona, being with Brian again, and going to church with my church family. 
Sometimes when visiting my hometown, I find myself feeling overwhelmed by how small it is, how narrow the streets are, and to an extent, how small-minded the people living there can be… not really caring or understanding that there’s a much bigger world outside of their town. But this trip was different. This time, I truly appreciated the small-town Midwestern atmosphere, being able to drive slowly everywhere, and be anywhere in 15 minutes. So here’s a few snapshots of my non-wedding related time in Iowa.
My brother is now thirteen and as tall as I am. This is just crazy. 
This is Charlie, the sweetest, laziest, dog ever. 

My brothers love playing basketball. 

My parents have a garden in their backyard, 

And bird nests in the grapevines.

My sister and MIL collaborated to throw a birthday party for me! I was so surprised to see both sets of my grandparents there, and I had a great time catching up with them. 
I was supposed to wear that hat. I explained that I’m a blogger with a reputation to uphold, and when that didn’t work, I put it on for one picture. 
My sister Elissa drew this adorable pin the tail on the burro for the party! The sign next to the donkey says “This way to Grand Canyon.”

Everyone got in on pin the tail on the donkey!

Twenty-two cupcakes and candles!

And because I know you’re dying to see me in that hat….

There you go. 
I got to go to Okoboji and enjoy a nutty bar and the summer theater. 

My in-laws:

Arnold’s Park, a nostalgic amusement park on the lake. 
Watching the sunset over the water. 

That lovely shot makes the perfect conclusion to this post! Thanks for reading, and happy Monday!