Life Lately: Birthdays and Braces!

By far, the biggest excitement lately was Edison’s first birthday. We flew back to Iowa for a week to celebrate it with family and friends. I was planning on a low key affair, just grilling in the backyard, but it sort of spiraled into something bigger with a lot more people and decorations. But, the more the merrier! 
Since we weren’t sure how Edison would react to cake, we did a practice run on his actual birthday. He thoroughly enjoyed it!

On the day of the party, of course, Edison refused to nap. That stressed me out considerably, but somehow, he made it through the day. We also narrowly missed being rained out. Instead, the weather was perfect!

 The decorations were a mix of nautical themes, naturally. I bought plain cupcakes, and decorated them myself. I also made Edison’s smash cake!

Unfortunately, Edison was not a big fan of his party hat. 

Once the hat was off, I cheered him up from the trauma we’d put him through by distracting him with his cake. Pro-parenting tip there – sugar rights a multitude of wrongs.

It took him a little bit to get into it, but once he did, he had a blast.

He put on a great show, laughing and giggling for the paparazzi.

Helped unwrap a few presents, but by then, the lack of a nap was starting to kick in.

He preferred to play with his new trucks and his cousin and leave the presents to his parents.

A few more photos from the day: 

Edison and Addyson’s stuffed bunnies are from Cuddle + Kind. Each one provides 10 meals!
All the birthday photos above were taken by friends and family. Thanks so much everyone!
In all the business of getting home, trying to get Edison back on schedule, unpacking (it took me a full week!) and the house appraisal, I almost forgot about my birthday! Thankfully, other people didn’t!
We went out for dinner to Joe’s Farm Grill, one of my favorites.
Then came home for cake and presents!

My sisters-in-law know me so well!

Brian got me a necklace from Honeycomb Baby Goods! Edison approves.
After all the birthday festivities, we had a really rough week – Edison got a cold, that turned into a double ear infection, pink-eye, sore throat, cough, really high fever, and then after the fever, a rash. I stayed home from work with him a lot, which meant of course that work that week was really busy, and I started getting sick too. Then on Friday, I had two teeth pulled in preparation for getting braces. And Brian stubbed his toe, and thinks it’s broken. So, not a good week.
Lots of sleepy cuddling though.

But today I got braces! I’ve needed them for a long time, and we finally just bit the bullet. I have three baby teeth still that are wrecking havoc, so the two on the bottom were pulled, and the rest of my super crowded teeth will eventually fill in the space. On the top, that baby tooth will eventually be pulled, and I’ll need an oral surgery to fix a bracket to the permanent canine tooth and pull it down. It’s only two years, but sometimes, two years feels like forever. At least, I have clear braces on the top, so they’re less noticeable. And lots of people get braces as an adult, and everyone I’ve talked to has said that it’s been totally worth it. 
Brace face!
But really, they do blend in pretty well.

That’s life lately! Soon I’ll post about what we’ve been doing in our kitchen, which I’m pretty excited about. Here’s to a better week!

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!

Nostalgia, Friends, and Moving On

As I’ve mentioned, last weekend Brian and I flew to Iowa for the wedding of Brian’s best friend. It was an incredibly good time, and also a little bittersweet. So today, I feel like just sharing a bunch of my favorite pictures from the four days with you all.  

You know, up until 2009, I had never flown before, and now I’m starting to lose track of all the times I’ve had the privilege. To me, it’s like riding on a fun rollercoaster, just enough thrill without getting too crazy. Unless of course, there’s turbulence. That’s a little too thrilling for me!

This is the mesmerizing fountain in the Detroit airport
We flew all night and arrived in Des Moines Thursday morning with about two hours of sleep. We showered and ate a second breakfast at Brian’s grandma’s house, and picked up the van from his uncle that they offered to us to use while we were there. Then we met Jay, the groom-to-be, for lunch at the iconic Hickory Park restaurant in Ames. We had a couple hours before the rehearsal, so I took a nap at the hotel, while Brian assisted Jay with running some errands. My nap was over too soon, but then it was time for the rehearsal!

I got all choked up when they just practiced walking down the aisle! I’m such a softy! 
That night we enjoyed a wonderful meal, and a slideshow of pictures of the couple. That seriously choked me up! I also got better acquainted with the wife of one of the other groomsmen. They got married the week before we did last summer. We had fun hanging out together for the rest of the wedding events, sharing recollections of our own wedding days. 

Friday morning Brian dragged me out of bed so that I could meet my mentor and friend Sabrina for breakfast.  She caught me up on all the news from the last year, and we had a great time talking about blogging!

After breakfast, I had a few minutes to gather all my wedding attire, and then Brian dropped me off on Welch Ave. to meet more friends for lunch while he took my stuff over to the wedding location.

Amazing Chinese food for incredible prices
I was meeting them at one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants, but before they arrived I had time to walk around Welch and Campus and take a few pictures of some of our favorite spots. Oh, the nostalgia! 

Good old Welch. Brian and Jay lived down this hubbub of campus activity. 

Lake Laverne and the Memorial Union

Lancelot and Elaine, the ISU swans.

One of the many locations Brian and I used to sit for long chats

The camponile, with the amazing CyRide!
The beautiful MU

During lunch I remembered one of my favorite things about ISU. I was eating with a friend from Russia, a friend from Puerto Rico, and a friend from Hong Kong, at a Chinese restaurant with both Asian and Mexican employees. ISU and Ames in general is such a diverse city. I loved that about going to school there.

By the time we finished eating and chatting, Brian and the rest of the wedding party were on central campus taking wedding pictures. I said good-bye to my friends and walked over to meet them and ride back to the wedding location.

It was incredibly hot and humid, and we couldn’t stop sweating! It took me at least half an hour to cool off and dry off before I could get dressed for the wedding. That’s one thing I don’t miss about Iowa! 
Then it was time for the wedding! 

A sweet moment after the mothers placed the unity sand up front. 
Waiting for the Bride
The sermon was awesome! Sometimes wedding sermons are sappy, but this one was very practical and challenging! 

Announcing Mr. and Mrs.!

We had about an hour before the reception, so we milled around the lobby and enjoyed the hor d’ouevres and catching up with people we knew.

The couple had arranged so that both of us wives of the groomsmen got to sit at the head table with our husbands, which I really appreciated! It made the reception so much more enjoyable.

Awwww
Us at the reception, lookin’ good

Brian did a great job with his speech! I was quite concerned, because if you know Bri, he’s not much of a public speaker, but he is quite the rambler. And sometimes he thinks things are funny that no one else understands. He allowed me to read his notes before hand, and I was impressed with what he had, and when he actually delivered it, it was even better! I was so proud!

Brothers 🙂

We had so much fun at the reception. I was so excited that I got Brian to dance with me! He’s always insisted that he can’t dance, which I totally understand, because I can’t either, but I still enjoy it! Even though we kept stepping on each other’s feet, we had fun! 

After a late night, we had breakfast with a big group of our college friends at the ridiculously early time of 8 a.m. In spite of making us late by spilling coffee down myself twice, we finally made it there and hung out with them until almost 11.

Spending time with them definitely made us homesick. The only thing we don’t like about living in Arizona is that in the year we’ve lived here, we have just as many friends as when we started: two. And friends our age? Zero. And we haven’t figured out how to meet people our age with similar interests.

We were bemoaning that with our friends, when one of our friends said something really interesting. While having college friendships that endure through the years is wonderful, “I think we need to move on too, and make new friends where we are now,” he said. He mentioned that his parents have friends from college that they still keep in touch with, but no close friends where they currently live.

He’s right. We need to maintain our friendships, but we need to find/form a new circle here too. 

Well, after breakfast, we checked out of the hotel, picked up Jimmy Johns to-go, and headed to our home town. That evening, we had a picnic on Brian’s parent’s deck for all our family. We celebrated us being back, and also my brother’s 12th birthday. 

A great candid shot

The birthday boy!

I invited my best friend Rachel, and she came over early to hang out, and stayed late.

Rachel! 

My sister, brother-in-law, and niece

I heard crocodile tastes like chicken…

Edward was very excited about having an Iowa State cake

Happy Birthday!!!

Ethan is making his action hero eat the cake, and Eric thinks it’s pretty funny

My FIL scooping homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream

Edward is a big ISU fan, if you can’t tell!

We went to church the next day at the church I’d grown up in, and got to see many old friends. We had lunch with my older sister and her family, and before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport.

Good-bye Iowa!
On to new horizons!

So, now things have settled back into the normal rhythm for the most part. We’re still catching up on sleep, and pondering how we can form a new circle of like-minded friends here. If you have ideas, feel free to share!

School starts in three weeks. It’s hard to believe the summer is almost over! Do you have any big plans for the last few weeks before back-to-school hits?