NYE and Christmas.v2 in Iowa

This is what Iowa looks like today

Jason and I drove down to his family’s home in Iowa the day before New Year’s Eve for more holiday celebrations. It was crazy foggy most of the way down interstate 35 until we hit Ames – then the clouds parted and the weather was just lovely.

Oh, that's much better

There was no snow in central Iowa. We should’ve brought some of ours down and shared…


Since the weather conveniently cleared up, we stopped for dinner at HuHot just north of Des Moines. (My parents gave me a gift certificate for Christmas) (Mom, Jason really liked it!) (We don’t have HuHot in the Twin Cities, we have Khan’s.) Afterwards, we continued on and arrived at Uncle Fred and Aunt Renee’s house around 8:30 or so. It was a pretty quiet night.

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The next night was New Year’s Eve, of course. I was wrapping up Project 365, so I spent some time taking photos of the Christmas tree and Nikki reminisced about some of the ornaments. Afterwards we all tried to stay awake for the ball drop in New York. There was even some dancing.

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I was happy to be spending a second, happy New Year’s Eve with such a sweet man. And his family. Which may be why I got a little shy when he kissed me at “midnight” (11 p.m. central time, 12 a.m. eastern).

Brunch, Iowa Style Adorability

The next day, we celebrated Christmas with the whole gang! And once again, I was stunned by their generosity and general wonderfulness. They sure know how to make a gal feel welcome!

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It was Jaxon’s first Christmas! (and he had his first birthday on the 6th!)

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Nicholas even wrapped special gifts for everyone – nursery rhyme books, coloring books, etc. It’s pretty adorable to see kids get into the giving spirit. He was begging Jason and me to open his gifts for us since the moment we arrived.

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I opened the brown paper bag first.

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Off to a good start – both of these wines were from vineyards in Iowa!

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I gotta start telling Jason’s family about other things I like… though these are awesome gifts! I’m really enjoying the goblets, but I think I need to start exercising some more restraint when pouring wine into them.

More like a gulp

It’s nice that Jason was there to take some photos of me, too. (Some of the photos in this post are from his Flickr stream.) I don’t have any photos of myself from Christmas celebrations in South Dakota in my family… I’ve become the family documentarian, I suppose.

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And he even makes eggnog cookies! He’s a keeper, for sure.

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I was made fun of for taking even more photos of the beautiful Iowan sunset. They don’t realize how lucky they are.

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Later in the evening, we played the infamous dice game. They play it a little bit differently than my family: there are enough gifts for everyone to choose one. Everyone draws a number, which determines the gift-choosing order. As everyone chooses, they also open the gift. They can then decide whether they’re going to force anyone else to trade gifts. The person who draws #1 has the best advantage, because they get one more chance at the end to trade their gifts with any other gift that’s been opened.

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Nicholas got #1, so he was very serious for the duration of the game – studying all of the gifts being opened, weighing the advantages of each… I ended up with that “In a Pickle” game he’s holding (and I have some pickle-flavored chapstick to look forward to), because I opened a very big flashlight set – which I traded for a Wal-Mart giftcard and LEGO penguin keychain. Nicholas really wanted that LEGO penguin. All for fun!

The next day we had to return to Minneapolis. We tried taking a new route, and ended up driving right past the Des Moines skyline (adorably tiny) and the capitol building.

Crappy photo of adorable downtown Des Moines Scenic route near Des Moines capitol

If we ever take this route again, I’ll be sure to use a nicer camera.

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