We started our holiday week off with a little tour de Iowa. The Schettler side of Jake's family was hosting a family reunion on Sunday, so we decided to drive as far as Des Moines, where Jake's parents and other family members were also staying for the night.
Saturday night we enjoyed meeting and playing with some of Jake's cousin's kids, as well as a nice meal organized by Aunt Cec.
James was obsessed with this stuffed tiger and didn't want to leave him at the end of the night.
My aunt and uncle let us crash at their place (thank you!) and after breakfast, we made our way to Halbur, Iowa for the reunion.
|breakfast-ing at a grandkids-size table|
We made it just in time for the noon "dinner". James inhaled the chicken and beef while we chatted it up with the many Schettlers in attendance.
Good thing grandma and grandpa brought along finger puppets. They provided endless (almost) fun at the dinner table.
It was a sunny, hot day and the playground was begging James to come explore.
We ran around outside for quite a while...
|suddenly a large model plane showed up via tractor! Gotta love Iowa!|
...while daddy got his fill of family history inside!
|Jake really ancestry-ing it up!|
|Ben & Emma Schettler, Jake's great grandparents|
|one of the churches that Jake's artist-Grandpa Cyril Schettler designed/painted.|
Once the reunion came to a close, we were invited to Jake's cousin's house in Carroll for more conversation, playtime, and dinner.
|naughty boy stealing the kubbs|
Shortly after dinner, we drove the last couple hours of our journey to Sioux City. Even with our late arrival, guess who greeted us at the top of the driveway?!
All of James' three cousins! They didn't care that it was past their bedtime. They were so excited to see James, they planned to sleep over at grandma's and even helped read him bedtime stories before bed.
James quickly found his fur-buddy the next morning, and had a blast
torturing playing with the (poor, old, toothless) pup all week long. Sorry Hunter. You're a trooper!
The kids begged to go on a hike through Stone Park that morning before heading down to the pool, so off we went.
Somehow I was put in charge of dinner that night...for EIGHT people. (Mom, you make it look so easy). My simple pasta with pesto and tomato-less caprese salad on Italian bread for me, Jake, and my dad, had to quickly become something a little more (I added red sauce and salad to the menu. Go me!) for the rest of the family. We survived (and now my dad likes pesto...claims he's never had it before! What?!).
James went to the daycare this morning (aka my parents' basement) while I ran some errands in the morning. He didn't last long, knowing daddy was upstairs working from home. James going started this new-ish attachment phase, causing us all to suffer. Ugh. Come on James. Quit liking your parents so much.
That afternoon I took the kids down to the pool to swim while it was sprinkling out. The rain and cooler temperatures cut our time a bit short, but it was nice to get in the pool two days in a row!
My mom took back the dinner duties that night (phew!) and we had a delicious meal of salad, chicken on the grill, potatoes, corn on the cob, and for dessert....wait for it....bum, bum, bum, BUMMMMMM! APPLE PIE! Here's James doing a little cheer for the pie too:
|He's actually just playing my Grandma Greer's old dinner bell/chimes|
Besides Hunter, James made some other fur-friends while home - the horses! Although both of my mom's horses have passed away, she's still boarding a friend's horse, Layla, and training a S.T.A.R.S. horse, Brown. James loved to look at the horses, kinda touch, but definitely not get too close. Baby steps.
Today was (not so little anymore) Ricky's 10th birthday! Double digits! How do I have a 10 year old nephew?! We started the morning at Jitters for Sunshine donuts. Then it decided to downpour, leaving us inside watching cartoons the majority of the day.
At dinner, I let Irelynn snap some action shots of the birthday singing:
His mom did a great job on his tractor cake...gotta lick off every bit!
James has American flags from Home Depot, a new Alaskan flag from my parents' most recent travels, and he found an Irish flag laying around my parents' house somewhere. LOVES flags...and furry friends.
|Layla checking out baby #2..."Whadoya got in there?!"|
Then we strolled the mall for the next half hour. Best attractions? Those dumb rides you need coins to "ride" on. I told them I wouldn't give them any money from the beginning (grumpy old aunt), and they were pretty good about not asking. Until we came to our third set of said rides, and when I saw that the horse was only a quarter, like back in my day, I threw a quarter in for Irelynn to ride...only to realize I needed to add three more in order for her to enjoy a slow-moving, minute long horse gallop. $1 for that!? Of course I had to let Ricky do it too. He chose the kiddie train. FUN!
On our way out, they asked a second or third time if they could ride the carousel. I said they could do that or get a hot chocolate at Starbucks. They picked the hot chocolate, which was fine by me, because I got one too.
That ended our mall adventure.
It was nearing lunch and somehow I dodged the smell of potato oles at the food court, and was able to hold out for the blue box blues at home (aka Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - the good stuff).
James decided to nap the rest of the rainy day away, allowing us to get some things done (clean the inside of the car, sort through endless boxes of our junk in my parents' closet, etc.). He woke in time for us to head to the mardi gras parade downtown.
Grandpa joined us at Rick & Becca's after his golf league where we played catch phrase (Ricky's belated bday request) for a while until a certain someone needed to get home to bed (he must love vacation - 9pm or later bedtime e-v-e-r-y night!).
Friday was our nicest day of the week - even sunnier and warmer than Monday. Finally! We took advantage by spending ample time outside.
James got some good swimming in before his nap. His mama finally got some sun during nap time, which she'd been dreaming about all winter/spring/summer long.
Tricky, tricky ladies! "Hey Aunt Becky, why don't you put your sandals on?"
My mom had her 40th High School Reunion last night and tonight, so we were on our own again for dinner (how dare her!). So what do we do? Not put me in charge again, that's for sure. Head on over to Mr. Stirfry!
We picked up Grandma Feauto and all 10 of us sat down to a nice meal of hibachi, sushi, and all the other glories buffets have to offer.
After dinner, we made a quick stop up in North Sioux to buy fireworks. My dad was so excited about this one, he bought two:
My dad wouldn't let James go to bed until he experienced at least a few fireworks. They didn't seem to bother him much at first, but by the third Roman candle, he was done.
Saturday was the big day. The 25th Anniversary of Saturday in the Park! We joined my parents at the park after lunch and enjoyed the afternoon lineup, along with the complimentary popcorn from the sponsor tent.
|Can't beat Sioux City's Jolly Time Popcorn!|
James had many exquisite culinary firsts this week: hot dogs, donuts, chocolate cake, and now popcorn. Of these wonderfully healthy delicacies, he liked popcorn the best. Looks like we have a new snack to add to the list!
I mean this kid ate popcorn...
He polished off at least one whole box, if not more! It's no surprise he belongs in the Feauto family.
Thanks to my parents for volunteering during set-up that morning, which gave us access to the sponsor tent, and thus, endless amounts of James' newest favorite snack.
|photographer had one too many "coffees"...right dad?|
We broke up the afternoon with a friend's house party in the neighborhood. It was a great opportunity to cool off, grab some dinner, and let James play with some kiddos and toys fit just for him.
|James with his newest second cousin, Joe!|
We made it back up to the park just in time for Foster the People and Aretha Franklin.
As we neared his bedtime, James got more snuggly, and finally opened up to letting others hold him (only took the whole week!).
|Basically the first time he let Uncle Ricky hold him all week...dancing along to Foster the People.|
|"Sure, I'll have more. I love popcorn! You're all my best friends!"|
|Grandpa taught James "knuckles" on this visit home...|
We didn't expect James to make it to Aretha (scheduled to start at 9pm, didn't come on until 9:45), but he hung in there and we got to listen to a good handful of songs before jetting out to beat the traffic, get James in bed, and...
...get our FREE frosty! We took a picture of the Wendy's float at the parade the other night, which won us one itty bitty free (with a purchase?!) frosty.
Jake was not amused. I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed our late night fries and one gulp each of frosty.
Sunday was departure day, but not until after we got my dad to make his skillet breakfast potatoes and eggs, and my mom, French toast. We feasted, packed, then I caught all these guys lying around, just chillin' on the floor. Aww...we'll miss you all!!
I'd like to say our drive back was uneventful. BUT...I knew that popcorn would catch up to us eventually. And it did. In the form of an explosion of popcorn kernel husks filling a little one's diaper. It was so hard to clean that we decided to just squirt him down with a water bottle at the gas station. Sorry James. It had to be done. Maybe we'll go a little easier on the popcorn next time.
Not long after, we got our first flat tire! The big bummer about this, was that we just put new tires on the car last week! Jake did a great job changing the tire on the side of Highway 20....
...while I watched the small one (aka, let him "reorganize" our glove box).
We stopped at Tricia and Michael's for dinner in Dubuque, an hour late, but we made it. Always good to see them (and thanks for a tasty meal)! Then rolled into Chicago at close to 11pm.
It was a long week, that always flies by too fast, full of family and fun. Hope your fourth was full of the same!