Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas Vacation 2008 - Part I

Our trip back to the US started with us arriving in Iowa on Saturday, December 13. We flew American Airlines from Belo Horizonte - Miami - Chicago - Cedar Rapids. It was an incredibly easy flight schedule with everything on time and no long layovers.

Upon securing our luggage and rental car in Cedar Rapids right around noon, the first order of business was the Taco Bell drive-thru. One bean burrito and one beef soft taco (with lots of fire sauce) later, this pregnant woman could have died content. Rather pathetic, I know, but I had really been craving Taco Bell! After a quick run in to Wal-Mart to buy a few toiletries, etc., we headed up to Urbana, Iowa to see Eric's family.

Shortly after our arrival, the main attraction showed up: our nieces! We had an awesome afternoon of playing with Tinker Toys, reading books, and catching up on stories. And we can't leave out our excitement about meeting our newest niece, who was born in October!
The next day the girls were involved in a Christmas program at their church up in Waterloo. So we headed north, went to church, and spent the day with all the family at Eric's sister and brother-in-law's home.

Eric with his parents and three sisters

A big gummy smile for Uncle Eric: you could say he was pretty much a goner by this point!

It also happened to be Eric's mom's birthday, so we got to celebrate that all together on Sunday as well! The two older girls (and probably with just a little help from their mom) made a pecan pie for Nena's birthday . . . and helped her blow out the candle.
That evening, we pulled out a gingerbread house kit. The four year old, two year old, and a few of us "grown-ups" worked on putting it together and decorating it.
And if you've never made a gingerbread house with kids under the age of five, then maybe you don't know the one standard regarding decorations: the more candy the better.

And when you load up a gingerbread house with lots of candy and then give the green light to dig in and enjoy a little bit of it, then what you end up with is . . .
a serious sugar crash!

That Monday morning, Eric and I got up early to head down to Burlington. He was scheduled to work in his old office for the week and coordinate with some folks up that way on his Brasil projects. While in town, I got to finish up our Christmas shopping, visit my old office, and handle some paperwork. We went out to supper each night with friends and coworkers.

We were treated to some lovely weather while in Burlington. We got everything from dangerously low wind chills to snow, sleet, and freezing rain while in town. Which made for cruddy driving conditions and miserable conditions to be outside in, but gave us some pretty landscapes.

A random snowy shot from along the highway

The Burlington bridge across the frozen Mississippi River: proof that flowing water does, in fact, freeze

The side mirror on the Ford Escape we rented, notice the 1/2"+ layer of ice! The entire car was enclosed in a layer of ice one morning. We literally had to bust through 1/2 - 3/4" of ice to open our car doors. You might also notice that I am sitting inside the car (with the heat turned on full blast) while my Hubby scrapes ice from the windows so we can drive. It was about this time that I rolled my window down and told him, "You know, Dear, people don't have to live this way. There're lots of other places in the world to live where this doesn't happen." And then I quickly rolled the window back up as to not loose too much heat from inside the car. (I just thought that might be the ideal time to toss the idea out to him.)


Mrs. S said...

Your nieces are SO cute!! Glad you had a good start to your vacation! Minus all the cold stuff! :O)

Dawn Voelker said...

That is what Bob and I say every time we hear about the weather in Iowa!

Lori - Blondie in Brazil said...

Too funny! Taco Bell is always one of our first stops too. I am not a fast food fan at all except for their bean burrito. :)