Christmas is always a wonderful season and this year was no exception! Adam and I somehow convinced my family to travel to the Midwest so we had a full Illinois/Iowa Christmas, hitting the traditions in both families <3
The first part of our weekend was in Dwight with Adam’s family. We drove over to his parents’ house on Friday after work, making it there by 9:30pm. Since we arrived late we decided to stay in for the night, hanging out with his parents and watching TV before bed. We watched the 1997 classic, Dante’s Peak! I am so glad that I didn’t watch this movie before going to Hawaii!
Saturday morning I had breakfast with Adam’s mom while the Seabert men went out to breakfast. I loved watching the pups play in the backyard! For lunch we headed into Kankakee to meet up with my parents and Grandfather for lunch at a new farm to table restaurant, 3 Winds Eatery. It was excellent and such a nice addition to Kankakee! I had parmesan crusted grilled cheese with creamy tomato soup and truffle mac n’ cheese. Not pictured: Cocktail “Christmas with ‘The Dude'” – festive white russian with hints of butterscotch and eggnog. Yum.
After lunch Adam and I went back towards his home, with a pit stop in Reddick to meet up with his friend whose parents recently purchased the Reddick Cattle Co. I loved it! Please have my future contain cattle (and chickens!). We also went to the local Reddick bar and played darts… despite not being able to translate the machines back into english. Darts in Japanese is now my new favorite way to play!
After a quick stop back at Adam’s parents to check on the dogs, we went out on the town in Dwight, Illinois to meet up with another friend of Adams. Highlight of the night: playing multiple games of Jenga! (Despite losing every time.)
Christmas Eve morning we woke up to a soft blanket of snow! It was so pretty and the pups loved it! (Brenner not so much). Adam’s family does their celebration on Christmas Eve for brunch. So I woke up and prepped food before everyone showed up at 10am. I was tasked with making filo wrapped brie with bacon and maple syrup. It was easy to make and Adam was a huge help (I hate making bacon so he was in charge of that!). Then the house was full with 27 family members, ranging in age from 72 to less than 1. Three generations! We ate a big brunch meal, watched the grandkids do their gift exchange, opened stockings, and the adults had a white elephant exchange. I think between my squatty potty gift and Adam’s SPAM, we were the oddballs of the exchange this year! I won a bag of venison meat and Adam got a whiskey ice glass. We had such a good time catching up with everyone. It was hard to leave but the party was winding down, the snow was still falling, and we wanted to get on the road back to Iowa. We gave hugs and made plans for future visits. Always so fun to be around such a big group of awesome (future) family!
The pictures below are all stolen from my family but they also had some fun on Christmas Eve! It snowed (for better or for worse) nearly all day so my sisters and Eran played in the snow, my dad had to drive in it, and the whole family enjoyed time with Grandpa before hitting the road again to travel the 5 hours to Ankeny!
We made a few stops along the route to Iowa but the best was by far the Iowa 80 truck stop! The World’s Largest Truck Stop is not to be missed if you are ever in the area!
We made it back to Ankeny around 10pm, just in time to watch the live feed from our hometown church in Tampa. Then everyone wrapped their gifts and went to bed, waiting patiently for Santa!
The next morning we all got up early (despite planning to sleep in!), met in the basement before doing our traditional group unveiling of our stockings! After stockings we open presents (Noelle as the birthday girl gets to hand them out) and then have a big breakfast. Adam and I had pre-prepped a breakfast casserole and made cinnamon rolls to go with the ham my parents brought from Illinois. We also had mimosas and/or spiked coffee! After breakfast we hung out for a bit before heading to Flix Brewhouse for a double feature. We got there early to do our small white elephant exchange then saw Pitch Perfect 3 and Father Figures. After the movies we went home, had birthday cake and Noelle opened her birthday presents and then we played Cards Against Humanity before heading to bed in preparation for a full day of shopping!
On Tuesday morning we headed to the Des Moines outlets to kick off our shopping day! For the past couple years my parents have been giving us money for Christmas and then go shopping with us the next day at local outlets to buy something that we really need and/or want. It is a fun tradition and luckily the Des Moines outlets opened in October so we were all ready to go! I don’t have any shopping pics… but trust me, we were successful. After the outlets we stopped in the Historic East Village for lunch at Zombie Burger. This was the best and worst decision ever. The food was amazing but we all ate so much that the rest of our shopping experience was under a haze of FULL. After lunch we ventured to West Des Moines to hit up Nordstrom Rack and Costco before going home.
After shopping all day, we all had to share our purchases with each other (in case we missed anything!) then we played Bean Boozled (courtesy of Madeline’s White Elephant gift) and Madeline & Eran’s Drinking Board Game. Which they created themselves. It is the best/most legit homemade board game ever. I am making my own. Stay tuned.
Yep, my family is the coolest. How many other families spend pretty much every evening playing drinking games???
On Wednesday I had to work a half day so my family met me at the office around lunch to see my desk and the museum. We didn’t stay long but I loved showing them where I spend my days!
For Madeline & Eran’s final meal in Iowa before they caught their flight back to NYC, we went to Fong’s in Ankeny. Despite first trying to eat the Fong’s downtown, and then driving back to Ankeny where they were understaffed and couldn’t sit us for 20 minutes despite many empty tables, it was the perfect meal. We ordered FIVE pizzas and ate them all. One large crab rangoon, then four “small” pizzas: thai chicken, green bean casserole (the special), taco, and mac n cheese with ground beef on half. I think they were all a hit!
For a final hurrah with my parents and Noelle, we went to Hyvee for half priced sushi and half priced bottles of wine (Adam and I loved Wednesdays at Hyvee!). Then we washed it down with a trip to Firetrucker Brewery and played Fact or Crap. In case you were curious, I won.
The weekend/week as a whole was a huge success! I already miss being surrounded by family and laughter but I know there will be future trips and more fun times ahead.
Now I want to hear from you:
- What are your holiday traditions?
- What was the best part of your holiday season?