Kansas + Iowa

After last year’s epic tour of the Midwest for Thanksgiving we decided to split up future holiday visits to our families. It’s just too crazy to try to see everyone in one trip. So we put our Mason family celebration in Kansas first, and we made it a little early so we could get more affordable flights. I also really wanted to squeeze in a side trip to Des Moines to see friends there (plus all their new babies), so we rented a car to make that happen.

We were really hoping to experience a true fall season, something we both greatly miss. And wow were we rewarded with fall in all its glory. We had great weather most of the time, with just a bit of chill and plenty of brilliant leaves to run through.

And of course we had some excellent food. We went straight from the airport to Oklahoma Joe’s for some authentic KC barbecue. Oh my gosh, it was unbelievable. And huge! Talk about a change of pace. I had enough fries to feed 3 people, and my whole lunch was like $6!

I don’t normally like ribs that much, but theirs were in a league of their own. Just fall-off-the-bone tender. I’m thinking we should make this a tradition every time we visit.

Something about the sky on the way home was really lovely. Black trees against a golden sunset and fields of hay bales. I must have been away long enough to appreciate it in a new way.

Friday we drove up to Des Moines. Can’t say I see a lot of this in the bay area.

We wanted to see the new Des Moines Register building. When we worked for the Register, the old building was in pretty sad shape. Now their new space looks fantastic, all shiny and new.

We checked out their recording studio and got to pretend we were on the Bryce Miller show.

It seems like so many of our former coworkers have moved on to other jobs, but we still know a ton of people there. It was great to catch up.


Harper got to ring the copy desk joke bell. 

After that we headed to the always adorable East Village where we got to say hi to my friend Karen from Ephemera.

We also had to check out Stitch, a new knitting/sewing store that is exactly what I would create if I could design my own craft store.

I definitely left with some gorgeous yarns. I couldn’t help myself.

Des Moines was looking particularly lovely that night as the sun set.

This is the part where I could just kick myself for not taking some pictures. We went to visit our friends Tim and Gretchen who just had triplets a few months ago. (I always think of them when I think my life is hard.) They are handling it amazingly well. You can follow Tim on Instagram if you want to see their adorable babies.

After that (yes, this was an epic day) we met up with our friends Brianne, Joe, and baby Emmett and our friend Arin with her baby Jonah for dinner at A Dong. It was kind of crazy with 3 babies, as you can imagine, but so much fun. We miss A Dong so much!

After that we just hung out, drank wine, and ate cupcakes from Creme Cupcake. They only had vegan stuff left at the end of the day, but my coconut cupcake was damn good.

The next morning our babies got to hang out a little bit.


Someday the paper will go from chew toy to actual reading.


Sweetness.

Harper gets a kick out of all dogs, so of course she was entertained by Wilbur, who looks like a fox.

Emmett is just such a sweet baby. I kind of wanted to put him in my bag and carry him off.

Before we left town that morning we decided to take a walk around Brianne’s lovely neighborhood. I was kind of obsessing over the trees, but they were so pretty.


You too could own a pair of hand-knit baby legwarmers

I mean look at that!

I definitely get a lump in my throat when I think about how much I wish I could do this every day.

But I’m glad we got the chance to spend some time together.

When we got back to Lawrence we had a big family gathering with our Mason cousins. Harper got to play with her cousin Isla, who was only 5 weeks old when I met her last year.

Both of the great grandmas were there, which was so cute. We got to take some four-generation photos.

Harper got ultra spoiled with gifts. She basically giggled and shrieked all night. I think she was really overstimulated, but I know she was having fun.

Auntie Erin had to put in a bunch of laps while uncle Jason made the stuffed dog bark.

Later we got to have a little date while my mom stayed with Harper. Erin and Jason invited us to Merchants Pub & Plate in downtown Lawrence. We had some drinks and dessert (sweet potato donuts – fab!). Then we stopped by Erin’s parents’ house to meet their dogs. Believe it or not they have 3 Newfoundland mixes and a Great Pyrenees. Miss Bella owned the dog bed though.

Speaking of dogs, Charlotte was pretty jealous of Harper getting all the attention. She did eventually warm up to her though.

And she knew exactly where to stand when we had friends over for dinner.

The rest of the time we got to relax a little.

We made a big trip to Home Depot so Mike could take on some home-improvement projects.


The extent of our plumbing knowledge. 

The rest of us took some photos in the back yard. Mom’s weeping willow was looking so beautiful.

And we found Harper looked really cute in this red metal chair.

I also did a little shopping in downtown Lawrence. I picked up some cute earrings for Megan at Made, which carries all handmade goodies (including some familiar ones from the bay area!).

I also got a onesie made for Harper from Acme Tshirts. They have so many good ones to choose from.

We were sad to leave, but we have more family visits coming up in December. My dad and stepmom will be here mid-month. And then we’ll be traveling to Wisconsin and Minnesota for Christmas. Looking forward to seeing many more familiar faces.