It has been a busy day. It has been a busy week. I’m not even sure where to start. I’ve been saying goodbye to a lot of family and friends these past couple of weeks. Last weekend I said goodbye to my aunts (Dee & Niki), sister (Cassie), brother-in-law (Josh), and my little niece (Isabell). We spent the weekend talking, drinking fine wine, and eating delicious food. I wanted to get in as much “American” food as I could before I left. So Saturday night we all went out to a place called Nic’s in West Des Moines. I’d never been there before but I was excited. I ended up gorging myself on Steak Oscar: steak topped with béarnaise sauce, crabmeat, and asparagus. It was absolutely fantastic. I then indulged in crème brûlée for dessert. Since I usually don’t eat so much rich food I felt a little sick later that night. But it was definitely worth it; those are foods I won’t be eating for a while.
The next day we played a competitive game of Scrabble before lunch. Matt and I lost by 1 point to Cassie & Josh. Maybe someday we’ll win. Later we got some Mexican food. Though similar in some ways to Salvadoran food (both have beans and rice) it was different and nice to enjoy my last Mexican meal for a while. My niece asked for the lemon that was in my water glass. I had given one to her last night but after putting it in her mouth she spit it out. She ate the one I gave her the second time. What a goof!! Big hugs were in store after we left the restaurant. I’m really going to miss everyone, especially my little niece Izzy who turned 3 on November 1. She’s growing up so fast!
Izzy playing with a lady bug toy
Chomping down a lemon wedge. Yum!
Later in the week my husband came home with champagne to celebrate my trip. He knows how much I love champagne and this was a good enough reason for us! He bought the kind we had on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico. For dinner I made chicken parmesan with tomato sauce that we canned last summer. It was delicious! It’s always nice when food you spent a long time on turns out well.
The next night we went Granite City in Davenport. My grandpa used to love going to that restaurant. I think it’s the first time I’ve been there since he died. I had a bleu cheese burger with fries. Matt had a giant chicken sandwich with fries. Both of us cut our sandwiches in half and took the rest home. Eating it all would have been way too much. Then Matt suggested we get chocolate fondue. I was pretty full but there’s always room for chocolate. So we sat and indulged for a while.
The next morning we packed up the car to head for Des Moines. I said goodbye to my many stuffed animals (explanation: Matt “adopts” for me animals for my birthday and Christmas though the World Wildlife Fund and then the WWF sends a stuff animal to represent the one you adopted). Then I took my pet snake, Monty, out of his tank and gave him several goodbye hugs. I’m going to miss my little snake a lot. He’s the sweetest snake ever!! He’s never bit anyone and loves to be held. After telling him goodbye we set off for Des Moines. It was a pretty uneventful ride and we made good time.
My herd of adoped animals: 2 meerkats, 2 macaws, 2 prairie dogs,
2 black-footed ferrets, 1 gray wolf, & 1 womat
Saying goodbye to my snake, Monty
In Des Moines, we were greeted by Blanche, our family’s cat. She inspected all the suitcases we’d brought with us and laid on top of them. That night my parents took me out to dinner. I got to choose and I picked Cosi Cucina. My mom was super excited for the bread. We got the bread and the four of us shared a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. When the server came to ask what kind of wine we wanted she asked if we were celebrating anything. We told her we were celebrating my upcoming mission trip to El Salvador. Coincidentally, she told us she had been to El Salvador too in the same area I will be staying: Berlín. It was through her church, Wakonda Christian. I was very excited because Wakonda is a part of the Our Sister Parish mission. The server, Abby, even knew Diane Fox, who is on Compañeros with me (Compañeros is the Des Moines Presbytery’s coordinating body for the El Salvador mission). Very cool coincidence!
For dinner that night I ordered rigatoni. It was delicious and very filling. I ended taking about half of it home. We were just about ready to leave when my mom suggested that we take a look at the dessert menu. Everyone groaned. We were so close!! But now that we were going to look at the dessert menu we all knew we’d get something. I ended up with another crème brûlée. I polished it off and then we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant. My dad called this my “last meal out” in the US. I typically do not go out to dinner so often (maybe once every couple weeks) so these past few weeks have been fantastic and filled with delicious food and wonderful family. I’ve had to work hard not to get too excited and overeat.
Sunday was a big day for me. I was commissioned at my church, Westminster Presbyterian. I went to the church early to meet briefly with ministers Ken and Scott. I was the liturgist during both services and they commissioned me during both services as well. I knew I was filled with God’s love and the love of everyone at church. It makes going to El Salvador so much easier when I know people care, they are praying for me, and they support what I am doing. I am incredibly fortunate to belong to such a wonderful church. I would not have been able to make this incredible journey if it weren’t for the encouragement of my family and my church.
After church I went home to prepare for a feast. My parents asked me what food I wanted to eat that I wouldn’t be able to get in El Salvador so they could make it for me. At 1:30 my husband, parents, mother- and father-in law, and my “aunt” Karen joined me in a delicious lunch. We dined on Amana prime roast, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and focaccia bread. My dad pulled out a bottle of red wine that he, my mom, and I bought when we were in the Mosel Valley area of Germany in 2005. It was all sublime.
After finishing lunch my mom pulled out a delicious pink champagne cake for dessert. That’s the kind of cake Matt and I had at our wedding. It was scrumptious and went well with the Silver Needle tea my dad bought from Gung Fu. We ate and talked at the table for several hours. I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful family!! They’ve been spoiling me rotten!
The Super Bowl started at 5pm so everyone but my mother-in-law and I went downstairs to watch it (we managed to survive without watching the Super Bowl). She and I said goodbye and she took off home. I’m not a big football fan so I went upstairs to work on some more packing and to watch the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. The Puppy Bowl is awesome!! Around 8 million people watch it. All the puppies are from shelters and they all get rescued! There are also hamsters in a blimp up above watching the game and chicken cheerleaders to cheer on the pups. Then there’s a kitty half time show! There are even “tail”gaters outside the stadium watching the game. It’s pretty cool and always puts me in a good mood. I played with our cat, Blanche, a little because I’m going to miss her a ton and I’m worried she’ll forget me.
The Super Bowl ended around 9:15 and I said goodbye to my father-in-law. Then I went upstairs to get a few more things done and packed before I had to go to sleep. Around 10am I said goodnight to my parents. Matt and I talked until about 11:30pm when we eventually drifted off to sleep with the cat between us.
With my parents
With my husband
With my awesome "aunt" Karen
Blanche is an inspector
With my in-laws
Something my mom sewed and framed for me
Can Blanche go with me?!