Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

I’m not really sure what I was thinking picking a 5am departure time to go to Iowa. I got to the airport before precheck was even open and of course my brace set off the scanner and I had to take it off to push it through the x-ray.  I had 2 young boys in front of me on the plane that honestly were not all that obnoxious at all, I slept through most of the flight but one of the boys said “sorry how we acted on the flight when you were trying to sleep” when he got off and I assured him he was fine. (I’ve had to put up with much worse!)

My layover was in Chicago and the gates were supposed to be directly across from each other but of course that was not the case by the time I landed and they also had no wheelchair waiting like I was told they would when we took off. It also made me do a sleepy double take when I was waiting on if I was going to get wheeled or walk and everyone was talking about Tulsa!  For once, I was not headed to Tulsa! lol I made it to my new gate and waited to board the tiny plane to Cedar Rapids. When they sent me down the jet bridge at first I thought a van was waiting at the bottom, surely it was too small to be a plane! But no, it was a plane.  Also strange was one of the guys on my flight out of Hartford was on the flight too – seated next to me!

Upon landing I found my friend and we were on our way! We made 2 stops in Cedar Rapids, the Czech bakery Sykora and a scrapbook shop. At the bakery I opted for a poppy seed kolache. They didn’t have any of the cookies like my Nana used to make, so I couldn’t compare, but the kolache was very good!  The scrapbook store was supposed to open at 10am but no one was there at 11 so we left, turns out they had a miscommunication with who was supposed to be working so we left for Dubuque before they opened at 11:15. Ah well.

In Dubuque we did the Fenlon Elevator which is the shortest and steepest of its kind. It is 5 steps up and out of the car and then 5 steps back down in to go down. I braved it and tried to take a video looking down (I don’t recommend doing that) but never actually hit record!  Figures… We also went to see the historic shot tower and drove around a bit to see the port.  After a 5am flight I was exhausted so most of the time was spent in the hotel. (And the 2 stops we did make were my only 2 on the ‘to do’ list anyway.)

Monday morning we got up and headed to Dyersville for the Field of Dreams.  We started with a tour of the house and then wandered the corn fields, ball field and gift shop. I loved the gift shop because it had a lot of “baseballism” shirts that would go over the head of anyone who isn’t a big baseball fan.   They were taking down the MLB field but we were told next year they’d play again and it would be the Cubs. While I enjoyed watching the game, I’m not sure if it’s something that should be yearly because it will kind of kill the thrill about it, but hey if it makes money MLB is going to be all about it.  There’s also a museum about the film but was unfortunately closed on Monday so we just took a photo of their mural on the side of the building.

Next up was Ames where we went to the gardens to see the butterflies and the world’s largest (concrete) gnome.  The butterfly garden was a lot of fun chasing the butterflies (and them chasing my cane) and trying to get pictures of them. The garden had an exhibit of origami statues so we tried to find all of them while making our way to Elwood (the gnome). I thought the admission prices were a bit steep, but it was a nice mile or so stroll through the gardens and they were absolutely beautiful so when you think about the cost of upkeep, that’s probably where most of the admission price is going to.  They also offered free scooter and wheelchair rentals which right there made the admission worth it for those who might need it – and made the gardens a whole heck of a lot more accessible for everyone and I certainly can’t be mad about that!

Then we made our way to Des Moines to get ready for the Iowa State Fair the next day.

We got to the fair about 1pm which was probably the hottest part of the day and started with some cookies and fried cheese curds.  We also had fried pickles and corn dogs and I had lots and lots of water.  I’d have wanted something stronger, but driving the scooter around all day with people who were freaking oblivious was not going to end well if I was a little tipsy.  (I am not sure why all the responsibility of driving it has to fall on me and no one else has to pay any attention at all and can be mad if/when I run into them – WHEN I HAVE NO BRAKES – but it is what it is.)  At one point we heard the Beach Boys start soundcheck along with John Stamos singing “Forever” and then we heard Hanson join them for Where’s the Love.  A bit later Hanson took the stage for their own soundcheck so we knew that Hanson would most likely be doing Where’s the Love with the Beach Boys and not part of their set.

Finally 7pm came and doors opened. None of the volunteers knew what to do at all… but we managed to get our wristbands and get the scooter parked and I got to my 4th row seat that was pretty much dead center.  Most of the people in front of me sat for Hanson and I was able to sit for the whole show and still be able to see!  I hadn’t used my camera in so long, it was nice to be getting some decent photos again.  I was surprised that Hanson didn’t play any of their 4 new singles – nor did they even mention that they had a new project coming out in November when they had a whole crowd of potential new fans in front of them… but it is what it is.  They also kind of seemed to mess up a bit during Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ but quickly found their groove.

For the Beach Boys set, I felt wildly out of place.  Most of my peers know the Beach Boys from their parents being fans, but my parents were not fans so the only songs I knew were the ones that were really, really big or covered elsewhere (or featured on Full House!) Even with the lyrics being put up on the big screen for a lot of the songs, I didn’t really sing along.  But the guy behind me was absolutely having the time of his life singing off beat and off key along to every.single.word.  I was also masked for the entire concert because despite it being outdoors, everyone was squeezed in a little bit too close for my comfort. So as long as I bopped my head along to the beat, no one really knew if I was singing along or not 😉  (There’s your pro tip for the day lol)

For the Beach Boys encore, Hanson came back out, as we expected – but Mike Love said that John Stamos liked to play Summertime Blues so they started with that song (one that Hanson knows well and has been covering on their tours on and off since 1998 – and was probably included in many of their pre-fame sets as well!) and then went into Where’s the Love as well as Fun, Fun, Fun.  It certainly was Fun, Fun, Fun to see everyone up on stage and having an absolute blast.  Despite surge pricing, I managed to find an Uber and get back home to the hotel just after midnight.


My flight out of Des Moines was not until 4pm but hotel check out was noon so I got to the airport super early.  Despite nearly every piece of signage in the airport saying “mask up” the guy in front of me did not have his on and TSA made him put it on before checking his ID.  Then he took it off AGAIN to go through the metal detectors and had to pull out all his bags to find it again and he said he was told he could take it off.  (Uh, no, 3 people told you to put it on…)  Turns out that wasn’t their most problematic passenger of the day – I was.  My purse went through fine, my brace set off the metal detector (belts were setting it off too so it was on a higher setting than I’m used to) so while I waited for a female assist, I saw my bag get pulled off the line.  They started saying something was stuck and my cane never made it through so I had to show them where it was and get one of the agents to retrieve it off the conveyor belt.  My suitcase apparently had something “bad” in it, but the 2nd agent said he didn’t see anything and was giving me it back. This set off a wild afternoon where: a guy walked into the ladies room just ahead of me and panicked and ran out when I walked in, I got bitched out by a lady who thought I was cutting her for the elevator when she was in a wheelchair and had no one to push her, watched a lady have a meltdown in the bathroom about needing to wear a ‘face diaper’ until January, tried to avoid getting touched by the way too many children at my gate who were fascinated by me, fell out of a wheelchair and watched a guy walk through the McDonalds drive thru.  But I made it back to my own bed by 2am only to awake to pouring rain from a Tropical Storm.  Maybe someday I will be caught up on my work emails…


Book Review: Baby Loves Angular Momentum on Hanukkah!

This Baby Loves book is really adorable and teaches kids about angular momentum!  All through showing them how a Hanukkah dreidel works in related to angular momentum. It’s never too early to teach kids about engineering and get them interested in science and I thought this book was really well done in teaching about how things work!

I received a free e-copy of this book to review from NetGalley. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Big, brainy science for the littlest listeners.

Baby discovers the science behind spinning a dreidel on Hanukkah! Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this clever board book explores angular momentum, torque, friction, and gravity. Beautiful, visually stimulating illustrations complement age-appropriate language to encourage baby’s sense of wonder. Parents and caregivers may learn a thing or two as well.

Book Review: Baby Loves Electrical Engineering on Christmas!

This Baby Loves book is really adorable and teaches kids about electricity!  All through showing them how Christmas lights work (once an adult plugs them in, of course!)  It’s never too early to teach kids about engineering and get them interested in science and I thought this book was really well done in teaching about how things work and how to be safe with them as well.

I received a free e-copy of this book to review from NetGalley. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Big, brainy science for the littlest listeners.

Baby discovers the science behind Christmas lights! Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this clever board book explores electricity, circuits, and electrical safety. Beautiful, visually stimulating illustrations complement age-appropriate language to encourage baby’s sense of wonder. Parents and caregivers may learn a thing or two as well.

Book Review: Choose Your Own Adventure Eighth Grade Witch

When I was younger there was nothing I loved more than a good Choose Your Own Adventure book. When I saw there was a new one about a witch at that, I had to check it out! I ended up reading through 3 scenarios, which all ended up pretty short. I’m not sure if they were all that short of if I just made really poor choices. I ended up skimming the rest of the book to see how some of the other choices ended up and it is a pretty creepy story and I’m surprised I didn’t end up with nightmares due to some of the scenarios lol (ghosts, witches, spiders, cemeteries, etc.) I also wasn’t sure how digitally doing a choose your own adventure book would work, but as long as you knew that the page numbers and the page in the PDF document were off by a few, it wasn’t too difficult to navigate where you needed to be and you didn’t need to scroll through a bunch of pages (but I do miss the feeling of flipping through the book back and forth to get where you needed to be!) I’m definitely looking forward to hopefully finding some more Choose Your Own Adventure stories in the future because there are just so may options and ways to read the story!  This one was also a graphic novel version and not just text which made it all the more fun! (And more fun when skimming to see alternate endings!)

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.
About the Book

The first official Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novel!

From the hit Choose Your Own Adventure® novels comes a newly adapted graphic novel taking readers on their own visual adventure! Enter a ghoulish world of nightmares, witches, ghosts, and dreaded the eighth grade as Rabbit, the new kid on the block! As Rabbit, readers will get to choose which adventure–or nightmare–they’ll embark on. From learning about the mysterious witch Prudence Deadly, to trouncing through spooky graveyards, to meeting ghostly ancestors or channeling some witchcraft with classmates, no one path leads to the same destination.

Will you choose a path that leads to the light? Or will the path you choose lead to a gruesome end? You get to decide!

Hanson: Against the World + (UND & TW)

Hanson has been hosting a “Summer Concert Series” at their local Cain’s Ballroom in their hometown of Tulsa, OK.  In addition to being in person shows, they also are streaming them online.  For July, I had bought streaming tickets only.  (holiday weekend flight prices were IN-SANE) For August, it was a good friend’s birthday, so I decided to make the trek to surprise her (plus, I hadn’t been able to see her since May 2019!)

The flights there went well, on my first flight, I met a little girl who also had CP and also wore a brace on her left leg.  Her Mom and I chatted a bit about different surgeries we had each had and what ones she had upcoming.  When I landed in Atlanta, they asked us to wait as they needed *8* wheelchairs for the flight.  Good thing I had a long layover to get myself to the next gate! Many were worried they’d miss their flight while waiting for someone to push them.  While I was waiting to board the flight to Tulsa, a little girl came and circled me, inspecting my brace from every direction.  I guess it was to her satisfaction as she then decided she would sit next to me, never saying a word to me at all.

After landing in Tulsa I picked up the rental car, headed to the hotel, ordered dinner and managed to get all settled with 10 minutes to spare before Big Brother was on.

Friday I decided to check out the new Greenwood Rising. It had just opened earlier that week and tickets were free.  Tours are guided (or you can go off on your own, but the guides unmute all the video content) and in groups of about 20.  I was glad that most of my group were wearing masks.  There are several different rooms that show you how Greenwood was growing and prospering.  Then of course, there is the massacre.  There is a video that is played with the story of some of the survivors.  If you think it may be too emotional for you, they have an emotional exit to skip that part of the exhibit and go right ahead to the next section.  I didn’t end up skipping it, but I was glad they had that option for those who might not have been able to handle it, so they could still see the rest of the exhibit.  Every other room it seemed had a spot to sit, which was very nice for me to take a break in between looking and reading the exhibits and checking out the artifacts.  I think that given the chance, I would go through again self guided now that I had seen all the video content that did justice to the Graphic Design Service Subscription, so I could fully read everything in the rooms without being blocked by the rest of my touring group.  The video effects are pretty cool, so I don’t recommend doing self guided for the first time through.

Friday I was also playing secret squirrel for a friend who decided at last minute she was going to show up and I was frantically tracking her flights to see if she’d make her connection in time or not.  She did end up landing just before 6 and made it down to the venue just before doors to surprise everyone! I was also pleasantly surprised that the venue put together such a nice ADA area right in the front with chairs for everyone.  The Friday night show was ATW + Underneath, Underneath being Hanson’s 2004 release – their first independent album after leaving their record label.  From where I was positioned I couldn’t see Isaac and Zac was blocked by his cymbal, but it was the Taylor show. (And Zac did come over to the piano to sing one of my favorite songs, Broken Angel.)  The guys had been saying they’d play “select songs” from the classic albums during this concert series but they played everything from Underneath except for the bonus track, Lullabelle.  They also threw in a couple of covers from that touring era and all 4 tracks off their new project, Against the World.  After the show I got to hang out with the Birthday Girl for a bit and then headed back to the hotel for the night.  I heard 1 new song during the show – Only Love. (The other 3 new tracks I had heard previewed on the Wintry Mix tour)

Saturday I took a ride down Route 66 and went to the Goodwill because they were giving out free totes with some goodies in them to the first so many people who showed up.  The store was mostly clothes and I wasn’t sure how much room I’d have in my luggage so I didn’t really check anything out.  I also tried to get to to the Kendall Whittier area of Tulsa to check out the bike racks that are all “KW”s (my initials) but they were having some sort of block party so I didn’t get to drive past and wasn’t up for finding parking and walking in. It was H-O-T all weekend.  After the scenic route of the Tulsa highways (I missed an exit) I went back to the hotel and took a trip to Antoinette’s bakery for some treats!

Saturday Night’s show was ATW + The Walk.  There were a couple of long shot songs I was hoping for that I hadn’t heard off the Take the Walk EP and I was sad to see that Isaac had initially listed one (Lay Me Down) as his solo on the setlist, but opted to do A Minute Without You instead.  But here’s the thing – before I saw the setlist – I thought Isaac’s solo was absolutely amazing.  He had the crowd sing the “Oh Yeah”s that are usually Taylor and Zac’s parts and when he finished the song the crowd absolutely erupted! It was the first time hearing a large crowd like that in quite some time for me and was awesome.  So while, yes, I would have loved to hear Lay Me Down, I’m not sure I would have traded that solo for it.  I also had scooted up in my seat a bit so I was able to see Isaac and Taylor for most of the show and Zac only when he went to the piano for The Walk and up front with a guitar for Fire on the Mountain.  Also interesting was that many of my friends had never heard “Your Illusion” live, it had only been played about 20 times before this show – yet some how I managed to be there for 8 of them?  Pretty wild.  In the end, no new songs for me on Saturday, but it was a really fun, high energy show.  After the show, we headed to the back and while I missed Isaac, I managed to get photos with Zac and Taylor that look like we are in jail.


Sunday afternoon I returned the car and headed to the airport and was there pretty early.  We were supposed to take off at 3:42 but at some point it became 5:20.  I had about a 3 hour layover in Atlanta and was keeping an eye on the incoming flight which kept saying it would take off in 5 minutes, and then reset the count.  The later it got, the less likely it would be that I would make the connecting flight so once things started getting iffy I asked my friend who was staying in Tulsa another night if I could crash with her (she said yes) and called the hotline to be put on the earliest flight out the next day.  If I stayed the night in Tulsa or Atlanta, I wouldn’t get home until the same 3pm flight, so it made more sense to stay where I knew people.  I did end up having a Hanson sighting as they left the Nightcap recording so I guess that was my silver lining.

Monday morning I left the hotel at 3:30am, got through security without a problem and managed to switch my middle seat on Flight #1 to a window seat.  I wasn’t sure if I had ever had a middle seat before and I don’t think I am suited as a middle seat flier (but if it was that or nothing, I’d put up with it for the 2 or so hours).  My 2nd flight I was #1 on standby with 19 available seats so I figured I’d make it on, and I did, but another window seat.  I tried to switch it and couldn’t, but wished *really, really* hard… and after pre-boarding and my aisle seat mate showing up we started wondering if our window seatmate would even show up.  It was almost time to take off and 3 more people boarded… We figured our luck was up, but nope, the door shut and no one showed up for the window, so I took it!  And fortunately I have a very understanding work manager and was able to work some magic so I don’t have to make up any hours this weekend when I am supposed to be volunteering.

Now to unpack and repack to head off to Iowa in just a couple of days.

The Dating Dare is the second book in a series. I hadn’t read the first one but I don’t think that left anything out for me in this one.  This book focuses on Tara and Seth.  Tara’s best friend had just married Seth’s brother.  The two connect at the wedding and end up playing a game of truth or dare which ends up in them agreeing to have 4 dates with each other before Seth moves to Paris for a photography job and the rules are they won’t fall in love.  I’m sure you can guess what happens 😏.

I loved both of these characters and the banter they had. They came up with a scheme that Tara was helping Seth make a website for her friend while she was away on her honeymoon so that no one would catch on that they were seeing each other.  Of course as expected they both start to fall for each other and that is what causes a conflict between them.  I won’t say too much else for fear of giving it away, but this was a really cute love story that I really enjoyed reading because I loved seeing their date ideas and how they’d interact with each other.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book
With witty characters and heartrending romance, Jayci Lee, author of A Sweet Mess, returns with The Dating Dare—where two people might just find out how hard it is to resist falling in love with the right person.

No serious relationships. This is the one rule Tara Park made for herself and it has been working swimmingly, thank you very much. The occasional fling is fine, especially since she’s busy with Weldon Brewery. But when Seth Kim, temptation personified and her best friend’s new brother-in-law walks into her life, Tara might be willing to bend her golden rule…but only for four dates—the four dates she agreed to after a few good rounds of beer and a game of truth or dare. It’ll be fun. No biggie.

Seth Kim can’t believe Tara agreed to his dating dare. He’s leaving for a new job in Paris in a month and a no-strings attached fling seemed like a nice little distraction for both… But their secret dates, while sweet and sexy, always hit roadblocks straight out of a romantic comedy. Thankfully, their non-dates and chance meetings are smoother, frequent, and heated. However, the more Seth sees of Tara, the less willing he is to let her go—and what was supposed to be a fun little game turns into something that neither of them are ready for.

But sometimes, the best things in life are the ones we never see coming.

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