02.10.14 [twenty fourteen so far]

So, I haven't posted in a while. I've had ideas, notions, and a want to write but chose to spend my time memorizing dance moves on Dance Central (tricking myself into exercising) and watching 30 Rock. Here's a rundown of 2014 so far.

ONE | IOWA: I know the first place you want to vacation in the dead of winter is Iowa. Its frigid temperatures and lack of attractions or "things to do" are the first things that lure you into its flat expanse. So, we went on a vacation to Iowa about a month ago and I forgot to write about it. Now, Iowa may not be as attractive as a Florida beach or Colorado mountains but, it does have one thing that attracted us to it.

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Czech Village. Now, you know us. We love Czech anything. A five-hour car ride is cheaper than a plane ticket to Prague so, this did just fine for the time being. It's a street lined with antique shops, a Czech bakery, a couple of pubs, and some extra charming shops. It was little but we loved it. Jacob had some Pilsner Urquell and I had a peach kolach & all was good on Earth. We added a couple more pieces of Czech blue onion porcelain to our burgeoning collection which are much too pretty to ever utilize properly. The Village is just adjacent to the National Czech & Slovak Museum which we also visited and enjoyed.

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We learned a lot about Czech's long, tumultuous & interesting history. It was wonderful to see how their culture has evolved and just how far back it went. The Museum had a very detailed, creative exhibit including a WWII-era living room where you could listen to an old radio program, a steamship's bunk that CZ immigrants would have stay in (pictured in our shameless selfie above), posters from the Velvet Revolution and much more. Communism, man.

We also visited the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art which was... disappointing. Just know that everyone reading this from Saint Louis is spoiled rotten. Our art museum is FREE, well-lit, and rife with some of the most beautiful art in the world. I was not expecting the same selection here by far (but hey, they do have a fair amount of work from their Grant Wood! You know his American Gothic, surely), but what was on display was just... so poorly lit. I knew lighting was important but good golly, I truly know its importance now. The majority of Grant Wood's work was lit very well, perhaps mostly by his own corn stalk chandelier. Wonderful, wacky man.

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TWO | PORTRAIT PROJECT: Um, you could say that I have definitely lost steam with my television portrait project. I ran through series after series at breakneck speed and now I am burnt out - and during the turn of my beloved Community! Travesty. It's on hold while I gain excitement again. You can view Parks & Rec's and New Girl's portraits on my People page here.

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THREE | WISCONSIN: Wait, I went to Iowa AND Wisconsin? What can I say, I'm a glutton for places where the wind is so freaking cold it blows your facial features off. If you want to interpret the above picture as a sequential story, I would love that because everything should end with a guy with a peg leg. But, to explain - I went on the Mosaic retreat with my awesome bro and his sweet girlfriend. Got to photograph & participate in an engagement for two dear people. Did cartoon collaborations with a few of the quickest minds and finest talents I've yet to meet. It is so refreshing to do cartoon collaborations! To get an idea of what a CC is, you can read a few of the ones my friends and I have done in the past. If you every wanna do a CC, call me up.

FOUR | HADLEY: I heard about Hadley from the sweet hearts of Morgan & Miriam, and when I came across a Facebook page following Hadley's life, her family and their testimony, I was amazed at their faith, their strength and the amount of love they had. Hadley had a very slim chance of living and yet she lived 172 days, some good and some bad. She passed away a week or so ago and I've thought of her and her brave family every day since, as I'm sure the 4,416 followers of her page have as well. As heartbreaking as the story may be, I encourage you to read their posts and start following their page. I must reiterate that I am rendered speechless at their faith and trust in God. It amazes and encourages me. If you feel led to support them financially as well, here's a place where you can do so.

Blessings to you in this new year, although we are well into it. Have a good week.