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December 27, 2009

That Whole W-R Thing

At bedtime ...

Adelaide: Mom, I really hate going to bed.
Me: I know, but you have to sleep so that you can grow.
Adelaide: Grow up into a Roman?
Me: A Roman?!
Adelaide: No, a Woman!

December 25, 2009

On Christmas Day in the Morning

Everyone got their Christmas wishes from Santa this year ...

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Adelaide got a magical moment when she came downstairs and found the cookies and the carrots eaten, the tree lit, and presents stacked high. Almost immediately, she opened her new pink umbrella and was ready to run outside in the falling sleet to test its capabilities. I neglected to snap a photo of one of my favorite moments: seeing Adelaide - clad in her pajamas - twirling and spinning in the new snow with her umbrella. Something moments are best preserved in the heart.

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Henry found many wonderful and unusual things to suck on, including a plush dragon's tail, a jingly plush apple, and some wrapping paper. He's saving the pacifiers for later.

Merry Christmas, Toadsland!

December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

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We marched out into the wet and cold on Christmas Eve morning to play a little bit before getting that cooped up Grinchy feeling. We chucked sticky snowballs into our creek, trudged carefully over icy paths, and made a couple of runs down the sledding hill before the wind and wet drove us back indoors.

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December 22, 2009

Hardly a Trifle

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Late tonight, to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary, Joel and I created the perfect Christmas confection over a bottle of sparkling wine and sentimental reflections of our wedding day.

For the first time ever, we made a trifle.

What an ideal dessert to represent a marriage. A rich, multi-layered event, a marriage of flavors with spicy gingerbread cake, tart lemon cream, and sweet blackberry sauce. And of course, each layer sprinkled with a healthy, boozy dose of Framboise.

In a perfect world, trifle is presented in a cylindrical, aptly-named trifle dish, but sometimes with dessert, as with marriage, we must make do. Our trifle is snugly and cleverly stacked up in our Pyrex 8x4 inch loaf pan. It's kind of hard not to imagine a savory meatloaf when looking at the trifle, but there's a certain quirky charm about trifle ... and marriage.

Tonight, I looked at my fellow cook, glowing with the love of nearly a decade, and realized something. New adventures, like our trifle, have been the foundation of this union. From the first moments, eloping with only our parents as witnesses and setting out on the Oregon trail to craft a solid, newlywed bond ... to our latest adventures, Adelaide and Henry and residency. We have so much to celebrate, and so many new adventures ahead.

We'll let you know how it turns out.

The trifle, too.

December 19, 2009

Motivate

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With the reward of Christmas morning drawing ever closer, Adelaide's tantrums and misbehavings take on a new meaning.

I certainly don't want to be on of those parents who I heard threaten their kids in Target, "If you're not good, Santa won't come!" I know that Santa has that Naughty and Nice list, but who's kidding who here? Santa will come. Santa always comes.

I'd rather keep Santa out of this negotiation altogether and stand up and be the change and consequence in Adelaide's life myself.

There's just so much to do when trying to raise up a bossy three year-old into a polite citizen. Our "Adelaide Behavior Improvement" List includes refined table manners, tasting food before whining, "I don't like that", picking up her toys, putting her dirty laundry in the laundry basket.

So, I made a little chart and posted it on Adelaide's bathroom door. It didn't take long for Adelaide to say, "Aww, Mom, you drew me a picture! Thanks!"

I drew her a picture, indeed. Several actually. I explained that when she makes her bed, sets the table or tries a new food at suppertime, picks up her toys, puts her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and checks Nine's food and water, she can put a sticker over one of the boxes in the row. And when the entire chart is full of stickers, I told Adelaide, she'll get a special surprise!

So far, this new tactic is working like a charm. Last night, Adelaide actually said "I'm going to clean my room, Mom!" She marched upstairs and did, in fact, pick up some toys and library books!

I don't know what the special surprise will be yet ... Maybe a new chart???

December 16, 2009

Scooter Hal

After a week or so of warming up, Henry has begun scooting. He'd been moving short distances seemingly by magic- I'd turn my back on him happily playing on the floor and when I would look back a few moments later, Poof! he'd be eight feet away happily chewing on the laptop power cord- but over the last 36 hours he's suddenly put together the tools to move from room to room via an action that's 75% crawling and 25% swimming. The latest maneuver, navigating under the table and over the splayed-out table legs, earned him a milestone bonus: the first recorded finding of neglected and perfectly good food on the floor.

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He won't remember this moment years from now when he scores a mostly-fresh piece of pizza off of his friend's dorm room's floor or the only 65%-freezer-burned tub of ice cream from last July's office social, but hopefully I will.

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Just think, little man, just a few feet further and you would have found an even lusher jackpot: the not-quite-empty cat dish!

December 15, 2009

Visions of Sugarplums

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In the wee, small hours of this morning, I was roused awake by Adelaide, stirring in her sleep. Still asleep, Adelaide was mumbling garbled nonsense phrases, but then loudly and clearly sang out, "Christmas Eve is coming soon, now you dear old man, whisper what you'll bring to me, tell me if you can!"

Ho. Ho. Ho.

December 14, 2009

T-t-t-Tub

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I swear that tonight during Henry's tubtime, he said, "T-t-t-tub!"

First words at eight months??? Childhood wonders will never cease.

December 12, 2009

The North Pole Express

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Today our little quartet headed south to the town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and the Midwest Central Railroad to ride the North Pole Express.

We boarded our little steam train - built in 1927 - and listened to the story of The Polar Express as we chugged up to the North Pole to visit Santa at his workshop. The wheels click-clacked beneath our feet as we wondered and hoped at the exciting adventures that lay before us. Suddenly, the sunlight peeking through the frosted windows gave way to darkness as though we were in a tunnel and the train shuddered to a stop.

We were there. The North Pole.

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The air was buzzing with tiny, excited voices of our fellow passengers as we exited our train car. There were millions of sparking lights on towering Christmas trees, a carousel with penguins and polar bears, and before us, a bright red caboose with none other than Jolly Old St. Nick inside!

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Henry seemed pleased and proud to come face-to-face with Santa. Papa told Santa that Henry wished for some new pacifiers this year.

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Adelaide was a bit more timid, but Santa had some tricks up his sleeve ... er, in his pocket, to woo the shy ones. Santa had a beautiful pocket watch, larger than Adelaide's hand that played music and had a tiny little train moving around the clock face when he opened it for us. Charmed, Adelaide quietly whispered to Santa that this Christmas she would like him to bring her an umbrella.

After collecting our jingle bell gift from Santa, we jingled all around the North Pole, talking with the Snow Princess and Santa's elf, munching on sugar cookies and sipping hot cocoa, and admiring the big, brightly colored train, the conductors in their smart uniforms, and the crowded, happy scene.

One word sums up this holiday experience: Enchanting.

December 11, 2009

Cook's Christmas

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Yesterday, Henry and I scored six bottles of Cook's Grande Reserve for $5.99 apiece at our local market. Not one to scorn a deal on cheap sparkling wine during this budget-crunched holiday season, these particular bottles also bore a familiar sign of the season, the rebate coupon snugly scarfed about each bottle's neck. But that is not where our holiday good fortune ends ...

For you see, Cook's "Champagne" will always be synonymous with the Miron Family Christmas for me.

The year was, I believe, 199-. Joel and I had been secretly dating at Luther, but he invited me up to Duluth, to his sister Phoebe's new house, to share openly in his family's holiday traditions. College is weird, no? So, early morning on Boxing Day, I bid farewell to my own family's Christmas fun, and drove up North to see how Santa treated these Miron folk.

Well, they weren't home.

I found the door unlocked, but the house as quiet as a tomb. I was greeted by Hank, the Mirons' sweet dog, who seemed delighted and pleased to host me in her family's absence. I explained that I was still recovering from attending Midnight Mass at St. John's (which typically lasts until about 2 a.m.) and wasn't really in the mood to play. Thoughtfully, she ushered me to the couch, found us a blanket, and we snuggled together for an hour before loud voices awoke our peace.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear but five boozy Mirons, full of good cheer!

I was greeted with great welcome, and Molly - all rosy and flushed from the cold - announced, "Well, let's keep at the Cooks!"

Before I knew it I was holding a Miron-sized portion (a Viking made goblet, full to the brim) of Cook's Brut in my hand.

It was about 9 a.m.

Joel held my hand and nudged me along, as the rest of the clan heartily knocked back their glasses and looked at me, puzzled.

"There's a lot more of where that came from!" someone said.

An indeed there was. A whole case in fact. A whole case of Cook's chilling in the snow with tiny little rebates drawn up about their necks in a snug little bow.

December 9, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

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With blizzard warnings and negative windchill factors in the air, we marched outside at 7:30 this morning to try and shovel a little bit of the snow before great drifts block our way.

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Joel began his two-mile commute to work at 8:30, and safely arrived to his desk 45 minutes later. Adelaide, Henry, and I are snuggled up inside our cozy house, making gingerbread cookies, watching movies, doing a little bit of laundry, and playing with Little People today. No worries about who will watch the kiddies when schools are closed: I logged 48 hours at work last week, so this week we can kick back, relax, and enjoy the weather!