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July 31, 2010

Coiffed

Well, it all started last Sunday when the kids and I went over to a friend's house to play ... The adults were all gathered around a wriggling, giggling group of toddlers and preschoolers when the host said to me, "So, you guys are going for the rocker look?" and gestured to Henry, who smiled through his bangs as his mullet blew back from his neck in the summer breeze ...

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An appointment was made, and Wednesday morning we arrived at our salon for Henry's first haircut. He squirmed in the chair and slipped down to the floor, running here and there amid the barber chairs, but we did it!

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Adelaide had a new experience, too ... Her first shampoo at the salon! I'm absolutely certain that her hair has never been so clean!

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Here's to trims and bobs all around!

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July 27, 2010

Crocodile Rock

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When I see Hal sport these shades, the vision of him makes me want to belt:

I remember when rock was young/
Me and Susie had so much fun/
Holding hands and skimming stones ...

There's just something kicky (circa 1972) and rockin' (circa 2009) about these shades.

But, I digress ... In other news, Henry had his official 15-month check-up today, and we're exceedingly proud to report that we've bumped up, percentile-wise! Here's today's stats:

Weight: 21.6 pounds (10th percentile)
Height: 30.8 inches (25th percentile)
Head Circumference (accurately measured this time): 48 cm (75th percentile)

Other accomplishments to date that we're sure Sir Elton would be proud of include,

Sipping liquids from a straw!

Barking at the sight, the smell, or the thought of DOGS!

Using a fork correctly at the supper table!

Saying "Flower" and "Down" and "Yucky" consistently!

A healthy smidge of Stranger Danger/Separation Anxiety!

Backing down the stairs!

And, my personal favorite, almost always walking!

Rock out!

July 22, 2010

Happy Trails, Abbie!

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Tonight we said good-bye to a very special, dear friend ...

Abbie has been Henry's sole baby-sitter since I finished my maternity leave last June, and has given Joel and I several absolutely necessary dates over this past year. Ever reliable, ever caring, Abbie has been an intimate part of our daily lives, showing up faithfully at 6:25 a.m. for a ten-hour shift on our working mornings. But, more than that, Abbie was ever loved by Adelaide and Henry, making every departure smooth and easy.

But, now she's off to seek her fortune in the great big city, and we wish her all the fun and all of the good adventure that life can offer!

Still, we will miss her greatly.


July 15, 2010

A New Chapter

When I was 5.8 years old, our family took a long car trip to the national parks of Utah. On this trip, my elder siblings endeavored, with some success, to teach me to read via Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic. As I recall, I was pleased as punch to become semi-literate, but, as usual, I was more interested in what my brother Joshua had.

Throughout my pre-adolesence, Josh's Stuff was a source of fascination, desire, and envy. He had better (and less damaged) Star Wars figures, he had intriguing books, and he managed to make his Halloween candy last much longer than I did. His room was off limits, but I often found myself in there running my fingers along the spines of his bookcase and filching his lollipops.

My interest in Josh's Stuff may have come from this vacation. He was reading a thick paperback book titled The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the plot of which concerned the continuing adventures of Dorothy and her friends in Oz. This book acted on me like Turkish Delight on Edmund; I would stare at its cover as Josh devoured it.

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I would pester him with questions about it. I would, later on, filch it. A whole new book about Oz! It blew my mind!

Adelaide is now almost 4.5 years old and, like me, loves the story of Oz, which she has consumed in movie and picture-book formats. A few weeks ago, on a whim, I borrowed The Road to Oz from the Iowa City Public Library. It was a pretty thick book, 260 pages, but it featured a beautiful pen-and-ink sketch every few pages, and the chapters were fairly short.

I started reading it to Adelaide two weeks ago and, last night, we finished. While our usual storytime is just prior to bed, with The Road to Oz we read whenever we both felt like it. Last Saturday morning, for instance, I was vacuuming up Ophelia's hair when Adelaide appeared on the stairs with the book and shouted, "Will you read to me?" I turned off the vacuum gratefully.

Sharing a book that we both genuinely enjoy puts me over the moon. Don't get me wrong, I like most of her picture books on a certain level, but Oz is the first book we've shared that I would enjoy on my own. It might be a little like when I started reading The Black Cauldron to my father when I was eight. Suddenly, my child (whom I love like I love the sun shining on flowers, blah blah blah...) and I are actually sharing a common interest. We are, in this small arena, chapter by chapter, friends.
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July 14, 2010

Heat Index

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107°

Sometimes watermelon for supper is just the thing.

July 10, 2010

Cliffhanger

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After a Saturday of playing in the sunshine, we were enjoying a juicy watermelon on the deck, watching dusk rise, just before it was time to brush our teeth and tuck into bed. We were talking about our favorite bedtime stories and Adelaide said,

"Once upon a time.

It was a dark and spooky night.

There was a shadow on the wall.

The blue tarantula was about to strike again!

The End."

And then, went back to munching her melon.

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July 9, 2010

Bumper Crop of Berries

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Henry and I scored eight pounds of bright, beautiful strawberries this morning at one dollar a pound! Our hands our pink and our faces are sweet as we find ourselves unexpectedly freezing and jamming strawberries as the outdoor thermometer reads 120 (Our thermometer kind of shrugs and gives up when the weather gets hot; it'll read correctly in the early morning hours, but after about 7:30 a.m., it's done working for the day. So, we don't know how hot it is exactly, but - per Mr. Thermometer - we should just sit down and stop working!).

We're in conservation mode here in Toadsland, pinching our pennies and trimming the fat from our waistlines. We're grocery-shopping on a budget only once a week and making do with a little less ... A little less dessert, a little less booze, a little less period. We're down-sizing purposefully to preserve our savings and our health, but cheerfully making our ends meet.

To wit, this week we ran out of sandwich bread. Gasp! Yee gads! What's a mother to fed two hungry kids for lunch?? Mac n' Cheese? Nope, we ate all of that earlier in the week. Salad? Are you kidding? Leftovers? Don't even mention it. I opened the cupboard doors looking to be inspired and saw that I had: flour, salt, honey and a packet of quick-rise yeast. Armed with my beloved Best Recipe cookbook, I made their version of Whole Wheat American Sandwich Bread. Ha! PB&Js all around!

Oh, no! Gasp! We've run out of J? Absolutely no J in the house whatsoever? Back, back you Dogs of Want, now we've got ten jars of strawberry freezer jam! Ha!

July 3, 2010

Kirk vs. Ghana

I was pretty deflated after the U.S. team lost to Ghana last Saturday. They had gone down, 1-0, a mere five minutes into the game, after a rapid series of clumsy mistakes (and correspondingly brilliant opportunistic play by the Ghanan Black Stars). The Americans came back strong in the second half, controlling the ball and creating several good scoring opportunities. At times, it seemed like the Ghanan goal keeper, Kingson, was under a near-constant barrage of shots. But the Americans never finished an attack well, as Kingson and his defenders snapped up the ball with apparent ease. The Americans managed to tie the game in the second half on a penalty kick, but the Black Stars took the lead back quickly in extra time.

Reflecting on the game later, it seemed all-too connected to many American efforts. An energetic beginning negated by early blunders, a desperate and vigorous attempt at a comeback, a final shriveling of hopes- tracing the trajectories of our war in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the bog of Reconstruction, wresting Texas from the Mexicans.... America, land of poorly executed good ideas.

After a few days of meditating on this sort of lugubrious puffery, Aimee and I were sharing that deeply pleasurable connection that springs up between two people in love who have managed to, yet again, put their children to bed. Which is to say, we were sitting quietly on the couch staring off into space, faintly smiling into the silence. Aimee started web-surfing, went to the Netflix site, and said something about not having seen most of the Star Trek movies.

"You mean you've never seen The Wrath of Khan?" I asked incredulously. "It's the best one!" And, thanks to the magic of the internet, we were suddenly watching it. The Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek movie for many reasons- it is the most violent Trek movie, and the violence is consequential (despite largely being visited upon the engineering crew of the starship); it is an effective meditation upon aging (in subsequent movies, the actors were ironically too old to revisit this theme without unintentional comedy); it features a climactic starship battle that is all the more effective for being eerily silent- but the soul of its greatness springs from the conflict between Kirk and Khan as played by two actors (William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban, respectively) who were so unafraid to go over the top that they seem to collide in midair like two huge and diametrically opposed waves of froth.

Captain Kirk, I assume, needs no introduction. Khan is, apparently, the result of a genetic engineering project to create a super-human Latin Man. He is smooth, super-strong, wildly passionate and, I had the sudden conviction while we watched the film, could single-handedly defeat the U.S. World Cup team 5-2. (See? I am bringing it back to soccer. Thanks for your patience.)

It was with new eyes, then, that I delighted in Kirk turning the tables on Khan. After ambushing and partially disabling Kirk's ship, Khan demands that Kirk turn over secret information about a super-weapon. Kirk has secretly hacked into Khan's ship, disabling its shields, while pretending to dither about giving him the information. "Kirk, for the last time, give me the information!" Khan rages at him. Kirk gives him an enigmatic smile, says, "Here it comes," and then opens fire.

Well, I may be a jingoistic Neanderthal-American, but that movie just cheered me the heck up. So if, like me, this summer of humidity, oil spills, hopeless foreign entanglements, and hapless national soccer teams has dampened your spirit, I recommend a steady dose of Wrath of Khan, Chariots of Fire, and Indiana Jones. Feel free to come over and watch them with us, as long as you put those kids to bed, first.