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September 30, 2010

"I Never Eat December Snowflakes ...

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...I always wait until January."

We checked out Charlie Brown's Christmas from the Coralville Public Library today (in lieu of The Great Pumpkin). Adelaide and I decided that we're Lucys (but we kind of wish that we were That Little Red-Haired Girl), and Henry is absolutely a Linus (with his ever-present Blankie and all).

Cheers to the hard frost that's coming our way on Saturday!

September 26, 2010

Le Croup, Legwarmers, & Laughter

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The things that make this weekend memorable: Henry's had The Junk (i.e., a snappy cough, a snotty nose, a fussy spirit); I successfully made (and we all devoured) a Pumpkin Roulade with Crystallized Ginger Buttercream - I'm on my way to that Christmas Classic, a Buche de Noel!; I finished Adelaide's latest accessory: a pair of fetching, Autumn-hued legwarmers (which I expect will be the envy of her dance class); and the funniest thing Adelaide has said, to date:

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To set the scene, two adults are conversing about the upcoming Captain American flick, written by our family favorite, Joss Whedon. Adelaide interjects with ...

ADELAIDE: Well, Guys, you know Batman has three buttons on his arm. When he pushes the first button it calls his friend Spiderman. The second button calls Buffy, and the third button calls Spidergirl! And, no, he has five buttons! Because the fourth button calls Iron Man and the fifth button calls The Hulk!

AIMEE: Great counting, Adelaide! And so he can call all his friends when he wants to team up!

JOEL: [Silently has a nerdgasm.]

September 24, 2010

What Ho, Anglophile!

To say that we’ve been watching a lot of Jeeves and Wooster lately would be bit of an understatement.

We’ve been watching simply oodles of Jeeves and Wooster, a series based on P.G. Wodehouse novels that involve the high jinks of bourgeois gadabout Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves in pre-war England.

The series has something for every anglophile: madcap adventures on location at country manors; lisping, pipped great-aunts; agonizing, goofy tete-a-tetes; toe-tapping, jazzy piano tunes; gorgeous glad rags; and simply buckets of tea, martinis, and champagne. However, what has primarily endeared us to Jeeves and Wooster is, namely, Jeeves and Wooster. Played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, this comic duo’s timing and wit are like bread and butter, meant to be.

Last night, we’d taken in Season 3, Episode 6 (entitled “Comrade Bingo”) and Joel - choking back tears - mentioned that this was the last episode of Jeeves and Wooster available to us from Netflix. Gads!

Good thing I double-checked the Netflix selection this morning and found that Season 4 is available! Ducky!

September 17, 2010

Henry's Favorite and His Best

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Henry has had his blanket from birth, or a few days after when it arrived in the mail from great-grandma Mar. But, this year, Henry has grown more and more attached to his crocheted blue and white afghan. He has to have it to rest, he likes to have it nearby when eating (especially at breakfast), and he really, really needs it when he's angry, sad, or hurt. The blanket goes with Henry everyday he goes to day care and I think has been a true familiar friend in a new and strange environment. During times of stress, Henry will cuddle the blanket and push his little fingers through the holes in the pattern and rub the individual threads of yarn between his thumb and forefinger. It's the ultimate soothie, instantly providing warmth, reassurance, and comfort.

September 16, 2010

5:04 p.m. on Thursday Afternoon

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Henry snags a sip from his sister's funky twisty straw cup, as Adelaide chalks, and we all wait for Papa to come home.

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September 14, 2010

Why I Feel Conflicted About Something I Love

I ♥ Football.

To me, Football means Autumn; my favorite season with its changing foliage colors, gourdy harvests, and cool sweater weather. Autumn is punctuated by our favorite family holiday, Halloween; and last year, I trick o’ treated on Saturday night as a Packer Fairy and cheered The Pack versus their arch nemesis, the Minnesota Vikings, on Sunday. I celebrated with vim, vigor, and Love, even.

And then, I read this article.

I read this New Yorker article (which describes the recent findings of brain damage incurred by football players and draws a comparison between football and dog-fighting) with great interest. And finished the article with a heavy heart.

And my feelings about Football began to change.

Football is a great unifier. In the first year of our marriage, Joel challenged me to watch a little football, tolerate some weirdo little-chit-mess-everywhere game he was playing with Nate, and circle my picks every week for a pool pick league (I based my picks on the coolness of the team name; I circled the Ravens a lot in 2001). And because I love Joel, I learned - very quickly - to love Football. I joined my first Fantasy League at Liz and Andy’s house in Portland and ate spinach artichoke dip, drank Bridgeport from a Kegerator, and fell in love with Tiki Barber and Torry Holt. Now, at work on a Saturday morning, I see a co-worker decked out in her sparkly Black-n-Gold Hawkeye apparel and I say, “Go Hawks!” with sincerity and joy in my voice. I proudly tell people that I’m in a Fantasy Football league with my dad, my husband, my sisters, and my brother-in-law, and I am at once both special and ordinary. Our family gathers together for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or any weekend in between, and Football is something that we all share, something we all joke about, something that we all enjoy, in one way or another. (My mom enjoys the presence of the grandkiddos, mostly.)

But, this article, and the others that have followed, have changed things for me.

Football is entertainment.

I understand entertainment. I have a degree in Entertainment. But, in the Theatre, if a Tony-winning actor sustained a concussion after a performance, it would mean headlines.

Players gather together on any given Sunday to smack, crash, and crumple under speed, heat, muscle and sinew of their opponents and teammates. The purpose or intent is to butt heads, if you will. Another way of saying it: To injure themselves for my entertainment. And sure, you can say, well, the players are grown-ups and that they can decide if they want to put their brains and their lives on the line.

But, remember that it starts with pee-wees, little kids, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 years-old, watching their dads beam with pride at their efforts at Catch or on the neighborhood football field. It starts with Friday Night Lights, and hearing the cheers of your friends, neighbors, and that cute girl from your 2nd period Chemistry class. It really revs up in college, especially here in Hawkeye Country, whether you play or not, the devotion to your alma mater is thicker than blood. And then, it continues, as you watch players that you watched last year in your hometown, players like Shonn Green and Pat Angerer, make it to the big leagues.

The Love of the Game is deep-seated.

But, this year, I watch and I cringe, and I hope people don’t get hurt. Forever.

Sigh.

I am conflicted.

September 12, 2010

Run, Don't Walk!

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Hal Pal is a-go-go-go! Dashing off here and there, running from place to place, usually giggling or screaming all the way.

September 6, 2010

Not a Kid In Sight

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When Kelli, Charles, and Owen were planning their trip to Iowa City, there were several MUST-Dos on the To-Do List:

1) Visit Wilson's Apple Orchard to satisfy Kelli's craving for a seriously tart apple.

2) Visit Amana Colonies and snag a bottle of Dry Cranberry for Baby B's post-birth celebrations.

3) Game it up.

When Kelli and Charles were married in August of 2006, Joel and I whispered a silent 'Thank You' to the Gods for giving us Charles, a lover of board games. In those early one-kid days when it was just Adelaide, many nights the four of us stayed up too late playing Fury of Dracula, Arkham Horror, or Catan. But since those days, we're usually just too tired to make it through a game, after running, chasing, and climbing trees with three (and nearly four) little people.

This weekend we took back the game night.

We played a board game at every available turn, mostly Catan, but we also had a Midnight round of Trivial Pursuit: 90s edition.

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Inspired.

September 2, 2010

Tiny Dancer

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Adelaide was critical of last year's dance class for the 3-4 year-old set at our local community center. The teacher, trying to strike a balance between organized chaos and meltdown, would lead the group in a series of wacky jumps and twirls that I would call "Creative Movement," but Adelaide called, "Not Ballet." Adelaide would ask, "When I am going to learn real Ballet?"

We'd checked out enough books at the library starring Angelina Ballerina and the charming "Time for Ballet" by Adele Geras for Adelaide to know what was true and false, so we decided to sign her up for a weekly dance class at a local studio ... Ooo. Real Ballet.

Our first class met this morning. I watched through the one-way mirrored windows and said to another parent, "I wish I was four."

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"You can be," she said. "They have classes for adults, too."

September 1, 2010

Rest Stop

As I've mentioned before, our trip north to Marmee & D's is about a seven hour trip one-way with Adelaide and Henry and all the requisite stops along the way: dipe changes, gas stops, lunch layover, and lately, impromptu vomit breaks. Adelaide has developed a nasty case of Car Sickness, seeming to lose her cookies at least once every trip this summer. It's gross, it's messy, and it makes the trip just that much longer.

So when we drove up this past weekend to draft our fantasy football teams, cheer Erin off to college, and generally share our lovely summertime colds with our loving family, we decided to try a new tactic: Driving on Through! For Adelaide, we also banned too many books and laptop movies; we encouraged lots of "I Spy" out the window; we made her chew lots of minty gum; and we did not stop for a huge calorie-bomb lunch, choosing instead to nibble and snack on veggies and crackers the whole way. With brief pauses for restrooms and gas-ups, we made it to our destination, St. Paul, in about five hours! And hooray, no yucky projectile incidents!

We stopped in St. Paul, an hour shy of Marmee & D's, to reward our efforts with an hour and a half of play at the children's museum. We stretched our legs and ran around the Wizard of Oz exhibit and played in the Habitot (a nature-themed play area for kids four and under). We had a blast, and made it to Marmee & D's before rush hour hit!

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Joel constructs Dorothy's rainbow over the Yellow Brick Road.

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"Howdy, Miss Gulch!" Do you think that it was Elmira Adelaide Gulch?

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Henry plays the Wizard by pushing all kinds of colorful, blinking buttons.

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A hug in the Habitot's snowy window overlooking downtown St. Paul.