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July 26, 2011

Safety First at the Johnson County Fair

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This is my favorite picture of our morning at the Johnson County fair. Joel and I have taught Adelaide and Henry to "make a paw" with their hands when meeting new dogs, so that the kids learn the safe and appropriate way to approach strange canines. They proffer the backs of the hands, paw-form, for the new dogs to sniff their approval before petting and playing.

Apparently, the lesson has been learned. And deemed appropriate for all animals, including the calves at the fair's petting zoo.

July 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby ...

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Although my Joela is a little more than 16 candles, we love you more richly than we even imagined that we could ever love you at 19 candles.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful birthday with all of us, who are so glad that you're here and having fun with us! With great love,

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your Julia Child,

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& your Rodney Dangerfield, & Me.

July 22, 2011

Closing Credits

Joel and I, playing hooky from our responsibilities to parenting, patient care, and the fussy air conditioner, took in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 this afternoon.

Our love affair with Harry Potter began a little bit after I was first introduced to the idea. Tired of studying one hot summer night, my roommate and I sought the late-night coffee-house comfort of a St. Paul Barnes and Noble. We were greeted by an army of kids and their parents, dressed in odd garb - long, homemade cloaks, spectacles, and lightning bolts emblazoned across their foreheads - awaiting midnight and the dispersement of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I remember saying to my roommate, “Isn’t this great? Kids and their parents, out late, having fun together, all for a book?!?!”

By the time Joel and I were snuggled up in our newlywed apartment in Colorado, no less than four Harry Potters had been published, but I’d not read a single volume. In that tiny apartment, in those spare, wintery days of our newly wedded bliss, we tore through the first Harry Potter, Joel reading aloud, me listening and poking the fire in the little fireplace.

And we were hooked ...

Or, and so it went ... For all the Harry Potters. I’ve not ever read a single volume on my own, and yet I’ve heard many of the books multiple times, either read by Joel or Jim Dale (I’m still aching to get my hands on a copy of the British audiobook, performed by Stephen Fry. Christmas list, anyone?).

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We’ve participated in a lot of Potter-related mania ... I recall a fantastic dinner party, in celebration of my twenty-somethingth birthday in Oregon, when the gang dressed up as their favorite Potter characters and then we trouped off to the movie in our get-ups and had a roaring good time (Does anyone have photos from that night?). I recall the release of the Half-Blood Prince when my sister worked at a Barnes and Noble and we went and Joel dressed up as Remus Lupin and won a Harry Potter calendar as a “Best Costume Prize”. And then, I recall sitting around a friend’s living room with their middle-school-aged sons, making predictions after finishing the Half-Blood Prince, wondering how it all would end.

Then, suddenly, a couple of years later, the series did end. For Joel and I, it ended in a car trip from South Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. It was one of the most breathless car trip read-alouds ever.

This afternoon, watching the final installment of the films at a matinee, hand-in-hand, on our little, sneak-away Day Date, was a treat. We chuckled, we took in our breath sharply, we cried (me, three times), and we applauded.

Here’s why I would go see it again, if I could: (Spoilers!)

1) The Opening. The final bit of the final book is really Snape’s, after all, isn’t it? (After listening to the book again and now seeing the movie, Snape is still as elusive as ever. Perfect Henry Jamesish ambiguity.)
2) Helena Bonham Carter being Emma Watson as Hermoine as Bellatrix LeStrange after drinking a bit of Polyjuice Potion. Meta.
3) The Gringott’s Dragon: the pity, the scrabble, and then, the deep breaths of freedom before flight.
4) Neville Longbottom just came out of that bloody painting! Bloody BRILLIANT!
5) McGonagall and Flitwick and Slughorn and the other professors casting the protective enchantments over Our School, Hogwarts - It made me cry.
6) Neville Longbottom’s going to go to battle in that sweater? Very well!
7) I felt a little sorry for Voldemort after he realized that Harry killed the diadem ... Until he Avada Kedavraed that poor Death Eater on his way to the boathouse.
8) Snape’s death and parting gift. His memories also made me cry.
9) Harry’s family and friends encouraging him in the Forbidden Forest. What a tear-jerker, Gary Oldman! Sorry, random guy who played Harry’s Dad, you get second billing to Sirius.
10) Dumbledore. So glad to have Michael Gambon back for a bit of truth and humor.
11) Narcissa Malfoy ... You knew you’d get your moment. Well played.
12) Didn’t Voldemort seem so happy, bringing all of his Death Eater chums to the destroyed Hogwarts in triumph with Harry’s body?
13) The tiniest shred of the Madcap Hero that lives inside of Harry’s Stalwart Hero came out with the line: “Come on Tom, let’s finish this.”
14) I kind of wanted Neville Longbottom to kill Nangini right in front of Voldemort, but all’s well that end’s well, eh?
15) I love how Harry and Voldemort’s spells were beyond words at the very end, but that we still saw that Harry got him with “Expelliarmus” as the wand arcs, end-over-end, in silence.
16) Back at King’s Cross, 19 years later, was just a little denoument gift ... Here were these kids, all growns up now, just living the life that they always wanted to, but thought they wouldn’t for awhile there.
17) 37-year-old Ron’s outfit: Somewhat-successful car salesman.

What a run. What a blast. What a gift to us all. Thanks HP. You’re the best. I can’t wait to introduce you to my kids someday.

July 18, 2011

Beat the Heat

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Internal Temperature: 101°

External Heat Index: 107°

Adelaide and Henry have captured their traditional summertime colds just in time for our heat wave. We've broken down and bought Bomb Pops to break our fevers.

July 3, 2011

First of July Weekend Fun

Joel had a long weekend of call scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so the kids and I scooted up to St. Cloud for some fun in the glorious July sun!

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For the first time the kids splashed on the shore of a Minnesota lake. We drove out to Kramer Lake, near St. Augusta, on a terribly hot, hot afternoon and everybody felt refreshed after a dip!

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We came home from the lake, tired, happy, and hungry. While we were making supper, a huge storm blew up. Everybody collected in the basement while the power flickered on and off and the sirens wailed.

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We weren't stuck in the basement for too long, though, and were soon able to celebrate BIg D's birthday in style with a homemade banana split ice cream cake! Happy Birthday D!

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Henry and Owen had a blast together all weekend, chasing, tickling, running, (not always) sharing, and playing. I don't think that we could have planned it more perfectly to have these two little guys growing up side-by-side.

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It was fun to see how advanced baby Eloise becoming with her well-planned attempts at crawling and to be the recipient of one of her smiles. Her mom always smiles so nice, too.

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But perhaps the highlight of our trip was the boat ride on Saturday afternoon at Big Watab lake. Big D got the boat up and running again for this summer, and it made me feel like a real Minnesotan coasting across beautiful blue water over the waves.

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Just in case you're wondering, five is really the best age to have your first dip in a lake, to try and catch minnows at the boat landing, and to go for your first boat ride. Adelaide didn't stop smiling all weekend long.

Thanks for the great weekend!