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October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun

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I met Adelaide at school this afternoon to help host a little Kindergarten Halloween fun in her classroom. We paraded around the halls in our get-ups and then split of into groups to play bingo, decorate cupcakes, make foam pumpkin faces, and hear spooky stories (e.g., Bears in the Night, The Gruffalo, The Very Brave Witch, Where the Wild Things Are, and the like).

Then we dashed home for more Halloween fun with Papa ...

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Adelaide, as Cleopatra, Henry, a dragon, and Joel, a ghost - although somebody did mistake Joel for a mime. Good idea for next year!

October 16, 2011

Runner Girl

I saw a flyer for Adelaide's elementary school track club at the back-to-school ice cream social. I was caught up in the enthusiastic newness of the evening's festivities, so I incautiously pointed it out to Adelaide. Perhaps listening to the certainty of my voice, she never questioned whether an extra-curricular activity that amounted to running laps around the school (which, to my mind, makes it a cross-country club) would be fun. In the days that followed she kept reminding me about the club, and I kept agreeing that we'd give it a try.

That first Wednesday evening was a test. Track Club is from 6-7 p.m. I arrived home from work at 5:10 and, by 5:45 p.m. supper was finished but not fully cleaned up. I had had a beer, Adelaide seemed tired from her day, and she hadn't mentioned the Club. The temptation to skip it was strong. "You want to be a father that follows through on stuff," I told myself sternly, and so we went and had a great time, running quarter-mile laps around the school with breaks to mess around on the playground and drink extremely watery gatorade.

A week or two later, Adelaide brought home an advertisement for Race For the Schools. "We would get t-shirts and a medal for running!" she exclaimed. And pay $50 for the privelege I muttered internally. So we signed up for it.

Race day was beautifully cool and clear. We pinned on our numbers and found the starting line. There were five different road races: 1/2 mile, mile, 5K, 10K, and half-marathon. Adelaide was able to run a half mile without stopping and without getting too tired at Track Club, so I signed us up for the mile. We soon discovered, however, that all her friends were just doing the half. With wide and solemn eyes, Adelaide watched them start, disappear up the street, and then come staggering back. She didn't join in the cheering as we jogged in place, waiting for our turn.

Her feet, already big for her body, seemed enormous in her running shoes. The announcer called out that a little girl was waiting for her grandparents at the turn-around point of the race. I started to get nervous.

And then we were off, running carefully in a crowd of bigger kids who weaved around each other like a swarm of bees. Right away a little boy next to us tripped over his own feet and sprawled headlong, taking out the runner behind him. A couple hundred yards down the street a girl staggered to a stop, clutching her chest. A little further on, another one burst into tears and sat down on the boulevard. Parents jogging with their kids said anxious things like, "Are you getting that stitch in your side?" and, "At this point in the race you have to remember not to tighten your shoulders!" As Adelaide jogged along stoically, I limited my comments to "Almost to the turn-around," and "All downhill, now."

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Adelaide never broke stride as we came down the hill for the last 200 yards. And then we saw the cheering crowds, her P.E. teacher calling her name, Aimee calling her name, and her enormous feet began to fly. Her bangs flipped up, she pumped her tiny arms, and the finish line rushed toward us. Crossing the finish line into the chute, Adelaide seemed not to know what to do at first, turning wildly left and right. "We did it!" I shouted, "we're done!" She nodded, stone-faced, and silently accepted her ribbon. I sneakily checked her pulse while giving her a hug- it was regular and only a little fast. She could have run much faster. I changed that observation to, "Adelaide, you could have run much farther!" She shrugged, then joined her friends at a nearby park for some post-race exertion.

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I'm not sure if Adelaide will turn out to be a track star, as the idea of competition can be overwhelming for her. But maybe, if we keep going out together, she'll turn out to be a runner.

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October 4, 2011

Roll Out the Barrel!

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It's that wunderbar time of year again when the autumn leaves begin to turn golden and we crack a keg of Oktoberfest, take our brats with kraut, and sing along with our favorite Oompa band! This year, our Oktoberfest in Amana was enhanced by the presence of our German relations, the Wurzbergers!

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Kelli, Charles, Eloise, and Mom patiently wait for their pints of Oktoberfest, brats, and hot German potato salad while enjoying the glorious autumn day.

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New to this year's Oktoberfest fun, a merry-go-round of ponies delighted Henry!

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Mom makes her own concertina to sing along to "Edelwiess" and "You Are My Sunshine" much to Erin's amusement.

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Adelaide got the most spectacular face paint I'd ever seen!

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Henry and Erin enjoy their spicy root beer down by the old Millstream.

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Abandoning her paper concertina for a plastic cup of Oktoberfest, Marmee and Adelaide rock out to a cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock n' Roll."

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D and Hal take a rest in the afternoon shade, a day at Amana well-played.