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December 23, 2011

Please Send Some Snow!


We're enjoying our winter break without the presence of our favorite seasonal ornament: Snow!


In fact, today we bundled up - it's still cold - and played with sidewalk chalk and tossed the football with Ophelia on the green grass in the backyard.


December 22, 2011

Anniversary Interloper


Tonight, Joel and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. Over a decadent meal of shrimp pasta and sparkling wine, we reflected on the craziness of our wedding day and had our annual State of the Union address. Turns out that getting hitched at the courthouse with one's parents as witnesses, a couple of days after graduating from college and a couple of days before Christmas, is a little crazy from our current perspective. But, whose wedding isn't a little stressful? The State of the Union is strong, despite a few healthcare hiccups this year, and we're optimistic about the future with fellowship and potty training ahead.

After cleaning up the kitchen, feeding Ophelia, sweeping the floor, doing baths and bedtime with kids, Joel and I snuck downstairs with another bottle of bubbles, a clever, little sausage and cheese nosh, and Downton Abbey for some well-deserved cozy snuggling. It was about 9:00 p.m.

We were about ten minutes into the show, when Henry came toddling downstairs.

"Hey Guys!" Henry said, cheerfully, as if he was a co-worker that we'd just run into at a local bar.

"Hi," we replied, surprised, not knowing what else to say.

Henry seized the moment, crawled up on the couch between Joel and I, ate all of our snack (minus the bubbles, of course), and proceeded to make occasional rude comments about our choice of movie, saying "This is boring," and "Why is it so dark?"

Still, he happily chewed and viewed with us until we'd decided that it was bedtime for us.

Happy Anniversary.

December 20, 2011

Christmas Movie Quiz


Best movie line among the Christmas movies we've watched so far this year ... So very funny, in face, that Joel and I ran it back and chortled some more.

Emma Allen: This place used to be a grist mill and a barn. Now it's a Tyrolean haunted house.

Can you name the movie?

December 19, 2011

A Grand Visit


Grandma Molly and Grandpa Doug visited our house last weekend on the first leg of their Christmas 2011 tour. They brought along the usual Mironish Christmas conviviality and tradition, beginning with a most excellent batch of gingerbread cookies.


Recitations of new literature were enjoyed; in this case, The Slurpy Burpy Bear, a holiday gift courtesy of Henry and Adelaide's thoughtful daycare providers.


We had a fun morning in Amana with an outdoor picnic and a visit to the Tannenbaum Forest, a Christmas tree wonderland.


Guess who was waiting to meet us inside the Forest?


We shared many new, delightful Christmas gifts with one another.


Henry and Doug played for hours with Henry's new wooden tool box.


But, the highlight of the gift opening had to be the Father-Son Matching Hammers of Thor, received from Phoebe and Dave. Hours of Norse God battle ensued.


Adelaide was so charmed by the red moccasins that Molly and Doug had made for her that she even wore them to bed!

December 13, 2011

Holiday Bustle


The holiday season is upon us, Toadsland, and we're decking the halls and trimming the tree! Last year we traveled for Christmas and this year - due to work commitments - we'll be celebrating the season at home, so we're pulling out all the stops for a merry, merry Christmas. With big to-do lists for cookies, shopping, wrapping and celebrating, we're reminded that getting to the 25th is half the fun!


In addition to her nightly performances of selections from The Nutcracker, Adelaide crafted a Countdown to the Last Day of School. Only seven more days to go before a big, long break!


I've made a few jars of a festive new jam to pass along as gifts.


Ever anxious to pull out the glitter and paints, Adelaide and Henry have spent many happy afternoons making their own Christmas presents for family and friends.


There's nothing like a good, warm rice pudding topped with a meringue mountain that comforts a body and a healing mouth in a busy holiday season.


Another comforting necessity is homemade bread; Henry's helping to knead a loaf of pumpkin challah. (Uncle Charles, you must try this one!)


On Saturday afternoon, St. Nicholas, that jolly, old saint of yore who likes to leave early Christmas packages nestled in the shoes of good children, stopped by during nap time to leave new ornaments and pajamas for Adelaide, Henry, and Joel. Adelaide thoughtfully said, "Mama, how come St. Nicholas didn't leave anything for you?" Hmm, I thought, I must reply carefully to this one ... But then Adelaide said, "Oh, Mom! You forgot to leave your shoes out!"

Next year, I'll try to remember to leave my shoes out like everyone else did.


December 7, 2011

A Christmas Quest

Unfortunately, a while ago, Joel noticed that our copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was missing from our bookshelf.

Super unfortunately, today he really needed it.

Whether we’d loaned it out or lost it somewhere in the last move, neither of us had seen Norrell and Strange for a good long while. It’s not an easy book to lose; our hardback copy probably weighs a solid five pounds and is a dramatic black with the title and author emblazoned in bold, white printing down the spine and cover. I'd bought it for Joel several Christmases ago and have been quite pleased with its presence in our library. And, most importantly, Joel loves it.

But, back to our saga, for Joel, work is going really well. He’s able to balance his Chiefly Chief role of wining and dining and touring and schmoozing with the Stooge-Getting-the-Job done and manages to trim the diagnoses with an extra little helping of Really Smart from time-to-time.

That is when he’s not coping with a post-surgical complication.

Inside his head.

Last August, Joel finally had his wisdom teeth removed. Suffice to say, it was a rough recovery with a big swollen jaw, difficulty eating, and pain, snot, pain, bloody snot, pressure, pain, and on and on for a while. A long while. Joel’s been suffering from intermittent bouts of malaise, night sweats, and exudate since August. He has adopted my old blue bandana, my one-time hair accoutrement (circa 1997), and turned it into a hanky that permanently lives in his left-hand pocket.

Poor thing.

(Joel, not the hanky.)

And through it all, he works. As long as he's got plenty of Ibuprofen and a great work of science fiction to appeal to his inner-English Major.

Well, yesterday things finally came to a head (as it were). Joel awoke with a swollen right cheek and a lot of jaw pain. I said (very gently), “Maybe you should try to get in with Family Practice today?” Family Practice is my favorite; they’re friendly, they’ll give you pain medicine or antibiotics and they rarely use needles in the office, or ever! Joel grumbled, “I think that I’ll have to call Oral Surgery.” And then, Joel went to work, but then today,

Joel called in sick.

Whoa. (He never calls in sick.)

But, he still walked Ophelia at 6:20 this morning. (What a trooper!)

So, later this morning, after a quick consult with ENT, Joel revisited the same office, the same room, and the same chair, in fact, as when he had his wisdom teeth removed in August to drain an old abscess. Poor friend, the abscess was just really getting started, but thankfully was just in the pouchy, fatty part of Joel’s cheek and not in glands (eek!) or bone (yikes!).

But, I picked up Joel battle-scarred from his morning. You know how it goes: first ENT, then Oral Surgery, then X-Ray, then procedure, and then, but then, the long wait for Pharmacy. You began at 8:00 and you’re finally leaving around noon. On top of that, I think that Joel’s procedure was pretty painful.

Well, back to the whole Norrell and Strange quest ... So, I dropped Joel off at the hospital and he agreed to text me throughout the morning so I’d know what was going on and when to schlep back up to the hospital to pick him up. I dropped the kids off at their various places of daily stimulation and then went to the grocery store.

When things seemed to be taking a bit longer than we’d originally intended, I decided - as one does during this time of year - to go Christmas shopping! What better balm for the worried spirit than to shop! How liberating, in fact, to shop for the person that one is worried about! How liberating and thoughtful, I congratulated myself, to buy Joel a copy of a book he’s missing and treasures on this day of all days.

Armed with my thoughtfulness, I stopped by our local independent bookseller, Prairie Lights, to see if they had a copy. Paul, bookseller extraordinaire-guru, greeted me, as he always does, “Can I help you find something to read?”

“Well, actually, I’m looking for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. By Susannah Clarke? Do you have a copy?

“Hmm. I think that book’s out-of-print. Let me check.”

Ohmigod. This is Paul. He’s the guy who know’s every book that’s been published. Ever. If he thinks N&S is out-of-print, it must be true. Paul knows all.

“Oh, no,” I said, “it can’t be out-of-print! I only bought it for my husband a few years ago [Fact check: nearly eight years ago. Whoopsie-daisy, time flies!] for Christmas! He’s lost or loaned out his copy, and he really, really needs a new one.”

“Well,” says Paul after much hunting-and-pecking on what looks like an Apple IIe, “I think that I can scrounge up a paperback next week. Shall I order it?”

“Yes! YES!” says I.

Pleased, but not satisfied, I left Prairie Lights.

I left Prairie Lights and drove directly to The Haunted Bookshop.

The Haunted Bookshop is downtown, but a little out of the way. It’s clean, but absolutely cluttered, floor-to-ceiling with some new, but mostly used books. And cats. The Haunted Bookshop keeps at least three, if not more, cats. They wander about the store, checking inventory, judging people’s purchases, and preventing the really good books from leaving by snoozing on beautiful, vintage copies of Ivanoe and first editions of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Guess who had a mint, hardback copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke for $13.95?

The Haunted Bookshop.

Guess who has it now?


Merry Christmas, Joel. I hope that you feel much, much better soon.

Post-script ... I plan to also buy the paperback copy that will be arriving next week from Prairie Lights. As the bookseller at The Haunted Bookshop said when I told her how happy I was to find a copy, “You can never have too many copies of this book. I have three.”

December 5, 2011

Finding the Spirit of the Season


On Sunday afternoon, Adelaide and I met some dear friends for brunch at a delightful little out-of-the-way spot, Leaf Kitchen. We savored the ricotta pancakes, salmon eggs benedict, and coffee, but our true pleasure was the gathering itself. We felt quite pleased with ourselves as we brunched and chatted and laughed.


Following our brunch, we met Joel and Henry at the Englert downtown for this year's Nutcracker. Everyone was charmed by the ballet, but I was especially charmed by Adelaide who whispered to me during the Grande Pas de Deux, "That's passé." as the Sugar Plum Fairy bent one leg and touched her toe to her her opposite knee. Our weekly dance lessons are having an impact!

After the show, Adelaide and Henry treated us to their own version of the show, inspired by their favorite moments: Henry chased Adelaide as the Rat King while Adelaide whirled and twirled as the Snow Queen.