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November 28, 2012

Baby Mouse

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Adelaide was cast as a Baby Mouse in our dance studio's production of the Nutcracker earlier this fall. Adelaide has been learning and practicing her part every Friday since September and has loved rubbing elbows with the older, more seasoned performers playing Clara, soldiers, and the rats. Adelaide's Baby Mouse is prominently featured in the ballet's Battle Scene where Clara and the Nutcracker fight an enemy army of rats and defeat the Rat King with a big sword fight. This week, our once-a-week rehearsals have morphed into a busy, late-night-every-night Tech Week at the wonderful old Englert in downtown Iowa City.

On Monday after work, I zipped downtown with Adelaide in tow for her first rehearsal on stage. I had a commitment to teach a childbirth class at the hospital and had only a short time to settle Adelaide into the theatre. We changed from school clothes into her leotard and tights, whipped her hair up into a bun, and found a couple of seats in the audience. The stage was bare to the brickwork back and filled with ballerinas - older girls from Adelaide's studio - practicing their ronde de jambe and pirouttes. Downstage, Adelaide's ballet instructor and the director of the Nutcracker, kept time to the music with a practiced foot. Although the seats was mostly empty when we arrived, I knew that soon it would be bustling with parents and dancers, all ready to take the stage for the first time.

I was completely overwhelmed. I was so torn between wanting to stay and having to leave. Although I knew that Adelaide was safe in the hands of her teachers and other parents and that Joel would be zooming downtown as soon as his work was ended to join Adelaide, I was still overwhelmed. Adelaide doesn't usually like good-byes and will linger over them. At school, Adelaide and I have developed a little farewell mantra to get her through the moment. I say, "Adelaide, you are brave. You are bold. You are strong. And you are loved." And then I give a big hug and she knows that's her cue to separate.

As I hemmed and hawed over my Monday night good-bye to Adelaide, worried about how she would handle being alone without Joel and I for an hour, I watched her rapt with attention to the activities on the stage. Then she suddenly turned, noticing me, smiled a very benevolent smile, and said, "Mama, you are brave. You are bold. You are strong. And you are loved, by me!" She threw her arms around my neck for a beat, pulled back into her seat, and resumed watching the dancers. I could barely move, I was so surprised and delighted. Adelaide turned and looked at me again and said, "OK, Mom, good-bye!"

What could I do? I turned, walked out of the Englert into the frigid night, and left my grown-up six year-old to the guardians and protectors of the theatre.

And she had a great night.

Some may say that theatre is in her blood. Now, I know it is.

November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving


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This Thanksgiving we're thankful for hugs and nuzzles,

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Prairie hikes,

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and high spirits for all creatures great and small.

November 6, 2012

Our Civic Duty

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Happy Election Day!

At Adelaide's school today, lessons in civic responsibility abound. The students were dressed in a sea of red, white, and blue. In Adelaide's classroom, they read a book about a duck who ran for President. Adelaide brought home a worksheet about the book that had a blank for the child to write "This is who I voted for" and in the blank Adelaide wrote "secret"; I think not only lessons about civic responsibility, but civic manners were discussed in her first grade classroom. Adelaide also brought home an Election Day word search and hunted for words like "ballot," "button," "vote," "republican," and "democrat". Three cheers for great new vocab! And finally, Adelaide's school was a precinct polling station, so while the children cast their mock ballots in the library, moms and dads cast their actual ballots in the music room. In the spirit of civic manners, I won't tell you who Adelaide told me she voted for, but I can tell that this was the most fun I've had on Election Day in a long time.

Update: I bounced out of bed this morning, stumbled toward Joel, and asked "Who's president? Who won?" Last night, we eschewed our usual nighttime movie (we're working our way through Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings) for lots of clicking on our laptops to watch the returns come in, but I couldn't keep my eyes open after 10 p.m. and so went to bed without knowing the final results.

This morning, to wrap up our civics lesson, Adelaide, Henry, and I ate our eggs and yogurt while watching the President's acceptance speech on YouTube. At one point, Obama said something like, "And I applaud MItt Romney for all of his hard work on the campaign trail ..." Adelaide snorted and looked at me and said, "That's weird! Mitt Romney and President Obama are going camping?!" Election Day lessons abound ... Even our President could improve his diction! Thank goodness he'll have the next four years to practice. ;)

November 1, 2012

Dragons, Witches, & Doofenschmirtz, Oh My!

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October is one of our favorite months of the year. The wind has a bite, the leaves are crunchy, and Halloween is nigh! We carved four pumpkins in the backyard the weekend before the the big. This year, Adelaide cleaned the guts out of her pumpkin all by herself, but still got a little help from Joel and I for the carving part (Joel has a poorly functioning pinky on his right hand from a pumpkin carving accident when he was but a lad, so we've always had the kids draw their faces on their pumpkins, then grown-ups wield the knives.).

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The day before Halloween, Henry stomped around his dance class wearing his dragon costume. Miss Leslie, Henry's teacher, chirped when the class assembled for a photo: "If you're a dragon, say 'ROAR!' and if you're a princess, say 'Hello!'" Hysterical.

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Henry's tap shoes were the perfect accompaniment to his costume.

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On Halloween day I joined other parents in Adelaide's classroom to help host a Halloween Party for the first graders. We had a ball!

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And, I finally snapped the first photo of Adelaide with her teacher, Miss Beuter, who cleverly dressed as a Lego for the party.

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We bustled home after school, had an omelet supper and then got all dressed up for the big Trick-or-Treating fun: Adelaide, a witch; Henry, a dragon; and Joel, Doofenschmirtz from the Disney's Phineas and Ferb. They looked superb.

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After trick-or-treating for about an hour around the neighborhood, the kids came home and rifled through their loot. Henry ate about seven pieces of candy. Adelaide ate about three. Joel squirreled away all of the kids' Almond Joys and I ate the first Butterfinger I've eaten in probably 20 years ... Just as stick-to-your-teeth-delicious as I remember ...

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Happy Halloween!