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May 31, 2013

Return of Deposit

Adelaide's been bringing home a lot of stuff from school this week, cleaning out the classroom in preparation for the big last day. One of the smaller items was a zip-lock bag with $1.23 in change. I immediately recognized it as the bag I rustled up grumpily one morning last fall in response to her last minute demand, "Miss Beuter says we need to bring some change for math class!"

"Why can't they use pretend plastic money? Or simply count small pebbles and stones like we did back in my day?" I groused as I dug around for random coins. Our household has largely transitioned to an imaginary economy- we swipe various plastic cards or click on brightly-colored internet links in exchange for goods and services- and so to find $1.23 of American currency before my coffee had taken effect was something of a feat.

Also, the idea that Adelaide had to bring money to school when we'd already purchased school supplies, classroom supplies, paid for lunches, and, most expensive at all, paid for her child care via the Extended Day Program... the $1.23 smacked of an added surcharge for no discernable reason, like a poorly-explained fee from the phone company.

But, she learned some math this year. She's pretty good at working with coins, which are an obvious building block toward manipulating decimals and fractions. And she brought the bag home with the same $1.23. I'm out the $0.00001 I might have earned in interest, so I'll call it even.

May 28, 2013

The Ram Pub Safe: A Game

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One of my favorite memories of our Memorial Day weekend trip to South Dakota was our Friday night supper at the Ram Pub in Brookings. A long time Miron family favorite, I'd been to the Ram many times with Joel and his parents in our early courtship. On those occasions, I most likely spent more time looking at Joel and wondering how I looked than noticing my surroundings, so visiting the Ram this time was like visiting it for the first time all over again.

Joel charmed Adelaide and I by telling us that the old safe that greeted us in the vestibule had been locked for years and that no one knew what was inside. Inspired by our love of a good mystery, Adelaide and I thoroughly inspected the outside of the safe and tried the jammed combination locks. Alas, no luck. We couldn't open the safe, but passed the time back in our booth imagining what might be trapped inside. Adelaide made a rule that we had to go around the table and each think of three things that were inside. Here's our list:

Adelaide: Spectacles, a key, and The Book of Three

Aimee: Chicken egg on a bed of hay, Seeds, and a farmer's straw hat

Adelaide: Light bulb, piggy bank, Page from a calendar for July 1983

Aimee: China doll, a penny, and a first edition of Winnie-the-Pooh

Joel: A pearl-handled hairbrush and a packet of letters

Aimee: A photograph of Al Capone signed "with love," and a bottle of hooch with a fifty cent piece in the bottom of the jar

Adelaide: Olympic bronze medal for cycling, a newspaper, and a signed picture

Joel: 37 odd socks

Adelaide & Aimee: an hour glass with running sand, a goose feather, a pocket watch, and a spelling test

Adelaide: a bike tire, a picnic blanket, and a teapot

Adelaide: a skull and a bible

Henry listened on and played with the straw from his Not-a-Colada, and then the food arrived.

May 27, 2013

Someplace Special

Called to the prairie to celebrate friendships, we visited Brookings, South Dakota this weekend. Joel had a great time quietly reminiscing, looking at the old, familiar places and smiling at the new ones.

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Funny, Brookings used to be "Someplace Special," but now it's a place to "Bring Your Dreams".

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Still, some of the same businesses line the downtown streets,

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and you can still get a Not-a-Colada at the Ram Pub.

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This old place is still up and running,

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as is this one.

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There are some new features that make us laugh and wonder

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in the old home place.

May 23, 2013

Conservation Lesson

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Yesterday I joined Adelaide and her first grade class on a field trip to Kent Park, just west of Iowa City. We had a great day from start to finish, learning Earth Day lessons about conservation.

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One of the highlights for Adelaide was getting the chance to wear Iowa's most common constrictor: Elaphe vulpina vulpina, or Fox Snake. (One of Adelaide's classmates observed, "This guy is really grippy!" as the snake wound around his arm and neck.

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We ambled outside for a prairie hike and imagined what the prairie would look like in few months at its peak height, over 12 feet tall! We identified lots of flora, including Prairie Shooting Star, Golden Alexander, Mountain Mint, Prairie Dock, Sweet Cicley, Burr Oak and Cottonwood.

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After our prairie hike, we went down to a Prairie Pothole Wetland (i.e., pond) and got a chance to peak in on the fauna. We saw a Painted Turtle sunning on a partially submerged log in the middle of the pond, and netted a few cool creatures, including a dragonfly nymph, fly larvae, and a toad tadpole!

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And what Field Trip would be complete without a special sack lunch eaten with friends on the grass ... Cheeto, anyone?

May 16, 2013

One More Iowa Mai

It's that sweet, fragrant, itchy time of year here in eastern Iowa. The lilacs and bleeding hearts are in bloom, the bugs and frogs are singing in the backyard, the neighbors are putting out fresh mulch, we're wearing shorts everyday now, and the calendar flips toward the end of another academic year. The rotation of the seasons brings our family to this May, feeling a little more anxious, a little more excited, and a little more sentimental.

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One more round down by the old Millstream in Amana ... We first met when we made the offer on our home in Iowa City sitting on the steps of the little brewery and have had a lot of happy times picnicking and sampling the beer with friends and family on their porch ... In Heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here ...

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One more roundabout on the ponies at a festival in Amana ... Patrick, Snickers, Butterscotch, we'll miss you, too. Giddyap Ponies!

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A couple more chances to hang upside-down with our best friends before the school year draws to a close ...

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One last invitation to this annual event ... The Roast.

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Except this year, the food was fantastic and our name is on the program ... I've waited a long time to see this day; one of many Graduation Days in Joel's life, and a proud, proud one. I am so proud of Joel's hard, hard work, his patience with himself and others, his gifted memory, his problem-solving, and his willingness to show up.To quote a wise man, Confucius says “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

But most of all, I am proud of Joel's good sense of humor. Without it, how could you swallow that bitter pill of experience, with its maddening ups and downs, rights and wrongs? Good thing that Confucius also say "half of a large intestine is equal to one semicolon."

Happy Graduation Day, Joela.

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One more time, we prepare our para diddles and plies with friends wearing our glitter and tulle to celebrate the end of our tenure in Iowa City with a big, dancy finale ... (Our bunhead is the first one on the left, and our Baby Gene Kelly is in the Hawaiian shirt on the right.)

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One more foray into the Mushroom Forest to say good-bye to all the paths, steps, meadows, glens, bridges, and gnome-homes. And still one more time to sit at the edge of the forest, perched on an ancient fossil and stand tall with the May wind across Coralville Lake making your hair ruffle at its bidding ...

There are many more things and people to remember, but these are the ones that I'm thinking about today.