Catching up– 2nd half of 2012

Warning– long post. Grab a seat and a beverage….
Clearly, we missed a lot of stuff at the end of 2012. So this will be the catch-up post to capture the key events after the last catch-up post in July.

The girls were heavily into their summer camps in July. E did a lot at the Des Moines Playhouse, including the Wizard of Oz and a musical called Dear Edwina in which she had a solo and did a great job. J was at a camp at the Civic Center that put on The Secret Garden. She was a flower in the garden and had a great experience. And was completely adorable. Also in July, we headed to Omaha to visit Tamar, who was there for work. She was over 6 months pregnant with her twins and it was so great to see her. When she had to go to work, I took the girls to the Omaha Zoo and we had a great time. It’s a terrific zoo and we will go back. The girls also went to their first opera, Don Giovanni, which they really enjoyed. They paid attention the whole time. The Des Moines Metro Opera is excellent and we were all impressed. And, of course, July brought the first day of school! 3rd grade and 1st grade. Amazing.

In August, a neighbor and I resurrected the neighborhood block party– it was a great time with over 50 people attending. We had games, food, a firetruck and a police car came by for the kids to see, and nice conversation. A lot of fun. Also in July, Jenn & Kent and their 3 kids came through Urbandale on their way back to Denver from their time at the family cottage in Canada. It was a brief but really fun visit. In August, Sarah became an Iowan with her arrival at Grinnell for college! And we had two big celebrations– the Cotter clan came to Urbandale for a weekend, initially prompted by Deb’s work trip to Des Moines, but quickly morphing into a 75th birthday party for my mom. It was a great time. And E had her birthday celebration at Mall of America and Waterpark of America. We went up there with the Stutlers on a long weekend and enjoyed time at the water park, the American Girl store, and the rides at Mall of America.

We spent Labor Day in Elgin at Aunt Denny’s and enjoyed celebrating with the whole family. Also in September, J started her clay class at the Art Center, which prompted her to create many fantastic projects. E started soccer again and also got her braces. We had a great little excursion to the Valle Drive-In with the Stutler family, where we saw Brave and an Ice Age movie; and the girls and I enjoyed an overnight Girl Scouts trip with E’s troop. J got to come, too, and the campfire, horseback riding, nature walk, and other forms of fun were a great experience for all of us.

In October, J started tennis and Girl Scouts, in addition to her art class. She continues to enjoy all three! We also went to the pumpkin patch with Sarah– our usual pumpkin patch in Grinnell, right near her new school! In addition, we can’t forget that it was heavy campaign season in Iowa. I had been volunteering for Obama weekly since the spring, and it was beginning to get down to the wire. Michael was able to take the girls to see Jon Bon Jovi at a concert in downtown Des Moines in support of Obama. Unfortunately, I had a work event, so I had to miss it. Of course, Halloween was an October highlight.

November’s highlights were the election– it was a great feeling to have been part of the volunteering team, even right up until the very last night before the election; a visit to North Carolina to visit Meredith with Jenn, and Thanksgiving in New England. A very good month. The day before the election, I got to go to downtown Des Moines for the Obamas’ (and Bruce Springsteen’s) last rally before the election. The photo below was taken at about 10 PM on election eve. A really exciting night. We always enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities with family at Aunt Margie & Uncle Peter’s house. And, of course, the real live wild turkeys that wander around Nanny & Granddaddy’s backyard add to the authenticity.

Unfortunately, the week before Christmas, J fell on the playground at school and needed to get 7 stitches. That was the “lowlight” of December. But she’s better now and we’re hopeful the scar won’t be too visible. However, more important to spend time on December’s highlights– all the Christmas celebrations, including baking with Ms. Celeste, and then our trips to Elgin for Christmas and to Baltimore and Philadelphia to visit friends in the week after Christmas. Great visits with the Van Dykes, Serenbetzes, Charliers, Spinosas, and Carnalls. We are lucky to have such great friends, but we wish they were closer!! With the Van Dykes, all the kids got to ride ponies. With the Serenbetzes, we went to Disney on Ice and a fantastic restaurant called Max Brenner, home of the chocolate syringe for dessert! And it was so terrific that the Spinosas could host us at their new house that had room for all 4 families– their own, plus the Carnalls, Charliers, and us. A really wonderful way to ring in the new year with 8 adults and 9 kids all enjoying ourselves immensely.

So that’s the end of 2012 in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the ride with us!

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Oct 30th – Beggars Night

In Iowa, trick-or-treating is on the night before Halloween. You need to tell a joke to get a treat. We had a nice group of kids this year. E chose to be a disco ball. There is a slight fusion of disco and rap. J is a pumpkin spice fairy. She loved the wig, but it got hot after about 15 min of running from house to house.

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A nice visit with Sarah

Yesterday, Sarah took a shuttle from Grinnell to the Jordan Creek Mall in Des Moines and after a few hours shopping with her friends, we were lucky enough to get to have dinner with her. We are so glad she let us know she’d be in town.

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