Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work,
sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.

Vince Lombardi

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to meet up with my father-in-law at an event at the University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium. My in laws have been involved with a organization called Camp Courageous for years and each year the host an event for the campers to meet the Iowa football players and tour the stadium.

On Saturday I helped serve lunch, got a poster signed by the 2o11 Hawkeye seniors and a tour of the stadium. It was an amazing event. Not just because of the beautiful stadium and rubbing shoulders with the (very cute, very tall) football players but also seeing the look of pure joy on the campers' faces being able to participate in a wonderful day like this.

Here's a great article from the event, and here are my fun pictures:

Serving lunch to over 150 people

Welcome from head coach Kirk Ferentz

The group of players lined up to sign and greet.

The kids were so excited!

View of the stadium from the suites.

Sign in the locker room.

My father-in-law, Joe, in Ricky Stanzi's locker.

Some players showing us around the locker room.

Heading out to the field through the tunnel.

On the field!

The whole group.

With some of the players. I wanted a picture because 1.) they were really nice and cute and 2.) I felt extremely dainty and petite next to them and I wanted to capture the moment!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:
  • that all of my St. Louis friends are safe after the terrible tornadoes on Friday night.
  • finally having (kind of) warm and sunny weather after all the rain!
  • the opportunity to spend the day with Camp Courageous at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
  • being able to host Easter here in Iowa and include a friend who would have otherwise been alone today.
  • putting together Nick's goodies from "the Easter bunny."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Every dog must have his day.
Jonathan Swift

One part about this area of Iowa that we live in are the amazing community amenities. I joined the local YMCA and have four branches to choose from for classes and facilities. Beautiful parks along the Mississippi River. And, there is a local dog park that we've heard a lot about.

Do you have children?

Uh, no. We have a Beagle.

Oh, a dog? You have to go to the Bettendorf dog park!

So I got Winnie's rabies' vaccination registered with the city and she was clear to head to the local dog park. Five beautiful acres, full fenced with 6 foot chain link, benches, doggie water fountains and, of course, many delicious Beagle-friendly smells.

Nick and Winnie heading to the dog park gates.

Heading in to check it out (sniffsniffsniff).

I was worried that as an only dog-child, she would not enjoy being in a big area with a bunch of dogs. But she really did love it! She mostly sniffed every square inch of the park and didn't have much interest in playing but she had fun and that's all that matters.

I just love this video because it captures her pure Beagle-filled joy. Ignore my shrill voice (I was praising her for coming when she was called!):

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.
1970's Coca-Cola commercial

As with any move, you notice regional and cultural differences about where you came from to where you are.

There were huge things moving from Florida to St. Louis. Like, um, seasons. And pools not being open year round. Shoveling snow. And everyone wanting to know where you went to high school.

Moving from St. Louis to Iowa, just four hours north, I expected the changes going from a rather large metropolitan area to a smaller region. But my husband is from Iowa. My in-laws live in Iowa. I'm familiar enough with the Midwestern aesthetic that it didn't seem foreign to me.

And, generally, it really isn't too different. But there are little things that make me chuckle and the grocery store is the easiest place to recognize differences.

Side note: there are no Trader Joe's here. Which may make me more sad than not having Publix. Wah. But I am learning to appreciate Hy-Vee and their glorious self-serve food bars.

Anyway, first, what do you call the carbonated beverage that comes in cans or 2-liter bottles?

I call it "soda." Or even the overreaching title of "Coke."

In Iowa, it's "pop." Not just a part of the venacular. It's actually referred to in the grocery store as pop. See:

Yes, I took a picture.

I will be making a consorted effort to call it soda the rest of my life no matter how long I live in Iowa. Sorry.

On another grocery note, I had to explain to a stock girl what capers were. I couldn't find them (they are usually with the pickles) and asked their location. I was answered with a blank stare.

"Um, capers? Um... I don't know what those are."

Have you ever tried to explain what a caper is? Yeah, me either. I had no idea how to describe it so I nicely had her to check with a coworker. Thankfully, two people later, the capers were located and the state of Iowa as a culinary resource was redeemed in my mind.

The Spanish-style chicken with yellow rice and capers I made for dinner that night was delicious. As was the soda I had with lunch today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:
  • it's finally strawberry season again: love them freshly sliced in a bowl with breakfast.
  • Winnie running free at the local dog park.
  • my new YMCA membership, can't wait to get back to Zumba!
  • a stash of non-husband-approved shows like The Real Housewives of New York saved on my DVR.
  • The "Mildred Pierce" miniseries on HBO. Fascinating and beautiful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's hard to imagine a bigger desert oasis than Las Vegas.
Cinnamon Stomberger

A few weeks ago I headed to Las Vegas. Not for a crazy time, but to host a baby shower! Ashley is due in June so I took advantage of being able to see her for a bit before Logan arrives and host a celebration in her honor. I stayed with her and her husband for three nights and then Melissa flew in and we stayed in a hotel for another three. It was the perfect getaway - a mix of friends, their family, relaxation and fun times!

Here are some cute photos of our great week together!

An exciting Wednesday night in Las Vegas - laptops, pups and Conan!

Updating her registry and parking in the special spot!

On Thursday night we headed to The Mirage to see "Love" - it was wonderful!

Melissa arrived on Friday and we headed out to explore The Strip.

The Paris hotel at night.

Headed to The Palms for the Britney Spears special concert,
it was announced that morning and we made it work!

Waiting for Britney to take the stage.

The guest DJ was Pauly D from Jersey Shore.

He was really good and very, very tan!

She put on a great show, her back up dancers were amazing!

One Saturday I hosted Ashley's baby shower at the home of RaeAnna's sister.

The theme was bees with yellow and black and white gingham.

Ashley's dog, Paisley, was the bee greeter!

Lots of generous gifts.



Big spread of great food.

With the mama-to-"bee"

Opening gifts.

With my dear college friends!

Out to dinner at our hotel on Saturday night.

My very first big Vegas buffet on Sunday morning.

Melissa and I then headed to The Strip to explore.

Our favorite spot to see each time we are there is Bellagio's Conservatory that is updated every season. Beautiful, beautiful!

This time the theme was a fantasy garden with a Ferris wheel, big butterflies and bright colors.

Watching the fountains in front of Bellagio.

Our last stop were the Lions at MGM - so sweet!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Where thou art - that - is Home.
Emily Dickinson

After many curses of "we're never moving again" our place is finally in working order. Because this is a rental I sort of staged the whole thing so it looks cute and all the stuff we need is up and out but a lot of our stuff is nicely labeled and boxed in the basement. This was the last of many, many rentals that we looked at before the move. I always joke that this is the one that didn't make me cry. It's a duplex built in the 1970s but has been completely updated inside from windows to the wood floors. New kitchen, new bathroom, new carpet, new everything. Compared to everything we looked at, this was such a relief to find.

The unit from the outside isn't anything to write home about, just cement but well kept and clean. The inside, however, I really love. The couple that owns the whole duplex, the other unit is rented out to a very nice 30-something woman, is about our age and are taking a year abroad in Singapore with the husband's job. Being that they are our age, the style and color choices is very much in tune with what I like and all of our furniture fits nicely.

Here's a little photo tour of our new place:

From the front door, living room and dining room.

To the left, stairs to the bedrooms and bath.

To the right, living room (+ Beagle).

From the dining room.

View of the dining room, painted brick wall and sliding glass doors to the back deck.

From the dining room to the kitchen.

Dining room.

Kitchen wall near the basement door.


Kitchen again.

Heading up the stairs.

The second bedroom is the office/guest room (when I blow up the air mattress!)

Bookcase with guest supplies to the left.

The other, larger room is ours.

Our room.

Bathroom upstairs, it has great slate tile.

Bathroom again with my favorite medicine cabinet (it's huge and holds everything!)

Bathroom, great towel racks installed.

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