Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's What's For Dinner

Tonight was a culinary free-for-all at our house. I decided to make tacos and let Lola decide what should go with them. She chose her ‘world-famous guacamole’ and our version of Russian-style potatoes (sliced and fried in a pan with olive oil). It was really quite good!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fire and Ice

Well, I’ve had my fourth ice-skating lesson and I believe that I may actually be improving! I’m learning the front crossovers as well as the turn to go from forward to backward. The crossovers are coming along nicely, and I’ve noticed that I’m much more comfortable crossing over toward the right (crossing the left foot over the right) than I am toward the left. Honestly, the crossover to the left is like a foreign country to me. Isn’t it interesting that something that seems so seamless and natural on one side can be so utterly and seemingly IMPOSSIBLE on the other? It’s as if my left side is afraid and my right side isn’t! My coach advised me the best way to even things up is to practice the bad side twice as much as the good side. We shall try that and see what progresses…

This evening Lola decided to try out her new grilling utensils she received as a birthday gift from Boris and his parents. She loves to grill out as much as I do and frankly, I’m fine with her doing steaks, chops and burgers - - she has become quite good as the Grillmistress! The only disadvantage I see is if she gets distracted from grilling with a good episode of iCarly or the Jonas Brothers as she walks past the TV to go out to the courtyard to flip the food…at which point she stops dead in her tracks and totally forgets all about the food quietly charring into oblivion on the grill…

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mastering the Trot

Lola seems to have mastered the art of the posting trot on the back of a horse. Her instructor has decided that she is now ready to CANTER!! Lola is so excited she cannot be still about it. She did divulge to me that she’s still a little scared about going that fast on a horse, but she really wants to learn how to do it. I assured her not to worry, as Miss Toni will make absolutely sure that it will be a gradual transition. Shadow has been chosen as Lola’s ‘cantering horse’ and he is wonderful - - he’s quite obedient and sweet, and has the strangest move when going into a trot from a walk - - he makes a lurch forward as if to canter, then settles into a trot. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect horse for her learning process; at least once she gets used to the forward motion the actual canter should be a snap!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lola's Very Own PC

After having saved money from last Christmas, from her weekly allowance and her birthday, Lola finally had saved enough money to purchase her very own laptop computer! We went to Wal-Mart with a list of criteria the two of us had discussed and decided on a Toshiba.

Once she got it home it was noooooo problem for her to whiz through the setup process and be immersed in the wonderful world of the PC in the most personal sense of the word. The only drawback is that she has to be connected directly to the router in order for the computer to function, as we do not yet have a wireless router.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Lola has been having increasing issues with her eyesight since the beginning of 6th grade, although with each optometrist visit her sight was pretty close to 20/20. During this visit we were somewhat prepared for the inevitability of glasses / contacts, so it was no surprise when the doctor announced the time had finally come.

And so, with a mini-workshop from the doctor’s assistant, Lola learned how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses. An order was placed for some disposable lenses, as well as a pair of glasses as back-up.

Later on while at home, Lola proudly came to me with a baby tooth she had lost. It was amazing, she said, because she was just sitting there watching tv and when she pushed the tooth with her tongue it magically disengaged itself from her gumline!! I teased her that the Tooth Fairy would have to come out of retirement to pay her a little visit during the night.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

4th of July in Iowa - Part 2

I love my home town. It’s Storm Lake, Iowa, population about 10,000 and it’s a place dear to my heart. Within recent years, there have been numerous changes to the town. Some group made the decision to tear down our beloved public swimming pool (where I would guess the admission price to be something like $3.00 per person) as well as other buildings and in their places construct a resort-style hotel, restaurant, conference center, indoor and outdoor pool / water park. The complex is now known as King's Point Resort. As a consequence, the admission to their water park ranges from $14.00 pp for either the indoor or outdoor facility to something like $22.00 pp for both parks. I noticed on their website that they even charge admission of $5.00 for people who do not wish to swim!

We decided to pass up that wallet-sucking experience and head to the lovely little town of Alta (5 miles away) to use their public pool. Lola was excited the pool in Alta has diving boards. She didn’t know how to dive, but within a couple hours she learned to dive off the side of the pool and then on to the brave move of diving off the boards!!

While swimming there three days in a row, Lola made a new friend named Izzy. Izzy (short for Isabel) is a year younger and lives just a couple blocks from the pool. We have her address so we can keep in touch, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to see her when we make a visit back to Iowa for the Christmas holiday!

On the morning we left Storm Lake to head back to the Minneapolis airport we stopped at my old elementary school, which I had heard was going to be torn down soon. I just had to take some photos of the poor old building before its demise. There are many memories from that school, and I'm a little saddened about the plans to raze it.

How things change! Storm Lake, at one time, had five public elementary schools. During the time I was in middle or high school, Hayes Elementary outside of town was closed. Now the remaining four - North, South, East and West, have all been replaced by a brand-new elementary school on the west edge of town, large enough to accomodate all. I remember the 1/2 day track meet that took place every spring, with participants from the third through the sixth grades. All five of the elementary schools would compete against one another in various events at the high school track. That is one of the fondest memories of my early school days.

4th of July in Iowa - Part 1

We spent the July 4th holiday in Iowa at my mom’s and in Nebraska at my friend Dawn’s house. We had a blast cooking on the grill, watching fireworks over the lake, hanging out with “babushka” and swimming in Iowa, and spending a couple days in Omaha visiting Dawn and her dogs and cat.

The day we flew in we landed in Minneapolis - - the airfare was much less expensive than flying into Omaha, and I figured on the 4-hour drive from the Twin Cities to Storm Lake we could stop for an hour or two at Lake Okoboji so Lola could swim.

Upon arriving at the lake, the water was COLD!! Lola was braver than I, and she jumped in excitedly. I soaked up some sun while she splashed and swam around. After about 30 minutes, she decided she had had enough and so we packed our stuff up to go. As I picked up my towel, the sand flies began attacking my feet and legs. I'm sure it was quite entertaining for those around us as I jumped, slapped my legs and danced around in pain from the bites. Once we got inside the car I counted five bites - - two on my foot, and the other three on my legs. Nasty little things drew blood, too! The ones on my foot began to swell almost immediately, and took many days to heal. Luckily my mom had an aloe vera plant and some hydrogen peroxide, and the combination of those did the trick to bring the swelling down and help keep them from itching. I'm quite thankful (and utterly amazed) that Lola never got even ONE bite!

We continued on to my mom's house and relaxed for the night and then the next morning we had planned to spend a couple days at Dawn's house in Omaha before returning to Mom's for the remainder of our visit.

The evening we got to Omaha we planned to meet Dawn at Surfside - - -one of my all-time favorite places to eat. It’s situated on the Missouri River north of the city and is famous for its chicken and catfish dinners. It’s quite informal - - jeans or shorts are allowed, but as the sign indicates absolutely no cut-offs or swimsuits, and one must be wearing shirt and shoes!

There are tables arranged on a long patio parallel to the river, and from what I hear it is not unusual for boaters to drive by and moon anyone enjoying their meal. For those who wish not to be mooned, there is an indoor dining room.

The highlight of the restaurant, aside from their to-die-for fried catfish and hush puppies, are the cute little raccoons who live in the tall grass by the outdoor dining area who come up for food. Lola was enamored by them, and took a fancy to the mama raccoon and her baby who came up to clean the chicken off the bones that were tossed over the railing. The mama would take the bones and disappear into the grass to the river, wash the bones, then eat the chicken from them, and return in a few minutes for more!

We visited the park at Standing Bear Lake, where there are several large metal tubes inserted upright in the ground on a small hill overlooking the park and lake. The tubes have holes placed in strategic locations, and with even just the slightest breath of wind, the tubes emit a beautiful but rather eerie harmonic moaning sound. I, personally, find it comforting and relaxing, but I do know some other people find it a bit disturbing. Unfortunately, there was absolutely NO wind that evening so we were not able to experience it this time around.

The next morning we went to the Henry Doorly Zoo (my personal favorite), checked in on most of the animals, went through the rain forest exhibit (Lola loved this), attended the Imax 3-D movie “Under the Sea” and rode on the aerial tram across the zoo complex. It was a total blast!

Dawn told Lola to choose a stuffed animal from the gift shop as her birthday present, so Lola came to the IMAX theater with a stuffed white tiger. She named it Scooter, after our dearly departed cat.

Scooter the stuffed white tiger made a trip to the Cat House, and Lola put him on the ledge outside the glass of the white tiger exhibit. A female tiger came up and pawed the glass as if to get to the little tiger - - we figured she thought it was a baby tiger!! It was amazing!

That evening we drove back to Iowa just in time for dinner and then down to the lake to see the 4th fireworks. Lola took her shoes off and sat on a dock with her feet dangling in the water while watching.