Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caroline, the dancing mouse

Last weekend, Caroline was one of about 150 5-6 year olds that tried out for the Des Moines Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. #137 spent an hour and a half learning a dance with the other kids and then had to perform on stage for the judges. She wasn't nervous, or scared. She just went about her business as she tried out for the role of "Mouse."

I'm not a big ballet guy but I am now. Yesterday we received a letter congratulating her! We were all very excited for her and are awaiting word on when she will be performing. We know it will be at the Hoyt Sherman Theatre during the first week of December as Caroline will be dressed in moue attire and doing something with a Sugar Plum Fairy. (I'm going to have to learn a little more about this whole thing.)

This is a pretty big deal for Caroline. She doesn't really have her own "thing" like her brother and sister. She is kind of schlepped around with the other kids quite often and doesn't really get her own time with mom or dad. The fact that she has something that is all her own will do wonders for her confidence. She's a great kid and feels like she has really accomplished something. Way to go Caroline!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Damage from the Iowa State Fair

Brought $100 to the fair - Left with $3

Admission family five $20
Sprite $5
Three Snow cones $3
Three Corn dogs $6
Two Tenderloins with fries $16
One Funnel Cake $6
Three waters $6
Midway Rides $20
Playing Carny Games $15

Check out this picture a friend of mine took. Guess shirts are optional at the fair. Is that woman sniffing her armpit in the background?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quick Hits

Bella starts first grade tomorrow. On the way to Walgreens tonight, I told Bella she would need to have a bath tonight. Caroline said, "Yeah, Bella needs a bath so she doesn't go to school all stinky."

I took Drew to the mall the other day to get fitted for a tuxedo. He is in a wedding in October (more on that later). Apparently when Daina took him to get fitted he threw a fit and had a meltdown and was unable to be properly fitted. So, I got to take him. He was a champ, looks like a stud in the coat and even tried on the little shoes. We closed the night by playing at the play place and then eating at Chipotle. He even tried the hot sauce. "Dat too spicy Daddy"

Drew got in his first fight the other day. A scuffle with a friend at the Happy Joe's pizza place game area. I think they scuffled on the ski ball machine. Apparently he didn't start it and reacted after being hit. Drew walked away with fewer scratches than the other kid. Don't mess with Drew. Drew went to this kids birthday party today and apologized and then played with trains. Friends again.

Caroline has a common excuse of "I can't sleep good." This happens at around 10 p.m. every night. She uses the line to hang out and watch the Olympics, or sneaks into our bedroom and promptly sleeps there all night. I usually wake up with Caroline's foot in my face as she is prone to mountain climbing dreams.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Married 10 Years

Daina and I celebrarted 10 years of marriage on August 8. She makes this unbelievable life possible and to say I would be utterly lost without her is an understatement. She makes me a better person. Isn't that everything you could ask for?

Saturday, August 9, 2008


A good friend of mine sent me an invite to help distribute materials in the recently flooded Des Moines suburb known as "Birdland." This effort was a local church's effort to make a difference for flood victims.

With Daina working at the time, I told him I would help, but it was a package deal. Me and the three kids. He loved the idea. This morning, we walked around flood ruined homes, and talked to some of the people that had evacuated and were now trying to rebuild. They were happy to meet us.

The church provided a small gift and an invite to a Free Garage Sale by invite only that the flood victims could come to. There will be gently used furniture, appliances, clothing and toys available. The expect to fill a 3,000 foot sanctuary with free items.

Bella, Caroline and Drew, walked down these sad streets holding presents from the church and taking turns giving them to the people living there. I asked them on the way home what they had learned and ultimately there answers were that its nice to help others. They got it.

We talked to one woman for about 30 minutes. Her house was destroyed and she was rebuilding. Her husband was let go from his job the day after the flood, she was ill, he was looking for work. It was tough going. It was as if our news was the first sign of hope this woman had received in a long time.

She will be at the Free Garage Sale, I can count on that. So if our morning spent walking around this neighborhood reaching out to those who needed help only bring this one lady then it was worth it.

The Fleming Kids are planning on giving 3-4 things to the garage sale. Its all they can talk about this afternoon and it makes me humble and proud at the same time. The thought that even young people, my young people, can play a part in the help of others is an amazing thing to witness. And to be quite honest, it feels great.

The Free Garage Sale is at Valley Church, in West Des Moines, August 16, 8 a.m. -1 p.m. Email me if you want details as this is an invite only program specifically for the flood victims.

Back in the high life again

It was the summer of 1992 and I found myself driving my black Honda Civic through Northern Arkansas with my kid sister, Whitney. I was 18 at the time, and she was 12. My parents and sister, Erica followed in a car behind us. The Arkansas trees had started their progression towards fall, the world was full of yellow, greens and red.

My family was driving me to college at the University of Missouri. They were dropping me off. I hadn't been west of Atlanta, GA my whole life, and here I was in Norther Arkansas considering the leaves and the dawn of a new chapter in my life.

I didn't think about it much at the time, but Steve Winwood's song "Back in the High Life" came on the radio. Now I'm not some geek for Steve Winwood. Don't own an album, haven't purchased anything from Itunes. Its good stuff though, if it comes on the radio, I'll listen. I guess he's like Bob Seger. If the moments right, then Steve and Bob are your men.

I remember hearing the song, and thinking, that some time soon and perhaps often, I would be with my sister Whitney, and my family again. And that these moments would be plentiful.

As I have aged, as I have put roots down in a strange place for some here in Iowa, with no family within the state, I have learned these times to spend back in the high life are slim. My sister Whitney now lives in Hawaii, my sister Erica in Boston. They both finished highshool, finished college, have found the love of their lives and are both pregnant. They did that all without their big brother. My patents still live in South Florida which basically means we are about as far away from each other as we can be, yet still very close to one another.

I heard "Back in the High Life" on the way home from work on Thursday and it all came crashing back. I instantly called Whitney when the song ended. I didn't tell her about the song, I just wanted to hear her voice, to be close even though we are far.

I know that soon, she and I, and my family will have these high life moments again, maybe even in person. They just aren't as often as they should be. Stop reading this and call someone, or better yet, visit someone you love.

I think all of us can find something meaningful with what Winwood accomplished here. Here are the lyrics

It used to seem to me
That my life ran on too fast
And I had to take it slowly
Just to make the good parts last
But when youre born to run
Its so hard to just slow down
So dont be surprised to see me
Back in that bright part of town

Ill be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Ill be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in

And Ill drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me
And on Ill be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

You used to be the best
To make life be life to me
And I hope that youre still out there
And youre like you used to be
Well have ourselves a time
And well dance til the morning sun
And well let the good times come in
And we wont stop til were done

Well be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Well be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in
And well drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily
And oh well be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

Well be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
Well be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in
And well drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily
And oh well be a sight to see
Back in the high life again