Sunday, August 13, 2006

Family and the Iowa State Fair

Monday I spent the night at Unkie and Helen's. It was Karen and Lynn's anniversary, and I told their kids stories about the wedding and what they were like when they were little. Then Hannah, Connor and I went swimming in their pool. We had rootbeer floats, then I read to Hannah before bed. It was great to spend time with all of them. They're so close to my heart.

Friday I drove up to JB and Erika's in Waverly to visit them and my adorable, carrot-topped nieces. They were so cute. Courtney is getting less fussy, so she'll let me hold her and smile at me. Brooke is hilarious, talking and having conversations with her dolls (Amy, Baby and Other Baby). She loves to run, pumping her arms. Her former-track-star father is already working on her technique. J.B. and Erika talked to me about life and their jobs, which was nice.

I got to read to Brooke, sing to her, change her diaper and play with her. She is so adorable, it's not even funny. She loves to call me "April" (her other Aunt), but I don't take offense, because she loves calling J.B. "Mommy." She also loves to be tickled and tipped upside-down. "Again," she exclaims, "again!" The next morning J.B. made us great pancakes and French toast. He's such a good cook! It was hard to leave with Brooke waving out the window.

I drove straight to the Iowa State Fairgrounds where I met up with Mom and Dad. We wandered the barns and the flea market. We went to the Agriculture building where we saw the Butter Cow and Butter Superman. Yes, life-sized sculptures made entirely of butter. Now this is not tactful, but everyone was commenting on it. You see, Butter Superman was on a pedestal, which put his...tights at eye level. Man of steel, indeed. Or as Mom put it..."Woah. Superman's got quite a package!" "Well, yeah," I replied, laughing, "but I wasn't going to say it out loud!"

Then Dad spent quite a while bartering with implement dealers. We ate lots of good food (hand-made lemonade, great lamb and amazing beef dishes) and went home tired and happy.

The next day, I went to the fair again, this time with my college friends: Jennifer, Jessica and Kelly. We've done so for the last three or four years, with free tickets from their company. We toured the Avenue of Breeds, which has everything from bunnies to sheep to emus to elk.

Jessy bought the deep-fat fried Oreos, which tasted like Oreos that had been swallowed by fresh doughnuts. Positively decadent.

Then we went to a concert. Train was performing (Meet Virginia, Drops of Jupiter, etc.), and we were in the third row. The concert was fun, and the lead singer was hilarious. He doesn't seem to take himself seriously, which is great. He's also very skinny, and I think he was wearing womens' jeans. They looked fabulous.

As the concert ended, it started to rain. Everyone poured into the Varied Industries building, which was packed. Then we dashed for the agriculture building so the girls could get their first glimpse of the Butter Cow and Superman. Then Kelly was off to the pork tent, and the twins went for lamb. We climbed up to the Arts and Cultural Center to see the doll houses, wood carving, photographs, sculpture and paintings. Then it was time to go. I grabbed a corn dog, then bought some salt water taffy and a last-minute lemonade. I adore the fair!

Then I went home for some last-minute bonding with my parents, knowing how hard it would be to leave them the next day.

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