Iowa: Fields of Opportunities

IMG_1525.PNGI drove to Kansas City a couple of weeks ago which meant that I had a lot of time to think as I drove through Iowa. People make a lot of jokes at the state’s expense but I actually love it. I lived in Grinnell for five years and have many fond memories and – thankfully – none of them involve detassling corn. Driving through farmland and seeing the deep green of the cornfields broken only by the occasional red barn or grey silo does my heart good.

But, every time I see the welcome sign that reads “The People of Iowa Welcome You” with the motto “Iowa: Fields of Opportunity” beneath it, I laugh. Out loud. It’s such an ambitious sentiment.

In those quiet highway hours, I began to think of other possible mottos and
now…I will make jokes at the state’s expense.

Here are some possibilities…

Iowa: Life is always greener on the other side. Really. It’s just all green here.

Iowa: All the windmills, none of those awful wooden shoes

Iowa: #pighoarders

Iowa: It’s going to take longer to get through here than you think.

Iowa: We love gays! We just keep them in Iowa City.

Iowa: If a meteor hits, the popcorn is on us!

Iowa: You ain’t seen nothing yet! There’s more nothing just around the bend!

Iowa: A Skunk River runs through it.

Iowa: We have big buttes and we cannot lie. Wait – that’s Montana. Never mind.

Tips for Family Mealtime from My Kids

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It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close already. Our conversations are drifting away from time at the pool, soccer games and appetizers and drinks on the patio to school clothes, lunch boxes and backpacks. We’ve had a busy summer and the kids have stayed up late and then slept in and dinner time has been pushed later in the evening. As we prepare to return to our regular routine of work and school, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past few months so I sat down with the kids and asked them for their thoughts on family mealtime.

Miguel said, “We don’t always spend a lot of time together during the day so dinner is a time for us to be together.” Zeca agreed and added, “We also focus more because we’re not on our electronics. And I think it’s cool because not all families eat together.” The interview was going well but then I asked if there were things they didn’t like about family meals and Zeca said, “We don’t always talk about things everyone knows about, ” and Miguel said, “Yeah, sometimes the parents talk about stuff that we don’t know about and that’s exclusive.”

Nope, we’re still not perfect.

Running Texts or Sexts?

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I text a lot and now I have been “running” so it makes sense that I would text my friends and family about running from time to time. In doing so, I have realized that running texts often sound a little hot and bothered, a little bit like sexts. So, I present to you four texts about running and one sext.

Cooking Shows Are Destroying My Family

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It all started late last summer when we discovered that our son was sneaking onto Netflix and watching countless episodes of Cake Boss. I should have been concerned when he wrote us a letter informing us that he knew “everything there is to know about cakes” which meant that he was qualified to design our wedding cake. But his interest seemed harmless – even adorable – and we had no idea that Cake Boss was only the beginning, the gateway show to Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen and The Next Great Baker and even the YouTube channel Nerdy Nummies and somewhere along the line, Zeca joined in this culinary crusade.

This summer, they have said things like, “You don’t understand! We want to really bake!”, “We are not interested in everyday cooking!”, “We want to create something special!” While I encouraged the basics, they requested fondant and angled spatulas and special piping tips for icing. When I suggested they make pesto for dinner, they said they would consider Fettucini Alfredo with pan-seared shrimp because anything simple was beneath them. So, under attack from these culinary crusaders, I acquiesced and told them they could bake whatever they wanted provided they worked together and then washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen afterwards. They joyfully agreed.

And so the troubles began…