Red Legos & Hamm

Guest Post by Chief Husband and Editor Chris

It’s Championship Eve. The last holiday cometh. Tomorrow, my team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will rematch Clemson to defend their national title and try to go 15-0 for the first time. It just so happens that most of this weekend was spent iced in at home. Everything was cancelled, travel discouraged, you know the drill. So after all the Christmas decorations came down, multiple Star Wars movies were watched, rooms rearranged and organized, my idle hands started playing with Lego.

My mantle rolled its eyes at me and smiled.

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It started with some fun officially licensed gifts Rachel has given me the past few years.

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Then I added some fan seating in various financial tiers.

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And the fandom I know best, the tailgating.

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The Wayne Enterprises skybox is for VIPs only, but its not the cheeriest place. The Dark Knight, the worried hobbit, and Mr. Attitude the Wizard enjoy their wealth and privilege, but there’s not a pom-pom in sight.

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The upper deck is bit less stodgy, and a solid cross-section of Lego society.

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Down in the safely guarded concourse, the crowd picks up their yummy fish.

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The grouchy custodian just came from cleaning the ladies’ room. She is no fan of the hovering fans she cleans up behind.

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Her coworker is having a better time taking care of the field.

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Meanwhile, outside the stadium, Ma & Pa Cop are hosting a fantastic tailgate outside their RV.

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And the grill masters are taking care of the hungry crowd.

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The whole crowd, inside and out, players and fans, are, like me, filled with hope and expectation. The game kicks off in less than 24 hours. By the time you read this, I’ll either feel like these guys:

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Or like Hamm.

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Either way, I’m over here having fun. Roll Tide.

A Life of Adventure.

Yesterday, Ali turned 10 years old.

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Double digits.

Officially a Tween.

(I’ve been calling her a tween since she turned 9 but she is very insistent that tween only refers to double digits that don’t end in a teen. So at least we can put that argument behind us.)

When I started this blog, she was this size:

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And now she’s this size.

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Over the past year, her face, her poise, and her interests have transitioned from a kid to a young lady. She has grown and matured, so far without losing her unwavering kindness and compassion for others. We’ve had many preparatory talks about what is to come in the next couple years – what she can expect and what she can keep in mind as her hormones mutiny. She says the part that scares her the most is not liking us anymore. So maybe that’s a good sign that she’ll remember it’s just the hormones making her want to hate us.

(We shall see.)

I took this picture on her ninth birthday,

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And here she is the day before her tenth birthday:

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Above all other things this year, Ali has had a zeal for adventure and the outdoors – something I very much appreciate. Here are the highlights from her year of exploration in loose chronological order, with a few notes mixed in…

She was up for my snowchasing adventures last January,

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And she’s always excited for a hike – especially with friends.

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Rock jumping…

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And visiting the Ministry of Magic.

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She’s the kindest big sister that ever existed, giving Noah way more patience than he deserves (or than he receives from me.)

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One of my favorite photos from this year was completely set up by Ali. She told me where to stand to get the picture and how she was going to pose. I didn’t even see the face in the clouds behind her. When I asked her about it the next day (after someone else pointed it out to me), she said “Of course I saw the face. That’s why I wanted you to take the picture.

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She was willing to jettison small parts of her rule-following obsession this year..

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And has developed a love and fascination for all animals, and misses no opportunity to tell me how much she needs one of her very own. Except it can’t bite. Which, thankfully for me, rules out all animals.

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Our Alabama History field trips have only added a love of learning to her adventurous spirit. And also a good dose of pretending to live long, long ago.

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About halfway through the year, she got brave enough to go all the way across the “broken bridge” at my parent’s house. I have not personally attempted it.

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Now she does it with ease and speed that might make a mother nervous, if she weren’t so excited about photographing it.

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She’s still kid enough to fully enjoy dressing up, and not at all minding being the biggest kid on the block.

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She’s interested in gymnastics and maybe learning yoga and possibly basketball, now that she knows she’s going to be super tall and so will not practically be able to go to the Olympics in gymnastics.

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She’s always willing to pick up a new skill and work hard to improve at it – even the ancient atlatl.

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I don’t know what the next year will bring, but whatever it is, I know it will include plenty of adventure.

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Happy Birthday, Ali.

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The Greatest Snowstorm of All Time.

I believed in my heart.

I waited with anticipation.

I followed the forecast, minute by minute, keeping three radar apps, a weather blog, and a constantly updating Twitter feed up on my phone.

This one – this is the one that would happen. The Winter Wonderland my kids deserved. The Winter Wonderland I deserved.

Finally, Friday evening, it started sleeting. Then giant snowflakes! Huge, fluttery snowflakes mixed in with the sleet. Then back to sleet…then it tapered off.

But I still believed.

I was awoken by my son the next morning. He believed, too.

“There’s more snow than last night! There’s lots of snow out there!”

I looked out the window with great expectations in my heart.

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Indeed.

It was our very own Snowy Utopia.

I mean we might as well live in Maine, for the giant drifts of sleet in our yard.

The children excitedly donned their warmest clothes over their pajamas and ran out to bask in the glory of the multiple feet of snow surrounding our house.

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It was quickly determined that this wasn’t snowman snow. Or snowball snow. So that meant it had to be snow angel snow.

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Their faces shown with the thrill of existing in a 100% white-with-snow world.

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We quickly pulled out our snow board, which is pulled down hills all year ‘round by an old electrical cord, but now could fly on its very own.

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What a wonderful world.

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Noah remembered that it was his best friend Loulie’s birthday (it was actually the day after her birthday but sometimes 6 year olds have a breakdown in communication) and quickly declared that we needed to take a walk around the corner to her house. He and I worked our way through the treacherous snow, barely averting the very real danger of falling into a drift too deeply to be rescued.

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When we finally arrived, nearly frostbitten at every end, and told Loulie about the unbelievable fun we were having doing the whole Winter Wonderland scene, she decided to join us. And so we started our long trek back, wishing we had sled dogs to help us make it through.

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But the bone-chilling journey was all worth it when we introduced Loulie to our 70mph sled.

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This is the kind of snowstorm that thoroughly tousles one’s hair.

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The speeds were so intense that Noah preferred being walked. Like a dog.

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And then another neighbor saw our fun and contributed a real device to our adventures. Wow did that thing slide gracefully. With speeds that left flames in their wake and blew people’s coats up into intertubes.

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I’m pretty sure we earned our Canadian citizenship today.

All of Alabama did.