Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Conrad, my little animal rights activist

Conrad, Conrad, Conrad. I have loved his name ever since I was 12. To finally have a Conrad of my own is a dream come true. To watch him grow physically and to see his personality sprout has been an amazing adventure and has taught me that the nature vs. nurture argument is at a draw. He was born with an inquisitive and venerable disposition. I will often say he is an old man in an 8-year-old's body. If he has a choice to sit at the children's table or with the adults, he will always find a space with the adults. He sees every rule and moral issue in black and white. Conrad enjoys being cheeky and he is precocious to say the least, but he is full of spirit, passion and love especially towards his family and animals. His adoration for animals started when he spoke his 1st word. No it wasn't "Mama" or "Dada," it was "Kitty" and "Puppy." We knew then, that an obsessions was budding. Later at age 2, he became fascinated by horses and being an adventurous type of child, he was willing to feed and even ride on them whenever an occasion permitted.
I'm going to skip a few years of his life and highlight an episode when we lived in Guadalajara, Mexico. During our summer of 2006, a lot was happening in the
world: The presidential elections in Mexico, The World Soccer Championship, and the Bullfights in Madrid. I'm sure there was much more going on at that time, but to be honest, those were the only things showing on our Mexican television. As we watched the bull fighting, I realized that it wasn't just a show, but that they (the matadors) were slowly killing the bull, by stabbing him with their swords, so that in the end the "head matador" could kill the bull with great ease.
It's all rather barbaric, in my opinion and in Conrad's as well. So, after ranting and raving about the inhumanity of it all and plotting a search and rescue mission to Spain, t
o take back the Bulls, (Heaven only know where they would end up, probably our apartment) Conrad decided to become a vegetarian!!!
It was short lived, a week really. (Guadalajara has fabulous street tacos!!!)
But the vigor and vim started such a blaze in his soul, that I think he could make any loyal PETA member blush.
Case in point: (This was a dialog I had with Conrad just last week when we saw a dea
d, un-squished squirrel in the road. I think he died of natural causes or by falling, due to unsure footing.)

Conrad: Mom, I need you to be completely honest with me.
me: O.K?
(I was afraid he was going to ask me about Santa Claus or Sex.)
Conrad: Do you love squirrels more than me?
me: (chuckling) No, I do not love squirrels more than you.

Conrad: ha! Just as I thought, you don't care about animals at all, do you?
me: (laughing) I care about animals, but I'm not going to cry when I see a dead squirrel in the road. It's just the "Circle of life."
Conrad: Mom, this isn't the Lion King, this is for REAL! and you just don't care.

(I must admit I w
as thinking "Lion King." Is that bad?)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our little bit of earth

I know what your thinking, can a city girl, notorious for killing house plants, cactus, and flowers really make a garden grow? The answer is obviously "NO!" But I do believe, with a great deal of help from my lovely family and fabulously rich soil (I've been told it's not called dirt) and organic compost (I've also been told that it's beautiful compost, I'm not so sure I'd call it beautiful), there might be a green thumb somewhere on my body, hopefully it's on my hand.
This morning our little community went out to find our plots and apply manure. Luckily it rained the night before, so it didn't smell that bad. I'm not saying I liked the smell or anything.

This morning at 8:30 a.m. I had this very logical conversation with Conrad:
Me: Let's get ready to go check out our garden and wear something old because we're going to fertilize it.
Conrad: With what?
Me: Cow manure. They just delivered it this morning.
Conrad: Delivered it!?! You mean we had to pay for poop?
Hans: Well someone had to shovel it and you don't think they'd do that for free.

Unfortunately, Hans didn't get paid for shoveling the expensive cow plop.

Neither did Riley.

Adaline, Lucas, & Amelia are ready for Spring or winter. You'll notice Amelia is looking at Lucas, she adores him and will often call him, "My Lucas" or "My Lukee-Luke."

She was very excited to don her Spring hat although it doesn't really go with her winter coat.

Our little bit of earth 2

You'll notice on Conrad that there is a bit of dirt on his lower lip. No, he didn't eat any of those tasty manure-cover worms, he was merely pretending to and got a little too close, in my opinion. On a sweeter note, I do believe he "captured" 15 worms today, most of which he put on our plot. Smart boy.

Riley, Noah & Conrad were in heaven playing with the worms, sharp garden tools, and cow manure.
Lucas, Adaline, & Amelia were doing their part by vigorously digging and flinging the the manure and compost evenly throughout the garden.

This is a great shot of Noah and Conrad. It looks so natural...so outdoors-ee.

Tae Kwon Do Gardening

Our little bit of earth 3


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Riley is growing up

Riley's newest obsession is Pokemon. I honestly don't know how it works and frankly I don't think he does either. But what makes this scene even sweeter is the fact that all 6 of his cards, (which I think are in his hand,) were given to him by his school buddies so that they can play. How nice is that?

Yes it's true, I looked at my sweet little boy today and noticed that he is becoming a little man. This is something I've been watching for a while. It first hit me at church a couple of weeks ago, when he bent down to fix his shoe. I thought to myself, "His legs are longer," and then when he stood up, I realized that yes his pants were a bit short. But I don't think it's just him getting taller, I have seen a change in his facial features and in his body structure all together. It actually made me a bit sad.
Although Amelia is the youngest girl, Riley is still my youngest boy. He is more sensitive, loving, compassionate, genuinely complimentary towards everyone. You'll notice in my blog and emails I very often refer to him as my sweet little boy because that title sums him up. (well 99% of the time anyway.)
I'm sure I'll be typing this again when his voice changes, gets chest hair and discovers "hot girls."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My hero, Captain Underpants

I know, this goes against every hero and heroine I've ever loved and adored. I'm sure Jane Austen is blushing and Charlotte Bronte is turning over in her grave and if the classic authors could, they would revoke all of my reading privileges immediately. BUT, Captain Underpants is my hero.
I always thought I'd be the mom who only read to her children the classics. You know like: Peter Pan, Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Narnia Chronicles, etc. I did read all those books to my sweet boys, and quite a few more, but unfortunately I didn't completely captivate my audience, ie: Riley. My tender hearted little Riley has never really stayed to listen to any of the stories. At the greatest moments when Dorothy destroys the Wicked Witch of the West, or when Peter Pan defeats Captain Hook, Riley was either in the other room playing with Playmobils or asleep.
I had hoped he would grow to love my reading. I used what I knew best: drama. I would read with authentic French and British accents and wave my hands to show what the fight might be like. But all of my fancy schemes never fazed Riley. One can imagine, I was feeling slightly defeated as an actor and mother and I put away the fictional chapter books and started reading to my boys nonfiction picture books about animal. (Their latest obsession is owls.)
Then one day our family when to the school book fair. I let the boys pick out a book and Riley wanted Captain Underpants. When Conrad was 2, the series had been recommended to me by an insightful, well read, English graduate friend of mine named Jen Anderson. I was quite apprehensive because as everyone know Captain Underpants is not on the
101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers. But Riley was excited about it and the book was marked down to $2, so I thought, "What the hay!"
We started reading Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 1
and Riley was hooked. He would do chores, wake up happy, eat all his dinner, just so he could hear what happened in the next chapter.
The author Dave Pilkey knows his audience well. ie: elementary boys. He has everything: burping, farting, boogers, bathroom practical jokes and a super hero who looks like a pear wearing whitey-tighteys.
Although I will not give up my leather bound classics for Dave Pilkey's paperbacks, I will gladly buy more of his literature for my wonderful little brute so that they can continue to grow and learn to love the joys of reading.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Last day of spring break

I did manage to get some great shots of my brutes on their own. I hope you enjoy them.

The Museum had free face painting and Amelia requested that I make her a

The museum also had an extensive costume closet and Riley donned the spider costume. I love his smile and furrowed brow. He looks like he's ready to pounce.

They really were asleep. (I poked them just to make sure they weren't faking it.)

While Conrad & Amelia were asleep, we let Riley have the camera and he took this picture .
I really love this picture of Hans & me.

The last day of Spring break

Friday April 4th, marked the last official day of Spring break for my boys and so they slept in, played outside until lunch and then off we went to, where else? The Children's Museum of course.
My goal for this trip was 1st: for them to have a fantastic time and 2nd: get a sweet picture of the 3 of them looking... well sweet. Please note in the slide show below the many fun, funny and failed attempts at sweet sibling love.

Check out my Slide Show!

Get together at Darcy's Saturday, March 29th

Hans, Amelia and I went to a very swanky PhD party in downtown Minneapolis. Everyone behaved themselves rather well and once Amelia realized the host had cats, she was in heaven.
This cat's name is Alfalfa and she pretty much sat on the bed, in that position, the whole time of the party. Whenever Amelia needed a kitty fix, she could go and sit on the bed, pet the cat and go back to the party. Alfalfa was a great babysitter/live toy.
Amelia is one of the few children in the PhD program at Carlson Business school. She is sitting next to Kang Yong, one of her econometrics classmates from China.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Amelia & the snow

Sunday was a very slow day without the boy's around. We have church from 9-12 and generally I scramble to arrive before the opening hymn. Not today, we actually arrived at 8:45, pressed and dressed.

After Church Hans took a nap and Amelia and I went outside to play. In our apartment association there are a few wonderful playgrounds spread throughout and Amelia enjoys them all. I brought my camera thinking I'd get some great "Spring Green" photos, but unfortunately everything was still a bit cold and gray. But not Amelia she was as beautiful as ever.

You'll notice behind our little cutie lies gray sand and dead leaves. A perfect canvas for capturing Amelia's sweet smile and blue eyes.

I love Minnesota. I'm saying it while I shake my head and smile. This picture is taken Monday, March 31st, just after it snowed all day long. It was gorgeous, yet funny because just the day before it was warm and most of the snow had melted. Mother Nature loves messing with us Minnesotan, eh?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April fools...

Remind me never to go to the dentist on April 1st. What a nightmare. Let's set the tone with a little background information. In February, I signed up to be a dental board subject, I was motivated by the free x-rays, screening and of course the $75+. And to top it off, I would get a cavity removed and filled, (yes Novocaine was included), with a composite filling free of charge, Who wouldn't want all those perks just for sitting there looking pretty for 4 hours. I was almost excited when the screener told me I had a cavity and even better that I was eligible to be a board patient.
A few weeks pass and I received a phone call from the student a week before the boards and we met, she looked at my tooth and it was fine. Sunday rolled around and I went to the school as prearranged and waited for my turn. The student had already passed her other 2 tests and I was the finale. Yipp-ee. I was fitted up with a very attractive dark sea green dental dam. If you have never had the chance to wear one, might I recommend just trying one on and looking at the mirror. Oh dear, wasn't I a cutie. Heck no I wasn't! I looked like the world's biggest nerd, my only consolation was that the other boards patients looked just as ridiculous. My dental student took all 4 hours and still didn't finish, thus she failed. She had to put on a temporary filling and she was told by her advisor that she would foot the bill for my replacement filling. So I'm feeling like I like dirt because I have a $100 check in my hand just for showing up and she still didn't pass.
A couple of weeks pass and I go in for my permanent filling and she still took 3 hours, but I was sure it was in for the long hall.
Now it's April 1st and I went to the U of M dental school, hoping to get a long over due teeth cleaning and fix the bite of my new filling. The dental student, Mark Hawn, was fantastic, no complaints about anything he did or his assistant, Molly Henry. We had a great time with my teeth, if one can have a great time with teeth. While Mark was "exploring" my teeth with an "explorer," he called over the on call Dentist and they both noted that my new D4 composite filling was broken. Yea, the one that took 3 hours, that one. I stopped them and asked, "April fools right?" No. I was livid. To make it even more humorous, it was most likely going to cost ME, $129 to get it fixed. I'm sorry livid doesn't really describe how felt, it was more of a "Pissed off" feeling with the thoughts of "I bet I'm going to need a root canal next" & "I don't feel sorry for taking her $100 anymore because I'll need it to pay for her screw up!"
In the end I didn't have to pay for the filling replacement #2, it had a 1 year warranty. That was good because I'd already spent the $100 on something
frivolous anyway. So at 10 a.m. Mark and his lovely assistant Molly, fixed my tooth (D4) and cleaned my teeth by 12. (Sometimes my counting is off, but was that only 2 hours?) I just wanted to add that Mark was just starting on his 4th year and he still has another year or so before he can take the boards. (I digress.) The moral of the Story: Just because someone can pass a test, like oh I don't know, the DAT (Dental Admission Test), doesn't mean they have the dexterity or skill to be a dentist. Book smarts do not equal fine motor skills.