Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pictures Mason took while he was in Minnesota

Mason got a nice point and shoot camera for his graduation and He took some sweet pictures while he was here spending time with his niece and nephews. Below are just a few of his many fantastic pics.

Mason was a wonderful guest and came baring gifts which made him an instant favorite at our home. The boys were suited up in their Nerf gear the second they came home from school and with coordinating Velcro Nerf guns they ran around the house chancing & shooting at their uncle. Of course this can get tiring, so they would stop and play a rousing game of Pokemon to catch their breath.
Here Amelia is standing in front of a man made waterfall at Como Lake. I love how Amelia's hair naturally flips in the back.

At Como lake the dandelions were in full bloom and Amelia was in flower picking Heaven.

Mason took this shot of Conrad as he was coming home from school. Oh... I can't get over how handsome my little 8 year old is.

I know, this picture is gorgeous! These little purple pansies were growing by the sidewalk where the boys bus stops.

Riley had a field trip to the Como Zoo and he wanted his very cool uncle to chaperone.

Mason thank you for being such a great uncle and brother. My family & I truly loved every minute of your visit. I love you. -monica

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Friend

Amelia is speaking more and more everyday and I love it. She babbles and chitter chatters all day long and honestly I only understand about 50% of it. Unfortunately, she knows I don't understand and keeps repeating herself, with frustration, until I answer in a way to make her believe that I understand. Do you understand? :)

Our latest dialog went something like this:
Me: "Lucas is coming over today."
Amelia: "Oh! Yucas, my friend?"
Me: "Yes, Lucas our friend."
Amelia: "No, my Yucas, my friend."
Me: "Lucas isn't my friend?"
She was pretty upset at that point, so I thought I'd drop the subject and let her win that one.

I've talked about Lucas before in previous posts. He is a 3 year old boy, in our community and Amelia is passionately in love with him. (Well as in love as any 2 year old can be with someone.) Whenever there is a knock at the door, she gets very excited and asks, "My Yucas come over?" If she sees him, she runs for him at full speed screaming with glee, "Yukey- Yuke!!!" Amelia will stop short of him and look back at me and say, "Come on Mama." Then with her eyebrows raised and a smile that will bubble over at any second, she whispers, "Yucas, my friend."

Monday, May 19, 2008

My favorite books

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, is one on my all time favorite books. I was first introduced to the story by my adorable Hans. (I was required to view the 1982 movie version before we married). But it was only years later, when I bought a lovely red leather bound book, that I discovered how much more intrigue and beauty lie in between the pages of the story.
I started reading it to my boys at bed time and discovered that the dialog and plot were a bit too complex for my young audience, BUT I was sucked in almost instantly and found myself sneaking as many chapters as I could before the sun rose. Chauvelin was so much more in love with power than Marguerite, making him all the more ruthless. Marguerite's character was a woman to be proud of; although an actress turned lady, she was willing to sacrifice & suffer for the man she loved. Sir Percy was cold and distant towards his wife, but the author showed us how much he still secretly loved her deeply. Oh, It was marvelous!!!
To think there is The Scarlet Pimpernel musical out there makes me a little obsessive and flustered about where and when it will play next. I'll keep you posted.

And finally Jane Eyre. I love the book. Seriously my heart skips a beat whenever someone say Jane Eyre or Mr. Rochester. I am forever grateful to my friend Tina Mitchell, who emphatically attested that the book was beyond comprehension and a must read for, well, everyone. I logged her testimony in my brain, but did nothing, which is what often happens with book referrals. Until I was stranded in the Denver Airport with a 4+ hour layover with nothing to do. I went to the book store and found my paperback copy of Jane Eyre. The memory still gives me chills and makes me want to cry and smile at the same time. (Yes I know, a little dramatic.)
Did I say I love this book? the play (at the Guthrie) and the movie (I obsessively watched all 4 versions of the movie and hands down, the Master Piece Theater has the best acting, scenery, chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester and is the most true to the book.)
Charlotte Bronte, I wish you were alive so I could send you fan mail. Jane Eyre is my hero. Although Jane was orphaned as a young girl and her circumstances as a youth could have given her an excuse to be bitter and lazy, She was strong, empathetic, honest, forgiving, and passionate.
I have so many favorite parts of Jane Eyre, but I tend to come back to this quote because I love how much integrity she has and I hope that I can teach my children to stand firm in their righteous convictions and testimonies, as she did here.

"Feeling . . . clamoured wildly. “Oh, comply!” it said. “. . . soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?” Still indomitable was the reply: “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad—as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation . . . They have a worth—so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane—quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.” -Jane, Chapter 27

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cautious foliage

It's the middle of May and I've noticed that everything (squirrels, gardeners, bunnies, tulip & daffodils, farmer's markets, etc.) are in the full "Swing of Spring," except for the trees and shrubbery. They have been rather skeptical & timid in bursting out this year, not that I blame them. It snowed 3 feet last week in our surrounding states and it still might snow in southern Minnesota. I only wish they would take the chance and pop, so I can take some pictures of my kids in their spring attire.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Field trip to the Animal Farm

I must admit that whenever I say Animal Farm I think of George Orwell's novel about the talking animals, who form a coop and overthrow their farmer. (Weird & slightly demented thought, I know.) The Hugo Farm is not as riotous or scary, it's actually a very lovely farm filled with well fed animals, happy farmers, new life, and (most importantly) no overwhelming smells. I went with Riley and his class on a field trip there and had a fabulous time watching him interact with other kindergartners. I'm happy to announce that Riley's behavior is normal, so very normal in fact that I think he may be the most mature and well behaved 5 year old of his class.

Maccario & Riley on the bus talking about Pokemon cards.

With fists full corn, Mary Grace & Riley can't wait to feed the mules & Belgian horses.

This piglet was 3 weeks old. When someone asked what his name was, the farmer plainly stated, "We don't give them names, they aren't meant to be pets." I totally chuckled under my breath. This was my view for the 4 hours we are at the farm. You'll notice that all 3 kids are holding hands and all 3 have their jackets tied around their necks. Yes, they are super heroes.....
with bunny power, crocodile power, force field power, laser power, speedy power & flying power.

and yes, Riley is the coolest impromptu super hero, complete with: furrowed brow, curled lips and flipin' sweet moves.

Field trip to the Animal Farm 2

I just rediscovered our Microsoft Office Picture Manager and thought I'd try it out on the Animal Farm. I know the program is no Photoshop, but it really improved the look of my pictures. I noticed that I really like over saturating the color on many of these. It gives it a sort of psychedelic feel.




tick eating hen

Chevy truck with original paint job

I love the way Riley's lips look in this shot.

Annual Ward Talent Show

There's nothing like a ward talent show to get one's blood pumping. This is the 2nd time I've put my self out there and honestly, I think it does get easier. Last year I sang "Rainbow Connection" with to awesome guitarist, Mike Gaulky & Jason Willoughby. It was fun to be the lead (well only) vocals of a band I felt pretty mediocre compared to their talent and wished I was their background music because that night those guys "tore it up". (guitarist lingo.)
This year, there were no guitars, no Mike (his wife had just had a baby boy, Edward), BUT Jason composed an amazing song entitled, "Fire Right Though Me." The melody was beautifully layered and the lyrics were pure poetry. I felt totally honored when I was asked to sing one of his original songs and I hope I can get to sing more of them in the future. Here's a sample of the lyrics to Fire right Through me:

Seems to me your eyes burn bright

Like fire right through me

Down to the deepest part

Scenes like your smiles make memories

I need as a lighthouse

To find my way home

My best Mother's Day yet

My Sweet husband and boys had a great time preparing for Mother's Day. I think they like the sneakiness part best. Conrad & Riley smuggled their mother's day gifts home without me knowing, but then gave it all away when they emphatically told me t not to go in Amelia's room. Sunday morning, I was not allowed to go down stairs, for some mysterious reason. It was all so cute and I'm glad they enjoyed themselves as much as I did. And I'm also happy that Hans let them be apart of the "magic & mystery" and culinary arts that encompassed their whole day.
This was the decadent layered smoothie that I was greeted with Sunday morning. From top to bottom there was: freshly whipped cream, strawberry smoothie, Oreo cookie, vanilla yogurt and the white middle of the Oreo cookie on the bottom. (would one call that frosting?)

We were in sort of a hurry for dinner and we didn't get a picture of Hans' fancy schmancy Cor don Bleu. It was awesome, but we did take several pictures of the creme brulee he mixed, boiled, baked, cooled and flambeed with the butane. It was almost too rich to finish. (That's a good thing in my book.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Hero!

Hans is my Hero! I know I said Captain Underpants was my hero, but I meant that in the fictional sense. Hans has totally become 500% braver, stronger and sexier ever since he took the law into his own hands and brought some punk kids to justice.
Let me set the tone. We live in a fabulous student housing community. I rant and rave about it constantly because I love the comeraderie, diversity and fraternity with the people that live here. But, unfortunately there isn't a glass titanium bubble protecting our little alcove and some outsiders have snuck in and run a muck, stealing: strollers, wagons, scooters, shovels, barbecues, and bikes.
Last year, we had 5 + bikes stolen. (dirty rats). At the end of the last summer, Hans and Mazar, (a super friend, fellow PhD student, and resident from Bangladesh) citizen arrested the 10 year old crook and took him to his house. His mom swore & smacked her delinquent son and we didn't have any more "issues" with him for the rest of the year. I'm sure this incident scared the pants off of him and the -15 degree weather kept him away as well. So now with no snow, a memory lapse, no parental supervision, and a bunch of loser friends, our little shyster is up to his old shenanigans. He and his little geek squad started their rampage early this year and almost got away with Conrad's bike. Conrad (bless his heart) has got a stubborn streak in him that is stronger than fear and when the bandits tried to take his bike, Conrad stood his ground. They pushed and shoved and threatened and he still didn't give in. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!!!!!!!!!!! I think he would have taken a bloody nose and fought back, fortunately one of our adult neighbors came just in the nick of time and the little gaggle of geeks hit the road empty handed.
I just want to say one more time, "WAY TO GO CONRAD!!!"
Hans had enough bullying and went to Desean's house. (I'm just going to use his real name; it's getting hard to find new adjectives for robber.) He recoved a friend's scooter and noticed a super sweet Diamondback women's bike in his back yard and later saw him riding the women's bike. He went back to Desean's house the next day, saw the bike again, called a friend (whose stolen bike fit the descriptions of the bike in question), called the police and Desean's mother once again swore and smacked him; he and his band of hoodlums friends almost peed their pants with fear, after all they are only 11 years old. Hans was invigorated and I think he will continue his vigilante mission, to stop bandits from desecrating our habitat of sanctuary. Isn't Hans awesome?!? His only gripe was that it took an hour to get the whole bike recovery process finished, you know, time is money. I love my husband.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The US & Russia, aka: Conrad & Riley

(This is one of our favorite pictures of the boys. It was taken over 3 years ago, in Wyoming, at a cattle auction. Obviously they loved it.)
Conrad and Riley. I like to think of them as loving, caring, sensitive siblings, but in reality they are merely allies. Oh they love each other of course, and would kill anyone who ever hurt the other, but if I could liken them unto anything, it would be the United States and Russia.
They were allies, then enemies, allies again, enemies again and as of today they are both "friends," in a very loose sense of the term. The US and Russia can sit down to dinner, discuss the affairs of the day, and laugh and smile in public, but they both know they have nuclear missiles in their back pockets, they just don't know how many either of them have. But because they are allies, if anyone were to starts a war with Russia, the US would be there to fight for Russia's cause. Sometimes there are spies or double agents and the fight can go sour and then you see the US backing the enemy instead of the it's ally, Russia. and so it goes with my boys, bless their hearts.
Conrad and Riley have no problem sticking together if the enemy is a gaggle of unruly biker boys, a neighborhood bully, a teacher, or mom or dad (You know I'd like to think of Hans & myself as diplomats: people who are tactful and skillful in managing delicate situations, handling people, etc., but I think we would be viewed as terrorists). But when Hans and I use certain devices of torture (like no bikes, computer time or playing with friends) or interrogation (The "who did it" question), Conrad and Riley will rat each other out without fail.
In spite of all the shenanigans they pull and the emotional roller coaster they ride and make Hans & I ride with them, they are loyal and at times, truly at peace with one another. I suppose the term I should use to best describe them is not Allies, but Brothers.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A beautiful advertisment...

This is an advertisement for the Minnesota Opera and as you may have guessed, this is taken from Shakespeare's, Romeo and Juliet. I pass by this picture almost every day and I obsessively look for it, afraid it might have been taken down or defaced. As of today, it's still there and in perfect condition. This image moved me so, that I was ready to buy tickets to the opera, so I looked up to see what was available, but unfortunately Romeo & Juliet was only showing in January. Yes, I was slightly heart broken, but I did learn 3 things:
1st- The people in the picture were the Romeo & Juliet in the opera, not models.
2nd- Minneapolis is a treasure trove full of stunning operas and plays. &
3rd- Hans is willing to go to an opera with me. (probably the most important, in my opinion.)