Monday, November 29, 2010

Tag Me

When I grew up, professional wrestling was not what it is today. There didn’t seem to be so much money involved, and the wrestlers were not quite so impressive physically, especially in their speedos and wrestling shoes. Even their names seemed a bit more benign. I remember “Rowdy Roddy” Piper, “The British Bulldog” and “The Bushwackers,” a comical pair of brothers from Australia (shown in the photo).

I liked the tag-team competitions. They seemed to have the most interesting combinations of wrestlers, and it seemed like the matches were more often between two good teams, rather than involving a clear winner and another wrestler with cheap costumes, bad hair, and flabby physiques (although there was plenty of that in tag teams). The rule for tag team was that only one wrestler for each team could be on the mat at one time. The one not on the mat had to wait in his respective corner until the one on the mat “tagged” his teammate so that he could come back in.

Often I think I take on the part of the spectator or fan, wincing at the pain of “my wrestler”, hoping and praying that “my wrestler” will win, and even cheering him on. Recently I’ve had a few experiences that have caused me to question my assumptions. First, I’ve felt like I’ve been being beat up in the ring, thinking that I must be a bad wrestler, only to realize that it would have helped to have a team. More worryingly, I’ve been on the other side of the rope and suddenly realized that I’m not only authorized to help, but that wrestler in the ring is my team mate, and may not actually know how to tag me. Rather than wait passively in the corner for my teammate to come all the way to me, I need to stretch as far as I can, and sometimes even jump into the ring to help.

There are so many reasons to feel that we are in the audience, and not actually on the team slated for the mat. The legitimate reasons to not go to the mat are many. First, we don’t want to make our wrestler feel like he is doing a bad job. Second, we want him to learn and to grow for himself because helping too much may make him weak. Third, these wrestling matches are going on all around us, and it’s just physically impossible to “get involved” with the difficulties of everyone for whom we care. But there are also reasons that are more about us than about the wrestler in the ring. For example, reaching in to help can be observed by others. Our attempt to help may be misinterpreted, not just by Ricky, but also by others. Thus, we open ourselves to criticism. We can more easily protect ourselves, not only from the battle within the ring, but the judgment of the crowd outside of the ring, if we are cautious. Finally, it simply takes time and we have a lot of other things to do.

Not every struggle is like a tag team match. On the other hand, not every struggle is an individual match either. Some situations are clearer than others. Knowing the difference on the margin requires judgment, and I guess I’m developing that (slowly). But I think that I’ve made the resolution that I think I’d rather be the type of person that errs on the side of jumping in to tag my teammate too often, than the kind that errs on waiting outside the ring too often. I think that more of us are the "least of these" (Matt 25:40) than we may think.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meet your Meat twice

1. As the kids and I were driving home from chess club on Thursday night, a semi zoomed passed us leaving a cloud of white feathers in its wake. Conrad (being the animal rights activist that he is) said, “Feathers!?! That truck has chickens in it! Drive up next to it, quick!”

He sounded like his brain had already hatched a plan, of what I’m not quite sure, but I was willing to play along. I put my pedal to the metal and soon we were neck and neck with the feather spewing semi. As we got close the truck wasn’t full of chicken, but TURKEYS!

Conrad, without missing a beat said, “They’re going to their doom! Mom, it’s the whole Meet your Meat thing, right now.”

2. While at Gap, Conrad spied a fur lined trapper hat. He was livid!
Conrad: Mom is this real fur?
Me: How much is it?
Conrad: Yup it is real, it's $16.
Me: (trying not to laugh) No it's not.
Conrad: I've got a sample and I'm taking it back to my lab to examine it.
Conrad: You better ask someone. (at the counter) If this is real rabbit fur, you can never shop here again, got it? (Mind you he's totally serious)
Me: (ready to plug my nose in case I snort) This isn't real fur is it?
The lady: No we haven't sold clothing with real fur in years. Unless it states it on the label.
Conrad: What do you mean? (he's about ready to pounce)
Me: Like a leather jacket. Your dad has a leather jacket. I have leather gloves.
Conrad: they are rabbit fur lined. Don't you feel bad?
Me: No they are soft and warm.
Conrad: humm. That's just wrong. (rolling his eyes and crossing his arm.)

One would think Conrad would embrace the week day veg menu I’m pushing on him. Go figure?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Happy Birthday Amelia! You sweet little girl! As we were off to school this morning, I looked at you and was amazed at how tall you've grown. When you told a passer by that today was your birthday, some how the fact that you turned 5 makes you officially out a little girl and no longer a toddler.
You are kind, obedient, funny, loving, happy, affectionate, thoughtful, and sincere.

At a time share in New Port Beach, during our Call's in Cali 2010 family reunion. She is just so angelic.

This picture is blurry, but her expression is just perfect.

Amelia with her Grandma Cynthia, wearing Great Grandma Call's 2 1/2 inch mules running up and down the hall so they can hear them clip clop.

A little rosier cheeked then normal. This was taken in August, during a hike down a steep "road" in Hans' Grandma's ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming.

She learned the bunny ears from her 2 older brothers.

1880's Store in Keystone, South Dakota has more than just hidden treasures. It also has floor vent. (Amelia is a more modest Marilyn Monroe. Notice her dress is still below the knees.)

This is a classic Amelia picture face!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Confession: part II

(This picture was taken in the airport on the last day of our Call's in Cali family reunion. Quinn wasn't sure if he qualified as a carry-on or personal item.)

My friend Stacy Miller inspired me to finish this degree, sooner than later. She was in a similar situation with school: a husband getting his PhD, three kids, a busy life not looking like it would be slowing down. But she started back (and just finished this Spring), and I decided I could too.

Right after Quinn was born; (about a year ago) I decided to go back to school. I thought I might be able to do two classes per semester and I’d find out about those credits in Guadalajara (UAG). Hans was supportive and excited. I registered and paid for the classes, hoping that I might get financial aid later, purchased my books and got ready for my online classes. I had planned pretty well in taking classes when we were first married, so all of my required psychology classes were done. History of Psychology and Anthropology 101 were my classes of choice and requirement. They were just what I needed. My anthropology online lectures were hilarious. Dr. Jankoviak was one of those teachers who was trying to be funny, but was failing miserably at being funny and that made him even funnier. He also liked to say An-TRO-pology instead of An-Thro-pology. Good ol’ Dr. Jankoviak.

With a bit of momentum, I decided to revisit navigating UAG (in English) to figure out where my credits were and how they could be transferred. I called and tried to talk to the first person. I didn’t mince any words, “Hi, do you speak English?” So I got transferred a few times before I spoke to the right person. She was nice and knew what I was talking about and told me she would air mail them to UNLV ASAP.

And so I waited. I would call UNLV weekly to see if the papers had arrived, but they had nothing for a month. I emailed my UAG friend, thinking that they might be toying with their “Spanish-immersed”ex-student who only wanted to speak in English. Finally, on the day I found out that I would get financial aid, my counselor Valerie called and told me she had my UAG credits and that they would be transferring 8 credits. I think I screamed in her ear and was totally choked up. It was a miracle. That little event made the word graduation suddenly run away from the words ‘if” and “some day” to the welcomed words “when” and “this year”.

This past summer Quinn and I flew to Vegas to take the only class that required I attend in person (a lab) at UNLV. I also took two other classes. It was an intense month, but I got 2 A’s and a B, which was fine by me.

I am now in my last semester and I am set for graduation on December 14. Valerie said that I have exactly enough credits to graduate and not a “penny more.”

I’ve learned through this experience how much we depend on those around us to give us an idea of what we can do. I think that I probably would have graduated eventually, but I know that I gained confidence sooner because of the example of my friend Stacy. Part of achieving our goals comes from choosing with whom we spend our time. I also learned how I can fit a few more important things into our lives at the expense of some of the fun, but unnecessary things like “Lost,” “House,” “The Office” and other shows.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Confession: part 1

(My Grandma Call has exquisite taste. This is a lamp that has hung in the girls' room forever)

I have been dreading this post. Okay… deep breath… here I go…I have not finished my psychology degree that I started back in 1997, (what is that 13 years?) I have been totally unmotivated to complete it and yet I felt guilty that I wasn’t at least making some progress towards its finale.

It is ALWAYS embarrassing for me when people ask, “Now what did you get your degree in?” (Most of these people are super nice and have at least a Masters in something way more impressive than psychology.) I stammer and say something to the affect of, “I haven’t finished my psychology degree, I would get cracking on it after Hans got his PhD, and that I wished I’d picked something different, yada yada yada.” The general response would be, “We’ll you’ve been busy with 4 kids, and traveling and supporting Hans with his endeavors, etc.” and we’d quickly move the conversation to something less awkward.

Hans had brought up this subject millions of times prior, with such gentle and encouraging words like, “Hey maybe you could sign up for a class this semester…” or “You have some great friends here, I bet they’d watch the kids for a couple hours if you wanted to take a class..” I’d get upset because I knew he was right. I SHOULD take a class; I should ask for help, I should want to want to finish my degree. I’d tell a couple of close friends that my unfinished degree was like the pocket of fat the clung to my thighs or a dark rain cloud that followed me and kept me from doing everything I wanted to do.

More guilt piled on me as I thought about how little I had left to finish. (It was about 10-12 classes.) Then I’d remember how I took a couple of Spanish Language classes, back when we lived in Mexico. I never followed up with getting any credits transferred to UNLV. Frankly, I was afraid to call the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) because my Spanish was/is not good and my understanding is about the same. So being the avoider that I am, I just didn’t do it. It made me sick to think about all that wasted money and time. It made me feel even sicker to think that Hans felt sick about all that wasted money and time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You talkin' to me?

I came out to go to school a few weeks ago, and unlocked my bike, only to turn and see a two-foot high red-tail hawk about five feet from me, perched on top of a nearby bike. He just sat there looking at me, sizing me up. No fear there. I think he was thinking, "You got a problem?"
Conrad had raised his hand in one of our building meetings when suggestions were solicited for how to use the building funds. He suggested buying an owl to get rid of the many squirrels here (and he was willing to host the owl in his room). So I kne
w that he and Riley would want to see this, so I slipped upstairs and woke them up, and the boys and Monica came down. The hawk was still there. The boys came out and came within about four feet of him. After about 30 seconds, he effortlessly lifted off and landed on a nearby tree, where a squirrel scurried higher up the tree. The hawk remained there for quite a while, waiting patiently for a chance at the squirrel. Enjoy the photos that Monica took!

Friday, August 13, 2010


I bet you’re thinking this post will be about Amelia or that I’m with child. Nope. This pink post is all about Riley! Yes, he is so obsessed about pink these days and he can’t wait to wear the color swimming because that means he passed the deep water swim test at the YMCA. He now proudly sports a pink wristband every time he goes to the pool. And I think he’s more eager than ever to go swimming because he has all access to every stitch of the pool.

Riley is a timid and cautious lad. He actually didn’t want to take the swimming test for fear of failing. So on Monday I went with him and to take his test. 30 seconds treading water, 10 seconds floating face down and 10 seconds treading water. I don’t think a kid has ever put so much energy into 50 seconds of their life before.

When the instructor strapped on his pink wristband, Riley’s excited energy beamed out of his eyes and toothy grin. If he were a rocket, he would have gone to the moon and back with all of the happiness gushing from his soul.

Way to go, Riley, wearer of the pink waterproof bangle. I knew you could do it! I am so proud of you!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego?

I have felt beyond guilty at not posting since.....(let me look at my last post) APRIL!?!

I feel even guiltier for sneaking peaks at other peoples blogs and not commenting and saying hello. (I know, I'm a blog stalker.) I have been busy with life and such (in Minnesota they say "life and whatnot.") and blogging would have been a perfectly wonderful way of keeping track of all of mine and my families goings on. Alas I did not, so I can either boo and hoo about the past or start anew and be like George Soros and I'm going with door #2.

So I'm back rejuvenated and excited to start blogging again! Yay!

I recently had an intense last week. (I should have blogged about it. Wait, no more should'ves or guilt.) And I had the chance to write an article for my wards Relief Society newsletter. I'm attaching it below.

"We have but to ask"

This past summer has been wonderfully busy. Quinn and I have been away visiting family and friends in Las Vegas and I have had the chance to complete three summer classes. Hans stayed in Minnesota and peacefully worked on his dissertation, while my three oldest visited their aunt and grandma in Arizona.

The five weeks of classes were intense and productive and by the fifth week I was very excited to finish summer school and see my kids. For me, this vacation was rejuvenating, but I missed Conrad, Riley and Amelia’s company. I decided that the Friday of my last final, I would take my test bright and early, drive down to Peoria, Arizona, pick them up and drive back. There were a few hairy details involved with this plan that I couldn’t quite figure out.

1. I had my one year old (still nursing) Quinn, who couldn’t be left all day, so I would therefore have to take him on the four hour plus drive.

2. I had Quinn and a four hour plus drive was going to be…a very long four hours to and fro.

3. My car wasn’t big enough to comfortably accommodate myself and four children.

4. I still had to study/finish my final papers and tests.

I decided that putting my energy into my school work would be the most important thing for me to do and my subconscious would work the kinks out of my travel plans. By Wednesday, another paper was thrown on top of the rest of my finals and I became worried about finishing by Friday morning. That night I prayed to God and told him my situation and simply asked him to help me figure out the best plan for getting my kids from Arizona.

Thursday, I took my first final and almost as soon as I left the classroom, my Aunt Cherida called me. She asked me what city in Arizona were my children vacationing. She then told me that she and her husband were traveling through Peoria and that they could pick up my little brood for me.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; Aunt Cherida and Uncle Steve just solved my complicated problem. I’m sure I thanked them twenty times before the conversation ended. I then remembered my prayer the night before; I had asked for help, not prayed for my children to appear out of thin air. It was a miracle. I was walking through the campus and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving and then my thoughts remembered one of the talks I had read to my grandmother days before and a line from Bishop Keith McMullin’s talk kept flashing in my mind, “Our Father knoweth what things we have need of, before we ask Him.”

The spirit bore witness that God knew the things I stood in need of and was waiting for me to ask, so that He could bless me. Also that the things that are spoken of in General Conference were true and pertained to me in my life and that the speakers are inspired of God.

This experience, although not grand on a worldly scale, has been quite significant to me and my testimony of God our Eternal Father. I know that God is aware of our needs and wants and that He loves each of us individually. If we are keeping His commandments, are willing to be guided by the Holy Ghost and are sincere in our prayers, we have but to ask and “God will open the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Quinn- 9 months

I remember Conrad, Riley & Amelia teething, but I don't remember them gnawing on the furniture. Quinn is the puppy Conrad can't have. Quinn crawls, slobbers, eats anything and everything, loves to play and bites on furniture. What more could a kid want?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conrad wants an all American Girl

There's a new girl in town and Conrad is smitten. She has curly blond hair, hazel eyes and she loves to be outside in the sunshine, she even owns a bunny, (they already have so much in common.) "Lanie is an energetic girl who discovers the world in her own backyard."
Lanie is the 2010 Girl of the Year for American Girl and Conrad wants her. Actually he wants her so he can give her to Amelia for her birthday. Every year American Girl holds a contest to win their doll of the year. "Many children (mostly girls) will enter, few will win." This year they have to write an essay (1000 words or less) on "I'm inspired by nature when..." and take pictures of nature. The winner is randomly selected, so I figure Conrad has as good a shot as any and he thought so too.
Such a sweet brother, right? Okay he's entering the contest to win the doll for Amelia and the grand prize loot he's going to sell and keep the money. I had to convince him that he had to give the doll to Amelia, otherwise he was just being greedy.
I wanted to share the essay he wrote. It is truly from a boy and it is truly Conrad and if the essays were being judged, I know that the people in charge would find his words amusing and refreshing.

My name is Conrad Nikolas Rawhouser and I’m 10 years old. I am entering this contest so I can win Lanie for my little Sister Amelia Jane.

I am inspired by nature when I climb trees. The higher I go the more wind I can catch. Up there, I can spy on people and animals. I also collect pine cones and leaves up in the trees. When I climb down, the branches are like a ladder and I can swing, hang and balance on them. (My mom does not like the balancing part.)

I’m inspired by nature when I take my bunny, Lizzy on walks outside. I like to watch her hop around in the snow, on piles of leaves, grass, and rain, but sometimes she doesn’t really like getting wet, so I hold her. Lizzy full name is Elizabeth and she is an orange lion head rabbit.

In the summer when there is mud, I take the hose and put lots of water in the mud and that makes a perfect mud bath. The mud and cold water feel great in between my toes and I like to squish it in my hands. At the end of the day I’m covered in mud and I have to hose off before I can go inside to take a bath.

I think butterflies and dragonflies are very pretty. I am really skilled at catching them with my fingers or my net. I pinned a Monarch and Mourning Cloak. They are two different species of butterflies. Last Summer I caught ten butterflies and one dragonfly, but my mom would only let me keep two. I am inspired when I see a butterfly because I want to catch more and more every year.

I made my very own bows and arrows out of leather, bird feathers and sticks from trees that I found outside. I have a lot of fun chasing rabbits and squirrels.

I love animals and I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up. I have saved eight baby rabbits, three baby squirrels, and one baby robin and it made me feel happy to see them grow up and have babies of their own.

I want my family to be inspired by nature as much as I am.

Thank you Conrad for keeping it real and for your willingness to put yourself out there for your little sister. She will love you forever if you win. Now if you lose...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let the tournament begin...

So Riley has taken to chess. He loves playing, and I really don’t know he learned all of the moves, but he does really well. A few weekends ago, he had a chess tournament. Since we ended up not being able to get close enough to actually see the match, I was more of a people watcher. I found a pretty mixed batch of about 150 kids.

Almost all of Riley’s team is from Mexico, and several of them have faux-hawks, so he kind of stood out. There was a group of inner-city kids, with a jolly African American coach reassuring them when they came to report their wins and losses after each game. There was the Indian kid who looked like he’s biding time until the next spelling bee. There were several white boys, with hair that is a bit longer (kind of like the mean kid on “Searching for Bobby Fischer”). Riley’s first opponent (who I think eventually won his age group) looked like he was born to play. His hair was kind of long, a little wavy. His skin was pasty white, kind of like he hadn’t been out in the sun much, or if he had, he was always carefully bundled up in some Land’s End parka. There were a few other kids who had the same look. Not nerdy, just eccentric, at age 8. One shaggy, blonde-haired boy played with his hood over his head, while sucking on it’s draw strings.

But most interesting was a man who I noticed and had the thought, “This guy must be a chief in the tribe of chess.” He looked distinguished, with a button-up shirt, buttoned all the way up. And he wore the most interesting, round, thick-rimmed glasses that seemed to be made out of wood. I’ve never seen any quite like it. I quickly gathered that he was a coach, as he would go out between games and sit with a student with just a few pieces on the board and have them do a focused practice. Later, I watched as students after each game would come up to him and say, “I won.” “I won.” “I won.” …. “I won.” “I won.” “I lost.” I won.” I heard almost all, “I won.”

It seemed almost like a ceremony. No high-fives, no fist-bumps, no “way to go tiger”. He would just take out his book and record the result. When they were sad at losing (which was pretty rare), he would just say a few sentences calmly, and then they would walk away.

Later in the day, I got close enough to hear him talk to them, and realized that he was either Polish or Russian. They called him Mr. K. I asked him how I should encourage Riley. As I came away from the day, I was again reminded how much I love to see people brought together in the search for excellence.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day 2010

Check out our family Valentine, with our family photos at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Empathy on the side of the road

My sister and Mom moved down to Arizona, so we were able to come down and visit them, as well as friends and family in Las Vegas. Going a southern route through OK, TX, KS, and MO was fun. However, we had major car troubles in Phoenix. Hoping to make it to Las Vegas to have them fixed, and knowing that a good friend (Chuck Mennig) from Las Vegas would come to give us a tow if necessary, we attempted the 280 mile trip. After about 100 miles, we heard an ominous and continuous tapping. Climbing a bunch of hills didn’t help much. We prayed that we wouldn’t get stuck where we couldn’t get cell phone coverage (parts of Arizona are pretty desolate, especially this highway).

Our prayers were answered, although not exactly as we hoped. The engine stopped, and I said, “I guess we’re pulling over here.” We ended up just shy of Wikieup, AZ, on a short pullout area with double the normal shoulder. I think we all learned a lesson in empathy. Lucky for us, we waited with sufficient food, water, and clothing, knowing a very competent friend would come to our rescue. But no one else knew this. Picture our mini-van covered with a nice coat of Minnesota winter road splatter, on the side of the road, in the desert. We’ve just attended church and are trying to make it to Las Vegas to celebrate the rest of Conrad’s 10th birthday. I’m in a white shirt and tie, the boys in their Sunday shirts. I had just cut all of our hair before our trip, so if I do say so myself, we look pretty clean and tidy. Riley and I walk up to the ridge to get cell phone coverage (no, I can’t hear you now, Verizon). So who stops in our modern day road from Jerusalem to Jericho? It’s uncanny, but it seems like everyone that stopped was a smoker. I swear that the Good Samaritan was a smoker, or whatever the equivalent of that time was. The first is a short bald guy and his wife in a Lincoln Towncar. They are very nice and want to help before we reassure them and they go on their way.

The second is an old white cargo van with a sign advertising handyman service from “Batmon”. Out bounds a tall lady with sparkling eyes, probably my age, who seriously looked like she would have been a supermodel if she did not grow up in a trailer without much self-confidence (these are just my guesses). She says I can talk to her husband who might be able to help with the car. I go up to talk to him. The guy looks to be in his 50’s, has a two-day old beard, a baseball cap, tinted sunglasses, several missing teeth, and is holding a black and white kitten by the steering wheel. I explain that I know what the problem is and that someone is coming, and they drive off.
A bit later, as I try my cell phone further up the ridge, a dark green Ford Explorer comes down the highway and does a U-turn. This guy is probably in his 50’s and offers to take me into Wikieup to call. He says he dropped of his girls “to go pee” at the first big gas station in Wikieup. Not thinking that this is really hitch-hiking, Riley and I jump into his front seat, with a pack of Pall Mall’s in the cupholder, and make the two-mile jaunt into Wikieup. We chat pleasantly. As soon as we get there, I get a hold of Chuck on my cell, and he is already on his way. The Pall Mall guy’s daughters come out from the convenience store because his 5 year-old daughter wanted to see the little boy (Riley). The guy offers to give us a ride back, so we take it (again bunched in the front seat).

Now that we know Chuck is on the way and he knows exactly where to find us, we wait, patiently. We try not to make it look like we need help. But, at different times, Monica and I are walking around outside the car with Quinn so that he won’t cry. At other times, Riley and I are playing chess on the side of the road. So we weren’t totally hidden. Again, a modern day Samaritan stops – this time in a black Corvette. Riley loves Corvettes, and they seem to purr like a large undomesticated cat. Out climb an older couple. He has a white ponytail, an untucked denim shirt over a tee shirt and jeans, and a pair of Adidas tennis shoes, with the toe of the shoe not connected to the sole. She’s wearing black jeans, a black long-sleeved tee shirt, and a denim shirt over it, as well as what looked like a belt, including an understated (if that is possible when it is around your neck) belt buckle, around her neck. Again, the Corvette couple are smokers. They say they stopped because they’ve broken down a lot of times on the side of the road, especially on their old Harley Davidson. Again we bid them farewell with appreciation.

The wait is fairly pleasant, although Conrad reminds us that it is his birthday. I respond that we couldn’t buy memories like these. I mean, he’ll never forget where he was on his 10th birthday, or what he ate. The birthday spread included feta cheese with Wheat thins as an appetizer. The main course was beef jerky accompanied by a 2009 Costco bottled water (recommended, to bring out the flavor of the beef jerky). We finished the fete with a course of delicate granola bars.

As we wait, we try to amuse ourselves. Riley and I play chess. We finish our reading of the Book of Mormon (this had been in process two years, so that was NOT a small accomplishment, and could not have been planned in advance). Conrad does some reading in the Great Brain. I tell a good continuation of the Adventures of Conrad, Riley, Amelia and Quinn (the CRAQ team). I don’t want to ruin it for you, but the movie summary would be something like: “Quinn languishes in a hospital bed with pinky-toe cancer. Can Conrad, Riley and Amelia find the cure that Dr. Multi-level from Southern Utah says he found in a meteorite on his mission in Papua New Guinea? See whether the Conrad, Riley and Amelia can find Danny and Donny, the glow-in-the-dark donkeys who are the only known survivors from the atomic testing at Area 51 of the Nevada Test Site and hold the key to finding the miracle cure.”

Despite the pain of knowing that an expensive repair was imminent, it was quite enjoyable. And soon Chuck came, loaded our car up, and we were on our way. As we passed a rolled over truck and later a scorched RV, I felt much less worried about the lost time and money and more interested in what I learned.

I don’t think Conrad, or the rest of us, will forget this birthday. In our wait of about 3.5 hours (traffic was bad), we probably saw over 400 cars drive by us. For some reason, four of them stopped. So if this were an empathy test, the people from these four cars would be measured as the top 1 % on that day. Others surely had empathy, but they didn’t score quite as well on this measure. What explains these high performers? None of them were too rich, and I think all of them were smokers. Maybe the incorrect conclusion to draw from our small sample of Good Samaritans would be that smoking makes people more empathetic. Instead, I think it was what the Corvette Couple mentioned that matters. These people had experienced similar situations, and they stopped, maybe against the many murmurs of better judgment that crossed their minds like, “Oh, they have a cell phone” or “They don’t look like they are asking for help.”

Our few hours on the side of the road illustrate a problem that I have been concerned with before. I believe that we should do everything that we can to provide for ourselves and avoid difficulties like having cars that don’t run. This requires saving to buy another car once a car becomes unreliable, as well as proper maintenance, etc. (which is harder when you spend money on cigarettes). This becomes a lot easier when we have more money. But this strength can become a weakness in empathy. Not only are we more likely (not always of course) to judge others, but we are less able to even understand how it feels, which hinders us from serving others.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quinn loves Conrad, Riley & Amelia

Quinn is almost 8 mths. and he is on the move. For the past couple of weeks he's been doing the inch worm around the house. Meaning he gets up on all fours, looks like he's going to craw and then slides his arms forward as his knees buckle. This new movement has enabled him to pick up everything from Legos, pennies, Magnetixs, doll shoes, M&Ms, paper, beads, and electrical cords. (I guess it's time to "baby proof" our home. Yikes!)

The other night he was surrounded by Conrad, Riley & Amelia. They were tickling, poking, hugging, kissing and slobber kissing him and he LOVED every second. It was late and soon they stopped all the doting and went up stairs to get ready for bed. Quinn looked at me and then inched his way to the stairs. He looked at the stairs, looked at me and then looked up the stairs again and yelled. It was sort of in the tone of, "Hey, I'm still down here! Wait for me." (It was so cute.)
I picked him up and walked him up the stairs and set him down. He was so excited as he inched his way to Conrad & Riley's room. They kissed and loved on him some more. It was priceless.

He loves them so much and they love him just as dearly and I love it. Love love love it! (Can you tell I'm revving up for Valentine's Day?)

Amelia put these bunny ears of Quinn and he was happy to oblige.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So I was at Costco the other day...

This holiday season was ridiculously crazy. There were so many ups & downs, Hans & I were sure there was a hidden video camera somewhere in our car with a reality show host just waiting to pop out. But there wasn't and so instead of watching our chaotic lives on television, will be blogging about it instead. (nope to being a celebrity. dang.) Until we get around to focusing our chi, (ie: getting our suitcases out of our living room) I wanted to share something small, but sweet.
On Tuesday, I took all 4 kids to Costco because we had nothing but a small assortments of granola bars and Capri Suns in our fridge. (3 weeks of vacation, what can one expect?)
As we were being checked out to leave, one of the older men with the marker by the door drew a smiley face on the back of the receipt. (like they always do when kids are there). Before he gave the receipt to Conrad, he leaned in and said to all the kids, "Promise me that you will all share with each other and love each other all of your lives." He then looked at each child and asked them, "Do you promise?" All except Quinn said yes.
I hope they keep that promise.