Monday, August 30, 2010

The Amundson's first professionally taken family photo

This weekend we spent an hour with Katie Lewis -- a young professional photographer in Fargo. We had never had a family photo taken by a professional before ... and I was just overjoyed with the results!

Presenting... the Amundson gang:

Katie Lewis Photography - the Amundsons

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who's on first?

Last night as Paul was looking through 7-year-old Ethan's school papers:

Paul: Ethan? Where is the classroom contract you are supposed to get signed for your teacher?

Ethan: Oh yeah... Mom needs to sign it too.

Paul: Okay - where is it?

Ethan: Where is what?

Paul: The contract we are supposed to sign.

Ethan: I don't know.

Me: You took it from me, remember? After we got out of the car?

Ethan: Oh...

Paul: Will you go get it please?

Ethan: Get what?

Paul: The contract.

Ethan: What contract?

Paul: The contract we are talking about.


Ethan: What are we talking about again?

Monday, August 23, 2010


Zayd, Ethan, Paul, Mollie and I were taking a stroll around our neighborhood when the topic of dreams...
well... nightmares came up.

Zayd: I had three nightmares last night.

Me: Three! Holy cow! What happened?

Ethan: I have nightmares too!

Me: Yes Ethan, I'm sure you do. Zayd is talking now though. K?

Zayd: So in the first dream, I was in Mrs. Foley's classroom (his 4th grade teacher) and she closed the door and said, "If you are in here now - you are in this grade for the rest of the year." And I was like "Nooooo!"

Me: Oh my. That does sound scary.

Zayd: (snorts) It was.

Me: Then what?

Zayd: Well... my second dream was that we had to bring these decorated cubes to class and talk about them and I had no idea what the teacher was talking about but everyone else had their cubes all decorated.

Me: Ah....

Zayd: Why did I have those dreams?

Me: You're anxious about school starting.

Zayd: Anxious?


Zayd: Yeah. I guess I am kinda nervous about school.

Me: Actually lots of people have dreams kinda like yours - Sometimes dreams tell us that we are nervous about something... Those are sort of nightmares, I guess. They are dreams about how we aren't prepared for class, or a presentation, or something. Some people have dreams that they walk into a room without all their clothes on...

Ethan: I am naked in all of my dreams!


Zayd: What?

Ethan: Yeah! I'm naked in all my dreams. I am in school and I am walking around naked but no one cares or looks at me, well except my friend Matt, but he doesn't care either, he talks to me and stuff and has lunch with me and doesn't say anything and the other people don't say anything to me either but I am naked...

Me: You are totally naked?

Ethan: Well... yeah. I am pretty much naked. But no one cares or laughs or anything. Well... I guess in some of my dreams I have my underwear on... but sometimes I don't have my underwear on.. and I just walk around and stuff...(he shrugs his shoulders)


Ethan: I guess I have a lot of nightmares, huh?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 48 inch rule

Our family spent a four-day weekend in the Cities to do the amusement park thing. Zach and I don't do rides. But the two middle children LOVE them. And this was the first year that Ethan, our 7-year-old was tall enough to ride the "big boy" rides.

However, just because he is tall enough doesn't mean I think he is old enough. 

This story is really about my epiphany...

Roller coasters scare me. I don't like the feeling of dropping a hundred or so feet at a sharp angle. I don't even like falling off the high dive. I'm not afraid of heights... I just don't like the falling feeling. My biggest fear in life is that someday I'll have to jump out of an airplane as ransom to get my children back. I'll do it, but I won't want to.

Zach likes roller coasters even less than I. He has told us that if he had to ride a roller coaster to save our lives...

He wouldn't do it. He'd rather see us dead.

Fortunately, this means I have someone to hang out with when we go to Valley Fair. 

Ethan was determined to ride the Wild Thing - a 207 foot drop at a 60 degree angle roller coaster that makes me ill just looking at it. I told Paul I didn't think he should go on it. It might be a bit too scary. Paul seemingly agreed...


Until, that is... I was sitting on a bench at the other end of the park waiting for the water park to open... when I got a text message from Paul saying that "they" were at the Wild Thing.

Me: "Ethan?!" I texted back.

No response.

I turned to Zach.

Me: If your father takes Ethan on that roller coaster - I am going to just lose it.

Zach: Why?

Me: Because - it is dangerous! Ethan isn't THAT big.

Zach: He's 48 inches... he's big enough.

Me: But he's too young!

Zach: But if he wants to...

If he wants to? If he WANTS to? What does that mean? He doesn't want yet... does he? I decide - right? I mean, just because he is 48 inches tall, he gets to make decisions about his life? Who made up that rule!?

I haul Zach across the park to where the Wild Thing lives.

And, by God... I found my boys... including my 7-year-old fresh off the ride. Ethan was red-faced and smiling.

My baby rode a huge roller coaster...

.... and loved it.

In fact, by weekend's end... he had ridden every ride that absolutely scares the hell out of me. 

At Nickelodean Universe he road the "Rock Bottom Plunge- Which is a 97 degree angle 67 foot plunge. O.M.G. - who is this child?

And who let him grow up?

And what's going on? And I'm going to be 43 in October...and my eldest is in 10th grade and in three years when Paul and I celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary he'll be graduating and my second one will be in high school and the third will be just a year away...

And what the hell!

Even though I could see my boys growing taller and getting older... it still was okay - because I had Ethan. Ethan was my baby and he plays that role quite well. But all of a sudden, he didn't want to be the baby anymore. In fact when I hugged him after his ride on the "Wild Thing" he said...

Ethan: Why are you hugging me so much?

Me: Because you are my baby and I was worried about you on that big roller coaster.

He pulled away

Ethan: I am not a baby anymore, mom. I am a big boy now.

I stood there and stared at him as he walked over to his older brothers to relive the experience.  

Who decided that 48 inches makes a baby not a baby anymore. And how come he knew about that rule...

and how come no one told me? 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hormonal blurr

I'm an equal opportunity humorist...
I am more than willing to laugh at myself:

I was in need of some tampons of a particular size. This was an emergency, so I left the house abruptly and went to my nearby Target store to pick up what I needed.

The aisle was so... so...

so overwhelming. I don't know... there were SO many choices. I don't ever remember the sanitary accoutrements aisle being so utterly confusing.

SO many sizes, brands, and colors to choose from. Good God! What happened! All I was looking for was MY brand; MY size; MY color. It seemed as though all sanitary appliance companies had chosen to change their packaging all at once.

I finally found what I needed... and just as I was about to pick it up, I noticed the Target brand right next to it... at a considerably lower price. Apparently, my hormones had the best of me because normally I don't ever take price into consideration when purchasing anything... But for some reason - I felt frugal - frugal with the essence of my womanliness.

So I picked up the Target box - same color, different price - and headed home... right for the bathroom.

And when I got there I opened up the box...

Me: What the hell?

It was the wrong sized stuff.

HOW DARE TARGET mess with MY colored tampons! Purple boxes mean purple-sized tampons... not blue-sized tampons! Why would Target do that! Why would it give me blue-sized tampons in the form of purple tampons??

I threw the box in my bathroom closet and stomped down the stairs...

Paul: Where are you going now?

Me: To the store to buy tampons.

Paul: You just went to the store to buy tampons...

Me: I bought the wrong size.

He looks at me and holds back a laugh.

I look at him and hold off biting his head off...

I have now decided to boycott Target tampons... so I head to CVS. CVS would not try to mix with a woman's hormonal blurriness by confusing her into buying the wrong sized tampons.

I arrived at CVS and decide that this time, I will purchase my brand.

Me: Shit.

CVS doesn't carry my brand.

How the hell does that happen! My brand is like the mother ship of sanitary brands. The queen mother of tampon brands...

I stare at the aisle full of other brands... different colored packaging, different names, different sizes...

I feel dizzy...

I pick up a box... look at it carefully to make sure I have the best "not my brand" tampon and get back home...

... and back up to the bathroom...

... and open the box...

Me: Holy shit. No way.

It's the wrong size again. It's the same wrong size I bought at Target.

This is not cool. This is about as uncool as it gets.

After a few minutes of staring at the second wrong-sized box of tampons... my brain walks out of its haze to a brilliant idea.

I tend to squirrel away tampons all over the house... kitchen drawers, closets, coat pockets, purses, cars, etc. Although I can't tell you why...

So I yell at the top of my lungs...

Me: BOYS!!!! EVAN!!! ZAYD!!! ETHAN!!!!

A minute later, they all show up in my bedroom.

Me: I'll give you 50 cents for every tampon you find in the house - as long as they are purple.

Ethan: What's a tampon?

Zayd: I'll show you...

Everyone flies out of the room...

And about five minutes later... I have a dozen... purple, correct brand, correct size tampons.


Boys motivated by money is a good thing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mollie's meal

The other night as dinner was winding down, Evan -- who always finishes first -- decided to fetch Mollie (our 6 month old mini Goldendoodle) from the backyard.

Thirty seconds after Evan went outside... we hear him scream. We all look up and see him running -- more like flying -- towards the house.

Evan bolts in and slams the sliding door behind him.

Evan: Oh my God! (heavy breathing) Mollie (more heavy breathing) has a squirrel head in her mouth! (more heavy breathing for dramatic effect).

Paul: Evan! (he yells). Don't yell!

Evan: (moderate to heavy breathing) But I'm not kidding! It is really a squirrel head! I saw it!

Me: Okay Evan. That's enough. We are all eating. Let's talk about this after dinner.

The family tends to take what Evan says with grain of salt. It's not that he lies... he just tends to misinterpret situations...

At which point Mollie appears at the sliding glass door with something in her mouth -- like a golfball...

...or perhaps a small rodent's head.

With the exception of Paul - the boys and I get up from the dinner table to get a closer look at Mollie's mouth. We huddle around the sliding door and crouch down to get a better look -- through the safety of the sliding glass door, of course.

Zach: Oh my God! It IS a squirrel head!

Zayd: (starts laughing) Oh my God!!! (more laughter)

I get on all fours and lower my head to the floor to look for myself.


Me: Oh. My. God. Paul! There is a squirrel head in her mouth!

Paul continues eating as if I said, "please pass the butter."  I am panicking - First of all - this is CLEARLY a squirrel head. It looks like a squirrel -- hair and all -- that just happens to be taking a nap in Mollie's mouth...

...except its body is missing.

The boys begin the obligatory "Ughs," "Oooos," and "Groooosssss"...

Paul: Boys. Sit down and finish your dinner. (he says sternly)

The boys and I obey.

We are silent for a moment (none of us eating because, frankly, it is hard to eat after you have seen a squirrel's head in your dog's mouth) - as we each turn to steal a glance of Mollie who is still sitting on the other side of the sliding glass door looking at us like, "What?"

Me: Paul? Isn't it kinda bad for her to eat a squirrel? I mean, couldn't she get sick?

Paul: I don't know. (He doesn't look up and keeps eating)

Me: Don't you think we should get it from her?

Paul: Maybe. (He doesn't look up and continues eating).

In hindsight, I think Paul's reaction was a protective mechanism. If he had acknowledged that it might be dangerous for our puppy to have a squirrel head in her mouth... that would have lead to the inevitable:
Paul would have been the designated squirrel head retriever.

We eat silently for a few more moments. Then, I make an announcement:

Me: I'll give ten bucks to the first person who gets the squirrel head out of Mollie's mouth!

Everyone (with the exception of Paul) whips their head around to look at me with a mixture of excitement, disbelief and pure greed...

Zach: (still sitting) I'll do it!

Zayd: (stands up) I'll do it!

Evan: (already moving towards the door) I'LL do it! I found her first!

Ethan: I can do it too!

Me: Well then... go out there and do it!

Zach: Should we use a paper towel?

Me: I think it would be best if you used a plastic bag to protect your hand.

The boys trip over each other to get out the door onto the patio. They surround Mollie.

Evan makes the first attempt but can't seem to get Mollie to hold still. Extracting a squirrel head from a puppy's mouth is delicate work. After a few tries, Zach goes in to show the other boys how it's done.

After 30 seconds he turns away holding his stomach saying:

Zach: Ughhhh... I can't do it. That is so gross. I feel sick...

Zayd takes his turn while Evan and Ethan hold Mollie...

After a few moments I hear cheers mixed with more ughs, oooooooos and grooossssess.

Zayd emerges from the chaos, triumphantly holding the plastic bag up high -- and laughing so hard he is crying...


Everyone is laughing because Zayd has one of those contagious laughs. He laughs from his heart... and his belly... He can barely breathe he is laughing so hard.

Me: Oh my gosh Zayd! You are AWESOME! Look at you! Totally courageous. You're like the crocodile hunter or something...

Zach: I cannot believe he could do it. That was so gross. I couldn't have done it.

Zayd: (still laughing).

Me: Okay - so now... we need to find the rest of the squirrel's body.

Zayd: Why do we have to find that?

Me: Because we don't want Mollie coming back later with other part of the squirrel in her mouth... and then throwing that up...


Me: Zayd? Would you look for it please?


Zayd: That'll cost you another 10.