Monday, April 28, 2008

And I wanted to live in India...

I can hardly survive Belgium and once upon a time I wanted to live in India?! I suppose that was before children. Anytime things get tough it's easier to imagine life will be better elsewhere. There's no doubt this place is not the worst place to live and some days I've really got it good, but there's also no doubt that life is infinitely easier in the good old U. S. of A. I made my list of all the things I like about this place, which Taylor reminds me to focus on that instead of the list I formulate in my mind that is ten times longer of the things I don't like. So, he is right, and it's really great that we have family time and I don't recreation shop anymore. But some days I really wish I lived where a dollar is a dollar and there are no priority to the right signs (ask me about it sometime).

We play a little game, the boys and I, while driving, "what's the first thing you're going to do when we arrive home this summer?" That list has gotten so long, I actually started writing it down so as not to forget our hopes and desires. Gavin is heading straight for Dunkin' Donuts and must have a water balloon fight in Grandmom's back yard. He also was looking at the pictures on the back of our U.S. money and informed me that he wanted to see these places: Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, etc. (how convenient, really). Taylor was diplomatic and said we must visit family first, and then he wanted to go to Rocky Run for real hot wings and a trip to Gettysburg would be nice as well. David claims he has nothing on his to-do list (but I'll bet he ends up in A Game's Workshop store before long). As for me; a friend informed me the other day that she was saving me a parking spot at Target. Also watch out Joann's and Borders, and probably Pannera, Baja Fresh, Starbucks, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer, Trader Joe's, Recollections, JCPenny's, Micheals, Safeway, THE MOVIES, Aida's Bistro, Ellicott City Brew Pub, Target - I think you get the point.

Unfortunately we're only home for six weeks, will there be enough time? Or more importantly, will we ever want to come back here? The hardest part is being so far from family. And I just can't wait to feel the connection again. BUT I'll make the best I can of living here because I know Belgium is not India. (but just by a hair)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Odyssey of the Mind

This is huge! I was told that when the teams started practicing in November that a first year school rarely places in these competitions, let alone wins. So, after months of practice and hard work (an average of 175 hours per student) Shape Elementary School sent 5 teams to the regional competition in Bad Kissengen, Germany. And all five teams placed, and two teams won first place, which means going to the World Finals in Maryland.

That would be my Taylor! His team won first place for building a balsa wood structure that bares weight and a skit to present it to the judges. So you know what this means? A whole lot of fund raising in a very short amount of time. It costs each kid $520 for lodging and another $700 or so for airfare (this does not include the parent that goes with the child) and misc. expenditures. So, we figured out that we need to raise over $17,000 to send these kids to the World Finals, and we have less than two months to do it. Hello bake sales! And car washes, and flea markets, and lunches for teachers, and bingo night, and more bake sales, and a whole lot of hustling...

I am so excited and proud of my Taylor that he can take part of something so big. And it's so nice that we get to go to Maryland. I can't wait for a chance to go home and spend some time with family and friends. We all need this trip. And Taylor EARNED it all the way. I love you, son, you are amazing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

One More Monkey

Yes, you could say that I have an excuse for my great lapse in writing. Life seems to pass faster than I can get a handle on it. But I am missing a great opportunity to share with everyone all the adventures ands misadventures of our life right here and now. As I read through a few friends blogs recently I realized I have a lot of catching up to do. So, here we go.

Welcome now the latest redhead boy to the Conrad clan: Finley Emerson Conrad was born March 6th 2008. After a very short labor (Yes!) he was born at 9:35 in the morning in the local Belgian hospital, three weeks early at 8 pounds 2 ounces. Of course he has red hair, or David might have sent him back! I look at him and have a sense of Deja Vu. But I know as he grows and develops his own personality, likes, dislikes, desires, path to run down...he will prove to me that he is NOT just a replication of his brothers, but in fact another great addition to this world in his very own unique and wonderful way. I already feel so overwhelmed with love and gratitude that I have this chance to be a mom one more time. I feel very fulfilled with my three amazing boys, even if my house feels like a zoo full of monkeys some days, this is the life I want more than anything else and I am happy!

A quick update on all the other things in life: We acquired a cat last year, and then a dog; more monkeys than I can handle some days. I hired a house keeper finally, now I don't cry over housework anymore and seem to enjoy the little things a bit more. (like holding my baby and reading to the kids.) On the bright side, though, the dog keeps the peacock out of our yard, thank goodness because it would not have survived another year in my life!! The long dark winter is over and I see signs of spring everywhere. New babies are flooding the region, not only are the humans having babies by the dozens, but it's so much fun to see all the baby animals. On our property, the landlord's sheep had seven new lambs this year, and the neighbor's goats had kids. The cows have been let out to pasture for the season after being cooped up in the barn all winter.

I guess as much as I say I want to move home, when presented with moving back to a crowded city, I realize there is so much to enjoy here with our simple family life. And, though we never go to the movies, or out to dinner, or even travel much, and certainly shopping is whatever we can find at the military exchange (have you seen the exchange rate lately?!), our life is limited to what we do together here at home. So, dear sweet husband says, are you going to remember your time here in Belgium as being "poor" or as time well spent hanging out at home having a good time together as a family. What a good man to remind me how good I have it. So today, I will drive along the farm roads and see all the new life growing, and feel good to be a part of it this Spring!

"Live high, live mighty, live righteously" -song quote from Jason Mraz