Monday, June 25, 2012

Days for Dad

This year Father's Day and Steve's birthday were right in a row. So we had a few fun days to do little things with dad.

Our first secret plan was an idea I got from a friend's blog to do a taste test. This seemed to fit Steve well and so we planned to do it on Saturday. One of Steve's favorite foods is sandwiches. The kids helped pick out 4 sandwich shops. At each place we tried to order their listed turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese. So there were slight variations in type of bread or extra toppings, but we left it that way to see what we liked. We also got plain potato chips at each place, whatever brand they carried. And then 2 diet lemon-lime sodas to test.

I was really fun. We all ate and wrote down our own judgements and then compared them. It was fun to hear and see how the 3 kids each did this...Rhianna is good at lists and charts so this fits her well. I liked Rand's comments like Yum Yum, Ick Yuck, and Too Much. We are not really sure how accurate Seth's judgements were, but he had fun trying. So once we rank ordered all of the foods and gave them points based on all of rankings, here are our findings:

Sandwich (mainly for Steve and I the bread and few extra toppings really improved the sandwich)
#1 Jason's Deli
#2 Subway (Steve totally disagrees with all our children's votes here and says we will still not eat Subway)
#3 Baggins
#4 Jimmy Johns

#1 Classic Lays from Jason's Deli
#2 & #3 Tied - Poor Brothers from Baggins & Baked Lays from Subway
#4 Jimmy Chips from Jimmy Johns

Soda - very similar taste here, mainly more fizz in the Sprite
#1 Diet 7-Up
#2 Sprite Zero

Father's Day was a fairly simple day. The kids and I had folded little shirts and colored them and written in them. The kids all sang in church to the fathers.

Monday was Steve's birthday. He chose to go to Neo - which has Malaysian and Chinese food. He likes Asian food more than any of us, so it is a good place for him to pick since we don't eat it as often. Some of the things we really liked were the pot stickers, roti canai, satay, fried rice, and sweet basil curry. We also got lime juice, one of my favorites from our visit to Singapore. We all really enjoyed the meal and ate plenty. Then we headed home for dessert.

The only thing Steve really wanted was a good chocolate cake. We had come up with many plans that hadn't worked and I know Steve was really wondering if we were going to find a good one. We had secretly gone to a local bakery and bought a sample with cash. The only trouble was that the sample wasn't quite what we wanted. The chocolate cake was really good so that was a good start. But the sample had fudge frosting and we wanted chocolate buttercream. We also wanted raspberry filling. We saw those things in other baked goods there and since they looked good, went for it. So honestly I too was hoping this would really be a good cake.

It was fantastic. The cake and frosting were really yummy. But the thick layers of really wonderful raspberry made the cake delicious. Steve was very pleased. It was a successful, delicious few days to celebrate Steve/Dad and all we appreciate about him.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthaversary Stephanie

June is a big month for our family. Stephanie and I got married on June 12, my birthday is June 18, and Stephanie and Rhianna share a birthday on the 22nd. It is a fun and exciting time. However, because Rhianna and Stephanie share the same birthday, sometimes I feel like we don’t spend enough time really celebrating Stephanie’s birthday. What we have done the last few years is we have used our anniversary on the 12th as the day we also celebrate Stephanie’s birthday.

So, in honor of our recent anniversary (our 14th) and Stephanie’s upcoming birthday, I thought I would just do a quick blog post celebrating a couple things that demonstrate how awesome Stephanie is.

One reason that Stephanie is awesome is because she is an awesome mom. One thing I love about the LDS church is that we tend to celebrate the choice for a woman to be a stay at home mom, a little more than other people do. It is seen as a noble sacrifice for a woman to choose to forgo her career (and possibly some personal fulfillment and public praise) in order to spend time loving and caring for her children. I think that is a great thing that we do in LDS culture. I am so grateful that Stephanie made this choice for our family. She does so much more than I could do if our roles were reversed. Stephanie constantly puts the needs of our kids before her own. She has a greater share of love and patience than I do. I constantly reflect on the fact that my job ends when I come home, but her job never stops. Even now, when she is more tired because she is pregnant, she is still the one who will immediately wake up and care for our children when they express a need, while I sleep through whatever crisis is occurring.

Another reason Stephanie is awesome is because she is a fabulous wife. She loves and appreciates her weird, nerdy husband. I am definitely a nerd (or a geek). I am so nerdy that I use a spreadsheet to keep track of all the books I read. I do this for two reasons. First, I read so much that without keeping track I would find myself accidentally re-reading books I had read years before. Second, I have to keep a long list of what to read next so that I can stay ahead of it. Stephanie knows about my quirks and yet you will never hear her say anything bad or negative about them. Sometimes she even celebrates them. Recently a friend of Stephanie’s posted on her family blog about a taste-test that she did for her husband’s birthday. That is the kind of nerdy thing that is right up my alley: food combined with data. Before I had even mentioned it, she had planned with the kids to conduct a taste test of sandwiches from various sandwich shops for Father’s day. It was a lot of fun and just one of the many ways she has demonstrated how much she loves and understands me.

So, today on my birthday I just want to tell Stephanie how much I love and appreciate her and wish her a Happy Birthaversary!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watching Star Wars with the Kids

Over the last couple of weeks Stephanie and I decided that it would be fun to watch the Star Wars movies with the kids (the original three, not the prequels, don't even get me started on those!!). One of the reasons I wanted to watch these movies with our kids is because I loved them so much when I was a kid. I have a terrible memory for my past and my life, but one of my very earliest memories is being in a dark movie theater and watching Star Wars. We had tried showing the kids the first movie a few years ago, but at the time they were too young and didn't get into it. Rhianna and Rand couldn't even remember trying to watch it. This time it went a lot better. It was a lot of fun watching the three movies and we had a nice time. I thought I would share some of the fun observations and moments from watching them with our kids. 

Even though we hadn’t really talked about Star Wars very much, it has really diffused through our culture so much that it is almost impossible for the kids to watch it without knowing some important things. For instance, the first time we saw Darth Vader on screen, Rand said: “That guy is somebody’s dad.” I asked him how he knew and he said someone at school told him. I did my best to not address his comment, and it worked fairly well because when the big reveal did happen in Empire it still had an impact for him.

Another moment that did not have as much of an impact as intended is when Luke goes to Dagobah and Yoda shows up and starts harassing Luke by acting like an annoying swamp creature. The surprise of Luke finding out that this creature was really the Jedi master was ruined because Rhianna already had seen pictures of Yoda and so she knew that he was Yoda as soon as he appeared. She even asked why he was acting so weird.

Seth had a lot of fun watching the movies. He was really tired when we watched Star Wars and so he fell asleep during that, but he was totally in to both of the other movies. Seth kept calling him “Dark Vader.” Stephanie pointed out that the music would change whenever the Empire was on screen and after that whenever the music would start, Seth would say: “It’s Dark Vader.”

When Yoda started lifting things with the Force, Seth started pointing his hand at the screen and saying: “I am using the force.” After we watched Return of the Jedi, Seth said: "Actually, I am Yoda. Green is my favorite color and I have a light saber, so that makes me Yoda." He has also talked a few times about how he thinks he may be starting to be able to use the force.

After Darth Vader tells Luke that he is Luke’s father Seth kept saying, “Is Dark Vader REALLY his father? Really? In real life?” (He always says “in real life” when he is trying to tell you he is not pretending and something is true). Seth also kept asking if Luke was going to turn bad. He was really worried that Luke was going to turn bad as well. In Return of the Jedi he was very concerned when Luke was with the Emperor that he was going to turn bad.

One thing I found interesting was that when we proposed watching Star Wars, Rhianna said that she didn’t want to watch it. In fact, she almost seemed against it. It really seemed to me that she had assumed that Star Wars was a “boy” thing and so she didn’t want to watch it and assumed she wouldn’t like it (or that she didn’t want to like it because doing so wouldn’t be cool). In fact, even after it started she kept trying to look like she wasn’t interested. I talked to her and told her that she should decide on her own what she liked and not to keep herself detached because she had a preformed opinion. After that she softened a bit. Especially because Princess Leia is just cool. She is smart and tough and Rhianna really likes smart, tough women characters. Rhianna especially loved at the end when they revealed that Leia is Luke's sister and that she would be able to learn how to use the force some day.

When we were watching The Empire Strikes Back, I really noticed all of the banter between Han Solo and Leia this time. Early in the movie I asked Rhianna if she thought that Leia liked Han and she said, “No, because she always seems to be upset or angry when he is around.” However, then came the scene where they are captured and Han is about to be frozen and she was riveted. In fact, during the end scenes of this movie all of the kids were riveted. As Darth Vader has captured everyone and has set up a trap for Luke all of the kids kept yelling at the screen that Luke shouldn’t come back. The kids were really upset that at the end, the Empire is basically winning. Han is frozen, Luke couldn’t beat Vader and is devastated to know that this evil monster is his own father. It was really interesting watching this together with them.

When Darth Vader asks Luke to take off his mask and is dying, it was a big moment for all of our kids. Rand even started crying. He said that is made him so sad that just as Luke's dad was turning good again that he died. (Although they were all confused at the end when the "ghosts" appear and Anakin appears as young Hayden Christensen, no one knew who that was supposed to be.). The kids also really enjoyed the Ewoks, especially the baby Ewoks and they were moved by the Ewoks helping even though they had very little technology and many of them died fighting the Empire.

Overall it was a fun experience and I wanted to record some of these moments to remember when our kids are older.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Baby Boy or Girl?

I am now at 20 weeks and had the big ultrasound on Tuesday, June 5.

Any guesses???

This is how we told the kids when we got home. Rand had created a treasure hunt to find the cupcakes. We had filled them with either blue frosting for a boy or pink frosting for a girl. The kids had decided on their own to just do a thumbs up when they knew so they wouldn't shout it out before others knew. I tried to catch their reactions.


It was really fun to tell the kids. We are all happy we will have this new little girl in our family. So now we can start thinking more about names. One thing we did was pull up our family fan that shows generations of family names to give us some ideas. It will be a good few months preparing for her arrival in October.