Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Basketball Night

I had a few lucky years where Paige liked to go to sports with me. Not any more.

I took all the kids to the Utes basketball game last night. Surprisingly, Paige happily agreed to go. But her tune changed once we got there. 

The game hadn't even started by the time she walked over to my seat and said, "I hate to say this, Dad, but I regret coming here."

Luckily she brought her sparkly birthday purse with her. She pulled out her little journal and started writing. Over her shoulder, I spied this sentence:

"I'm at the Utah Utes game right now and it's sooooo boring."

She cheered up when I let her use my phone at halftime to do some Dutch lessons on Duolingo. (The girl loves to learn.) By the time the Kiss Cam showed up on the Jumbotron, I think she was actually having a good time. 

Tate, on the other hand, had a great time throughout. After every single basket, he asked me what the score was and who was winning. After every. single. basket. I think I've found my new sports buddy. 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Earrings for Boys

It's been almost a month since Paige had her ears pierced. So far, so good. No weird infections or earrings left on the floor for me to step on.

I've never had a pierced ear--even thought earrings were super cool when I was in junior high. Man, I wanted one so bad. 

One day in seventh-ish grade, I stopped by friend Ben's house after school.

"Uh, Ben. What are you doing with that ice on your ear?"

Luckily, I had showed up just in time to hear that gross popping sound that happens when you shove an earring through a half-numb earlobe.

We then stood together in the mirror, admiring the metal stud in an ear that was now bleeding profusely. Oh man, it was so cool.

Ben only had his earring for a couple of days. Until his dad found out about it. And promptly ripped it out of his ear, leaving him just a small hole and a puss-filled infection to show for it.

But it was still pretty cool.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Day Paige Stopped Being a Kid

Paige is now nine. Nine going on 17. She got her ears pierced for her birthday, making her seem even more grown up.

She was pretty brave about the whole thing. We asked her if it hurt and she said, "It felt like they were stapling my ears." Which was pretty much what they were doing.


When you're in the middle of it, you don't really realize how quickly your kids are growing up. It's a gradual process--except in Paige's case, where it happened overnight.

I still remember the night.

It was two summers ago. We were in St. George and all the kids had been playing at the splash pad on Main Street. Before we went home, Paige and all of her cousins (Paige is the oldest of the bunch) went on the merry-go-round. After the ride, all of the kids piled back out except for Paige.

We were pretty worried. It was getting dark and we couldn't see her anywhere. After a few anxious minutes, we found her in the parking lot, standing by the car.

"Paige," we said. "What are you doing over here? Why did you leave without telling us? We thought you were lost!"

She stared back at us, silently defiant.

Finally, she responded. "I didn't want to go on the merry-go-round. It's babyish!"

And with that--at age seven--Paige decided she was done being a kid. The next weekend, I took Paige and Curtis to a Bees game. As usual, we stood in line for ages to ride the little train around the outfield. When we finally made to the front, Paige refused to get on the train.

"I'm not going," she said flatly. "This train is for babies."

All of the things she had liked for the first seven years of her life had instantly become too immature. We were done with the train, the merry-go-round, Lalaloopsy dolls, and even SpongeBob SquarePants.


Now Paige is nine and all grown up. She loves reading and drawing and watching High School Musical on repeat. It makes me sad that she's given up the kid stuff, but fortunately, every once in a while, she'll forget for a minute or two when she's playing with her little brothers.

She has a very creative mind. She writes books for Tate and draws comics for Curtis about Pop Tart people (spoiler alert: they all get eaten in the end). She makes me sweet little cards every time I'm sick and loves when Traci hugs her.

I can't believe she's been a part of our life for nine years; it's almost hard to remember life without her. Happy birthday, Baby Page--I mean Ms. Paige. We love you!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Congratulations, Spencer! You Learned Your States

I basically don't know anything about anything. History, nope. Science, uh-uh. Physics, mechanics, home repair, interior decorating, small engine combustion, politics, current events, foreign wars--none of it. Really all I have to offer is a decent knowledge of the Nirvana discography, the Bring it On franchise, and Simpsons quotes. That's it.

Recently, I was reminded of just how little I know about geography. Looking a blank U.S. map, I could only name about 20 of the 50 states. Sure, I could point out my neighbors in the West--and I knew the easy ones like Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida--but once I got over to the Midwest and those tiny East Coast states I was completely lost.

I was telling my work friends about my lack of state-naming skills and one of them took pity on me and bought me a laminated map and erasable crayons (the kind you'd buy for a kindergartner, which is not all embarrassing).

I started practicing.

Every morning when I got to work, I'd spend a few minutes working on my map skills. After a few days, I had it locked down pretty well. I could totally pass a fourth grade geography test now. Not bad for a 34-year-old!


Last night, I dreamed a dream. LeBron James and the Cavs were destroying the Denver Nuggets (I was watching basketball before I went to bed). It was so bad, in fact, that the Cavs not only brought in their bench players, but some guys from what the announcer called the "subsidy" league. These were such ragtag dudes that they didn't even have real uniforms, just store-bought John Stockton and Michael Jordan jerseys.

The game ended and the dreamed morphed--as dreams do--into something else. Suddenly, these guys were all on the practice squad, trying to make the team. For some reason, I was the assistant coach or something.

And I only had one job.

After a tough tryout, the coach was ready to make cuts. He handed me a list of all the players and then pointed to the court (which had transformed into the carpeted floor of the gym at my parents' church). Taped on the carpet was an outline of the United States.

The coach looked me straight in the eye and shouted, "Line these up boys by home state." I looked down at the player list, which was of course filled with all of my toughest states. I started to panic. Is Illinois on the right of Indiana or the left? Which one of these crazy shapes in Michigan? Where did Mississippi disappear to?

"NOW!" yelled the coach.

I took a deep breath and pointed to what I could only pray was the right state.

And then my alarm rang.

I had never been so happy to wake up.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Family Photo Fiasco

Not pictured: Curtis

Is there anything worse than family picture day?

Spoiler alert: No.

Here's a quick recap of this year's attempt:

  • Traci spends at least a week trying to put together the perfect combination of coordinated clothing
  • We're late to the location because Curtis and Tate both refuse to wear those clothes
  • Traci is flustered and frustrated with our obstinate children
  • Curtis is only willing to be in the picture if he can stand behind me and is only willing to poke about an inch of his forehead over my shoulder
  • Tate will be in the picture, but he refuses to smile
  • Paige has the flu and -- despite being a total trooper -- can barely summon the strength for a smile
  • After about five minutes, I'm willing to give up on the whole thing, because now Curtis is refusing to be in the picture at all
  • For one fleeting moment, everyone stands in the same place at the same time. Neither of the boys will smile or say "cheese," but they are willing to burp in unison. Fortunately, with no sound, a burp kind of looks like a smile.
It was an awful, awful evening. And we'll always have a picture to remember it. 

(A huge thank you to our very, very patient photographer. Please accept our apologies.)

Sunday, November 02, 2014

My Son Curtis

I'm standing in a souvenir shop in Manhattan, holding an I Love New York t-shirt. I turn to my boss and say, "I'm buying this for Curtis, even though he'll hate it."

Curtis doesn't like stuff. Even if he does.

He loves monster trucks. But if I were to buy tickets to Monster Jam, he would tell me that he doesn't want to go. (I have. And he did.)

He loves getting mail. But I were to send him a litter, he would open it up and then immediately throw it away. (And then tell me, "I only like letters that have money in them.")

When I got home from New York, I gave Curtis a hug and said, "Hey, buddy. I brought something home for you." He took the shirt, held it up, and gave it a look. Then, without breaking eye contact with me, he crumpled it up and dropped it on the ground. Pretty much like I thought he would.

But he didn't stop there. A few minutes later, after I had moved on to something else, he tracked me down. "Dad," he said, "There's something weird under your bed."

"Weird?" I asked.

"Yeah. Weird."

I followed him into my room and looked under the bed, where he had shoved the balled-up t-shirt.

"Yeah. That's pretty weird," I said.

The next morning, Curtis was wearing the shirt.

It's now one of his favorites.

That's Curtis. He hates stuff. Even if he doesn't. And sometimes he loves it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Solid Saturday

It's a pretty good Saturday when Curt scores a goal...

and Tate scores three...

and Bert invites us over to the pool (and the weather is perfect)...

and Rhett and I spend the evening at Kilby Court...

and Mike Doughty plays "Janine" on the two-string bass and "Soft Serve" on the electric guitar.

Yep, a pretty good Saturday.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our Newest Soccer Guy

I love the uniforms for the 3-year-olds: the jerseys go to their knees, the shorts go to their ankles, and the socks go their bellies. 

After sitting through six seasons of his big brother's soccer games, it's finally time for Tate to get a chance. 

I decided to coach his team this season. (I figure my lack of soccer skills doesn't really matter when they're this young.) It's been a while since I've coached the three-year olds. Here's how it goes:
  • We start with some stretching which, at this age, just means touching toes and jumping up and down. A few kids follow along; most just stare at me blankly. A few kids cry. 
  • Before we start the game, we huddle together to do a cheer. It takes about 3 minutes to successfully say "Go Black Fire!" (Tate chose the name.)
  • The game starts and it takes a few more minutes and some prodding before the kids realize they need to kick the ball.
  • It takes about just as long for about a third of the kids to start crying.
  • I substitute a few kids out, but the kids I try to bring in don't really want to come in,
  • By half-time, about half the kids are crying.
  • A little while later, Tate scores a goal and I, as a coach, am objectively pleased (and as a Dad, incredibly proud--that's my boy!)
  • After half-time, instead of leaving a few kids on the sideline, I bring them all in, realizing that attrition will quickly take its toll as kids decide they're thirsty or hungry or they want to play with their little brother or pet their dog. 
  • Throughout the entire second half, a little girl cries and tells me she just wants to go the playground; I tell her that her mom will totally take her after the game.
And then the game ends and it feels like we've narrowly survived the battle. 

But then something magical happens. 


Somehow, a lukewarm Capri Sun and a bag of smiley face fruit snacks makes it all worth it. 

And we live to fight another day. 

Friday, September 05, 2014


Just got back from a quick work trip to New York. Our PR agency is out there, so we did a face-to-face meeting to plan the next year. 

Though we arrived Tuesday evening and were back on the plane by Thursday evening, my boss and I were still able to fit in a little fun.

We headed to Times Square in hopes of scoring some discount tickets to Book of Mormon: The Musical. No luck. So we tried to take in the touristy sights and sounds without making eye contact with the guys in the creepy Elmo costumes or the girls wearing nothing but body paint.

Then we played some guitars that we could never afford and ate dinner at a restaurant that sold drinks that were even more expensive than the guitars.

After a full day of meetings, the ladies from the PR agency took us to a Yankees game. (It sure was convenient that my boss and I were able to find time in our busy schedules to go to New York on the very day the Yankees were playing the Red Sox. Wink. Wink.)

Taking the subway to the Bronx for a game -- at rush hour -- meant every part of our bodies had the opportunity to touch every part of every other body in the train. Delightful.

But it was the perfect night to watch baseball, to see Derek Jeter in his final season, and to eat an overpriced hot dog.

After another half-day of meetings, it was time to buy some souvenirs for the kids, eat some gelato in Madison Avenue Park, and hail a cab (a first for me) and head back to LaGuardia airport.

It was a nice little getaway, but it was even better get home to my little monsters (and the beautiful wife who has to put up with them).

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Paige to Dad: "You're Ruining My Life"

So here's what happened with Paige and the school paper.

After she signed up to be the editor, it was a while before we heard anything more about it. She didn't get the editor gig but she was told she could be a photographer. She was elated.

However, when we were finally able to track down the details, we found out the school paper was a more or less a class project for the 6th graders. Traci and I talked about it and decided that probably wasn't the best idea for second-grade Paige.

When we broke the news, she was displeased at best.

"Dad," she stomped. "You're ruining my life!"

I felt bad about ruining my daughter's life.

Pretty bad, actually.

And then I had an idea. What's the next thing to working for the paper? Having your own paper, of course. (And it's probably better.)

"Paige, what would you think about having your own blog?"

She looked at me quizzically.

"You could write about the stuff you do. You could put pictures on there. And drawings. And funny stories about Curtis."

Her eyes got wide. And then so did her smile.

"When can we do it?" she asked.

"Let's wait until school gets out and then I'll help you set it up."

But she couldn't wait. A day or two later, the blog was created and she had already written a post about our trip to Vernal.

Here's my version of the story.

And here's what Paige had to say about it on her blog:
On the weekend of Memorial Day, me and my family went to Vernal, Utah on a vacation. It took 3 hours to get there. But then we FINALLY got there. We stayed in a hotel called Springhill Suites. It was one of the best and fanciest hotels I’ve ever been to. (To be honest, I haven’t been to very many hotels because we are very low on travel.)First, we went to KFC for dinner. Then, we went swimming in the indoor pool at the hotel. In the morning, we went to dinosaur land. But in the blink of an eye, BOOM! We had to go home. I’m sure we all had one of the best vacations EVER.
I think her version was better.

We've since purchased her a little digital camera and she's been documenting the whole summer. Now when it comes time for her to really be on the school paper, she'll be ready!

Paige Learns to Drive Four-Wheeler, Almost Kills Me

Paige quickly got the hang of the gas pedal. It was the brakes that were the problem. I had to cut the video short in order to prevent the imminent death of Tate and me.

Paige, however, was unfazed.

Luckily, all were unharmed. Well, except for the tripod that holds the sprinkler. Paige ran right over that a little while later. Oh, well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School

The kids have survived their first week of school (and Traci survived another summer with the kids - barely).

Paige is a big third grader. Basically running the school.

Curtis has made the big move from Kindergarten to first grade, which means all day at school, navigating the lunch line, and getting three recesses (Paige spent all last year telling Curtis how sweet it is to have three recesses!) 

Even Tate will be a school kid soon. He met his preschool teacher this week and will become an official big kid next week. Until then, he's been running the house all by himself.

"Tate," I said. "Do you miss Paige and Curtis when they're at school?"

"No," he said flatly. Then he told me to get out of the way so he could keep playing Punch-Out on the Wii.

Family life.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Annual St. George Trip

Salt Lake City summer in August, with its blazing sun and rising Mercury, means one thing: Time for an escape to even hotter St. George.

It's what we do.

The vacation was filled with the usual St. George stuff - swimming, an evening at Fiesta Fun, a trip (for Paige and Traci) to Tuacahn to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, cooling down at the splash pad, and a bunch more swimming.

And we even got in a little education, with a trip to Frontier Homestead State Park in Cedar City on the way there.

Still struggling with the effects of strep throat, I skipped out on some of the fun to hang out in the InstaCare. (It wasn't all bad; I got to speak some rusty Dutch to a vacationing Rotterdam family visiting Zion. Plus I got some throat medicine that was almost exactly like swallowing hand sanitizer. Dee-lish.)

Traci's parents are very kind to let us stay in their condo. My little family stays in one bedroom. It works out nice because it has a walk-in closet. When Tate was a baby, we would just put him in the pack 'n play, stick in the closet, and we'd all sleep peacefully. When he started walking and talking we just told him it was his "St. George bed in his St. George room." He thought that was pretty cool.

Until this time.

"Dad," he said, "Why is my St. George bed a closet?"

"Uh," I stammered. "Because it's awesome?"

That wasn't good enough.

So Traci and I slept on the bed, Curtis and Paige doubled up on a twin-sized air mattress, and Tate lay next to them on the floor. It's amazing how they could sleep that way--at one point, Curtis was lying perpendicular, with his head on Paige's back and his feet across Tate. No one seemed to mind. The next night, Traci noticed that Paige was curled up next to Curtis, using his butt as a pillow. Whatever works, I guess.

I'm not one to say, "Oh, isn't age so-and-so just the cutest?" But I do think I'll miss it when my kids are too old to think sleeping on an air mattress on the floor is the best thing that could ever happen to them.

Hooray for vacation.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Mowin' the Lawn

Chores are better when you have a helper. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another Baseball Season

Handling to the high heat
Rounding third and heading home
Working on the Golden Glove
Base running, like everything in Curtis' life, is serious
It's good to be teammates with your cousin
It's lucky that kids never seem to be affected by the temperature. Watching Curtis' baseball games was like sitting on the surface of the sun. While Curtis happily--or rather, dutifully--stood out on the field, the parents and siblings were scattered far and wide around the outskirts of the field, huddled in tiny circles of shade cast by the far-too-infrequent trees. Because there were only three teams in the whole league, every other game was a doubleheader, a test of those withering in the sweltering heat.

But Curtis didn't mind.

There's no time to worry about the weather, when you're focused on how cool it is to wear your first pair of batting gloves or the awesomeness of playing pitcher (which is mostly a figurehead position in coach-pitch baseball). Plus, there are treats after the game.

Hooray for America's pastime. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Curtis Finds Religion...Momentarily

Before I had kids, there was one part of parenting I had never imagined: the endless struggle to get kids to eat.

For eight solid years, every single meal has been a challenge. Why kids never want to eat at mealtime (and always want to eat the second the food's been put away or the second you sit down for any reason whatsoever) remains an unsolved mystery in this house.

Today I learned just how far my kids will go to avoid a planned meal.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Always Something New to Learn

Taylorsville Dayzz. A city carnival so good that a boring old s needs to be replaced by two zs. 

As usual, the kids had a great time going on the rides and eating treats. (Traci spent the weekend being appalled by the fashion and demeanor of today's youth. She's getting so old.) But that was not the only adventure and entertainment to be had. 

At one point, Curtis needed to go to the bathroom which, at Taylorsville Dayzz, equals port-a-potties. When we walked in, Curtis looked around, taking in the ambiance and generally assessing the situation. He looked down at the toilet and said, "Why doesn't it flush?"

"Because," I started. Before I had the chance to finish, Curtis added, "BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME?!" 

"Yes, because it's awesome."


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Them's Some Happy Kids

Celebrating the 4th of July at Grandpa's Ranch

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tate's Words of Wisdom

Tate and I spent the morning planting flowers in the front yard. (It was the second time this summer; the first set of flowers was gone, thanks to Curtis' decision to chop them down with a shovel one day for no apparent reason.) 

While we were planting, I took out the little tab that tells you what kind of flower it is and set it on the ground. When we were done, I said, "Tate, can you throw that in the garbage for me?:"

"No," he replied. "Let's just leave it there until the wind blows it away."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Piano Girl

Congrats to Paige on her fist piano trophy. It represents three years of earning Superior scores at piano Federation. 

(Of course, much of the credit goes to Traci for fighting through piano practice everyday. Not an easy task.)

Curtis has had absolutely no interest in taking piano lessons. That seemed to change a bit tonight when he found out trophies were involved. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Triumphant Return to Lagoon

We finally took our kids to Lagoon for the first time. (If my memory is correct, I hadn't been to Lagoon since 1998. There were a few new rides, but it smelled largely the same.)

Every year, we plan on going, but then there's a kid who's too small, or summer gets too busy, or it's just too expensive (which is still the case). This year, we went before we could find too many excuses not to do it.

After getting off to a slow start (Curtis is afraid of everything), everyone found their groove and we had a great time.


Another thing that has changed since 1998 is my ability to handle spinning rides. I'm still fine on roller coasters, but the Tea Cups, Space Scrambler, or Tilt-a-Whirl--just can't do it. I'm very lucky that Traci will take the kids on those rides. I took one turn on the Flying Aces and just about lost it. 

Paige likes roller coasters, too, and she and I had a good time on Bombora and The Bat. I tried to take up a notch with her on the Roller Coaster. My the way she was huddled down in her seat after the first descent--and the fact that she didn't open her eyes once--makes me think she might not quite be ready for the big stuff.

Thanks, Lagoon. See you in another16 years!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We just got back from a super quick trip to Dinosaur Land. It's been, I don't know, 25 years since I'd last been to Vernal, so Memorial Day seemed like a good time for a visit.

We headed out after church yesterday and spent the night in Vernal. Our kids have only stayed in a hotel a handful of times, so it's still very exciting. An indoor pool, breakfast in the lobby, an ice machine in the hallway--the kids couldn't have ask for anything more. Throw in a room upgrade that included a pull-out couch (not sure how a hide-a-bed is an upgrade over an actual bed, but whatevs) and it was like we hit the lottery. We could have just headed back home and the kids would've been just as happy.

But we didn't. We drove to the bone quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. It was just like I remembered it--a giant wall fill with hundreds of hundreds-of-million-year-old dinosaurs bones. While this is pretty amazing, it's really not that interesting. (I know, I'm awful for saying that.) It only kept the kids' attention for about a half hour. Luckily, we got to ride to and from the visitor center in a open-air shuttle bus, which the kids loved.

From there, we went to the new Natural History Museum in Vernal. The fact that there were actual dinosaur sculptures made it instantly more engaging for the kids, but after about 10 minutes I was worried that we had seen all there was to see. I was actually pretty disappointed. Still a nice family trip, but was it worth a three-hour drive?

We eventually made our into the gift shop, where we let each kid choose one little item. Paige went with a necklace. Curtis found a bag of "Genuine Fool's Gold" that he was super stoked about and Tate, despite being given the option to choose whatever he wanted, chose one polished green rock. He happily hung on to it every second for the rest of the trip. (When we got back home, he promptly walked out into our front yard and said, "I know where my rock goes" and dropped it into the landscaping gravel.)

After the gift shop, we were about to leave when we noticed one small section of the museum we had skipped. Since it had been such a short visit, I figured we better see everything we could. When we entered the Mesozoic Era exhibit, I thought we were just going to see some boring rocks. It turns out, it was the entrance to a whole other--and much larger--section of the museum.

And that's when it got good. There were glow-in-the-dark rocks and bones and interactive displays (and a shout out to a rock formation baring the name of a certain someone in the family). There were cool prehistoric animal sculptures and caves to explore and bones to dig (which was Tate's favorite part of the whole trip).

The kids loved it. When it was time to leave, Curtis (who never gets excited about anything) was already asking me when we could come back to Vernal. Traci and I just looked at each other and said, "Well,  wouldn't we have felt stupid if we had missed this whole section of the museum?"

For a 27-hour vacation, we couldn't have had a better time. Thanks, Vernal!