Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ah, Christmas

We couldn't really have asked for a better Christmas.

This was the first year that the kids were too excited to sleep. And we had to make a deal with them about what time they could wake up.

Paige: What time can we wake up?

Traci: 7:00.

Paige: How 'bout some time before 7:00? Like 6:00.

Traci: No. 7:00.

Paige: 6:30.

Traci: No.

Paige: 6:59.

Traci: Deal.

At 7:10, Paige woke up and came into our room. We told her she needed to get Curtis before we could go downstairs to see if Santa came.

Paige: Curtis says he doesn't want to get up.

At 7:30, Curtis finally got out of bed and we all headed downstairs.

The before:

The after:

The during:

The mayhem was enjoyed by all.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Two Arms Again

When it comes to the cast situation, we couldn't have been luckier. It hasn't really seemed to bother Curtis at all. He did try to use it as a way to get out of taking baths, but to no avail. (He actually ended up being pretty excited about wearing the plastic bag on his arm while he was in the tub.)

I'm also glad he had it on in the winter, when we're in the house most of the day, so we didn't have to deal with having a cast during soccer season or him shoving sand or rocks or whatever in there.

After a short three weeks, we headed back up to Primary Children's today to have the cast taken off.

He was less anxious about being there this time and had a little fun looking at the fish in the foyer and all the airplane pictures on the wall in the waiting room. He was even a good sport about having his x-ray taken (he got to wear a zebra print X-ray apron; I was left with the leopard print).

Things weren't so great when the nurse came in to actually take the cast off.

"It's just going to sound a little loud like a vacuum," she said about the electric saw.

Curtis, who hates loud noises (even when they're made by his favorite monster trucks) was not amused. Here are the various stages of his agony.

About two minutes later, the cast was off and it was as if the whole thing never happened.

On the way back to the parking lot, Curtis insisted we stop at the fountain and that Traci give him a coin to throw in.

"Curtis," I said, "You get to make a wish when you throw a coin into a fountain."

He looked me straight in the eye--and then turned and threw the coin directly into the rocks.

Yep, everything is back to normal.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Show 'n Teach

Paige's class doesn't do show and tell--they do show and teach. Each kid has to bring something that they can teach the class about. Because Paige is toward the end of the alphabet, we got to hear about what the other kids were doing before she had her turn.

Paige raved about Abbey's show and teach about the Chinese zodiac. Abbey even sent everyone home with a handout that told what years were associated with each animal. Paige spent the afternoon saying, "Dad, you were born in the year of the monkey. Mom, you were born in the year of the goat. Great Grandma was born in the..." and on and on.

But Abbey's presentation paled in comparison to Hector's, who brought real life shells all the way from  a beach in Mexico. All of the kids even got to touch the shells and put them up to their ear so they could hear the ocean.

When it came time for Paige's turn, she really wanted to share something good.

"Maybe you could take one of dad's keyboards and teach them some of the things you've learned at your piano lessons," Traci suggested.

Nope, not good enough.

"Maybe you take some of Curtis' monster trucks and teach them the scoring rules of Monster Jam," I suggested.

Oh, Dad.

No matter what we offered up, it just wasn't interesting enough, Paige protested.

That's when I got an idea.

"Mom, are you going to the ranch this weekend?" I asked my mother over the phone. "You are? Would you mind picking up some sheep bones if you see any around? Excellent. Thanks."

Real life bones. That'd be better than a handout or a stupid shell, for sure.

"Paige," I said, "Do you think you'd want to take some bones for your show and teach?"

Her eyes lit up and her head nodded in approval.

When we got to my mom's to pick up the bones, there was a surprise for us. My mom hadn't settled for some boring old sheep bones. She'd brought home this:

Paige was ecstatic.

"I think a few of the neck vertebrae are still attached," my mom exclaimed.

I was a little bit nauseous.

Sure, a real life cow skull seems awesome enough. But it smelled horrible. And I was a little hestitant to actually touch it.

"Oh, and I put a dead mouse in that bag, too," my mom added, "in case Paige wants to take that, too."

I was about to throw up.

The skull proved to be unwieldy at best. We couldn't find a box big enough to carry it in and it smelled so bad (even after I soaked it in bleach) that we had to keep it out on the side of the house until the day Paige took it to school.

When the big day arrived, the skull wouldn't fit in Paige's backpack. And I ended up having to carry it to her class for her. "Uh, hi first grade teacher. I'll just set this box o' cow skull on this desk over here."

When I got home from work that night, I was pretty excited to see how the presentation had gone.

"Paige, how'd it go? What did the class think about your skull?"

"They liked it. My teacher passed it around and let everyone touch it if they wanted to."

"So, what did you tell them about it?"

"I told them the things we practiced." [The number of bones in a cow's body, what bones are made of, etc.]

"But I added one part to my speech."

"Oh, yeah. What was that?"

"I told them, 'These are bones of a cow who trespassed.'"

Wow. I'm not sure where she got that from. But I guess all you cows out there better beware.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sticks 'n Stones & Broken Bones

So, I mentioned that Curtis fell off the bunk bed our first day at Disneyland. We weren't sure what we should do about his sore arm. Should we take him to the ER in Anaheim on a Sunday afternoon? Stubborn Curtis won't even let our pediatrician look in his ears without putting up a massive fight, how would he do in an ER for five hours?

We decided that we'd keep an eye on it and see how he felt the next morning. The good news was that he slept just fine, the bad news was that he still wouldn't let us touch his arm in the morning. He wasn't crying or complaining about it, so we decided to give it one more day.

We then repeated the process.

Each day, it seemed to get better. I'd ask him how it felt, squeeze it at different spots, ask him to bend it or flex it or whatever. Though it was still a little sore, he soldiered on and happily tea cup-ped and Lightning McQueen-ed and Buzz Lightyear-ed through Disneyland.

By the time we left Anaheim, he seemed to be completely better.

When we got back home, we still had the feeling that we better take him to doctor. The pediatrician poked around a bit and thought everything looked okay. (Of course his first two questions were: "What happened?" followed by "When?" Uh, about 10 days ago. We're good parents.) He then sent us to get some X-rays just to be sure.

That night, the doctor called us back. Our little guy did in fact have a small crack in the bone right above his elbow. He told us to go to Primary Children's Hospital to get a cast put on it.

We tried to get him excited about having a cast. "Curtis, do you remember when Paige's friend Mackenzie got a cast? Everyone got to write their name on it. That's awesome, huh?" His ears really perked up when we told him he'd even get to choose a blue cast, his favorite color.

The next day we made our first trip to Primary's (we've been pretty lucky so far, no major sickness, no stitches). We had the last appointment of the day, on the day before Thanksgiving. The place looked like a bomb shelter--kids of all ages all sad and wrapped up in their temporary casts. Not Curtis, though, he was sitting there, cast-free, playing Angry Birds.

When it came time to actually get the cast, he was understandably pretty nervous. His eyes lit up, though, when the nurse let him choose his cast color. He passed on the red, the pink, and the electric green. And then he even passed on the blue. He chose black. That's what tough guys do.

A few minutes and a few tears (but no major meltdown) later, the cast was on. And this was our new boy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Disneyland: Coming Home

After a week of vacation, the only thing left to do was come home. We had planned to spread the drive across two days, spending the night in St. George. The Bawdens were more brave, however, and decided to drive straight home.

In no hurry, we got up, ate our breakfast, and packed up our stuff. As we started driving, we noticed something surprising. The kids were being totally good. With each passing hour, we gave greater consideration to actually skipping the St. George stop and going right home. But it was hard to really convince ourselves.

Should we do it? Well, that would save us another day of unpacking and repacking the car.

But what's the hurry to get home?

If we don't stop, we won't have to deal with Tate continually jumping off the bed.

But what if we don't stop and the kids start freaking out right after we pass St. George?

In the end, we decided to be brave. We kept driving.

Despite the last hour-and-a-half being filled with Tate's incessant "Mom, mom, mommmmmmmm!" we made it painlessly straight through in about 10 hours.

By the end of the trip we still liked our kids, we still liked each the Bawdens, we still liked each other. We couldn't have asked for anything more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disneyland: The Last Day

Our last day at Disneyland was remarkable because of its unremarkable-ness. No tempter tantrums, no lost children, no anything. Just a very nice day.

Paige officially became a roller coaster girl. She went on Space Mountain again (and gave me this tip: "Dad, when you see the lights turning on, the ride's almost over") and couldn't get enough of Big Thunder Mountain. It's pretty fun to go on big kid rides with her. I'm looking forward to when she's old enough to go to Six Flags with me.

Everyone knows Lunchable hams make great binoculars
Curtis was happy about going on Buzz Lightyear another hundred times and Tate would ride the teacups all day long, if his parents' stomachs could handle it.

We finished up the day watching the holiday parade (with front row seats, thanks to Janeen not letting anyone mess with our space) and the nightly fireworks show.

We headed back to the hotel tired and happy. How did we get so lucky?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Disneyland: At the Beach

It's funny how many millions of dollars you have to spend to go to Disneyland and stand in lines all day long, when you can have the entire beach to yourself for free.

After two days at Disney, we headed to Newport Beach (searching, of course, for the Bluth's Banana Stand.  There's always money in the Banana Stand). Sunny. 80 degrees. Perfect.

All of the kids loved it. But for Tate, it was a dream come true. After being cooped up in car seat for two days, and then in a stroller for another two, being able to run around on the beach was sweet freedom. He loved putting his feet in the water and really loved all of the digging and dumping sand on himself.

Brett kept the rest of the kids busy with his castle building initiative (comprised of a modest castle and very extensive sewer system--the most important part, he said) and Traci and Janeen were able to just sit and relax.

It was probably pretty easy to tell that we were tourists 1) because, other than the bums, we were the only people on the beach on Wednesday morning in November 2) we were no match for the seagulls mercilessly attacking our lunch and 3) even after showering off, we were still covered in dirt (that's what happens when you dry yourself off with towels that are also covered in dirt). Oh, and the collection of pasty white skin may also have given us away.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Disneyland: Best Day Ever?

Spoiled? Probably.

In her short life, Paige has already been to Disneyland three times. And all of them on her birthday. Age seven was no exception. This year, she got to celebrate by having the fanciest of all fancy lunches--at Ariel's Grotto, with all of the Disney princesses. Best. Birthday. Ever.

But it wasn't just a good day for the girls. The boys loved California Adventure--thanks in no small part to the new Cars Land. Curtis and Tate both loved Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (pretty fun) and Luigi's Flying Tires (lame for adults). And while the girls (and Brett) were in having their fabulous princess lunch, Curtis, (sleeping) Tate, and I were able to take in Phineas and Ferb's Mobile Dance party.

I was actually pretty daring during the lunch hour. I took Curtis and Tate on that giant Mickey ferris wheel all by myself. I thought Curtis would be scared, but he liked it pretty well. Tate, who I thought would love it, had a major meltdown. Halfway through the ride he was climbing on the gondola fencing and pulling on the door. Only slightly (okay, deathly) nerve racking.

We finished up the day with the surprisingly-worth-the-wait Radiator Springs Racers, which Curtis loved. ("Let's ride it again!" Uh, sorry buddy, we had to pick up our fast passes for this thing like eight hours ago.)

All in all, a pretty great day. On the way out of the park, Traci and I were even able to sneak in on the night's last run of Grizzly River Rapids. Traci enjoyed a pretty dry ride, on account of all of the water in the entire river finding its way down my pants. Fantastic.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Disneyland: Finally Made It

Disney Day One. I don't know if I could have asked for a more perfect picture to sum up our family. (A huge thank you to Brett for taking all of the pictures on the trip. You're the best.) Traci, Paige, and I are all pretty happy to be at the Happiest Place on Earth. Tate is trying to escape his stroller. And Curtis is refusing to be in the picture. 

Despite how it looked, we were pleasantly surprised by how good our kids were. 

Curtis refused to go on any ride that was either in the dark (Star Tours) or required you to walk through a dark room to get to the ride (just about every other ride). But he was pretty excited about the tea cups and the Astro Orbiter. I had to drag him onto the Buzz Lightyear ride, but once he saw that we got to shoot guns, he was hooked. The line was always short, so we went on it about 10 times. 

Paige was happy with pretty much everything that we did. Of course she loved meeting Minnie Mouse and Merida from Brave. But I was surprised that she liked Star Tours so much and that she was willing to go on Space Mountain with Traci. She even sat through all of Jedi Training. (I wish I could have coerced my kids to go on stage.)

Tate was my real worry. For months I'd had visions of him screaming through every line or thrusting himself out of the dumbo car. But he did really well. He'd get a little inpatient with all of the time in the stroller, but he loved being on the rides. While I was busy trying not to throw up on the teacups, Tate was saying, "Wee, wee, weeeee!" He'd get mad every time a ride ended and we unstrapped his seat belt. 

And the best part was that he'd just crash in his stroller at nap time. 

We even made it to Captain EO, where Paige gave my favorite quote of the day. Right after Michael Jackson made his debut, she leaned over to Traci and asked, "Mom, is that a boy or a girl?"

One day down. No disasters, meltdowns, or freakouts. Whew. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Disneyland: Almost There

After the eight hour drive to Primm, the three-and-a-half hours to Anaheim was no problem at all. Likewise, after the crap-tastic stay at Whiskey Pete's, we couldn't have been more pleased with the Park Vue Inn. It was right across the street from the entrance to Disneyland, the people were nice, and the room was clean.

The girls are happy to be in the hotel and out of the car
The kids were really excited to see that, just like at home, the room had a bunk bed. We were excited, too, because it meant they wouldn't be fighting with each other in the bed, and no one would be sneaking into our bed. (Now if we only had a place with a separate room for Tate, to keep him from poking his little head out of the pack-n-play at 3:00 a.m. and smiling at us...)

The magic of the bunk bed wore off quickly, however. We'd been in the room about two seconds when Curtis and Paige were both trying to clamor up the ladder and Curtis fell off.

From the way he was screaming and holding his arm (and not letting anyone touch it), we were worried that he had broken it--before the trip even started. Fabulous.

Curtis, safely on the lower bunk, pre-fall
Though Curtis' injury prevented him from making it to the pool, he was back in action in time to go to Downtown Disney. And it's a good thing, too. He got to see his favorite Avenger, the Hulk (or Hul-luck as Curtis pronounces it) in Lego form.

How could Disneyland get any better?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Disneyland: The Drive

At the top of my list of concerns about the trip to Disneyland was the car ride. I had prepared myself for hours and hours of Tate's screaming, but I wasn't ready for the elements. We woke up to several inches of snow in Salt Lake, with more coming down. But we soldiered on.

Fortunately, the snow slowed down once we hit Utah County. The roads were clear and the kids were being good (even Tate). How could be so lucky?

And then the snow came back.

In between Fillmore and Beaver, things got really bad. We crawled along the unplowed roads, just trying to stay in the tracks of the semi in front of us. Though it was slow going, we made it through. Unlike some of the trucks on the other side of the freeway.

We made a pitstop in Beaver before heading to Mesquite and then on to Primm, Nevada where we had a room reserved at the luxurious Whiskey Pete's Hotel and Casino.

The casino was smokey and dirty, the service was bad, and the room was gross, but we had no reason to complain. The kids did better in the car than we ever could have hoped.

We celebrated by taking the monorail from Whiskey Pete's to the McDonald's at the Buffalo Bill's across the street. They of, course, thought that was awesome.

Disneyland, here we come.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Going to Disneyland...Again?

It was nine months in the making. Back in February, we were having a casual dinner with our friends the Bawdens. The ladies were reminiscing about our respective trips to Disneyland and then next thing I knew, schedules were being checked, dates verified, and plans made. By the time we paid the check, we were going to Disneyland with the Bawdens. What just happened here?

While Traci was basking in the warm glow of Disney memories, I was remembering the realities of our trip 15 months earlier: Curtis, throwing a fit on the flight to Anaheim. Curtis, up all night in the hotel, throwing bottles of chocolate milk at us. Curtis, throwing fits in the park. Curtis, crying the entire flight home, chucking canisters of Pringles at me as he bawled.

The thought of repeating that experience--with the addition of an 18-month-old who also likes to cry and throw stuff and plans to drive instead of fly, made me wary to say to the least.

What were we getting ourselves into?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The First Loose Tooth

The way I see it, the transition from little kid to big kid happens when baby teeth start falling out. Gone are the cute little smiles, and in come the awkward, braces-are-inevitable, too-big teeth. I've silently wanted Paige to keep her little kid status as long as she can.

Paige, however, was sooo excited when one of her teeth started wiggling.

When I saw Paige's dainty tooth-twisting, I had a feeling I'd eventually have to get in there and give it a yank. Given my aversion to, and queasiness from, all things body-related, I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to do it.

Luckily, I didn't have to.

I was spending a rainy and cold morning working at the Downtown Farmers Market when Traci sent me this picture. Paige was at her soccer game when her 18-year-old aunt asked her if she wanted her to pull her tooth out. Paige nodded in the affirmative.

With one swift tug, Paige had become a big kid.

Smiling with a broad, bloody smile, she walked over to get her team picture taken.

She was still smiling when I got home from work. "Dad, I read in Junie B. Jones that when you lose a front tooth, you become a big kid."

"Yeah, I think Junie's probably right," I replied.

Paige couldn't stop smiling. Later than day, I caught her smiling at herself in our bedroom mirror. "Dad," she said, stretching her neck out as high as she could, "do you think I look taller?"

"Yes. Way taller."

She smiled some more.

I love my big kid.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hello, Peyton Manning

By half time, the Broncos were down 24-0. It looked like this trip to San Diego was just going to be a series of defeats.

The first loss had happened just a few hours earlier.

Upon the recommendation of the girl at the car rental place, Bert and I headed to Nicky Rottens for lunch.


This menu item immediately caught Bert's attention. Clean your plate in an hour an the meal was on the house (plus a free t-shirt and your name on the Hall of Fame board).

Bert couldn't resist.

"Two-and-a-half pounds of meat? That doesn't sound like that much."
And with that, he accepted the Ultimate Challenge.

(It wasn't until I explained that was like eating six quarter pounders in one sitting that he seemed at all doubtful of his skills, but by then it was too late.)

While it's possible to imagine six quarter pounders, it's more difficult to picture two-and-a-half pounds of meat in between what was basically two decent-sized loaves of sourdough bread. Oh, and apparently Bert didn't read enough of the fine print to know that the fries were also included in the challenge.

The waitress set the one-hour clock, rang the opening bell, and wished Bert well.

He needed more than luck.

Bert gave it the old college try, but after a half hour of work, he'd barely even put a dent in the burger. This was as far as he got.

No t-shirt. No name on the big board. And no free meal (just a $25 bellyache). Talk about a disappointment.

But the game was going to make up for the burger mishap. Bert had scored us sweet tickets on the 11th row. Even better, we were surrounded by tons of orange-shirted Bronco fans who were hyped and ready.

The Denver fans, however, quickly grew silent. Fumbles on two straight kicks. Payton Manning and the boys consistently going three and out. 24 straight first half Charger points.

There was nothing to do but stand, cross-armed, and take it as the drunken home crowd jeered and taunted. We came all all this way for this?

Luckily, games have two halves.

Fumble recoveries. Interceptions. Manning running the hurry-up offense, changing calls at the line, threading the needle. Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. Broncos fans come back to life. Touchdown, touchdown.  35 unanswered second half points! Bronco fans go crazy. Charger fans slink away in disgust.

With about two minutes left, the home crowd started heading for the exits. The Denver fans stuck around, leaving a sea of orange beyond. With all of the singing and cheering, it was like the Broncos were the home team.

It looked at sounded a bit like this.

And it felt awesome.

By this point it was about 10:00 p.m. Bert looked at me and told me he was a little hungry.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello, John Elway

I've loved the Denver Broncos as long as I can remember.

I was John Elway for Halloween for like three straight years.

When I was seven, I sat in my room and cried after the Broncos lost the (first of three) Super Bowl(s).

In the fourth grade, I tried to change my named to John Elway. My teacher thwarted this plan when she said, "It looks like John Elway got 100% on his spelling test. It's too bad there isn't a John Elway in this class," and then ripped the paper in half.

I have never been to a Broncos game.

Tomorrow that will change.

Peyton Manning is no John Elway, but I'll take it.

San Diego here I come.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ice Cream

I'm a mean dad. But it's no match for a smart daughter.

I never buy my kids anything from the ice cream truck. My standby excuse is, "I didn't bring my wallet" or simply, "We don't have enough money."

Last night, I told the kids I would take them to the park to play soccer. As usual, after we got all of the kids loaded into the van (always an extraordinary task), Paige suddenly "remembered" that she had forgotten something in the house. When she came back, she had her purse with her.

"I'm bringing my purse in case we see the ice cream man because we always forget to bring our money."

"Good idea," I said, though I doubted that the ice cream man would still be wandering around at 8 o'clock at night at the end of September.

I was wrong.

We'd only been at the park for a few minutes when a stirring instrumental version of Rockabye Baby came blaring out of the little ice cream truck. Paige bolted. And when the ice cream man didn't slow down, she ran. And ran. About 300 hundred yards later, she caught up to him.

"Daaaaaaaaaaaad! Come on!!!"

I  finally caught up. We shelled out $3 for two little ice cream sandwiches.

Paige couldn't have been more pleased.

She'd outsmarted me. Once again.

The face of victory

Sharing in the spoils

Just happy to be part of the team