Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hello, Winter

This is the only good thing about winter. Already counting down the days till spring. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Visit from the Big Guy

We were just hanging out at the family Christmas party, when we got a visit from a very special surprise guest. Jolly old St. Nick himself!

The bigger surprise was that our kids actually acknowledged him. (Well, at least  2/3rds of them. Tate was not having any of it.)

We got a smile out of Curtis. 

And the cutest picture ever of Paige. Love this one. 

Though Tate ignored Santa, when it came to Bingo, he was all in. His impressive skills earned him a Slinky. 

Smiles all around.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Day at Preschool

One of the cool things about my work is that we get eight hours of paid time off to volunteer wherever we'd like. That means  I get to have a little more time with my favorite four year old. 

Today I spent the morning at his preschool. 

I got to practice both my uppercase and lowercase Hs, sing some songs about alligators, and spend a lot of time sitting in a very tiny chair. 

But I wasn't just there to learn. I was there to work. 

I spent about an hour and a half cutting out laminated pages and I must say I was pretty good at it (though the cutting muscles in my right arm are a little sore tonight). 

I spent the other half of the class working at the teaching table, where I practiced colors, shapes, and letters with the kids, including this guy. 

It's fun to see him in his element, talking to his little buddies, raising his hand to answer questions, enjoying snack time. But the best part for me was seeing how proud he was to show off his dad.

I felt pretty proud, too. 

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Happy Hoopster

It's well documented that Curtis hates just about everything (until he tries it, and then he just pretends that he hates it). 

For the past two years, I've tried get him to play basketball. No luck. Both years he refused me flat out. 

But this year was different. Curtis told me he was going to play Junior Jazz.

And he was actually happy about it. And I'm happy that one of his buddies from school is on the team, as well two kids from the ward. (The rest of the kids are also from the subdivision, which means we'll get to know some new folks in the neighborhood.)

Check out this smile before his first practice. 

He was even happier after practice—after the team played Elimination and he came out victorious. 

But everyone knows that the best part of playing sports is getting the uniform. And this one is reversible. Sweet. 

He had his first game on Saturday. After tip-off he promptly scored the first four points of the game. The season's off to a good start. 

Sinterklaas is Coming to Town

Somehow, seemingly overnight, my department turned into the Dutch consulate. I'm now surrounded by three people who have wooden-shoe heritage.

So of course we decided to celebrate Sinterklaas at work on Friday.

Everyone's knows that if you leave your shoes by the door, Old Saint Nicholas will fill them with treats. So Liz printed out pictures of klompen for everyone and brought in real-life carrots for Sinterklaas' trusty goat.

And sure enough, Sinterklaas found his way to the marketing department! Not only did he give us each a chocolate Santa (chocolate Sinterklaases can be a bit tougher to come by in these parts), but his helper Vanessa also delivered the traditional Dutch breakfast of bread, butter, and chocolate sprinkles! Heerlijk!

The Sutherland kids also prepared for the annual arrival of de Sint, putting out their shoes in hopes of a Sinterklaas treat

While good kids get treats, there's a different fate for naughty children. Sinterklaas' helper, Zwarte Piet, beats the bad ones with a stick, shoves them in his bag, and takes them on the boat back to Spain. 

It was a close call for our kids, but they were able to make it on the nice list. Phew.

Chocolate letters all around!

And now for some more education:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How we watch Sunday Night Football

Tate's my old kid who will watch football with me. But it requires him to spend a lot of time with his fingers up his nose.

I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ten Years Old

My friends all started having kids at the same time, give or take a couple of years. I remember about five years ago, when the older group's kids were hitting baptism age. Eight years old? I thought. How have your kids gotten so old? 

Then Paige turned eight. But that didn't seem so old—especially those other guys' kids were now 10. Ten. Now that's old! 

But now Paige is 10 and I'm trying to figure out where the time has gone.

I still remember the night before there was a Paige. Traci left the bed because her contractions were hurting so bad that she couldn't sleep. A few minutes later, I asked how close the contractions were.

"Still about five minutes apart," she said.

We had gone to five sessions of birthing classes. It was so gross that I pretty much kept my eyes close the entire time. But I had listened enough to know that five minutes meant it was time to go.

We packed up the bag and headed to the hospital. By the next night we were parents. A few days after that, we were headed back home with a tiny little body in a brand new car seat. I drove slower and more carefully than I ever had before. I'm not sure how Traci felt, but I was scared to death.

And, just like that, it's 10 years later.

Paige is a beautiful girl. She's smart. She loves books, just like her mom. She likes to write, just like her dad. (She even draws little comics for her brother that are funnier than I anything I've ever done.)

She loves to perform. Whether it's acting in her Up With Kids performances or singing solos in sacrament meeting, I am amazed by her fearlessness. Especially from a girl who started out so shy that she didn't let go of my leg for the first three years of her life.

And she's got a big heart. She's always worrying about her friends' feelings and making sure that everyone is included. And lately she's also been really good about entertaining a four-year-old brother who can never get enough entertainment.

A decade. Paige has been a part of our lives for a complete decade. We're pretty lucky.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Loose Teeth and a Grumpy Seven-Year-Old

Is there anything weirder than teeth falling out of your face? It's been, what, like 25 years from since my last loose tooth, but I still dream about losing teeth once every few months. 

Curtis is squarely in the loose tooth zone. And he hates it. He refuses to wiggle them, no matter how loose they get. But sometimes that doesn't mater. 

Curtis and I were having a wonderful night at the last Bees game of the season (courtesy of tickets from Drummer Danny). Tate, however, spent every minute begging me to buy him a treat. I finally capitulated, shelling out $6 for a tray of stale nachos. 

We all took turns with the nachos, until Curtis started wailing. His mouth was bleeding and he was hysterical. 

"My tooth fell out!" he sobbed.  

"And I swallowed it!" 

Luckily, a letter to the Tooth Fairy ensured that Curtis could still turn the tooth into a cash payout. 

(I was happy to see that our grumpy little guy signed the letter "love Curtis.")

After a successful visit from the Tooth Fairy, I thought we'd be done with the loose tooth drama. 

Far from it. 

Tooth Two

A few weeks later, Curtis' other front tooth started wiggling. Soon it was hanging by a thread but Curtis refused to touch it—or let anyone else touch it. 

I was working in the yard when he came out screaming. "My. Mouth. Is. Bleeding," he huffed. Despite my aversion to blood, I took him into the house to get him cleaned up. As we stood in front of the mirror, I could see the tooth was so loose that a strong wind would have blown it right out. But he wouldn't let me touch it. 

I put a wet hand towel into his mouth to stop the bleeding. "Curtis," I said, "Just touch your tooth with the towel."


"Curtis, your tooth is about to fall out. Just touch it really soft and it will come out."


"If you just bite down something it's going to fall out. I'm going to get you a piece of bread."


I hand him a piece of bread. He very tentatively touches the bread to his lips.


"What?" I asked. 

"There's. [sob, sob]. BLOOD! [sob] On the bread!"

"Okay, okay. Let's try something else. Let's go upstairs and brush your teeth. That will clean off the blood and probably make the tooth fall out."

"I. can't. do it."

"Be brave, buddy."

So we moved from one bathroom to the other. Curtis picked up his toothbrush and slowly raised it to his mouth—only to yank it way before it actually touched his tooth. After trying this several times, he finally sobbed, "I'm not brave."

At this point, we were probably 15 minutes into this ordeal and I figured it was time for Dad to make a decision. As far as I could tell, I had two choices:

  1. I could let this continue to go as it was going—simply try to comfort my hysterical child and let nature take its oh-so-slow course. This would be painful for me and I would hate every second of it.
  2. I could take action—yank out the tooth and be done with the thing. The only problem would be the lifelong scars I would cause to a boy who just wanted his dad to protect him but who yanked his tooth out instead. 
I settled on a hybrid approach. 

I stood behind him and gently wrapped my arm around him (pinning his arms to his chest).

"I'm just going to touch your tooth," I said.

"No, Dad. No. It hurts. IT HURTS!"

He struggled to get away from me, but I held him tight. And then I ever so slightly touched the tooth. It dropped out so quietly that Curtis didn't even notice.

"It hurts, Dad!"

"What hurts?"

"My tooth."

And that's when I let him go and theatrically presented the tooth. "You mean...THIS ONE?"

The tears stopped immediately. It was time to focus on more cash from the Tooth Fairy.

Fraternal Faceoff

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sometimes They Get Along

Something crazy happened. The boys played together. Without fighting. Or punching. Or bugging me. For like 45 straight minutes. Hooray for tiny miracles.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Little Weirdos

Our little weirdos enjoying the perfect fall weather.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Groovy Ghoulies

Halloween comes early around these parts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tate: The Fashionista

"Tate, do you want to wear your baseball hat?"

"No, I'll wear floppy. It's stylish."

Sunday, October 11, 2015


It's been a good season for Tate. In one game, he scored nine goals. Nine goals! A triple hat trick! (In the Pre-K league there are no goalies, but still...)

When someone asked him how many goals he'd scored, he replied, "I don't know. More than I can count on my ten hands." 

He's more of an athlete than a scholar. 

He spends the majority of the game smile. And why not?

Curtis, on the other hand, never smiles. He's just not that kind of guy. (I snapped this photo between him making horrible faces at me.)

Curtis has played for the same coach each of the past four seasons. Coach Javier is not only a great coach but he's become a good friend. 

Javier takes care of all the coaching and I'm in charge of doing all the texting. I send out all the reminders about practice, make sure that parents remember to bring treats, and let people know when the coach is running late. 

I figured this makes me the team communications director--an important role in any successful sports organization. When I described these duties to one of my coworkers, however, she responded, "So, you're the soccer mom?" 

"What? No," I said. "I make sure everything's running smoothly with the team."

"Yeah," she said. "Like a soccer mom."

"Yes," I replied, downtrodden. "Like a soccer mom." 

Despite his grumbling about playing soccer this season, Curt was pretty excited (in a Curtis kind of a way--exhibited in the form of a little half-smile) to score the game-winning goal during his first game on Saturday, and then to score two more during the second game.

Another soccer season in the books. Proud of my two soccer guys. 

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Our Little Mermaid

Though most of the summer was consumed by moving into a new house, Paige managed to sneak in Up with Kids camp. 

It was five days of acting classes in the morning and swimming in the afternoon--pretty much Paige's two favorite things. At the end of the week, the group performed their version of The Little Mermaid. 

Paige landed a leading role as Flounder. The girl can memorize like no other. Not only did she knock out her part, she spent the rest of the show whispering lines into the ears of her co-performers. 

The girl was born for the stage. 

Proud of this little fish! 

Tate. Age 4.5.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Lonely Life of the Goalie

I think Curtis is losing interest in soccer. Before the season he said, "I'm playing flag football."

We ignored him and signed up for soccer again.

He perked up a bit when he got to play goalie this week.

We'll let him try football next season. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Trouble with Owning Boys

Is there such a thing as glass insurance? If so, it's probably time for the Sutherlands to buy a policy.

Six days after the back window of our minivan was broken by a rock that (conveniently) neither of boys remembering throwing, this happened:

I was talking to Traci on the phone on my way home from work. I had just asked her what was going on at home. 

"I'm cleaning the bathroom and Tate is 'helping' me," she said. 

The best part of our new house is the big tub. (When we were looking at houses, my only requirement was that it have a big tub.) The next best thing is the big shower with the fancy sprayers that I haven't figured out how to work yet. 

"Cool," I replied. "Well, I'll be home in a couple of — "

"Tate, stop doing that. Tate! I said STOP! DOING! THAT!"


"I've got to go. Tate just slammed the shower door shut and the entire thing has completely shattered."

She wasn't exaggerating.

When I got home, the entire bathroom was covered with tiny pieces of glass.


It took two days to get the guy out to measure for new glass. It took another threes week for them to come back to replace it. And, of course, it took $300 to get them to leave again.

So, in the span of less than a week, we shelled out $600 in glass repair.

But it's not all bad news.

The mystery of the broken van window has been solved! The other day I asked Tate about it again, just to see if would spill the beans.

"It was a rock," he admitted, "that fell from space."

Aliens. I knew it!

Case closed. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

We're. The. Best. M-H-S!

Last night, I went to my first high school football game since 1997. 

I've been telling myself for the last few years that I wanted to go to a game, it just never happened. It was homecoming, which seemed like as good an excuse an to break my 18-year Spartan football fast. 

We took the whole family and, despite the fact the boys said they WERE NOT cheering for Murray, everyone had a good time. (Curt and Tate have also told me they hate Real Salt Lake, the Utes, the Jazz, the Bees, and the Broncos. Fun.) 

A few random thoughts from the game: 
  1. Despite going to just about every home game from the ages of 14-17, I don't think I ever actually watched a game. I remember playing in the pep band my sophomore year. I remember getting in a fight behind the bleachers in junior high (luckily my buddy Ben actually knew how to fight). And I remember spending every other minute trying to look cool for girls. 
  2. Watching the game takes way less work than looking cool for girls. 
  3. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful backdrop for a football game than the Wasatch mountains. 
  4. I doesn't seem like high school was that long ago. But it was literally half a lifetime ago. I'm not a kid anymore. 
  5. I sat behind a high school buddy, two years my senior, who has a kid in high school. That makes me feel very old. 
  6. Kids in high school are kids. I don't remember being a kid in high school. Maybe I was just very mature. 
  7. I like Murray. Traci loves Murray. Though there have been times I wanted to be as far away from my hometown as humanly possible, it's a great place to live. It was nice to see so many familiar faces--former classmates, teachers, neighbors. Kinda felt like we belonged there. We certainly had the chance to move back to Murray. We chose not to. I think Traci regrets it.  
  8. Donuts are only $1 at the concession stand. But if you wait 'til the third quarter to buy one, they're long gone. 
At this pace, my next MHS football game will be in 2033. I'll be 53. 


A perfect night for kickball, soccer, football, baseball, and Sloppy Joes with the Koot crew. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Church for Curtis

Curtis had it easy. As opposed to Paige, he didn't have to worry about finding friends in our new ward because one of his school buddies lives in the neighborhood.

Church - Week 1

When it was time for primary, his buddy came over and whisked him off to class. When we saw Curtis afterword, he was all smiles--a rare occurrence for our grumpy little guy.

For Traci and me, this came as a huge sigh of relief. Curtis does not like change. When we were looking at new houses, he wouldn't even get out of the car because he was NOT GOING TO MOVE! 

Church - Week 4

It was Tate's turn to say the opening prayer and Traci and I were in the primary room to watch. From the back of the room, I could hear one member of the primary presidency say to another, "Whisper, whisper, Curtis Sutherland, whisper, whisper."


Tate said the prayer and Traci and I stood up to leave, when Curtis was escorted into the room, followed by the woman from the presidency. She brought him up to the front of the primary and said, "This is Curtis. We actually put him in the wrong class. He was in CTR 8, when he should have been in CTR 7. Whoops. That means he'll be here in the Junior primary, instead of the Senior primary."


Church classes are assigned by age, based on a calendar year--not a school year. His friend has a September birthday, but Curtis' birthday isn't until April. To make things worse, the junior primary goes through age seven, so not only would Curtis be leaving his friend's class, he'd be dropping out of the senior primary entirely.

Traci and I walked over to him after he took a seat by his new class.

"Hey, buddy. Are you okay?"

He looked up at me with big tears welling up in his eyes.

"No," he said quietly.

Which kind of broke our hearts.


After church, I was expecting to see a similarly downtrodden Curtis. I was shocked by what I saw.

A happy boy.

"I'm the tallest kid in the whole junior primary!" he said.

And that was that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Football with Dad

The best part about the Utes game? Hanging out with this guy. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Church for Paige

One of our biggest reasons for moving to a new house to was to be in an area with more kids. Traci really wanted Paige to have the same experience that she had growing up, where there were tons of girls in neighborhood to play with.

It might not be exactly like that here.

Church - Week One

We sent Paige off to her primary class, with our fingers crossed that she would meet her next best-friend-for-life.

"Paige," we asked her after church, "How many girls were in your class?"

There was good news and bad.

Bad: There was just one girl. (Plus a couple more who were out of town.)

Good: It was a girl she recognized from her Up with Kids group and they instantly got along with each other.

Sure, we'd love to have more kids around. But if you find one best friend, that's all that matters, right?

Everyone was happy.

Church - Week Three

I'm sitting in Elders Quorum, waiting for class to start. I'm listening to the chatter in the room when I hear, "So, I hear you're moving, huh?"

"Yeah, the house sold in one day. We're heading out in about three weeks."

Wait a second, I know that guy, I thought. That's...that's....that's the dad of the girl in Paige's class. Noooooooo!!!!!

Everyone was sad.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo

Traci and I have lived our entire lives in Utah and have never visited Antelope Island. Today felt like as good a day as any to change that.

The only thing we really knew about the state park is that it's where the buffalo roam (and of course where the deer and antelope play). Our first stop was the visitors center where we also learned that you shouldn't bother the bison. If you do, especially while they're eating, they're likely to charge at you at up to 40 miles per hour.

We hadn't been out of the visitor center for more than a minute when we saw our first bison. He was in the grass eating. A guy with a camera decided he needed a closer look and kept walking ever closer until he was only about 20 feet away. The bison didn't take too kindly to the intrusion and started to charge.

That was enough to put the photographer into a full sprint back to his car. The bison returned to his lunch.

We ate our lunch at picnic bench overlooking the Great Salt Lake. We then braved the brine shrimp (and the accompanying smell, which luckily was much less pungent than on the Saltair side of the lake) and ventured out to the water. We weren't dressed to get into the lake (and I'm not sure if I would have wanted to anyway; swimming in the Great Salt Lake is another Utah thing I've never done, but that can wait for another day) but the boys had fun chucking rocks into it.

After the lake, we headed to the other side of the island, where we were excited to see dozens of bisons. 

And then hundreds.

Pretty cool that you can be just miles away from the city and feel like you're in a completely different world.

Along the way, we passed the park restaurant that featured bison burgers. It seemed odd to eat the animal you'd come to the park to admire, but what do I know about nature?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Vanity Plates

On our afternoon walk, Tate says to me, "When I'm old enough to get a car, I'm gonna get a license plate that says 'Toots are awesome!'"