Thursday, April 17, 2014

Breakfasts with My Boys

For months, I’ve intended “at some point” to spend one-on-one time with each of my boys on a regular basis. The thought was that, once a month, I could devote an hour or two to some simple activity or outing where I get to hang out with each kid as an individual. When I recently went with Eddie to Donuts with Dad Day at his school, I decided that should count as the first such outing. Thus, about a week later, I took Peter out in the morning. Peter didn’t like my initial suggestion of grabbing a bagel. He wanted McDonald’s. So, that’s what we did. For fun, we went to a McDonald’s that’s slightly more out of the way than others. Once in a long while, as a family, we’ll go out for a McDonald’s breakfast. When we do, the kids usually want pancakes and chocolate milk. This time around, I asked Peter if he’d like a breakfast that came with pancakes, hash browns, and scrambled eggs. He said he would, so I ordered him the “Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes.” It also came with sausage and a biscuit. I didn’t know if he’d care so much about those, but he went to town. Peter is a boy who sometimes doesn’t eat in the mornings because he just doesn’t feel like it. Maybe he’s just not a fan of the stuff we have at home, because apparently he can fit a decent amount of food in that tummy of his. Peter ate all three pancakes, the entire sausage patty, the entire thing of hash browns, most of the eggs, and a good chunk of the biscuit. It was a lot of fun to hang out with him, even if McDonald’s was incredibly slow about getting our food. At least it extended our outing. I took a low-quality picture on my cheapo cell phone. Here it is:

Within a few days, I also went out with Creegan. I had to take back some library books in the morning and Creegan was being a little terror at home. My initial plan to take Creegan was just to get him out of the house for Melanie’s sake, but then I figured I might as well turn it into an official outing. And so, I drove to the library, dropped off some books, then headed to a Circle K, where Beegy and I each got a fountain drink. (His was much smaller than mine, don’t worry.) We then headed to Panera. Creegan was an easy sell on that one. He likes the chocolate chip “muffies,” which are basically cookie-shaped tops of muffins. We went through the drive-thru for that. When I first proposed going through the drive-thru, Beegy was not a fan. He wanted to go inside. I protested, and he quickly agreed to the drive-thru, although he first attempted a compromise that involved going through the drive-thru and then going inside as well. I squashed that idea.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of my outing with Beegy, but here’s a recent photo of him showing off in his new post-potty-training undies:

Monday, April 07, 2014

Bad News, Good News, Bad News, Good News, Good News, Good News, Good News

Yesterday’s post admittedly favored a pessimistic outlook on life. I thought I should try to balance things out a bit. Here goes.

BAD NEWS! Life has been so busy lately that I’ve literally gone a few months now without playing piano at all. This was such a source of joy to me, and it’s falling by the wayside! No!

GOOD NEWS! The stench in my school office from a dead rodent has, after two weeks, been remedied! Yes!

BAD NEWS! Peter puked in the night on Saturday night. Messy!

GOOD NEWS! I’ve had lots of positive family time lately. Last week, Eddie’s school had “Donuts with Dad Day” (or something like that). I took him to school in the morning, where they had free glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme. I was then able to go in his classroom with him and watch the morning school news. Eddie was really excited to show me his classroom. It was fun. Then, on Saturday night, Eddie’s school had a bunch of activities for families, including showing the movie Despicable Me 2. It was supposed to take place outside, but rainy weather messed that up. Still, we had a good time. And finally, on Sunday afternoon, Melanie and I took the boys to a park. These are simple things, but they are often what make life seem worthwhile.

Ready to head out for Donuts with Dad Day.

GOOD NEWS! Creegan is being potty-trained. Or, he already is, I guess. After day one, Creegan has not had any daytime accidents. He’s even been going #2 without a problem. In fact, the first time he went #2 in the toilet, he didn’t even tell anybody he was going to do it. He just left the room, and after a couple of minutes, Melanie went to check on him, only to find him attempting to wipe himself with toilet paper! Impressive!

GOOD NEWS! The disappointments of Saturday’s sessions of general conference did not extend into Sunday’s sessions, which were largely positive and centered on love and testimonies of Christ. I credit both the highs and lows of conference as stirring within me a recommitment both to making this church the best it can be by being a constant source of love within it, and to strengthening my personal relationship with God. I can only do what I can do, and I will do my part to add only good things to the mix.

GOOD NEWS! Last Thursday, Melanie and I were invited, along with several other likeminded people, into the home of an awesome and gracious woman from our church. Children played, adults commiserated, and good food was had by all. I’ve really made some wonderful connections over the last year or so, with neat and loving people both near and far, and the circle continues to grow. I am grateful for these things.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Good News, Bad News , Good News, Bad News, Bad News, Bad News, Bad News

GOOD NEWS! Melanie celebrated her birthday last week! We had a ton of fun. I hope to write about it in more detail in the near future.

BAD NEWS! Something died in my office at school, and it has reeked to high heaven for a couple of weeks now! Gross!

GOOD NEWS! I’ve agreed to be a blog manager for Exploring Sainthood. This is a project I care about, and I’m grateful to be able to contribute to it in a more significant way. Here’s hoping I can help it flourish!

BAD NEWS! The job I was really excited about and that I thought I’d be perfect for? They rejected me! Where will I be in a few months from now? Literally, no clue whatsoever!

BAD NEWS! I went into general conference weekend feeling excited and hopeful that I would feel spiritually nourished. Instead, I have been met with many messages of distrust, dismissal, and dogmatism. I know many people who are hurting because of what they are hearing from the pulpit.

BAD NEWS! Our water heater is broken! No hot water whatsoever right now!

BAD NEWS! Our car ignition was messed up and had to be replaced this week! Goodbye, hundreds of dollars! At least all of our car door handles are working properly! Oh, wait! Not a single one of them is!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

More Spring Break 2014

I enjoyed my spring break last week. Although I kept busy and didn’t often feel like life was any different, I tried to squeeze some fun into each and every day. At the very least, I always looked forward to watching a midday episode of Dexter with Melanie. We only recently started watching the acclaimed series, which is about a serial killer who also works forensics for the Miami Police Department. I had no idea I’d enjoy the series so much, but I’m loving it. Melanie and I are already on the fifth season, and I’m already mourning that only a few seasons of the show remain to be watched. It’s got a lot of dark humor, and the Dexter character is very likable. (His policy is that he only kills murderers, so he’s a pretty good guy when all is said and done.) Anyway, Melanie and I have been cruising through the series, in large part because we watch an episode every day while the kids are entertained with other things. We typically watch another one or two episodes at night. It’s been great.

Not all of my spring break shenanigans involved sitting on a couch. Sometimes I sat in other places. For instance, on Wednesday of last week, I spent some time sitting at Bagelheads and enjoying a delicious bagel sandwich. On Thursday, Melanie and I took Peter and Creegan to Eddie’s school to eat lunch with him. The school encourages family to meet kids for lunch, on any and as many days as you want. It’s pretty cool. Eddie knew we were coming, but he was excited to see us. We were able to take him to sit at an outside picnic table, away from the hectic and loud cafeteria. It was quite nice.

On Friday, we picked up Eddie from school and went out for ice cream. A few hours later, we went to the grand opening of a large park located downtown. There wasn’t much in the way of a playground, but the kids had a ton of fun. There was a splash park, where the kids got absolutely soaked. They then spent some time rolling down a large grassy hill, along with several other kids. We finally moved over to the amphitheater, where we watched part of a magic show that had our kids laughing and (at times) quite baffled. For example, the magician had the audience stare at a large, rotating swirly circle for a minute or so. He then told you to look at his head. His head appeared to balloon (or shrink, depending on which way he had rotated the circle). Eddie was slightly disturbed by that one.

Saturday night was date night for Melanie and me. We went to a Cuban restaurant that Melanie had been to once before. I ordered what was basically a country fried steak sandwich. It was absolutely massive. It tasted good, but half of it was more than enough. I realized when I was almost done with the first half that it wouldn’t be so bad if you cut the excess meat off and at only what was contained in the actual bread. But by then I was already quite full. I took much of it home, and let some of it be tossed. Here are some pics:

After dinner, Melanie and I went to see the new Veronica Mars movie. We were fans of the TV show, which (like Dexter) we also didn’t start watching until after the show had officially gone off the air. The movie was entertaining, although if you aren’t familiar with the show, I wouldn’t recommend it. As an actual movie (plot wise, etc.) it’s somewhat middle of the road. Still, I very much enjoyed going to a movie with Melanie, and the revisiting of familiar characters was not without its charms.

This week, I am back in school, but it is now Eddie’s spring break. Peter’s spring break is scheduled for next week, but virtual school affords some flexibility, so Peter’s been on spring break this week, too. That means my own fun has continued (in moderation). On Monday night, after my family picked me up from school, we stopped for dinner at Pitaria. It was a bit stressful due to Creegan’s antics, and they didn’t hold the onions on my gyro like they were supposed to. Still, it ended up going okay. On Tuesday night, we got Frozen from Redbox and watched it for the first time while eating a take-and-bake pizza from Costco. I’ve had to be working otherwise, but Melanie’s taken the boys to the park, to visit friends, and to do some other fun activities. I’m glad they’re getting some recreation. And yes, I’m still taking a midday break to watch Dexter whenever possible.

And that’s that. Nothing else fun is on the agenda for this week. If something nifty happens, I’ll let you know. Bye.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Break 2014

This week is spring break. I wish it could be more relaxed than it’s going to be, but such is life. At least Sunday was a good day. A very good day, in fact. A true day of rest, which sadly and ironically is uncommon for Mormons. You may think it strange that daylight savings could have led to a good day, but it did. You see, knowing that we’d be losing an hour of sleep, coupled with the fact that Sunday morning was a special stake conference starting at the unusual time of 9 a.m., Melanie and I decided to forgo church and spend the entire day as a family. (Sacrilege, I know.) We didn’t set any alarms. We just woke up when we woke up. Melanie and the boys made oatmeal pancakes, and I whipped up some scrambled eggs for the kiddos and some bacon/tomato/spinach omelets for me and the Mrs. (Note: I’ve never before referred to Melanie as “the Mrs.” I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to like it!) It was a tasty start to the day. Next, we taught the kids how to play Racko. The kids then spent a good chunk of time playing video games while Melanie and I watched an episode each of Dexter and Saturday Night Live. I spent some time reading, as did Melanie. We then took the kids out scootering, which gave Melanie and me a chance to converse—something that also doesn’t occur nearly often enough, simply because there are too many interruptions. Our late breakfast led to a skipped lunch, and in turn to an early dinner. We had leftover pizza from a couple of days earlier. The kids watched Charlotte’s Web as we ate, and everyone was satisfied. We then did Family Home Evening, wherein I video-interviewed Creegan, Peter, and Eddie, individually and in turn. (See below!) We then had some brownies, played the card game Sleeping Queens, and put the kids to bed. It was one of the most enjoyable and genuinely relaxed days I’ve had in a long time! I’m sad it’s over!

In order to make this post more exciting, it’s been jam-packed with multimedia! First, a photo of my breakfast. Then, the video interviews with my children. By watching these videos, you’ll learn the answers to such fascinating questions as: what kind of animal is Master Oinky? How does Creegan spell his name? Can five-year-olds do multiplication, and if so, does it lead to epilepsy? All this and more, below!