Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Years of This Kid

And we still like him.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

What Child is This?

Paige and I have been musical buddies for some time now. But Curtis, that's a different story. Last night I turned on the Nirvana Live at Reading DVD. He looked at it for a second and I could tell he was getting a little uneasy. He looked at me, looked at the TV, and then back to me again.


It's hard to resist those big eyes and that little voice.

We said goodbye to Kurt, Dave, and Chris and turned on Elmo.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Curtis Loves Christmas

Curtis clearly loved meeting Santa for the first time.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Who Wore it Better?

Today it was Curtis's turn to wear Paige's old monkey costume. Who looked better? You make the call.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Pre Kids

Paige and I were having some bonding time, sitting at the computer looking through Traci's Facebook pics. We came across this one. I was amazed by:
  1. The fact that it's now been five years since I've been to Holland.
  2. There was a time when Traci and I could go on a 10-day vacation and only have to ask our family to pick up our mail.
I've been trying to figure out a way to take the family to Holland for a month next summer. But after flying to California with one kid last year, 12+ hours of travel seems next to impossible.

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Sleepy Kids

Random thoughts from the New York trip.

It was tough four us to leave the kids for four days, but it was party time for them--two days at each grandma's. But I do believe that it threw their internal clocks off a bit.

On Sunday evening, Traci called her mom to check up on everyone. It was around 6 o'clock, Utah time. Traci's mom said, "Does Paige ever take naps in the afternoon?"

"Not really."

"Oh, well she just fell asleep on the kitchen table while we were eating dinner. Do you think she's down for the night?"

"Uh, no."


Curtis was also a bit worn out. The day after we got back, Traci sent me this picture. In the middle of playing, he just ran out of juice.

Having fun all the time is a lot of work.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hello Carson Palmer. Hello Chad Ochocinco

I went to my first regular season NFL game today. (I went to a Cleveland Browns preseason game in 1992. It was cool; Huey Lewis and the news played a concert at the end.) Our work hosts hooked us up with tickets to see the Bengals play the Houston Texans. They even gave Kaleb and I each a Bengals jersey. I felt like a true fan, decked out in my Chad Ochocinco jersey.

I was very excited to go. I figured that we’d be way up in the nose bleeds, but I was cool with that, given that it would likely be my only chance to get to an NFL game. Nope, we had fourth row seats, right on the 50 yard line. Amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever even been that close for a Utes game.

I had a great time. Our hosts had said, “The game’s get pretty cra-zay.” This was not the case; probably because the Bengals didn’t play very well and probably the expensive seat folks aren’t as rowdy as the upper deck crowd. It was just a laid-back, sunny day at the football game.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Night in the ‘Nati

Wicks' Sweet Ride

I love the ‘Nati. I spent five hours this afternoon seeing the sights with Wix. I’m not really sure what all I saw, but it was a great time. After visiting the Wicks home, we checked out the old railroad station-turned-museum, drove around the University of Cincinnati, and drove through the poor parts of town and the rich parts of town. (Of course we drove around in Wix's 1954 Chevy Pickup. The highlight was when the hood flew up.) We stopped at the Skyline Diner to eat the famous Cincinnati chili and bought some CDs at Shake It, the best record store in town (despite kind of a lame name).

We headed across the Roebling Bridge, the precursor to the Brooklyn Bridge, to Kentucky. We walked across the Purple People’s Bridge, saw a memorial for the guy who invented the Tommy Gun, watched a lot of middle-aged women go to a witch party, ate some great ice cream with some nuns, stopped into a Hot Topic, and spent the 30 seconds before closing in a cathedral built as a Notre Dame replica.

A ghostly me from the Kentucky side of the river.

What else is there left to see? And I’ve still got two days here!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

NYC Day Four: Going Home

We couldn't have asked for a better trip and that was thanks entirely to our wonderful hosts--letting us sleep on their floor, eat their food, talk their ears off, ask them 10 million questions.

As if they hadn't done enough, here was their last act of kindness before we left. Knowing that we'd be pressed for time to get from The Late Show to our flight, Noah offered to bring our luggage from his work (where we'd dropped it off in the morning) to the subway stop outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. When I asked him how he'd drag both of our suitcases across town he said, "Oh, I'll just make my coworker help me. He owes me." The coworker would then stay on the platform with the luggage and Noah would come up and find us.

When we got out of the theater, I had a text that said, "I had to come alone, meet me in the subway." Noah had lugged all of our stuff--up and down a million stairs--by himself, just to save us a little bit of headache.

I'd like to say that this was because Noah likes us so incredibly much (which, of course, is a true statement) but the reality is that he would do this for anyone, simply because he's a great guy.

So we met him in the subway. He gave us both a big hug, got us on the train, and sent us on our way to the airport.

The End. Almost.

I was feeling pretty confident that we were going to make our flight. All we had to do was to make it to the Air Train, and then to our terminal. Fortunately, we were on a new train, one with an electronic board that showed the stops. I noticed that our stop wasn't on the board. I knew we were on the E Train like we were supposed to be. But for some reason it seemed to following the F route. This train would not get us to the airport. Uh, panic time.

Against all of my instincts, I asked for help. Random lady across from us was nice enough to get us off at the right stop to transfer to another E. We made it the Air Train. We made it to the terminal. We made it to our flight. (And then we sat on the tarmac for an hour for whatever reason. Oh well.)

JetBlue is nice because every chair has its own TV. The TVs have regular cable, which is great because I could spend most of the flight watching Monday Night Football. I was also able to watch the episode of Dave Letterman I had just witnessed live a few hours earlier. Surreal. But just as funny as I had remembered the first time I watched it.

We were on our way home. Certainly excited to see the sleeping kids (we didn't get home until after midnight) but already sad to say goodbye to the City.

Wonderful trip.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

NYC Day Four: Yom Kippur at David Letterman

Monday in the city was the final sprint on our four day whirlwind. We headed to Midtown to drop our luggage off at Noah and Allison's work and then went across the street to Rockefeller Center. Rather than stand in the megaline at the Empire State building, we took in a similar view from Top of the Rock. (Well worth the $20/person ticket.)

We then clocked in the only real shopping of the entire trip, about an hour at H&M. Traci was satisfied.

Armed with a couple of bags of clothes, we headed toward The Late Show. We stopped at the Stagecoach Deli, just around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater. We got two lousy half sandwiches, two Cokes, and some ornery service for $30. Boo.

We checked in at Letterman (stood in line for a few minutes, got our tickets, stood in line a few more minutes, and were then told to come back in an hour.) We went to Times Square to kill some time and were pleased to find that we were right in the middle of Turkish Days.

Back at the Late Show, we again stood in line out on the sidewalk while the interns worked to get us excited and ready to unleash riotous laughter and the hint of any joke. ("If a guest says something that you think might be funny, pretend it's the funniest thing you've ever heard." I feel bad for the audience who laughed a few days later when Dave made his unfunny announcement.)

I loved everything about Letterman. Once escorted into the much-smaller-than-I-expected Ed Sullivan Theater, we were warmed up by pre-show comedian, the Late Show Band (minus Paul Shaffer, who was celebrating Yom Kippur), and and this old school clip of Dave Letterman working at Taco Bell.

Right before the taping began, Dave came out for about two minutes to chat with the crowd. The show took off from there, running like a well-oiled machine. I laughed from start to finish (Traci told me to not laugh too much as "She wanted to watch the show, not be on the show." I refrained from doing anything stupid, for which Traci was grateful), from the opening monologue, through the not-so-interesting guests (Felicity Huffman, Dr. Oz). As avid fans of The Hills, Traci and I were super excited about Brody Jenner reading the Top 10 list.

I even loved the Avett Brother's performance, and I am now in love with the title song from their new album. (As they started playing, with their banjo, cello, and cowboy getup, Traci turned to me and said, dejected, "This is what music sounds like now, huh?")

Just over an hour after the taping began, we were back on the street, pleased with the experience but a bit sad that it was time to go back home...

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

NYC Day Three: Sabbath in the City

On Sunday we were back on our own again. To make it to our matinee of Traci's beloved "Bye Bye Birdie," we wouldn't be able to go to the Riley's ward in Harlem. Instead, we went to a ward at the Manhattan Temple. So we headed to the subway on a rainy Sunday morning.

Despite being in New York, and despite being inside of a temple, church was just church. Same fold-up chairs in the overflow section and same Mighty Lite tables propped up against the back wall. The biggest difference was that we were free to watch people wrestle with their kids rather than wrestle with our own. After the meeting, we changed our clothes and snuck back out into the city.

Everyone asked where we ate while we were in New York. Well, the Sutherlands just aren't culinary experts. Case in point: between church and "Bye Bye Birdie" we stopped at the McDonald's in Times Square.

Our first Broadway play was no disappointment. Traci squealed in delight as she saw her high school theater days come to life on the big stage. I perked up momentarily when sassy Gina Gershon was in a negligee for a split second. We both got a kick out of Uncle Jesse's (aka John Stamos) squeaky voice and flubbed lines.

After the show we met up with the Rileys for a Sunday afternoon stroll through Central Park. As the Rileys took us off the beaten path and through the misty foliage, it was more like we were wandering through the forests of "The Princess Bride" than walking through the middle of the city.

Back outside of the park, we walked around the Upper West Side, past the Guggenheim, The Met, and all throughout Gossip Girl territory. (You can actually pay to go on a Gossip Girl bus tour. Traci says she would have been game had we been staying a few more days.)

The rest of the evening was spent having dinner and conversation with the Rileys. Not a bad way to end a Sunday.

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NYC Day Two: These Boots Were Made for Walking

Of our four quick days of vacation, day two was our favorite. After treating us to homemade crepes, Noah and Allison took us all the way down to Brooklyn. We briefly walked around the "Art Under the Bridge" exhibit (where we learned that a chubby naked lady sitting in a see-through tent is art) and then across the bridge itself. Though it took some concentration to not get run over by cyclists or run into the back of tourist groups, the views from the bridge were awesome.

From there, Noah and Allison thoughtfully toured us through the lower half of Manhattan; Allison handled the navigation while Noah wowed us with all of the factoids he's gathered from his "Skyscrapers" coffee table book.

We wandered through Tribeca, Little Italy, and Chinatown. After a stop for lunch (Sal's Pizza in Little Italy), we continued through SoHo, Washington Square Park (where I tried to join the hackeysack team), and the West Village (I think).

It was nice to get away from Midtown's mass of people and see the parts of the city where it would actually be cool to live. We can't thank Noah and Allison enough for showing us all the places we would have missed had we been on our own.

Our favorite spot was High Line Park, an old elevated train line that was recently converted into a urban, hipster paradise park.

At the end of the line, the park drops down into an amphitheater of big steps, where you can seat in front of a Plexiglas window overlooking the street below. Now that's art.

We made it all the way to the Flat Iron Building before the Sutherland's feet gave out. We gave in and took the subway to Times Square where we viewed a real architectural feat, the combination of devil's food cake and cheesecake (Traci's dream come true) at Junior's.

From there, we headed back to Harlem. We stopped by the Seinfeld cafe and then headed to the beloved H&M. (It was quite a contrast to be on the hip hop streets of Harlem one second and in the gay disco of H&M the next. And to make things even better, of course the elders were there, looking for new scarves.)

By the time we made it back to Casa de Riley, we were exhausted from the day's awesomeness.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NYC Day One: Bright Lights, Big City

After the Harbor Tour, we met up with the Riley's at Radio City Music Hall, about a block away from where they work. We stopped for dinner at a little Greek food cart for gyros and kebabs (this was my favorite meal of the trip) and then headed to the MoMA.

SIDE NOTE: Noah and Allison are hosting guests nearly every week. So you have to imagine they do alot of these touristy things over and over. Noah escorted us to the museum, despite it being his millionth time. Allison headed off on her own to do a bit of baby shower shopping. I was shocked by Noah allowing Allison to leave, as I couldn't imagine either Traci or me being alone in the city for one second without being kidnapped. Apparently, when you live in New York you don't have to fear for your life all the time. Phew.

Friday night is free (my favorite word) night at the MoMA. We did a whirlwind one-hour tour before it closed. Highlights included Van Gogh's "Starry Night," Warhol's "Car Crash," and the exhibit on Dutch artists.

There's also a lot of how-can-that-be-art art at the MoMA. Here's Noah standing in front of three paintings that are just white:

After the museum, we cruised down 5th Avenue, stopped by Rockefeller Center, checked out Grand Central Station, and ended at Times Square or, as I like to call it, the place where marketing goes to vomit.

We survived our first day! As a congratulatory guesture, the Rileys offered us ice cream and homemade limeade. We did it.

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NYC Day One: It's Go Time

We couldn't celebrate our successful trip to Harlem forever. After nap time, it was back to the subway. It's funny that after just a couple of hours in New York, I was already feeling disappointed that I hadn't seen any of the things TV had conditioned me to hope for in the Big Apple--e.g., spontaneous rap battles or, I don't know, a mugging. (My boss Tami gave me plenty of advice about what to do if I was mugged. "Give the wallet, but throw it on the ground. Throw it on the ground and run!")

Luckily my disappointment quickly dissolved, when on the way to BatteryPark, a troupe of breakdancers came into our train, turned on their boombox and started showing their stuff. I wanted to take a picture but was too busy trying not to get kicked in the head as one of the dudes was backflipping one inch away from my nose. (Click here for a similar performance.)

Even better, over by the harbor boats, I watched as a half dozen fake-designer-bag salesmen deftly rolled up their entire inventory in seconds and took off running down the street when the cops headed their way.

I also ate a subpar, street-vendor hotdog (Traci had a pizza pretzel. It was the most disgusting thing either of us had ever eaten), so I was able to knock out most of the NYC cliches in just one afternoon. Oh, and I also watched two harbor tour security employees get mad at each other, with the female employing yelling, "Somebody better hold me down. Hold me down!"

Once on the boat, we had a very nice trip past the Statue of Liberty and a enjoyable visit to Ellis Island. We found that Traci's great grandmother passed through there. Traci thought about paying to have the folks at Ellis Island print her off some genealogical records, then felt guilty about not just going downtown and doing the same thing for free at the Church History Library.

Before heading back to Midtown to meet Noah and Allison, we walked past the construction site that is Ground Zero and to the storefront "WTC Memorial Preview," where there are some 9-11 tribute pieces as well as some renderings of what things will look like when all is complete in 2011.

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NYC Day One: Hazy and Lost in the Subway

I'm not good with directions. ("Not good," is probably a little weak. "Atrocious" may be a better fit.) To make up for this, I like to have plenty of explicit written instructions. I made Noah (and my coworker Tim) walk me step-by-step through every detail from landing at JFK to getting to his house in Harlem. When we finally landed, after a sleepless, neck wrenching night on JetBlue's redeye, I felt confident that I could get us there.

That confidence dissipated the second we left the airport.

We struggled with buying our AirTrain card, then we struggled with getting our week-long Metro card. (The helpful train helpers weren't so helpful.) And then we headed for the train. We had two choices: Manhattan or Far Rockaway. Noah confirmed over the phone that we were to head toward Manhattan and we on our way.

The travel book I'd been consulting for our pre-trip planning said something like "Gone are the days of dirty subways and neon-lit stations." Seemed like that must have been a typo. We entered the old, dank train car with our heavy luggage and took an even heavier breath.

After we'd been on the train for a few minutes, I started looking for signs that we were actually going the right way. None of the stops were on my little map and I was starting to worry we were headed in the wrong direction. Since my map only showed Manhattan, my mind started telling me we were just getting further and further from where we needed to be. Which, in addition to getting us lost, would also us make us late for the key-pickup that needed to happen before Noah and Allison headed to work. Panic-y, panic-y Spencer, who kept singing The Ramones' "Rockaway Beach" in his head.

After ages, we finally saw a stop we recognized. Hallelujah! We were on the right path. (I didn't know how far JFK was from Manhattan, way on the other side of Queens.) We successfully transferred to the D Train as Noah had instructed and lugged our stuff up the stairs when we made it to Harlem.

Once outside the subway, we quickly learned that we were the whitest people on the planet.

We successfully turned right, went under the bridge, turned right again, went past Jimbo's Famous Hamburgers and to the Riley residence. We were greated by two smiling Rileys and Noah's famous German pancakes.

We did it. We made it from the airport to our first destination without dying. My first fear had been overcome. Our hosts left for work and we passed out on their bed, exhausted. Hello, New York City. You haven't gottent the best of us, yet.

(Come to find out later, we kind of took the wrong route to the Rileys, going all the way to the bottom of Manhattan and then back up again. That's why it was taking so long and why we were on the rundown train. We found out on the return trip that the E Train cars are a lot nicer and the helpful helpers are much helpful-er.)

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to Public School

On just her second day of preschool at our neighborhood elementary school, Paige came home with a flyer that said "Lice has been identified in our classroom." Sweet.

So far no creepy crawlers in Paige's hair. Say a li'l prayer for us.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall Showers

Today is a rainy day September day in Salt Lake City. But before fall, it was summer, and before that it was spring. I just found this self-portrait of 3/4ths of the fam from May, back when we were gearing up for all the excitement the sunny days would bring...

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Competitve World of Pre-K Athletics

Paige and McKenzie listening intently to the half-time speech.

Paige had her first soccer game this morning. I don't think it was that big of deal for her, but for Traci and I, it was yet another anxiety-ridden momentous occasion.

For all of her incessant chatter around our house, Paige is incredibly shy around others. Luckily, she has really taken to the idea of "teacher" lately, which has made for good experiences in both preschool and primary. But she is still really timid around other kids. So something like soccer can go either way--a ton of fun for or an endless amount of tears. And that means a lot of stress for mom and dad.

Fortunately, I was able to get most of the worries out of my system on Wednesday when I took her to her first practice. To my delight, we got to the field and she ran right over to her team. She started stretching out with the others (that's the sign of a great coach, he has a bunch of 3-year-olds stretching out before practice) and didn't even look back at me.

She did really well through much of practice, save the few times where she and her buddy Mackenzie had to stop and throw grass or hold hands and skip. So I was expecting her to be a regular Christian Ronaldo at the game today.

Um, not so much. She seemed to be having fun, but every time the ball (or the swarm of kids around the ball) came her way, she headed the other direction. She was, however, very happy when her team scored a goal and just as happy when the other team scored.

Paige on a breakaway? No, she's running away from the other kids.

Her favorite parts of the game were when she got to sub out because she got to come sit next to me and pet the coach's wife's dog.

The coach is really good to include all of the kids and gave Paige a chance to kick off after a goal. She walked up the ball in super-slow motion, tapped it about one inch and then ran away.

But she had a great time, which is all that matters. (She wasn't nearly as good as the girl on the other team who was about a foot taller than everyone else and kept scoring all the goals. Clearly a ringer.)

Curtis trying to sneak onto the team.

Curtis loved it as well. When he wasn't running out on the field, he was stealing the corner-kick cones and using them as bullhorns.

Yay, sports.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Carpet Swimming


In the end, Curtis wasn't really a big fan of the swimming pool. He normally loves the water, but all of our trips to the pool just kept getting in the way of nap time. He did, however, love scooting around the bedroom in Paige's Winnie the Pooh float.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Moon Phases

This is now the fourth year of St. George trips for Paige. It's been her best yet. She can't get enough of the pool, and when she's not in the water, she's planted firmly in front of the DVD player. What could be better?

Curtis, however, is in the I-want-to-touch-and-then-destroy-everything-in-my-path phase and is driving us a bit crazy. We got to hang out a 1 a.m., 6 a.m. and then 6:30 a.m. this morning. He liked our time together much more than I did.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sweet Dreams

We survived our first overnight trip to Grandpa's ranch since the advent of Curtis. We generally just make a day trip out of it, as to avoid all the extra packing and worry that comes with sleeping in a foreign locale. But we figured it was time to give it a go.

Paige had a great time looking at the stars and running around with glow sticks and her cousins. So hooray for nighttime.

The kids slept fine, which was a blessing. Traci and I, not so much, thanks to Curtis's incessant rustling in his Pack 'n Play. I knew sleep was entirely out of the question at about 4 a.m., when I could hear a rodent scratching at the baseboards beneath my bed. Knowing that I'm an open-mouth sleeper, the visions of a mouse crawling into my mouth repelled all visions of sleep.

Fortunately, come sunrise, my mouth was still mouse-free. Phew.

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Concerned About the Decline of Western Civilization?

Curtis clearly is. Just look at that face.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Do We Pay for Pre-School?

Paper pirate hats, obviously.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009


It was a miracle I was even able to snap this pic, what with the miraculous speed in which the subject flew by.

After a decade of saying it, Traci finally did it--running her first 5K at this year's Murray 4th of July Parade. With the help of my sister Sarah, Traci was able to take a respectable 488th place. You best watch your back, Usain Bolt.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

The Evil One

Over the last few weeks, Curtis has gone from being the quiet one, to the one who is constantly shrieking, biting, and being generally malcontent. He pulled a new, sneaky move at church on Sunday.

I was sitting between Traci and Paige, with Curtis on my lap. The second we all shut our eyes, Curtis reached over and pulled Paige's hair and then turned to the other side to smack Traci in the face.

He's been so ornery lately that we thought he may have yet another ear infection. I took him to the doctor yesterday. After checking him out, she said everything was fine and that "sometimes kids are just ornery." How's that for a prognosis/diagnosis?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New World View

A few of Paige's truths were shaken during our weekend trip to the ranch.

1. To protect his sensitive paws from the rough terrain, Jenny's dog was wearing "doggy shoes." Paige's response: Dogs don't wear shoes!!!

2. A sheep herder was driving his fourwheeler around with his sheep dog standing on the back rack. Again Paige exclaimed: Dogs don't ride motorcycles!!!

3. She also learned that while keyboards are generally awesome, it's not cool when your little brother smacks you in the eye with one. In my mind I heard her say: Keyboards don't double as attack weapons!!!

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This Kid

Is going to her first day of preschool this morning. Please cross your fingers that it goes well.

(Picture courtesy of Tim's fancy new camera)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goodbye Pompadour, Hello Ladies' Man

The Hair. Before and After.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

One Year Anniversary

So, we've officially had one year with this chubby kid. (Though everyone concurs that he weighs a million pounds, the doctor insists that he only weighs 22. The vast majority of that weight has to be in that ginormous mellon.) We like him pretty good.

We had the two-day birthday extravaganza over the weekend--Sunday night with the Pearsons, Monday with the Sutherlands. The pictures above are his second round of cake smashing. He felt fine about eating the cake, but what he really enjoyed was the squishing. Apparently, we've really been stifling his squishing talents.

Traci is lamenting how fast the time has gone and how he's no longer a little baby. I'm trying to determine if I think it has gone fast or slow. It already seems difficult to remember what it was like to only have one kid to chase around.

Traci and I both agree that Curtis has been much easier than Paige was, but I wonder how much of that comes from A) comparing him to a rambunctious three-year-old and B) being more used to parenthood. He does seem to have a more laid back demeanor, though.

He loves Paige and is constantly laughing at her. But he's also started sticking up for himself lately, by both throwing a fit when she steals his stuff and spending a lot of time stealing her stuff. He's also figured out how to turn off the TV, which drives Paige absolutely crazy.

Post 8:00 p.m. (Paige's bedtime) is Curtis's time to shine. He laughs and plays and shows off all his tricks--no lousy big sister to steal his spotlight.

His tricks, however, are still a bit limited. He's not walking yet--just pulling himself up on stuff and shuffling from thing to thing--which is frustrating for him and sometimes embarrassing for me. Last week a church a younger (and much lighter) girl was trying to play with Curtis. She walked right over to him and he lay on the floor on his back, rolling back and forth like a chubby, shell-side-up turtle.

"Curtis," I told him sternly. "We can't have little girls showing you up like this." He just smiled at me. He knows what he's doing.

Here's to year number two...

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