Wednesday, January 29, 2014

November Treats

My cousin, Marc, got married! It is always exciting when cousins get married. It was especially fun since they got married in the Draper Temple. Nancy was kind enough to watch Charlie for us so we could attend the ceremony. It is always such a special date activity to be able to go to a wedding! 

Marc and Andrea

The Phillips Boys

Me and Erin

We got to extend our date over to the luncheon held in Sandy. Between the luncheon and the reception we went back to Alpine to get Charlie, and then it was time again to drive right back to Sandy for the reception. 

The luncheon

We had a fun time with family, and extended it even more as we went to dinner with Paul, Mandy, Lily, Steve, and John. Mind you this was about 9 at night, so not the brightest parental move...but we were craving some good Mexican, and Paul and Mandy swore by Los Cucos near the South Towne Mall. So we braved the late hour and ate delicious Mexican food until we were stuffed! Luckily, there was a TV showing a basketball game, so that kept Charlie content as he sat there getting more and more tired.

Another fun family thing in November was Jason’s aunt and uncle came to visit. Jason’s Uncle Jim and his wife, Patience, came and stayed with Nancy and George. Their main priority was to visit Grandma Gruber, but we got to take advantage of their stay. I have only met them, I think, one other time, so it was fun to see them again. While we were there for Sunday dinner, these mystery blankets showed up on top our car and on top Max and April’s car. We still do not know who they were from, but the one we were given is a cute Winnie The Pooh patterned fleece blanket. It is so cute and soft. It was a gift for Charlie. Thank you mystery blanket givers!

We had another Charlie-free date in the beginning of November. Zach and Kaari had a babysitter for a night one weekend and so they invited us out with them. My mom and dad came over and watched Charlie while we went out and had dinner at Spicy Corea. Kaari had been craving Korean food, and Jason and I had never had it. It turned out to be really good food! For those kinds of restaurants, it is important to go with someone who knows what to order. (Amy and I went to a Vietnamese restaurant with no prior experience...yeah, that was a mistake!) Kaari definitely knew what to order. After dinner we had a quick dessert at Sub Zero, and then headed into the movie theater to see Gravity. Gravity was awesome! I was so stressed and tense the whole time, but I loved it! I definitely never want to go to scary!

Halloween Festivities

This year for Halloween, I struggled for awhile with what we should be for Halloween. I wanted the three of us to be connected with a theme. Usually Halloween is a no brainer because Jason and I are always the same thing every year: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley (see here and here). Last year, we dressed Charlie up as Dobby and it was perfect! Now that this was Charlie’s second Halloween, I felt a strange sort of obligation to do something different. I felt like I owed it to Charlie’s childhood to do something new each year. Not sure if that is a legitimate obligation that I felt, but either way...that is how I felt. So I spent a good part of October considering many options. Several of the options that I wanted to pursue required Jason to be either practically naked, dressed in a huge furry suit, or as a prince. So those were quickly denied. One day, Jason finally came up with (quite easily) the idea that we should be Tres Leches - a mexican dessert cake that uses three different kinds of milk...hence the translation to “three milks”. The idea was simple, smart, and clever. I loved it! Jason was evaporated milk, I was sweetened condensed milk, and Charlie was heavy cream (of course).

The idea felt great until that moment that we had to put cans on our head and walk into the Ward Halloween Party. After a few moments of initial embarrassment, we held the cans high as we walked proudly through the party. We had lots of questions, and assumptions of food storage, but the final result was realization and appreciation. To keep the heavy cream on Charlie’s head, we had to staple it to his hat. We were so thrilled and relieved that he kept it on almost the entire night. When dressing him at home, he immediately threw off the hat. So we were so happy that he kept it on for the party so our threesome could be complete.

We even made the dessert with our emptied costumes that week. It was definitely an addicting treat. I thought it was even better the second day.

On Halloween Day, we met up with the Grubers in Riverton. We had yummy pizza, passed out candy, played a little on their piano, and watched Greta while Max’s family went out trick-or-treating. After our fun in Riverton, we headed to Draper to meet up with my family. Bryan had done a little of his typical driveway decorating (with cars, blinking lights, and caution tape), but he spent most of the night at a party (I believe). We hung out with my parents (who were dressed quite scary for Charlie’s taste) and enjoyed goodies and pumpkin bread.

With Grubers:

With Arbons:

"Scary" Grandma & Grandpa

Helping himself to some pumpkin bread

Monday, January 27, 2014

Charlie’s Sixteenth Month

15 Months to 16 Months
(September 19-October 19)

Charlie had his 15 Month check up. Charlie is a tall, lean boy with a big head. Here are his measurements:

Weight: 23 lbs 1 oz - 52%
Height: 32.5 inches - 87%
Head: 47.7 cm - 74%

So basically, he is perfect :) We love him to death!

Jason had a hilarious bath time experience with Charlie one night while I was gone:
(In Jason's words)
"Time for Charlie's nightly bath.  I got the tub filling, got Charlie down to his birthday suit, and plopped him in the tub.  This was the stage where he didn't necessarily lay down in the water, but would prefer kneeling/sitting/or mostly standing.  I was in the bathroom, getting his towel ready, throwing his previous diaper away, when he just started freaking out.  It wasn't like a pain cry, it was pure terror. Charlie had his hands on the side of the tub, trying to scramble his way out.  I quickly went over to see what was wrong.  
I quickly discovered that a big orangeish brown terd was apparently Charlies version of a monster...his own monster.  I couldn't help but laugh, but I also thought "what the heck am I going to do now?"  I reacted quickly, perhaps too quickly, and scooped up the poop with my hand and tossed it in the toilet.  Upon doing so, I saw another smaller poo next to his foot, that I also scooped up.  The water was now soiled, Charlie was wet and crying, but hadn't been properly washed, so I needed to start over.  I started draining the tub and got Charlie out, since he was still freaking out.  I was busily trying to splash all the stubborn poo particles down towards the drain so I could refill the tub, while holding on to Charlie with one arm.  The smell of poo was everywhere.  I was surprised it still smelled so bad, since most of the poo was either down the drain or still in the toilet ( not sure why I hadn't flushed it yet, but there were other priorities).  Apparently knees, while on cold tile, are not very sensitive, because now there was poo all outside of the tub, and on me, and I had no idea.  Charlie's mission was not complete while in the tub, and he had let loose another round, a much softer version too, because I never heard it hit the tile.  It had been smeared all over, and mostly by me.  Now the situation was getting more complicated, I had to wipe his fanny off as well as his feet, and quickly got him back in the bath. 

Ultimately, I cleaned myself up and the floor.  It was stressful, funny, slimy, and stinky.  Although kids may ignorantly crawl, walk, and sleep in their own poopy diapers, apparently its a different story when Mr. Hanky plops in the water next to your feet."

We are seeing some changes and progress! Charlie hugged me! He is starting to give real hugs and it is just the cutest thing. Ah, it melts my heart when I can feel him squeeze my neck or shoulders and rest his head. He is also starting to give kisses! Yes, they are open-mouthed kisses, but they are so cute! Again, heart-melting!

Charlie is pretty dang obedient for his age. When I say no, he knows what it means. He usually stops dead in his tracks, turns around, and heads toward me. Usually there is a big old frown on his face and he is close to tears. But he is obedient! This has been so nice when it comes to getting close to the stairs, or walking outside near the street. I love it!

He LOVES circling things! He doesn’t care if it is chairs, people, tree stumps, Mommy...he just loves walking around and around and around!

His first nap is starting to become a bit of a joke. He hardly ever sleeps during his first nap anymore. He usually just lays there, or walks around the crib, or kicks his legs while jabbering on and off. I was hoping to keep with the two nap routine until he was 18 months, but this is looking like the end. From what I hear from in-laws, 15 months has been the norm for their kids to switch to one nap a day.

He is finally brushing his teeth with toothpaste! Yes, he is mostly just sucking on it and swallowing it, but it is a step in the right direction! Last month I would just brush his teeth with nothing on it, but now I have started using a rice sized amount of toothpaste. He loves it! It will probably be awhile before he will learn how to spit it out. I try to get a few moments of good brushing in for him before he grabs the brush away and demands to do it himself.

Charlie jabbers SO much in his own little language. Sometimes he just goes at it, and doesn’t stop for a long time. Just talk talk talk...I wish I could know what he is trying to say. It is so cute. Nancy loves it too and said that it is very unique. She said that none of the other grandchildren jabbered that much without using real words. Charlie, you are one of a kind!

A glimpse at some of his jabbering

Charlie staying with my family while Jason and I were in Lake Powell:

They even braved taking him to one of Bryan's bike races!

Charlie loves my mom's homemade granola!

Culprit: Berry Smoothie

Charlie sitting like Daddy did as a kid...yikes!
But he was loving the animal toys at Blickenstaffs!

Charlie surprised us one morning with the cutest wave as he slid down the side of the bed

One of our laughing sessions

Saturday, January 25, 2014

While Daddy Was Gone

Charlie and I actually had a really fun time while Jason was gone fishing. Of course we missed him, but we filled our time with fun things and had a blast. What made it especially fun was the morning that he left, he surprised us with three large brown bags on the table. Each one was labeled with a day that he would be gone. So each day, we had a fun little gift from Daddy to open. The first day was a pack of hot wheels for Charlie to play with, and then a pair of extra warm socks for me. Jason sure knows my heart! I always have cold feet, so I love to cozy up in big, thick, warm socks. These socks supposedly kept your feet seven times warmer than average socks. I couldn’t have been happier. The gift on the second day was a fun John Deere truck that lit up and made noises. Charlie was really excited...and I was too...except for the constant repetition of “Nothing runs like a Deere!” He also gave us the movie, Shrek 2. Charlie loved it! On the third day, the gift was a small stuffed Mickey Mouse. He loved the Mickey as well, giving him many hugs. Mickey has joined Eeyore as a permanent crib mate.

On Thursday, we kept things pretty mellow and just stayed at home. I worked during his naps. On Friday we spent the day with Kaitlyn Pacada. Luckily for us, Michael was out of town too, so we got to make a whole day affair of it. We had lunch at the Trellis Cafe at Thanksgiving Point. It ended up being the last weekend that it was open for the season, so we really lucked out. After lunch, we came back to put Charlie down for a nap. While he napped we watched the first Hunger Games. In the evening, before it started to get dark, we hit up the farmers market at the Riverwoods. Kaitlyn bought a few produce items, and we both got a delicious pineapple salsa to share. While we were there, we stopped at Williams Sonoma for some samples and to pick up some vanilla paste. Kaitlyn swears by it! She says it tastes better and you can use a third the amount as you would of vanilla extract. So far we have really liked it as well. For dinner, we headed back to our apartment. Earlier that day we had prepared some stuff in the crockpot so it would be ready by the time we got back. Kaitlyn brought some delicious Tikka Masala from Costco. We cooked it with some chicken, made coconut rice, made homemade naan bread, and had some grapes. It was a delicious dinner. After putting Charlie to bed, we stayed up and watched some random documentaries on Netflix. All in all, a very successful and fun day!

At Trellis

We spent the next day with Amy Stallings. I met up with her at my parents house in Draper. My parents and Bryan were away at Wolfcreek for one of his bike races. When we got there, we were surprised to see Camry there with her friends. I didn’t realize they were there sleeping in, so I felt really bad waking them up. But it was fun to have a little bit of time to see Camry before they left back for Provo. Amy and I really packed the day full of fun things again. We finished our childhood video game, Kings Quest 7. We anticipated playing it for a few hours that day, but we finished it abruptly. It ended a lot sooner than we thought. It really felt great to finally beat the only took 20 years! Thanks again to Tyson who made the dream come alive again and made it possible. We then had lunch at Smashburger. After lunch, we came back and did a fun work out video. Man, I am definitely not in the shape I once was in. I do not have the same energy or flexibility. I need to make that a New Year’s resolution! After putting Charlie down for his nap, we watched War Horse on my parents projector and painted our nails. By dinner time, we had said goodbye to Amy and we were back at home enjoying a simple meal.

On Sunday, it was Greta’s baby blessing. It was too bad that Jason was not here for it, but I was glad to represent. The blessing was beautiful, and we had a yummy Mexican taco lunch (with ALL of the fix-ins) at April’s sister, Vicki’s, house. Charlie had a blast wandering through the big house, climbing stairs, going in rooms, and walking across the balcony hall upstairs.

Little Greta on her special day!

We had a fun weekend, but we sure were glad to see Jason when he got home that night! I was so glad to see him home safely and that he had had a great fishing trip.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Montana 2.0

Written by Jason:

So, this year I did another Montana trip up to the Beaverhead River.  This year the crew was John and Parker. We made the typical preparations: What rivers, flies, meals, etc. 

In preparation, I spent many hours tying some articulated streamers.  Fall fishing is about big browns that are aggressive and wanting to go after bigger meals to beef up for winter.  Streamers = fall fishing.  This year, since Matt (John's brother) wasn't able to come, we had to figure out a vehicle situation.  Sure we all have cars, BUT, we need something dependable, and big enough to carry a lot of camping gear, fishing gear, and food.  Somehow all those things added up to taking our work truck (dependability was a little iffy...but oh well).

Bright and early Thursday morning we left.  We picked up Parker at the park and ride in Lehi.  John started off the driving shift.  The drive was pretty and mostly uneventful...oh that's right...John got pulled over in Idaho for speeding.  Luckily, he is quite smooth when it comes to confronting authorities.  A good story about the truck having new and bigger tires seemed to be the trick to justify the speed.  The cop was actually quite nice. 

We were like giddy school children as we drove past Clark Reservoir, because the Beaverhead comes out of the dam.  We were hoping for our same camping spot from last year.  Parker isn't used to roughing it up in MT, since usually he stays at a hotel.  Sure enough our same spot was available, and no one else was camping in the area.  Aaaah, the Beeeav.

We started off fishing in town, since we had to get licenses.  The water level was low, and some type of moss monster had infected the area.  Lots of moss burgers ended up on the end of our lines.  We did ok the first day. No trophy trout, and a little slower than we had hoped for.

When we got back to the truck it was almost dark.  Insult upon injury was the truck lights were left on, sooo the battery was dead.  LUCKILY, Parker's father-in-law happened to come up the same day for fishing, also.  He came to our rescue and then we headed over to Pizza Hut for a nice hot meal.  Which was seriously amazing!!! Cinnamon sticks with BBQ chicken pizza.  

The next morning we woke up early and gave a shot to fish right at the headwaters since we had had so much luck there last year.  It was really good, and we caught some bigger fish.  We didn't stay too long, since we wanted to hit up some other sections and take advantage of the morning hours.  We fished in an area that Parker had showed us where he had previously seen some massive fish!  John and I hadn't fished this section last year, and by the appearance of it, no one can blame us.  It was full of moss burgers, BUT some amazing fish!  We ended up catching several 20" browns and a 21" also.  Up to this point, the magical "streamers" we had tied beforehand had only landed us two or three fish.  It was all about smaller streamers/jig presentations. Friday ended up being good fishing, but the levels of moss throughout the entire river definitely caused some frustration, and made it more difficult to fish.  Many of the fish would hang out under big floating masses of moss, making it very hard to even get near them.

Biggest catch of the trip

Friday night, we hit up the dam again and caught some more good-sized fish.  We tried our chances at catching a fish on a mouse pattern.  We tried right at dusk, but didn't have any luck.

Because the Beaverhead had been so much slower than we had expected, Friday night we had a pow wow around the fire and decided to travel north the next morning to the Big Hole River.  A substantially bigger river. 

McDonald's McGriddles started the day off perfect.  The Big Hole was about 50 minutes away.  The river flowed through an amazing canyon, and was very picturesque.  We were all quite excited and....cold.  Lots of layers, along with hand and foot warmers helped.  We were really excited to test out some new waters.  We quickly started catching fish, definitely nothing very big.  There were some great holes and runs, but it seemed as the morning faded, so did the fish's hunger.  Around 11, we decided we should head back to the Beaverhead and try our luck at getting some more big fish!

On the way back to Dillon, John scared us with the weather saying there was a 90 percent chance of snow that night.  We were going to leave the next morning, and didn't want to wake up to snow while camping.  We did a little hotel search on the phones, and found the cheapest crust pile in town, which was still like $50.  We reserved the room, packed up camp, and fished the rest of the evening hours.  We had some good luck near the headwaters again, with some 20 - 21" browns.  John caught a nice brown, with a good kype - which landed him the golden ticket to the double bed that night.

Golden Ticket Fish
Pizza hut was calling our name, so we had that again for dinner.  (We did have an amazing meal planned for that night though - A massive steak/roast from Costco with potatoes.)  It was amazing being able to take a nice hot shower - something i'm not used to while camping.   John got the bed that night, so Parker and I slummed it on the floor - I at least knew where my sleeping bag had been, John couldn't say the same about the bed.  I slept great.  The trip had been a lot of fun.  The fishing was definitely slower than the previous year.  We fished for a couple of hours in the morning and had some good luck again in town.  Parker caught the biggest one of the day.  We hit up our classic honey hole from the previous year, but didn't even get a bite!  I couldn't believe it.  I like the town section, because it probably rarely gets fished.  Last year, the biggest fish we caught (with exception to near the dam) was in town.  

Before starting the drive back, we hit up a place Parker raved about...the taco bus.  I was nervous, and wasn't in the mood to have diarrhea for six hours on the way home, but I gave it a chance and it was INCREDIBLE!  Parker was right.  The food was great. Oh, and it literally was an old school bus retrofitted to a tiny kitchen and eating area with benches facing the windows.  Previously, we had bought a pack of four ginger beers, with the fourth reserved for whoever caught the biggest fish.  Yep, I was the lucky man.  Unfortunately, half of it spilled in the truck while trying to eat my taco bus food.  The fish was 21" and quite fat.

The trip was a lot of fun.  Having gone out to eat at Pizza Hut twice, McDonalds three times, and staying in a hotel, we managed to do the trip pretty reasonably!

Long live Montana and the Beaverhead.  May the next time present a 25" brown in the bottom of my net...please?

Here is a video that Jason made with his GoPro

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

After having our car stolen from once, you would think we would have learned our lesson. I guess I should really would think I would have learned MY lesson. Since I am the one who drives the Accord most of the time, I am most responsible for locking the car up at night. I have gotten into bad habits, leaving it unlocked during the day and at night. My excuse would be it is hard to lock it all up when I am getting Charlie and his gear out of the car. Since the car keyfob doesn’t lock all of the doors, some of them have to be locked manually...and my hands are full. For about two weeks, Jason’s iPod Touch was in the car. The night he was packing up for his next fishing trip, I went to go get the iPod out of the car and it was gone! It had lasted in there for two weeks without being stolen, but of course just before we take it out and bring it safely is taken! That was so disappointing! I was really frustrated with myself...and I can only imagine how frustrated Jason was feeling. He lost his iPod because of my negligence. Dang, I really need to step it up! I have made a re-dedicated effort to be sure to lock up the car at night.

Overall, 2013 has been quite a difficult and emotional year. It has been one of the best and most enjoyable years of my life, but there have also been some extremely personal family things happen this past year. There have been two family miscarriages, a surprising announcement of divorce, and another family member beginning to make choices that are contrary to the teachings of the church. There have been lots of tears, but these challenges have also brought us even closer together. I think these trials are faith-trying and faith-building for everyone. I have really appreciated the opportunities to talk these things out, pour out our feelings, and to connect on deeper levels. I love my family and the support we give one another. I feel like my eyes have been opened to a wider perspective of things of this world and the purpose of it. While I have moments of weakness and sadness, I also feel growing strength. I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is true. I am thankful for His church, His sacrifice, His love, and His example. May we all strive to be more like Him.