November 22, 2015

Liam, The Playwright

One day, we found out that Liam had written a play, entered it into a competition, was selected as a finalist, and was having his play produced. Whaaaaaaaa?

I'm not sure when and if Liam had any plans to tell us about this, but Katie happened upon Liam's open gmail account and saw, "Congratulations from the Echo Theater!" She asked him about it, and he finally let us know. To Liam?–no big deal. To us?–real big deal. How awesome is that? I don't know of any other 17 year-olds who've had a play produced. We are very proud.

It was all part of the Echo Theater's Echo10 Play Festival, and all the plays are under 10 minutes. Each night after the plays, they had a Q&A session with the writers, directors, and casts. Liam revealed he wrote the play the day of the deadline. I am amazed and jealous at the same time of his talent.

Katie and I enjoyed the festival so much that we went twice. I might be a little biased, but it seemed to me that Liam's play received the most reactions from the audience. They were pretty much laughing the whole way through. My other favorite play was written by a friend of Liam's who performed with him in Acting Up a couple of years back and is now at BYU. Her writing was very impressive. They really have talented kids in Acting Up.

So, here is Liam's play, "Crime Runs in the Family." Chloe seems to think one aspect might be a little autobiographical. If you don't get that, don't worry–it's not true. Enjoy!


July 26, 2015

The Story of Gracie

So, I haven't blogged forever. Well actually, it's only been about six months. I'm going play a bit of catch up.

Thinking back over the past six months and trying to figure out what I should blog about, the main thing that stands out in my mind is Gracie–Gracie the dog, that is. Yes, we got a dog. I was beginning to think it might not happen again in my lifetime, but Katie finally caved.

I must have been a good boy this past year because for Christmas I received five rentals from Puppies For Rent. This is a business that rents out puppies by the hour with the intent of getting them adopted. The cool thing is that each rental fee can be applied towards an adoption fee. When Katie gave me the gift, she did say we could "possibly" adopt a dog "sometime" in the future if we were to find the "perfect" dog. Well to me, that translates as, "We're getting a dog now!"

I've never been able to pick out my own puppy before. We've always ended up with rescue dogs. Each one of them had issues–shedding, killer breath, and overall obnoxiousness. I was determined to make a great choice and find the perfect dog for our family.

One night for Family Home Evening, I was in charge of the activity. I rented Bubbles, an Australian Sheep Dog. Bubbles was very cute and fun to play with, but once I saw the size of her paws, it hit me how big she would end up being. The perfect dog for our family would be a smaller dog. Big dogs make big poops–that's all I'm sayin'.

Fun with Bubbles.

We had to wait a while for our next puppy rental. All the puppies available were large breeds. However after a few months, Prince came along. He was a chihuahua mix. After taking my last final for the semester, I rewarded myself with a puppy rental. Prince was an adorable dog and everyone liked him. We even rented him a second time. We decided to apply to adopt Prince. But, we were too late. Someone else snagged him. We were slightly bummed, but I figured there was another puppy out there for us.

Prince–You snooze you lose.
After Prince, I checked Puppies for Rent's website daily waiting for another puppy about Prince's size to show up. About three months later, Sophie showed up. For me, it was love at first sight. I immediately scheduled a rental.

This was the photo on the website. There's no way I could have resisted.

This was another photo posted on the Puppies for Rent website.
I don't know who this cute little girl is, but I knew I had to save the puppy. 

When Sophie arrived, we were amazed at how tiny she was. She easily fit in the palm of my hand. She is a chihuahua/poodle mix. Many call this breed a poochi, but the boys like to call her a poohuahua. That first rental, the puppy mostly slept. When she was a awake, she did play a bit, but the slick wood floors proved tricky. It was pretty hilarious. The puppy was very smart. She seemed to know who she had to please–the two non-dog lovers, Katie and Liam. Both of them took to the puppy almost instantly, so I knew this dog was the one for us.

In the beginning, she did a lot of sleeping.
I didn't waste any time applying to adopt the puppy. It didn't take long to hear back that the dog was ours. We had to wait about a week, since the puppy had already been scheduled for a few rentals. I figured that in the meantime, we might as well rent her again since all the rental fee go to towards the adoption. It was during this second rental, we decided to come up with a name. No one was really sold on Sophie. Chloe was the first to offer a suggestion. She really, really wanted to name the puppy Princess Blossom Pepperdoodle Von Yum Yum. This was the name of a cartoon cat in the PSB children's series. While it's an interesting name, Chloe was unanimously vetoed. The second suggestion came surprisingly from Liam. He offered the name Gracie. Everyone but Chloe liked the name. I was especially happy that Liam came up with the name since he's not a big pet fan.

I went to the pet store to prepare.

Our first rental of Gracie was on March 30. At that time we were told, she was five weeks old. Counting back, we figure her birthdate was February 16. Not like we're going to throw the Gracie birthday parties like some family members, who shall remain nameless, but it's good to know.

Here Gracie is at about three months. Is that a little shirt she's wearing?
Um...yes. We have now become those kind of people. I'm afraid that's just
one step away from throwing the dog a birthday party.
One of Gracie's favorite things to do is dig. I took this photo of her while she was "helping" Katie do some gardening.

A few minutes after this photo was taken, Gracie was covered in mud.

When Chloe came back from her internship in Mexico and a side trip to visit Aunt Bita in Mexico, she brought Gracie back a Texas outfit. I guess I am just going to have to buy her a BYU outfit now.

Hook'em Horns!

Because Gracie is part poodle, her hair continues to grow. She was beginning to look really scruffy, so I took her to the doggy salon for a haircut. She looked much better afterward.

After the haircut, I had to buy her a new outfit. She has a pug
friend who lives behind us named Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle
wears a new outfit almost daily. We have some work to do
to catch up.

Here is Gracie's official five month portrait. She's so cute we've let her up on our brand new couch.

She's workin' it.

All in all, Gracie has been the perfect puppy for our family. She has had her share of accidents and getting into things, but overall she's a good dog. Right now, we are working on training her. We've got "sit" down, but that's about it. It's going to take a while. Gracie does not have much patience and is a bit hyper. I think that's the chihuahua side coming through.

We are very happy Gracie has joined our family. The kids are worried she might be becoming the favorite child. They don't need to be too concerned. Well...maybe. I see how my parents treat their dog, Bella. So kids, watch out. Here comes Gracie!

January 04, 2015

Annual Christmas Puppet Show (2014 and 2013)

So, it appears I didn't do much blogging last year around Christmas. I never got around posting the annual puppet show. For Christmas 2013, Chloe was a missionary in Alabama, so Liam and Tomas carried on the tradition. The 2013 production was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer based on the 1960s TV Christmas special. I remember I loved this show as a child, but the Abominable Snowman scared the bejeebers out of me. 

This was Liam's directorial debut. In the past, he's been Chloe's assistant. The boys did a fantastic job. I was especially impressed with the puppets.

From left to right–Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives), Hermey (the elf who wants to be a dentist), Yukon Cornelius (a prospector), and the Abominable Snowman (Yukon calls him Bumble)
Here is the video. It may be a little hard to understand because the video camera was picking up more of the paper bag rustling than the audio. But, if you know the general story, you'll get it. Enjoy!


And now to this year. Chloe was back home with us, so she and Tomas staged Twas the Night Before Navidad. Liam was in the audience due to an untimely migraine. As always, the puppet show did not disappoint–very creative and lots of fun. Here are some of the puppets. I loved Santa in his sombrero and the Christmas mariachi band.

From left to right–Christmas mariachis, Santa, los niƱos, and one of Santa's burros

Here is the video. If you go to the actual youtube page, I have included the text with Spanish translation.




This is  a wonderful family tradition I hope that never ends. I'm going to do everything I can to encourage the kids to keep it going until their kids can take it over. We'll see how that goes.

January 03, 2015

The 2014 Christmas Ornament Collection

Here is the Christmas ornament roundup for 2014. Along with a bunch of other stuff, I noticed I didn't post last year's ornaments. I thought I at least photographed them, but I can't find anything. Oh well.

This year, I broke with tradition, Usually, I go to the after Christmas sale and buy the ornaments for half price. However, when I went to the local Hallmark store a couple days before Christmas, I noticed many of the ornaments were already sold out. I asked the clerk about it, and she said they didn't order as many in this year because they always have so many left over. And in addition to that, the clerk said they had sold more this year. I didn't want it to be a case of "You snooze; you lose," so I went ahead and bought the ornaments full-price (ouch).

First off, I got Tomas another Phineas and Ferb ornament. Netflix currently has four seasons available. I'm sure Tomas has seen each one at least ten times (not an exaggeration), and he practically has them memorized.


For Liam, I got another guitar to go along with one from a couple years ago. This one plays Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Liam, by the way, is getting really good at the guitar. He has a band. As of yet, he hasn't let me see them perform, but I hear they're good.


Chloe is back from her mission, and it didn't take her long to get fully integrated back into the real world, which includes fashion, makeup, new hairstyles, etc. I bought her this Minnie Mouse pampering herself ornament.


For Katie, who loves cows, I found this ornament called Holy Cow. It makes me laugh.


For myself, I found this set of two ornaments where a frosty friend is decorating a gingerbread house. It reminds me of the Annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza.


The tree continues to get more and more crammed with ornaments–just how I like it. I know my original plan was to give each kid's ornaments to them when they permanently leave home, but it's going to be hard. The collection of ornaments has turned into a sort of family history. I can look at the ornaments for each year and remember what each person was into or doing that year. I'm hoping I someday make the big bucks so that I can continue the tradition with grandkids.

December 13, 2014

Gingerbread House Extravaganza 2014

The 6th Annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza was an overwhelming success. We had a lot of fun with the Mc family and are also very grateful they invited us over to their house for the festivities. Some day when I'm making the big bucks, I'm going to knock out a few walls in our house to make it more entertaining friendly.

Before I show this year's creations, I have to back up a year. It looks like I never got around to posting the 2013 gingerbread houses. First of all, Katie and the boys made a Hundertwasser inspired house. If you don't know the work of Austrian artist and architect, Friedenreich Huntertwasser, check out this link. I think Hundertwasser would be proud.


I decided to make the Santa Barbara Mission. I think all fourth graders in California have to make a model of a mission as they study California history. Since we moved to California when I was in fifth grade, I missed out. I made up for it with this creation. It is certainly a work of fantasy since I don't think it ever snows in Santa Barbara.


And now to 2014...

Here we have several photos of the crew hard at work.

The kids are all growing up so fast. I miss the days when most of what they did somehow ended up on the floor. Somehow, my socks ended up relatively clean at the end of the evening.

Katie paining her piece of the wall.

Rob and Maddie working on their very cool tree (see below).

The Mc boys with some help from Tomas created this wonder. They didn't fool me however. I know what they were up to. The Mc kids like to nibble on their houses throughout the season, so I totally get why they crammed as much candy on the house as possible. I personally would start with the Bosten baked beans. Anyways, I think the house is amazing.


Rob, Mary Ann, and Maddie worked on a mid-century Eichler inspired gingerbread house. I had never heard of Eichler before, so I googled him (click here). I LOVE his style. If I could build a dream home, I would like something like his style. Although, I'm not sure how a more flat-roofed home would do here in Utah where we can get considerable snow in the winter. The Mc version looks authentic to me. I love the Christmas lights.


A little over a month ago, Tomas, Katie, and I were talking about the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As we told Tomas about the history of the wall and remembered when we got to see the wall, we all came to the conclusion that we needed to create the Brandenburg Gate and wall in gingerbread. I worked on the Brandenburg Gate and Katie and the boys did the wall. 

Here is the inspiration for one of the wall sections.




And one more photo of inspiration.




I'm most proud of the Quadriga (a chariot pulled by four horses) on top of the Brandenburg Gate. And yes, I did carve out each horse individually.


All in all, I was very happy with this year's gingerbread effort. The Gingerbread House Extravaganza is one of my favorite traditions, and I really hope it continues for many years to come.