Monday, January 30, 2012

Dad's View: Saturdays

Saturdays are the best days in our house. We are at the point in our family life we can afford to have “lazy” Saturdays were we are not running our children all across town for various activities. A perfect Steffen family Saturday starts the night before with Holly and me ordering while the boys pretend to be in bed. We have been working hard to keep a better diet with no meat, more veggies, less processed foods, and more portion control. On Friday, however, we cheat a little and still keep the vegetarian commitment but splurge on comfort food. Veggie subs from Oswego Sub Shop and Veggie lovers stuffed crust pizza from pizza hut has been our latest indulgence. This Friday we at our food while watching the show Shark Tank on TV followed by an episode of the Munsters on Netflix. Oh yes we did watch that blue collar monster family in black and white for date night. We even took the time to find out where the cast is now on Holly’s phone. Turns out most of them are dead. Except the guy who played the Eddie, the little boy monster. He’s still around and will even give corporate speaking engagements and birthday parties. Sweet.

Anyway, our Saturdays start on date night because I always over eat Friday night (an ENTIRE pizza for me) so I can justify going for an hour and a half run the next morning. (Actually, that’s the other way around but whatever.) So I get up early and start my run while Holly sleeps in with the boys. The boys wake up while I am gone. When I get home and showered I take them out of Holly’s bed while Saturday morning cartoons flicker across the bedspread. I then start setting up camp downstairs. Camp includes cueing up the Netflix queue and answering Parker and Carter’s clamor for pancakes. So we make pancakes and sneak some chocolate chips in the batter. Pancakes are great because you can toss all sorts of things inside to spruce them up a bit: candy, fruit, gummy bears, neat stuff like that. So we eat our pancakes while watching the trending children shows, currently Curious George (awesome), Blue’s Clues (endearing), Dora the Explorer (tolerable), and Dragon Tales (annoying). Then Holly comes down and we plan the menu for the week, one of us goes grocery shopping, I might run to the dump with some trash and recyclables, the boys take a “nap” upstairs while Holly and I play Phase 10 or watch a biography film on Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream or a Man verses Food episode. Or I’ll help Holly with one of her craft projects. This week included sorting and removing the wrappers of 500 crayons to melt down and pour into candy moulds. She is so crafty.

Eventually the boys start playing at the top of the stairs and slowly work their way down with their race cars, little people, stuffed animals, and books. By the time we notice them playing at the bottom we officially end their “nap” time and josh around the house a bit until an early dinnertime for the boys. At seven o’clock sharp the Netflix goes off and we turn to PBS and watch Lawrence Welk as a family.

Yes. The Munsters and Lawrence Welk. We’ve been Welk fans since Parker was a baby. It’s a homely little way to end the week. Parker and Carter love it and dance around the room until about 7:30 when it is time for bed. It’s my job to put them to bed usually. I have bad habits of trying to be entertaining and bed time has turned into a mummery of sorts. First there is tooth brushing (fair enough), then a bedtime story which always must include Spiderman, Fire Star, and Iceman (all from the original Spiderman cartoon series Parker is a fan off) as well Captain Moroni because there is a poster of him in their bedroom. After the story there is prayer, which Carter always has to say. After that I have to “tell them something.” See, at some point I started to “tell them something” before bed. At first it was simple things like, “Did you know I love you,” blah blah blah. It soon turned into a simple fact they could learn. Now it has morphed into the following bedtime quiz delivered twice, once for each boy:

Q: What is the longest river in the United States?
A: Mississippi!
Q: What color is the President’s house?
A: White!
Q: What is the name of that Lake?
A: Lake Ontario!

The quiz goes on to the hometowns of various relatives, other historical figures, etc., etc., etc., until they are stumped, learn a new tidbit or knowledge and the quiz grows longer. After this ordeal the boys then like these Kamikaze hugs where mom or dad walks slowly up to their bed and then suddenly topples down and gives them a hug. Then I say goodnight and close the door. But bedtime is not over because while Holly and I dig into the leftovers from date night and watch and episode of Portlandia each of the boys come down for “just one toy” or “just one taste” before finally falling asleep. Holly and I then last about an hour before heading up to bed ourselves.

I took the time to type this all up because yesterday as this all unfolded I realized it was a pretty good day. Nothing huge happened, no big trips or special events, but it was simple and fulfilling. Many of our Saturdays are like this and I think this is a special time in our family where we can “afford” to enjoy Saturdays like these. I say “afford” because I know once my three sons are older they might have soccer practices or school work to fret about. Weekends will be more likely to be booked before they arrive. Right now things are simple and uncomplicated. Morning run, pancakes, cartoons, crafts and naps, macaroni and cheese, Lawrence Welk, and cute bedtimes. I love it. Someday, either when we are all older and busier, or even a more distance someday, when Holly and I live alone and the boys are grown and married, I’ll look back at these carefree Saturdays and miss them. So I wanted to write it down. That way I can not only remember it, but also know that I appreciated it in the moment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's kind of a big deal.

Parker usually gets about 50% of the speech words right. Today he got 100%!!!!!! First time ever.


Bowling Field Trip

On Tuesday, Parker had a field trip to the bowling alley. I was able to go with him. We had a blast. I love that kid. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Daddy

Happy 29th Birthday, Daddy!
We love you!
- Parker, Carter, and Anderson

Happy Birthday! I can't believe we have been married for 5 and a half years and have three beautiful boys. I am so glad you are their dad. You are a great example to them.

I love you.
- Me

We went bowling for daddy's birthday. We had so much fun! Parker always ran away and Carter would stand super still and watch his ball slowly creep down the lane.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I See A Tooth!!

It's coming!!

Dad's View: Feeding, Movies, and the Super Bowl

Holly is watching the Bachelor with her good friend Daisy which leaves me a few moments to provide my own paternal updates. As Holly reported, Anderson had his first bowl of rice cereal last night. I helped shovel it in to Anderson’s delight. Holly complained that the boys always eat better for me. It’s because I don’t waste time with the choo-choo train and other culinary forms of transportation. I’m all business. When I feed my kids its scoop, gobble, and go. They chow down quick so I can get on to other things. We captured it on video which I trust Holly will also eventually take the time to post.

Anderson’s “favorite” movie is the Elton John studded film Gnomeo and Juliet. Grandma Miller got Parker and Carter on it over Thanksgiving break. Carter was particularly fond of it which means Anderson saw it a lot recently. Now whenever we turn it on Anderson calms down and happily watches it. It’s a terribly cute film with nice little Shakespearean asides to get every now and then. One of the great things about having children is the parade of children’s movies you cycle through. Toy Story 3 was the hot item last summer which eventually morphed into the full length Gumby movie of before Anderson was born. Now it’s Gnomeo and Juliet. These movies will always be locked in my memory with Parker, Carter, and Anderson as little kids. Anytime I run into these movies again it’ll bring me back. I like those little things that make me remember my kids when they are little. I think they will mean more and more to me as I get older. I can see Holly and me watching The Gumby Movie when we are sixty-five and feel all tingly thinking of all the summer days Parker and Carter watched it over and over while we waited for Anderson’s arrival.

Football was a disappointment yesterday. I was really hoping for the 49ers. I suppose there is always next year. I’m not looking forward to another Giants vs. Patriots Super Bowl. I like the little teams from the small markets. These two juggernauts slugging it out will simply give me more time to refill the bean dip for our tiny party we will be hosting. For what its worth however, I would prefer the Giants. But only by a small degree. I’d much rather root for a third party to win the game like bad weather. Really bad weather. Earthquakes and stuff. Send everybody home and call it off. Of course that will never happen. But it’s nice to dream.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Baby toes

Anderson loves his feet. He also ate rice cereal for the first time tonight and loved it!!

Carter loves football.


Friend of the day

Parker was friend of the day at PreK on Thursday. He was so excited to bring in his "gasoline" car, star wars Lego book, and his own chess set. Parker and mommy made a poster with family pictures and favorite things cut out of a magazine. Brian went and snapped a couple photos on his phone. :) One of the many perks of marrying a teacher! <3

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gotta Vent

When Brian and I were first married and we would visit his parent's house we would read his parent's PennySaver and the "I Gotta Vent" and "On the Brighter Side" sections. They were our favorite. People would write in with their random rants or thank yous. We read the cheerful ones first and saved the best for last... the random rants of people to complete strangers (most of the time). They are usually good for a little chuckle. Well, because of some recent events .... I'll explain in a minute... I GOTTA VENT. Go grab your cocoa and get prepared for a little chuckle. This is probably something really silly and petty but boy, oh boy, it's almost been a week and still under my skin.

Recently, a cloth diaper store has opened in our little city. Great news for me. I love to support local businesses and I'm hoping to invest in a couple more cloth diapers. Win - Win. They had a little contest on their facebook page. There were 12 hearts in their store window and you had to guess what the meaning was... I took some stabs in the dark. 12 days of Christmas, Years the online store has been around, anniversary of y2k, years of marriage. Ding. I got it. The owner writes "You got it Holly. 12 years ago on January 29th, *** and I were married at **** Chapel at ****University." YAY. Well I had a nagging feeling and I reread all the enteries. A girl before me said years you've been married. She got it before me and the owner didn't notice. I IMMEDIATELY thought about what if that was me, what if I was the person to say it first. So, I comment and tag the rightful winner of the $10 gift certificate. This is what happened (backtraching a bit):

Me- ‎12 years of marriage?
January 8 at 2:52pm ·

Diaper Store- You got it Holly. 12 years ago on January 29th, *** and I were married at ***'s Chapel at ***** University.
January 8 at 2:55pm ·

Me- Yay!!!!!!!!
‎:) I'll use it toward a freetime!!! ((name of diaper))
January 8 at 2:59pm ·

Me- I just read through and looks like Suzie* ((tagged, and not her real name)) said it before me. January 8 at 3:03pm ·

Me- Congrats on your anniversary!! ♥
January 8 at 3:12pm ·

Diaper Store- Suzie*, you did guess it first. I don't know why I didn't see it. Sorry for getting your hopes up Holly. Suzie*, how would you like to obtain your gift?
January 8 at 3:18pm

Suzie*- yay!!! I can add to my stash for the new one!!! ♥
January 8 at 3:18pm

Suzie*- can you email it to me so I can use it for online shopping? as I live in Raleigh, NC and I am so excited to buy stuff for baby #3!!!
January 8 at 3:21pm ·

Diaper Store- Congratulations on baby #3. We're working on a new website that can take coupon codes. Let me talk to my husband and figure out the best way for you to take advantage of your certificate. Why don't you e-mail me at ********


Now, to you that probably looks like a normal coversation/ thread/ whatever you want to call it.

This is my vent: NEITHER ONE of them said THANK YOU to me. Seriously, those two little words would have made me feel so much better about doing the right thing. :/

Vent over. Thanks for listening.... hopefully you got a little chuckle.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy First Snow Day!

Our first delay of the season! Highly unusual. 2 hour right now. Here's to closing!! ;)

Update: Closed!! :D

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Big Love

My three boys have some fierce love between them. <3 They make my heart full.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Zoo trip

It was almost 70* outside so we took full advantage and went to the zoo. The kids had been super sick and were finally getting over it. We thought the fresh air would be great for them. We went to the mall and got a quick bite to eat and then went to the zoo in celebration of Carter being potty trained! Finally he got his reward he's waited a while for.

Of course we had to get our picture with the huge spiderman!

My cute little penguins! :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dad's View: The Truth About Cloth Diapering

Confession: I’m a dad and I’m a cloth diaper junkie.

It’s shameful, I know. It’s perfectly acceptable for moms to go through a phase of “nesting” for their babies where they select the perfect shade of cupcake for the nursery or a particular brand of stroller- car seat carrier combo. As I dad, I’m expected to tolerate that stuff, lovingly get a little involved, but restrict my fretting to the pragmatic details of making sure all the insurance stuff is ironed out and opening college savings accounts for the future lawyer-firefighting astronaut. Real men don’t get tittered about all the cute Cabbage Patch stuff that comes with having a baby. And that was me.

For example, I knew there would be a huge financial bomb approaching of diapers. Like a “real man” I figured it would be a good move to stash up on the disposables throughout the trimesters and chip away at the accumulated supply once the baby was born. My scheme worked for a while, but once our son started crawling we were tapped out and now had a surplus of space in our little apartment. Heroically, I was ready to perform another big card swipe on disposables and repeat the process. It was then my wife convinced us to spend the same amount of money my anticipated horde of disposables would cost on investing in twenty or so cloth diapers. Half-reluctantly, I agreed. We chose to invest in the one-size bumgenius diapers—meaning our son (and future children) could wear the same diaper and we didn’t ever have to worry about having the right size. This was a huge reason why we ended up loving bumgenius and the whole cotton babies family of diapers.

**photo by cottonbabies, our favorite cloth diaper brand

I’ve since shed my grizzled manly exterior and shamelessly get just as excited about limited edition colors and prints as my wife.

Above are some of the limited edition Easter colors I (embarrassingly) couldn't pass up.

You can check out all their current cloth diaper offerings at and pick the style that is just right for your family (freetime, bumgenius, flip, econobum). You’ll thank me later.

This fluffy excitement stems from three fronts. First, there is the obvious (and manly) financial advantage. Once we got our stash of cloth, we calculated the cost of each disposable and kept track of each cloth diaper we washed. And by washed, I mean hand washed. We at the time were living in an apartment and that was the easiest, best, and cheapest way to wash them. Within ten months the diapers were “paid off.” Since our first son was 7mon old our family has been exclusively a cloth diapering family. We are now our third son and we’ve saved all that diaper money five times over. We have also since starting cloth, have bought a house and happily toss our diapers in our HE washer and hang to dry.

Here is our original cloth diaper chart I've kept stashed in a keepsake box: Second, like all manly men I like the idea of “roughing it.” Telling folks I cloth diaper makes me feel there is just a little more stubble on my chin. (Of course with the functional and aesthetic designs of cloth diapers these days “roughing it” is really an illusion but I don’t tell people that.) Styles- like the bumgenius- make cloth diapering as easy as 1-2-3. Stuff, wear, wash. Not much more work than a disposeable. (Important note: Diapers can easily be stuffed while watching a James Bond movie, I've discovered.)

(Background noise compliments of the big brothers.)

Finally, and I can’t link this to manhood except to the concept of just sharing a common enjoyment with your wife, cloth diapers are just so darn cute. Every time I see my sons scamper around with a wink of navy blue or hunter green peeking out of their jeans (instead of a raggedy looking disposable) I feel all warm and cozy inside. On the rare occasion we put them in a disposable, I feel like I’m wrapping their bum in newspaper rather than a sturdy and stylish undergarment. Above is our first son, Parker sporting one of his first cloth diapers.

Here is our second son, Carter happily doing his part in saving the planet and Daddy some cash.

They were both in diapers for a while. Glad we picked the one sized bumgenius. (ChaChing)

And finally, above is the newest son- Anderson rockin' a hand-me-down diaper.

I try not to proselyte too much about my diapering fancy with my sons. My wife has done a great job of this herself converting many families. I don’t want to seem too invested in the girly sides of parenting. Heck, only fifty years ago a man wasn’t even expected to change a diaper let alone think critically about one. My grandfather would have called me a disgrace. Thankfully, times have changed, and I know other young fathers have the cloth diaper bug and still find time to slay zombies on the video game console and do an oil change. I still have time to do all those things.... Right after I hang up the most recent clean cloth load.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog after my wife informed me of a contest run by Jenn Labit, the owner of Cotton Babies. I was not compensated in any way to write this- by her or by Cotton Babies. I sure do hope that I, err I mean SHE, wins 12 bumgenius diapers for her AND 12 for a friend. If she wins, she will get to pick a person who comments on this blog to win the other 12!

What a blessing it is to be a blessing.

Brotherly Love

Parker and Carter love their baby brother.

A day in the life

A typical day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A boy and his nebby

Here is Anderson with his nebulizer. He likes to help.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Big Boy, Carter!

Yesterday, we did the unimaginable. Carter's crib was taken down and put into the attic for storage. The twin bed from the nursery was put into Parker and Carter's room. He and Parker napped in the same room which is a huge deal bc we've tried that before and they had to be split up bc they think it is playtime. After playing a bit, they settled down and fell asleep. The picture below was taken then.

Nighttime went okay. They laid in their own beds talking to each other. They really are best friends. They both fell asleep not too much later than usual.

Carter woke up around 10pm screaming. I think it was a mix of waking up and being scared (used to his crib) and being sick. After going potty, some cuddling, and talking he went back to sleep in his own new-to-him big boy bed!

Yay Carter! We love you!

Sick Ward

Parker and Anderson both have fevers, coughs, & sneezing. Carter isn't feverish anymore but is still coughing. Anderson went to the dr today and is diagnosed w bronchiolitis and possible RSV. Advice: Just keep doing what I'm doing and started giving him nebulizer treatments. he has a cute little fish nebulizer. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New You

My New Year's resolutions are:
-Blog more (don't laugh)
-Eat better (think: semi-vegetarian)
-Take more family photos (Xmas gifts will help w that)
-Do at least one craft show
-Listen to the whole Book of Mormon

What are yours??