Monday, February 25, 2013

Carter's 4th Birthday

Carter had a small birthday party yesterday at home. (He had enjoyed a bigger one with extended family over February break in Rochester.)  In honor of his 4th birthday, Carter decided to get Pizza Hut for lunch.  We then watched the movie The Lorax as a family.  Parker and Carter had seen it before, but it was new to mommy and daddy.  Parker and Carter got a kick out of telling mom and dad what would happen next.

Carter opened up a new Star Wars Lego set as a gift.  Mommy then helped him put the set together, which she did in such a way to keep the pieces form ever being separated again!  Carter then opened up some birthday cards, but he saved a special birthday card from his great-grandparents in Idaho to open with them over Skype.

Carter picked brownies for his birthday cake which he helped dad make.  Once it was dark outside, dad put four candles on the cake and Carter blew them out.  We're not sure what his wish was.  Whatever it is, Carter is keeping it to himself!  We love you Carter!  Thank you for letting us spending your special day with you.

The birthday boy and his brothers
after church, just before his family
birthday party started!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Can 50 Ultramarathon

I thought I'd add these pictures before I deleted them from my phone.  The first is a picture of me just before starting my 50K run as part of the Canandaguia Ultramarathon on Columbus Day Weekend 2012.  It's a 50K or 50 mile run around Canandaguia Lake in central New York.  I ran a half marathon in July and a full marathon in September in Rochester two weeks before this event.  I was ready.

At 50K Race Start
My goal was simply to finish and not get removed from the race by not making the cut off time at one of the aid stations.  I ended up finishing all 31 miles of the race in 6 hours and 20 minutes.  It felt great.  My goal for next year is to complete the 50 mile option of the race.  I know I can do it, it will just be a matter of logistically being able to attend the race this October.

The second picture is a picture I took during the run, I believe on a lonely, yet beautiful 4 mile stretch of road.

Only one other racer in sight...
you get pretty spaced out
over the course of 31 miles.
I took it shortly after I received a text message from Holly saying they just announced in General Conference the Church was lowering the missionary age from 19 to 18 for young men and from 21 to 19 for young women.  It was a real landmark announcement and when I see this picture I not only think about the run, but also about the realization that Parker, Carter, and Anderson will all be leaving for their missions one year earlier then expected.  It was a memorable run, and I look forward to doing many others like it throughout my life, hopefully with my boys someday as well.  I'd like to run at least a marathon with all of them before their missions and run an ultramarathon all together once the last one returns home.  Big dreams and big training, both physically and spiritually ahead!

Oscar Predictions

Holly and I had our date night last night.  We bought Chinese take-out and made our 2013 Oscar predictions.  In the 24 categories, we agreed in 8 of them.  So here they are...

Brian and Holly Predict the Oscars 2013

Sound Mixing: Les Miserables
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Short Film (Animated): Paperman
Production Design: Lincoln
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Film Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
Documentary Feature: The Invisible War
Cinematography: Skyfall

Of course we are both utterly unqualified to make these predictions, but that's why it so much fun.  In all the other categories we didn't agree, so we will see who made the most correct predictions.  And in case you were wondering, I think best picture with go to Les Miserables.  Holly thinks it will go to Silver Linings Playbook.  It's on...

Friday, February 22, 2013

February Break

Holly and I enjoyed February break with our boys.  Here is a quick run down on the events...

Friday 2/15: I got out of work, came home with Parker, climbed into the mini-van, and we rode home to my parent's house in Fairport.  We enjoyed a home cooked meal of meatloaf, squash, and potatoes.

Saturday 2/16:  We went to two birthday parties.  First, we went to Great Grandma Brenner's 90th birthday.
Next, we went to Jared Crystal's 7th birthday party.  Both were epic.

Sunday 2/17:  We traveled to Kendall, NY and had a birthday party for Carter who turns 4 on the 24th.  We enjoyed Mark's Pizza and soda.  Carter got a Star Wars Lego set, clothes, and Backyardigan books.

Monday 2/18:  Kept it real in Kendall.

Tuesday 2/19:  We drove home and enjoyed a combined family home evening with Daisy Boyer and family. Dad cleaned out the basement while mom helped the boys clean upstairs.

On the way home we discovered Parker's new "trick." 
He likes to have the overhead light on above his car seat
but he can't reach it.  Hi solution is to take off his shoe
and use that to hit the light button.  Notice how Carter is looking

Wednesday 2/20:  Kept it real at home.

Thursday 2/21:  Went to the Hartmann's to hang out with Jim, Bree, and Avella.  Afterwards, we had the missionaries over for Elder Hogaurd's birthday.  We have Sister missionaries in Oswego now so there were four missionaries and lots of Mark's pizza and soda for everyone.

Jim reading to Anderson and Avella

Parker and Carter "hanging around" with Jim

Friday 2/22:  Kept it real at home.

And that's it!  There was a good balance of structured activities and chill time.  February break is great, but spring break will be better with the nice weather.  Only 4 and a half weeks until then!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love, Actually

Carter, Anderson, and I had to run some errands this morning... we went to WalMart, then JCPenney, and ended up back at WalMart. (Really wish Oswego would get some more stores)  When we pulled into JCP there was a man pulling the tops off the garbage cans, looking for cans. But, it wasn't just any man, you see.

It was one of our neighbors from "long ago" at Eastpoint. When Brian and I were first married -- in 2006 we moved into Eastpoint apartments in Oswego. In the adjacent building lived a nice elderly man... who walked to and from work at McDonald's pushing a little wire cart-walker-thing. He was super sweet... always saying hi to Brian whether we drove by or at the restaurant. His large, light brown plastic-framed glasses, scruffy stubble, black hat, and black/white flannel plaid coat (worn even in the summer heat) are unmistakable. His gait is slow and steady.  I don't know his story-- and I probably never will. I just know he always has had a special place in my heart.

I am 100% sure that he didn't recognize me as we approached him. "Excuse me," I said-- diaper bag hoisted over my shoulder, Anderson on my hip, and holding Carter's hand, "Are you looking for cans?"   "Yeah," he said almost shyly.  "Well, we would like to give you this," I said. We handed him a can. The only can (surprisingly) that I could find in my van. He said "Thank you" and safely tucked the can away in his big plastic garbage bag in the cart. "Happy Valentine's Day!" yelled Carter. "Happy Valentine's Day to you little guy."

And we parted ways. It was in that very moment I wish I had money stashed somewhere I could give him. But, we gave him what we had. I hope that the smile that we gave him lasts all day. I hope Carter will always remember how good it felt to give and to help... no matter how big or small.

"If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Date Night with Wedding Dresses and Music

Winter Storm Nemo was supposed to be bigger than it was.

Winter Storm Nemo
Other school districts were closing or closing early but not ours.  However, as school was letting out, it started to get really blustery out.  Holly suggested I leave early to collect take out dinner while she put the boys to bed. I wanted to go to Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut (both right in town although on opposite sides) and it took over an hour with three different sessions of clearing off the car.

Date night beverage for pizza and a blizzard
We went with A&W Root Beer for our beverage. We went with cheese lovers stuffed crust pizza for our dinner topped with bacon, pineapple, ham, and jalapenos   For entertainment, we watched Say Yes To The Dress.  I know, I am a pretty magnanimous guy for watching it.  I'm even learning a little wedding dress lingo. I've learned that there are "A-line" dresses, "Trumpet" dresses, "Mermaid" dresses and others.  I find that I'm an "A-line" wedding dress kind of guy.

An "A-Line" Wedding Dress
I wish I could recall deep enough in my memory if Holly wore an A-line at our wedding, but I can't.  But I still think it's the best.  Traditional and classy.

After pizza, I took out our date night activity I had prepared,  2013 Grammy Award Predictions.  Now, some people are content just calling out their predictions just before some celebrity duo rip open an envelope after painfully delivering a series of bad jokes.  Not us.  We make predictions in all EIGHTY-ONE categories.  That's right.  Now, you might be wondering how we are qualified to make predictions in all 81 categories.  Well, Holly is a stay at home mom, isn't she?  She surely doesn't just sit their and Bon-Bons with Anderson and Carter all day. Nope.  She Goes through all the songs, albums, etc. to become INFORMED. Carter and Anderson too.  It's culture city over here.

Of course I am being sarcastic.  Holly and I rarely listen to music nowadays besides what percolates into our car through the radio.  And, of course, we are stuck with the same tunes we loved in college, which turns us into those older folks.  But you don't need to be a music junkie to make predictions.

Taylor Swift, the sweet girl next door who
can't lose after being interrupted
by a drunk black man 
Just circle the names that sound good.  Oh yeah, and anything by Taylor Swift simply because after that Kayne West incident it's literally impossible for her not to win an award at any award show.  And she deserves them too.

So we went through and each made our 81 predictions.  We then shared them and discovered we each agreed in 25 categories.  This makes them OFFICIAL predictions.  So here are Brian and Holly's 2013 Grammy Award Predictions: (Note these are the ones we THINK will win, not what we think should win.)

Brian & Holly Predict the Grammys!

Song of the Year: "We Are Young"
Song of the Year Prediction
Best Pop Solo Performance  "Set Fire to the Rain" (Live) -Adele  
Best Dance Recording: "Bangarang" -Skrillex
Best Traditional R&B Performance: "Love on Top" -Beyonce
Best R&B Song -"Adorn" -Miguel Pimentel
Best R&B Album: Write Me Back -R. Kelly
Best Country Solo Performance: "Home" -Dierks Bentley
Best Country Album: Hunter Hayes -Hunter Hayes

Product Details
Just because we liked the title,
a hip Dostoevsky reference

Best Jazz Instrumental: Seeds from the Underground -Kenny Garrett
Best Regional Mexican Album: 365 Dias -Los Tucanes de Tijuana
Best Tropical Latin Album: Retro -Marlow Rosado Y La Riquena
Best Americana Album: Babel -Mumford and Sons

Babel by Mumford & Sons, an obvious choice
Best World Music Album: The Living Room Sessions Part 1 -Ravi Shanker
Best Spoken Word Album: American Grown -Michelle Obama (An obvious shoo-in)
Best Comedy Album: Blow Your Pants Off -Jimmy Fallon
Best Musial Thearte Album: Newsies
Best Instrumental Album: "Music of Ansel Adams: America" -Chris Brubeck and Dave Brubeck
Best Recording Package: Biophilia
Best Boxed of Special Limited Edition Package: Woody at 100: The Wood Guthrie Centennial Collection

Woody Guthrie - There is not way Holly and I could
 pass up giving an award to the
 man who gave us  "This Land is Your Land."
Best Historical Album: Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection
Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical: "Midnight City"
Best Surround Sound-Album: Quiet Winter Night
Best Orchestral Performance: Music for Time of War
Best Classical Instrumental Solo: "Kurtag & Ligeti: Music for Viola" - Kim Kashkashian
Best Long Form Music Video: Big Easy Express

Of course, no date night would not be complete without an image of the morning after, so here it is.

"Mom, Dad!  Make sure you save some for
meeeeeeee!" they always yell from
the stairs during take out times.  So we did.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Paper Cranes

Parker and I worked on his 100 project today.  For kindergarten, Parker has to attach 100 of something to a sheet of paper.  So we decided to do 100 origami paper cranes.

Parker coloring the sheets of paper for 100 paper cranes
Parker has been coloring the sheets of paper and I have been folding them.  The project is almost done and it will look awesome!  Seriously, who else is gonna have that for their project?  No one else, that's who!

The paper crane project thus far...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Snow Day II 2013

The snow came down long enough and hard enough after the Super Bowl to warrant a snow day today!  It was grand.  I went for a peaceful five mile run, worked up an appetite, and rightfully bought Chinese Food for us as a snow day treat.  The boys, as usual, enjoyed it with a movie at their table in the living room.

Snow Day Chinese Food, Parker and Carter engrossed in the  movie Treasure Planet (again) and Anderson thrilled with the snow outside that allowed another family fun day.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl and Snow

We enjoyed the Super Bowl as a family today.  We had our good friends the Smiths come over and we enjoyed the show with plenty of food.  We wanted the 49ers to win but were disappointed   For a while though, after the infamous black out, we were really rooting for them and believing it would work out.  No dice.  Shortly before the game ended, the snow really starting coming down.  It looked very village storybook like from our tall grid-windows.

Our peaceful winter road after the Super Bowl

After the Smith's left, Holly and I went outside and shoveled the driveway to move the car off the road.  It was astoundingly quiet, dark, and peaceful.  It was one of those life is really good moments.  A beautiful night.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Date Night with Frank

Date night was with Holly last night.  We continued our architecture kick by watching an episode of America's mansions highlighting the Adirondacks.  First, we looked at Camp Pine Knot, a wilderness retreat for the wealthy Durant family.  Apparently, it was very inaccessible and required train rides, carriage rides, and several boat rides to get there. 

One of William Durant's log cabin mansions at
 Camp Pine Knot in the Adirondacks 
But the inaccessibility didn't keep the Durant family, particularly, William Durant, from spending lavishly on the site including marble, gold, and porcelain in the cabins.  It was interesting; Holly and I enjoy camping, so we get it.  But compared to the lavish Vanderbilt and Rockefeller fortresses the camp seemed rather mundane.  So we turned it off and turned our attention to our new hero, Frank Lloyd Wright.

The new (as if we had a former) architectural
 hero of Brian and Holly: Frank Lloyd Wrigh
Sure, Holly and I had heard of the name of old Frankie.  It's a familiar sounding name.  48 hours ago, we might have been able to correctly identify him as an architect   What we didn't know what that Frank Llyod Wright was THE architect of the 20th century.  While enjoying our take out Chinese food, we examined three homes of Frank Lloyd Wright, each apparently roughly corresponding with a phase of his life.  Holly and I enjoyed his style.  Someday, we want to build our dream home.  It will probably have Wright's, flowing places, small bedrooms, nice nooks and crannies for function.  A bungalow style, really. It was an enjoyable little film. 

Wright's first home, where he father six children and tested out his revolutionary ideas.

After the Chinese food was gone and we said good-bye to Frank, we took copies of interior design magazines we bought and tried to guess what the other one liked and did not like in the design schemes   We also took the time to identify the rooms we thought we would find in the homes of P. Diddy, people we know, and of course, Frank Llyod Wright.  Surprisingly, we agreed on several things.

Good food, good architecture, good date.