Saturday, September 28, 2013

Breakfast with Mom!

Carter went on a field trip to the apple orchard yesterday.  He was even able to take Holly with him as his hot date.  Carter and the other Pre-K students get to eat breakfast together every morning, and today was no different, except that Holly got to enjoy Carter's company!

Here, we see Carter enjoying his breakfast with mom before his big trip!  Later, he came back with a sack full of apples and healthy dose of pride for completing his first field trip ever.
 Carter's favorite friend in PreK is Dawson. Dawson's big brother- Talen was in Parker's Kindergarten class. :) Great kiddos.

Later in the day, Holly left for an appointment regarding Steffen number 4.  All looks well.  She came home with Wegman's subs for date night (again) which we watched with episodes of Portlandia (again).  Some things never get old.

baby4 update

Baby4 is (according to sono): 7lb 14oz 136bpm 18.4water level

I had to get the lovely StrepB test so I agreed to be checked and I'm: 1cm 50%

Sooner rather than later, I'm thinking. 

As excited as I am to find out if this bugger is a boy or a girl-- I'm equally not excited for labor. ;) 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Milkshakes

I used to get Parker a doughnut every Friday morning on the way to school.
I now get Parker and Carter a doughnut every Friday morning since they now both go to school.
Holly had an appointment today, so I did not go to school.
Since I did not go to school with them, there were no doughnuts this Friday morning and the boys were sad.
So when I picked up Parker this afternoon with Carter and Anderson in tow, I said we would get doughnuts.
We went to a drive-thur.
I asked for Honey Crulers and Boston Cream doughnuts.
Parker yelled for a milkshakes instead.
I said no.
The drive thru said they were all out of those doughnuts.
Parker said, "I told ya.  Now we can get milkshakes."
But they didn't have milkshakes at the doughnut place.
So I said we would go to McDonalds for milkshakes.
Carter liked this idea.
Anderson gabbled in agreement with Carter.
Parker said he would only like it if he could get a BIG milkshakes.
I said no.
Parker howled.
Carter said, "I like milkshakes from McDonalds.  Thanks, dad."
Parker yelled, "I don't like small milkshakes, I eat them too quickly."
I said, "That's not my problem."
Anderson yapped.
We drove to McDonalds.
Parker complained about the milkshake situation.  A small one would not do.
To distract him, I suggested we get Oreo milkshakes from Burger King instead.  "Mom got one, and she really liked it," I said.
"Oh!" said Parker.  "I like that idea.  I like Oreos."
"But it will be a small one," I warned.
Parker said, "That's okay. I like Oreos."
"Great!" I said.  "We'll get those."
"MCDONALDS!" Carter yelled.  "You said we would go to McDonalds.  I don't want a stupid Oreo milkshake."
Parker said, "Carter, it's Oreo! You will like it!"
"NO!" said Carter.
Anderson hooted.
I clutched the steering wheel.
"YOU SAID MCDONALDS!" said Carter.
McDonalds was one side of the road.  Burger King was on the other.  I shrugged.
I turned into Burger King.
I formed a plan.  Maybe I would go both places.
We stopped at the speaker.
"Dude, Carter," I said.  "They have those here."
"Oh."  He sniffled.  "With a cherry?"
I said, "I don't know.  I'll ask."
Anderson yapped again.
I said to the speaker, "Do you put cherries on your milkshakes?"
I said, "They said no, Carter.  Is that okay?"
"I guess so," said Carter.
"Okay," I said.  "Two oreo milkshakes and one strawberry milkshake."
"Will that be all?"
And so we drove home.  And that is how we got the picture below.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

36 Weeks

Holly is 36 weeks now.  Even though the due date is still a little over a month away, she is technically just about term.  That means baby number four could literally come any day now and be within that "normal" window of birth.  Bring it on!  Our bags are packed (well, hers is anyway, I should probably toss some books, gummy bears, and a chess set in a sack) the sitters are lined up (mostly!) and Holly is getting in the zone. If it was up to me, I'd want it to come tomorrow!  

In other news, this little guy just used his froggy potty for the first time today.  His older brothers were cheering and making a big deal about it, but Anderson just shrugged it off.  He's humble and doesn't like to brag.  So as one kid begins moving out of diapers another baby is just about ready to move in!

Great job, Anderson!

P.S. Anderson, you have come a long way since the days you used to swing from the dining room chandelier.  We love seeing you grow up!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We All Have Bad Days

I picked up Carter from Pre-K this morning, and the teacher wanted to talk to me.  Apparently, Carter had a bit of a rough day.  She asked if there was anything going on at home.  There certainly was last night.  The boys were rowdy during Family Home Evening and lost their treat after repeated warnings.  They went to bed with howls and tears.  They were still aware of the loss this morning when they woke up.  Perhaps Carter was still on edge because of that. Regardless of how it stemmed, Mom explained to Carter that getting cranky at Pre-K was not an option, even if you are upset about yogurt, playtime, or the book fair.  So Holly sat Carter down and had him write an apology.


Our contrite child will be delivering the letter tomorrow.  It's okay, buddy. We all have bad days. We just gotta keep our emotions in check.  Keep keeping it real.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Furniture Browsing

On Saturday night, I went out to do the grocery shopping for the upcoming week.  I got the job done early and had some time to kill, so I wandered around a discount store.  I came across this wonderful gem I would like someday.

Future furniture for a future chess nook...
You might wonder why I feel so attracted to this piece of furniture; it is because I want it for a chess table.  My current chess table is a ghetto version of this.  I want a nice chess table that has built in bookcases to hold my chess books like the above model.  Right now, up in the attic where I store my chess stuff and collection of books, I use an old power line spool.  I keep my chessboard on top with the books stacked beneath it.  Someday, I want to upgrade it to the nicer table.

My current chess furniture...notice Bobby Fischer's collection of chess games, sad that it must
suffer the indignity of not having a grand table to support itself and the chess board.

Of course, for this to work out best I would also like nice a nicer chess board and some nicer pieces, but one step at a time.  So while Holly was busy putting the kids to bed Saturday night, yours truly was busy day dreaming about chess furniture. Afterwards, I picked up Subway for the two of us and we watched episodes of Portlandia together.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Date Night, Car Seats, & Stuff

A refreshing date night again with Holly last night.  Nothing was sounding good to us in town, so Holly agreed to drive half an hour to get us subs from Wegmann's.  She was willing to do this, of course, because she ended up taking a friend along as well.  I was pleased with the arrangement because shortly after she left, I put the boys to bed and got to watch two episodes of Dr. Who.  I'm a big fan of the time traveling doctor.  Holly thinks its weird, which is why I take advantage of her not being there to watch them! When Holly came home (with good potato chips and black cherry soda) Dr. Who was almost over.  So we finished it and turned on Portlandia.

Our favorite show for date night...

They finally put new episodes of it on Netflix.  We watched two episodes, chowed down, tinkered on our electronic devices (Holly on facebook, myself playing chess, where my battery died in a line of the Scandinavian defense I excelled in, bah!) then went to bed. Nothing fancy. Oh, and did I mention this?  Last Saturday, Holly was able to fit three car seats into the back of the minivan.  That means we can still leave a seat down and still have a seat for the new baby.  Holly is the car seat master.  It's like a Tetris game and she owns it!

Crusin' three abreast...
I am also pleased to report that I have been consistent with my journal keeping.  I bought a new journal when I went to Utah for my little sister's wedding in July.  I was an avid journal keeper when I was a kid (I started when I was eight) and wrote pretty much consistently through my mission to the Philippines.  Then I kind of petered out. The more kids Holly and I started to have, the less I wrote; I was too busy.  I decided that was not a decent way to do it.  So in Utah I resolved to start writing every day again.  It's been over two months now and I am still on track!

I think it's important.  I have been trying to update the blog more too, as you can see, but the blog is a lot of fun stuff; it's family adventures and cute pics.  My journal is where I can write the meat, "the things of my soul" as Nephi says in the Book of Mormon.  It is interesting to wonder who will read it someday.  I wonder who reads this blog, actually. (The views are there, but low, just close family I suppose.)  I do think that someday in the far future records like these will be preserved and they will have some use, at least to demonstrate how young families in the early 21st century lived. And also, I know that I will be old and decrepit some day, and looking back through this blog and reading my journals will help me know that, hey, you had a good life, you know?

Anyway, enough of that.  Holly is out, Anderson is napping, and the oven just finished pre-heating. I promised Parker and Carter we would bake cookies once all those above parameters were met. Peace!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Getting Ready

Holly went organic food shopping last night.  (I stayed home and watched Dr. Who on Netflix.) She used some of the ingredients she bought to make special oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that are supposed to help with lactation.   She is officially all geared up to start preparing for nursing our fourth little one.   Observe her spread below...

5 more weeks!!!
Meanwhile, the other day Anderson thought he was all big and bad.  He intentionally started "sagging" his pants to show off his cloth diaper.   Here, mom gets a snapshot while Anderson keeps it real on the iPhone.

In other news, Parker is slogging his way through first grade mathematics.  The state has bought into the Federal Government's new Common Core campaign, which means all the old ways of teaching matheatics (such as the way Holly and I were taught) has been thrown out the window. Parker has been spending his time with these boxes and lines called "number bonds."  Observe them below.

"Number Bonds"...the latest thing to hit elementary school mathematics

The sheet on the left is Parker's homework of making number bonds out of the number nine. The sheet on the right is somehow supposed to help with this endeavor, but Holly and I couldn't make heads or tales of how.  Maybe it's just supposed to make kids wish they were reading books instead of doing math.   Parker and I just sorted out buttons into two groups to make nine instead.  Parker understood that.

As for Carter, he's just proud that he got to do two fire drills in Pre-K today!

Carter in 'da Puddles...Circa June 2013
As for me, I recently watched the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's film The Road.   I read the book back in 2008, so I knew what I was expecting, but wow.  It's a film that has made me grateful for a warm bed, food, and my family.  And make me want to bone up on our food storage. Friday tomorrow...the best day of the week!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Apple Picking

We were invited to a friends house to go apple picking over the weekend.  The boys scaled the ladder and plucked apples to place in the bag.  We then took them home.   Parker and Carter helped me peel the apples.  Then mom used the apples to make apple crisp.  At Parker and Carter's request, she then used the juicer to make some apple juice as well.

On Sunday, we came home from church.  (Holly went to her sister's baby's dedication in Rochester)  So, we came home, I put Anderson up for a nap, and we watched the Bills game together.  We had cheese and crackers followed by homemade pizza.  We cooked the sauce with fresh garlic and diced tomatoes, and while Carter was not feeling up to it, Parker and I had fresh sliced mushrooms on our pizza as well.

Tonight, Wednesday, Parker and I came home from school late due to chess club.  We picked up doughnuts from a local store to compensate for our lateness.  We will have them after dinner tonight, which will be stuffed shells.

While I was prepping dinner, Parker said something cute.  He said, "Dad, that HH show is one where they, you know do math problems."  "You mean homework hotline?" I asked.  "Yeah," he said.  "That's it."  I just thought it cute he called it "HH."

And that is my post!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Date and a Movie

Date night again with Holly last night.  I was tempted to order massive subs for us, but I was able to be convinced by Holly to get Chinese take-out instead. We Netflixed a Nicholas Sparks movie entitled Safe Haven.

Ya know, it wasn't that bad.  I mean it wasn't Pitch Perfect, but what is?  It was sweet, fairly predictable, and easy to make jokes about while sitting on the couch with containers of Moo-Goo Gai Pan and Beef with Broccoli.

My astute cinematic observation: "Dude, there is no way they are going out on that canoe trip without the love scene happening.  This is totally gonna be it."  I was right.

Holly's Astute cinematic observation (spoiler alert): "That girl is totally the dead mother."  She was right too.

We rock.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sick Day

I got a call from the nurse at school today.  Poor Parker had a temperature during math and needed to be sent home.  I suppose all those new common core number bonds stressed him out.  I got him home just in time as Holly was about to go out the door.  The sad part was Parker was really all ready for math today; he had sat down right after school and made math flashcards with me yesterday. I guess he will need to save them for Monday.

Parker and his completed math flashcards!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crush the Cup

After dinner last night, I went over to the sink to start on the dishes.  Normally this isn't a problem. The boys are pretty good at dumping their dirty dishes in the sink.  Cups are no exception.  This time, however, we had a problem with a blue Spiderman cup.  It had dropped down into the garbage disposal, which was a perfect fit, then turned on it's side.  I couldn't get it out.  So I had to smash it and take it out piece by piece.

It was kinda sad.  It was a famous little cup in our family. It had been used for tooth-brushing, bedtime drinks, tastes of soda, etc.  Now it is no more.  R.I.P. little chunks of blue plastic.  The Steffen family will miss you.

A friendly reminder

I went and visited a good friend yesterday. She just got out of the hospital. I brought her some yummy ice cream to lift her spirits. She had a little gift for me for my birthday a couple weeks ago.

I think she helped me way more than I helped her. This plaque was just what I needed. It is a great daily reminder.

Thanks, friend. :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

time is flying....

I have started to pack the hospital bag (more like make a list and make random piles throughout the house of stuff I need to actually pack). But, hey, it's a start. I gotta bring the carseat down from the attic, wash it, and figure out where that is going in the van.

The take home outfit should be here tomorrow. It's hard to get 'gender neutral' things when you don't know what you're having. Last time I bought two outfits, this time-- I tried to get as gender neutral as I could.

I know we are keeping it a surprise, which is totally fun.. and in the beginning I really could have sworn this baby was a girl. As time goes on though, I'm starting to think it's a boy. Either way the baby will be so incredibly loved by it's daddy, mommy, and three older brothers.

Some people think we're crazy for having 'such a big family'.... but really, as my pediatrician put it so well: "what else is there?" Everything begins and never ends with family.

I'm not sure if this will be the last baby for the Steffen Family- or not. I think a lot depends on the labor and delivery. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for our family.... and boy or girl this baby is up there getting ready to meet us, just as we are getting ready to meet him or her.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


We had family home evening last night.  Carter picked mac and cheese with peas with Rice Krispee treats for dessert.  (I had Holly put some M&Ms in half the batch- that's how I like my Rice Krispee treats!)  Parker and Carter shared a poster they made for lesson.

Parker and Carter's FHE Lesson...on Anderson!  

It's an acrostic poem of Anderson.  They worked on it before school with dad. We then put Anderson to bed and munched on our treats while watching the end of the men's US tennis open.  The boys then went up to bed. They slept well until 6:30 this morning.  It was then that....

KABOOM!  We had a terrific thunderstorm going on all while we were getting ready for school.  It was thrilling, but it was a little disappointing because with weather like that, it would be fun just to stay home all day.  By the time we left however, the storm had stopped and we went off to school like nothing happened.

This evening I am attending a baptism in our ward.  Afterwards, I will bring home some take-out and Holly and I will be watching President Obama address the nation on why we need to take military action against Syria.  Scary times...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Super Mario Chess

Carter wasn't feeling well today.  He came right home from school and took a nap.

He woke up when I came home.  Now, earlier today before school, Carter wanted to play Super Mario Brothers chess with me.  I said no because we had to get ready for school.  He was disappointed about it.  He really had his heart set on playing.  In fact, his heart was so set on it that when I came home with Parker later, he held me to it.  Even though he still wasn't feeling good and groggy from his nap, he hauled out the chessboard and insisted we play a game.  So we did.

Carter's pawn takes knight, or rather, Koopa shell takes Yoshi
What a champ!  Thanks for playing, Carter!  Mom and I are impressed with your commitment!

Buffalo Bills

This is a picture from October of 2009. What does it have to do with the Buffalo Bills?  Well, I will tell you.
P&C in our 2009 apartment
This photo was taken of Parker and Carter in our last apartment.  This is where we lived before we bought our house.  The Buffalo Bills part is not what is seen in the photo but what is not seen in the apartment directly above.  An honorable, committed Bills fan lived there.  I started officially following the Bills in 2008.  When we moved here and our upstairs neighbor learned I was a fan, he started talking shop talk with me.  Like, serious football shop talk which was way above my head.

Football concepts over my head...
But I faked it.  I gave generic, monosyllabic statements in response to make it sounds like I knew what he was talking about.  He seemed so into his topics that I think I fooled him.  He was a good guy.  Anyway, I bring him up because we watched the opening season Bills game yesterday afternoon and were rabid with hope.  Then we were disappointed.  So I thought of our old neighbor and realized he must have felt at least as glum about it as me.

Best quote of a Bills afternoon...
Parker:  Dad, who do we want to win?
Dad:  The Bills.  The blue guys.
Parker:  Oh.  You mean the ones with the zero?
Dad: (Sighs) Yes, Parker.  The ones with the zero.

Yup, that's my boy...the guy who doesn't sugar coat his football team descriptions.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saturday Night

The missionaries came over Saturday night and we played chess.  Holly cooked a popcorn cake complete with peanuts and M&Ms.  Anderson had been feeling cranky all day, so he went to bed early, but Parker and Carter each got to play a game with the missionaries before I stepped in and showed them all how its done.  Meanwhile, baby number 4 worked hard and growing big and strong.  You can see 33 weeks below!  Keep growing little baby; we're all anxious to meet you!

Holly, humble enough to hide her face but still flaunt her big belly.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pitch Perfect

We watched the movie Pitch Perfect last night for date night.  I had mediocre expectations, but we both found it utterly satirical and hysterical.  We bought calzones, enjoyed Wegman's cream soda, and I had a little Ben and Jerry's (that 50 miler race is coming up next month!)  The best part was by the time I got back with the food, the boys were already asleep and we were utterly undisturbed.

My favorite line:  "John Mayer just called me personally through his assistant."

Holly's favorite line:  "I've been shot!" (After Fat Amy gets slugged by a drive-by burrito.)

The sequel is set to be out in 2015, and oh, we will be there.

More Bonfire

Back to the bonfire... this time with Uncle Jon.   Great  pic,  Holly!

And the Lord said unto Jonathon through the burning bush, behold, your summer vacation has ended..  

Friday, September 6, 2013


Yesterday evening, Holly went out to Moe's to utilize a coupon she had for her birthday.  I stayed home put the kids to bed, read, and study some chess.  And no, that's not sarcasm, I really do study chess. She came home with some treats from Wegman's and we watched Big Brother together.  We must have made too much of a ruckus munching on our sugar cookies and chips because apparently Anderson didn't get enough sleep.  Holly took this picture of him today during an impromptu nap he took.

Holly and I will try to be more quirt next time.  Maybe I can get her to play chess with me instead!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just another post

A picture of the end-of-summer bonfire before it burned.  Yes, I am still hung up on the fact that it's over!

We are blessed as a family to be able to spend so much time together during the summer months.  Holly and I are also lucky enough to have received some good advice once in church.  One day shortly after we were married in our ward, an older couple came to speak about the importance of continuing to date while married.  They told an anecdote about a couple they knew when they were young who "didn't have time" to have a date night each week.  "And do you know what happened to them?" they asked.  "THEY GOT DIVORCED!"

A cool pic o' Holly's

The emphasis is mine because it seemed rather extreme and comical, but Holly and I did take the message to heart and continue to have date nights every Friday.  In fact, we even have a list of what we did for date night every week going back to November 2007!  And this past Friday was no different.  We attended a session at the Palmyra Temple (which utterly rocked by the way) and also went out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory.

It's our favorite restaurant. We tried the new Smore's Cheesecake and it was amazing.  And we just found out that one is coming to a location near us.  For future date nights it will be in our sights.  Day two of school was fine today for the boys. Carter read "The Kissing Hand" and made a craft.  It will go into his treasure box which he will appreciate someday.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Day of School

Parker and Carter went off to school today! Here they are, wishing each other good luck on the first day.

They both came home happy, although Carter was a little unhappy during the going to school part.  He was upset because he wanted to get cracking at the Play-Do station he spied near the classroom door.  He was upset I wouldn't let him go at it.  I told him his teacher would tell him when it was okay to play with the Play-Do.  This news didn't sit too well with him.  Happily, when I came to pick him up a few hours later, he had no recollection of ever being upset.  A great first day!


The Foot Book

During our three day end-of-summer-Labor-Day-bash, we celebrated Anderson's second birthday.  He unwrapped a gift from his Aunt Heather.  It was a board-book version of The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss. This is his FAVORITE book.  He is always dragging it around looking for someone to read it to him.  So of course, at his party, he wasted no time finding willing readers.

Grandma reads The Foot Book

Great-Grandma reads The Foot Book

Enjoy your new book Anders!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day FHE

On Labor Day, we had our good friends the MaCallums over.  They recently moved back to the area from Utah where Ian just finished a BYU law degree.  We ate subs from Oswego Sub Shop, drank soda, ate good chips, and had a combined Family Home Evening where I gave an impromptu lesson on the Liahona in the Book of Mormon.  The kids got out all the toys, played well together, and ate Popsicles that slowly melted in the living room.  Here, we catch up with the kiddos watching a Lego cartoon they are currently into which is entitled Ninjago.  (You can see the remaining light of summer shinning on Parker.)

Labor Day FHE
Hanging out with folks like the MaCallums is always an uplifting experience for me and Holly.  It reminds us that we are not the only crazy, young, Mormon family out there.  We learn that a lot of our trials are the same, a lot of our joys are the same, and that we aren't alone on this journey of parenthood.  A pleasant evening indeed.

Bonfire! Summer is Over.

Labor Day is officially over, and I am now going back to start another school year.  And while the technical calendar terms may disagree, summer is officially dead.  Fall now begins.  To celebrate this mournful passing, I started a tradition last year of building an End-Summer-Bonfire.  Here is this year, built and lit this past Saturday night.

After the fire tamed to a dull roar, we feasted on campfire food.  Parker and Carter also got a kick of using the star finder ap on Mom's new cell phone. I then slept in the tent with Carter (it had been Parker's turn the previous night) and we played a game of chess together and then fell asleep with the rain-fly off looking up at the stars again.  It was fantastic.  Oh June 2014, I have my eye on you!

The Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 6217  Image Courtesy of the Hubble Telescope, unfortunately, not Dad's and Carter's camping tent this time around. 

Impressively, this galaxy is over 67 million let years away.  It's located in Ursa Minor, so if Carter and I did have a powerful enough telescope, we might have been able to see it from our tent.  But it would probably would have been tricky to find it anyway, and we probably would have just played more chess instead.