Fathers and Sons

Our ward had its annual Fathers and Sons camp out last weekend.

Every time I go camping with the scouts, Drew wants to come along. “This one probably isn’t good for little dudes, buddy,” is my typical response.

So Drew was super excited to get to come along this time. Starting about two weeks before the outing, Drew would ask me each night as I put him down to bed, “We’re going camping tomorrow, right Daddy?”

We went up to a group site near Soldier Hollow golf course in Midway. Not exactly roughing it, but far enough away that we didn’t get a great turnout.

The sparse attendance didn’t stop us from having a great time though. We cooked chili dogs for dinner and Jacob and Drew played with their buddies until way too late. In the middle of the night, Drew sat up and yelled loudly for no apparent reason, waking Jacob and me. Then he yelled, “I’m coming!” and laid right back down and slept. Jacob and I chuckled, and went back to bed ourselves. We had a good breakfast in the morning, packed up, and went home. A successful outing.

RSL Excite, Jazz Disappoint

Utah isn’t the best place for pro sports, but over the last two weekends we had some great opportunities to cheer on our local teams.

On April 28, Megan and I got invited to go to a Real Salt Lake soccer match. Megan has been playing soccer for several years and was excited to go on a daddy daughter date to see how the pros play the game. We had a great time even though it was a little chilly. Of course, it helped that we had sweet tickets: midfield, about 7 rows up, with free concessions and a parking pass! (Thanks, Jason!)

The match was very exciting. RSL was in stoppage time when they scored the winning goal. We went crazy! It’s always better when the home team wins.

The next weekend (May 5), Jacob was offered Jazz tickets by his uncle (thanks Matt T!). It’s not everyday that you get a chance to go see the NBA Playoffs, so Jacob and I jumped at the chance. We knew the Jazz were over-matched by the Spurs. The Jazz had barely eeked into the playoffs as an 8 seed, lost the previous game by 30, were down 2-0 in the series, but were coming home to play in Energy Solutions Arena. Surely, this would be the game for the Jazz to steal a victory.

We rode Trax up (where do all those weirdos come from, anyway?), ate in the new City Creek Center, and then walked to the game excited to experience one of the best home courts in the NBA during the Playoffs against a hated rival.

It was not to be. From the opening tip, the Spurs controlled the game. The Jazz made a few runs, but Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and the Spurs were way too good and ended up winning comfortably. We had fun, cheered loudly and booed even louder, popped tons of balloons, and even got a seat on Trax on the way home. Another great sports fan weekend.

Sports Galore

We are always involved in some type of sport around our house so I never think to post about it. Basketball season ended last month. Jake played on a team that played in several leagues so it went from October to February. We were happy to see it finally come to an end. Jake started the season off strong and hit three-pointers like nobody’s business. It was really fun to watch him and his confidence grow. By the end of the season he was shooting less, but his defensive skills increased a ton.

Megan and Katelyn played on a the same city league team. It was actually a 3/4th grade team, but since Seth was the coach we figured we could sneak Katelyn on as a 2nd grader. And the funny thing is, she fit in just fine. She kept up with most the girls on the team, no problem. Megan led the team in scoring and nobody could outrun her on the court. This year was Katelyn’s first year of basketball and she picked up on it right away. She dominated on defensive. Seth actually had to tell her to quit taking the ball from the girls she was defending so they could have a chance to play. She also scored several baskets and most of all, had a lot of fun.

Megan listening intently as her dad coaches the team.

Caribbean Cruise (Part 2)

Monday, February 13

After a rough night at sea, Monday’s weather forecast promised improvement. A little cooler than usual thanks to the cold front from the day before that had caused the winds, but in the Caribbean that means its 75° instead of 81°.

We got up early and packed for a beach day at Princess Cays, a private playground on the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas. With no dock, we had to be shuttled on smaller boats to the island. Once there, we carved out a spot, grabbed some beach chairs and enjoyed the sun for a while.


Manina and I left most our beach stuff back on the ship, but Greg and Emily brought along snorkeling gear. So, everyone took turns going out into the water swimming with the fish. I waited until after lunch, where I overheard someone saying to take out some food to feed the fish. So, I grabbed an extra banana and saved it in my pocket.

After lunch I went geocaching with Manina, Ben, and Greg. We walked off the Princess property about a half mile away in search of a cache (GC2NV7E). We were off the beaten path for sure, but as we got close to the cache, we noticed a guy putting something into a tree. He was a fellow geocacher and ended up spoiling the hide, but it wouldn’t have been too hard to find anyway. We signed the log, enjoyed the view, took a few pictures, and then headed back to our spot on the beach.



When we returned, I found it was my time to check out the snorkeling gear out with Greg. We quickly found out the fish loved the banana. I was swarmed by hundreds of fish every time I would smash the banana into little pieces in my hands. I easily could have caught several by hand. It was pretty fun.

When we swam back to our little cay, the girls were out floating in these cheap blow-up pools that we had purchased in Ft. Lauderdale for $5. I think it cost double that to rent them from Princess Cays for an hour, so definitely a good investment. We all spent an hour or so just floating, hanging out in the ocean, chatting about everything, and watching drunk people stumble over themselves on the beach.

We were having a great time on the beach, so we procrastinated our trip back to the boat as long as possible.


Like I said in our earlier post, dinner was a great time as usual, and Emily Francis planned for us all to go dancing later that night. Manina and I aren’t a dancing couple, but we went along and hung out for the evening.

Tuesday, February 14

Valentines Day was spent at sea as we cruised from Princess Cays to our next stop, St. Martin.

Manina and I got up early and went to Deck 15 Forward, the gym. They were just getting ready to start a yoga class when we got there, so we joined. The ship was still moving quite a bit, making some of the balance poses impossible, but it was still a good little workout.

While the rest of our group was doing zumba (dance/aerobics) and then a line-dancing/flash mob class, I thought it would be much more fun to play in the doubles table tennis tourney. We walked up right as they were getting started, and they needed just one more player so Manina was more than happy to step aside and let me play. The ping-pong table was in a strange corner of the ship, outside, and the winds just swirled. It made for some extremely crazy ping-pong shots that even the Taiwan national team hasn’t ever seen. My partner and I lost two straight matches, and it was over. It was pretty fun though (much better than zumba, for sure).

We didn’t have a whole lot else to do, so Manina and I found a couple lounge chairs and read while laying in the sun for much of the afternoon.

That night was a designated formal evening, so we had to get dressed up. Manina looked stunningly beautiful as we went to dinner. We ate, laughed way too much (again), and took several photos. Event planner Emily once again had plans for the evening, so we joined her for the Newlywed Game.

Valentines Day Dinner


Tony and Emily were picked to play in the Newlywed game and now we know way too much about our next-door neighbors. We laughed and laughed, but were also quite flummoxed by some of the things we heard. I had to leave early to go reserve seats for some theater show, but later found out that they won the game.

Reserving the seats to the theater show was a bad idea. The show was beyond awful. So bad, in fact, that I won’t bother even discussing  it other than by saying this: I would have to be at sea for much more than a week to find myself enjoying cruise ship entertainment.

We played cards until late, but had a big day in St. Martin coming up.

Caribbean Cruise (Part 1)

I don’t really like reading or even hearing about other people’s travels — it just makes me jealous. When a post like this one comes up on someone else’s blog, I don’t even bother reading it. So, I can’t really be upset if you don’t read this one. However, I feel like I have to make a record so I can remember what a wonderful time we had.

First, let me explain that Manina and I hadn’t been on a real vacation for about 7 years. In 2005, we went to St. Lucia for a week for a wedding, but since then, we haven’t been able to get away for longer than a quick weekend. Sure, we’ve done cool things as a family, but just Manina and me? Nope. Not with six young kids.

So, when the stars aligned and Grandma volunteered to babysit (what a trooper!), we took the plunge and bought the tickets. We were going on a Caribbean cruise. Several other couples joined us: my Uncle Greg and Aunt Emily (who live in our neighborhood), our next door neighbors Tony and Emily, and neighborhood friends Ben and Marianne. It turned out to be a good mix.

We left early on Saturday, February 11 with Greg and Emily. We basically spent the day in airports and airplanes, from SLC to Houston, then Houston to Fort Lauderdale. We took pictures for the kids in most locations, hoping they’d sync up via the iCloud PhotoStream service. Unfortunately it required WiFi access, so our kids were mildly disappointed (the photos weren’t that great anyway).

Sunday, February 12

We couldn’t get on the boat until noon, so we looked for a church meeting to attend in the morning. The only nearby ward that met at 9am was a Spanish-speaking ward. We got a cab, got to the meetinghouse and sat through a meeting of which we didn’t understand a single word.

The best part was getting a ride home from Milson (not Milton, not Wilson, but Milson) and having him tell us about some miracles he’s seen in his life as a church member. In broken English, he told us about his construction cleaning company had been in a lot of trouble, but after some prayers and struggles found a niche that allowed him to thrive. He was obviously grateful for these blessings from heaven, and you could really feel his faith. A very cool guy.

We got on the ship at about 2pm, went straight up to the buffet, and then immediately got put through a safety drill. After that, it was up onto the top deck for the going away party. It was cool to see the giant ship navigate out of port and into the Atlantic Ocean. A cold front came in on Sunday morning, so the weather was cold (for Florida anyway) and windy. This made for a very interesting first few hours. We tried to play a round of mini-golf, but the ship was rocking way too much. Manina felt nervous and off (but not sick) from all the movement.

We met all of our friends for dinner that night after unpacking our stuff. Dinners turned out to be a great tradition. Our waiter Saravan from India took very good care of us, and we usually sat at the table and laughed for about 2 hours each night, ordering multiples of whatever the highlight was from the night (usually desserts).

After dinner we went to a quick show in the theater, followed by karaoke. Marianne signed all four girls to go up and sing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” but not all the girls were having fun. Manina wasn’t happy at all to be volunteered. I wisely stayed far away from any involvement. So when their names were called, Manina reluctantly went up and sang with Aunt Emily. Let’s just say it wasn’t the highlight of the trip.

The best was yet to come.