Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

Sorry for the extreme delay on posting. I have been a bit preoccupied!

I am finally getting around to updating everyone on the Thanksgiving week festivities.

Tuesday Cami and Matt called asking what our holiday plans were since their plans had completely fallen through. All of their friends ending up getting cheap, last minute plane tickets home. So calls and arrangements were made for them to come with Jill and me to Philly.

Wednesday I left work early and headed to Baltimore. Matt and Cami left Richmond at 2:00PM and also headed to Baltimore. I arrived after 2 1/2 hours of fun-filled holiday traffic. Jill and I went to the store (3 times) and made two pecan pies from two different recipes. Matt and Cami arrived after 6 1/2 hours of traffic! I'm glad we broke up the trip into two segments. We all chilled in front of the TV and ate pizza while we tried to convince ourselves that tomorrow's traffic would not be as bad.

Thanksgiving this year was spent in Royersford, PA (outside of Philadelphia) at Jill's parent's house. We took the back country roads in order to avoid I95 and hopefully the traffic. It worked perfectly. No traffic and a beautiful drive. Several times I wanted to stop and take pictures but the camera was buried in the back seat. After 3 missed opportunities I finally had to stop and take a picture of this very patriotic thing. I'm not sure what to even say about it. Unfortunately I did not get any other camera moments for the rest of the drive. Oh well.

Jill's sister Linda cooked the entire meal for everyone. She included some traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipes such as Potato Stuffing and Shoe Fly Pie.

She did an great job and would not let most of us help her out (Toby, her husband, was not let off the hook so easily!) We waited out our time before the feast by playing a lot Ping Pong and keeping the kids entertained. Ryan, Jake and Cade kept us all busy.

Ryan got into the holiday spirit by creating a headband complete with colored feathers. The other boys were not as interested in getting dressed up for the occasion.

Nate and Sara also came up from Baltimore which brought the total number of hungry mouths to 16. The food was fabulous and company wasn't too bad either!

Later, birthday's were celebrated, lot's of lounging was enjoyed, and desert was consumed.

The largest disappointment this year were my horrible pecan pies. I tried to sell them as Pecan Toffee Pies but that didn't work either. I tried two new recipes one with molasses that I thought was going to be a hit. Making pecan pies is easy. Cooking them correctly is a pure art form. My artwork sucked this year.

At the appointed cooking time the centers were extremely runny. After 15-20 more minutes the centers were still tacky but I pulled them out anyway. As they cooled, the pies got harder and denser by the second. We transported the pies stacked one on top of the other! Not a good sign! The flavor was actually very good but he portion that was actually editable had to be scraped out of the center of each piece. The last time I made pecan pies I had to over cook them too but they turned out really good. I will have to try these recipes again. I can't let them smear my good name this way.

Thanks to whole Kneeland Clan for your hospitality. It was a great celebration and honestly the best Thanksgiving Day of the last 10 years for me.

Here are the rest of the pictures.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Some Details

We have had lots of requests for all the details. I can fill you in on a bit of the proposal details but as far as future plan details, well, they are in extreme rough form or non-existent at this point.

I really only had two things that I knew I needed to include in the proposal. I knew that Maya needed to have a part in it and I knew that I wanted to do the actual asking at Fells Point in Baltimore. This was where we went on our first date (with Maya) and I thought it would be nice to return to the "scene of the crime".

I had several ideas and many variations on those ideas of how to get her to Fells Point . The one that lasted the longest was a scavenger hunt around Baltimore to places we had been on dates. Each place would have a rose and a clue of the next location. The clues would be written in the form of "Would you rather..." questions since Jill is quite fond of making these types of questions up herself. The major problem I had with this whole scenario was that none of the locations were easy to get in and out of (park, find the rose, leave) especially if Jill was alone.

I had narrowed it down to three locations, created the 'Would you rather..." clues, and created the blog post of the whole adventure. Then I fretted over it for several weeks trying to figure out how to really make it work.

I accomplished the task of getting Maya involved during my last trip to Utah at the beginning of November. I created four small signs that Maya colored and then took pictures of her holding them as you can see here. She had a lot fun coloring and holding the pictures. As you can see in the pictures, it was windy and pretty cold. She was done after a few shots.

So when I got back to Virginia I decided that it needed to happen sooner rather than later. I had had the ring in my possession for almost a month and it was getting harder and harder to keep it from her.

More changes were made to the plan right up through leaving work early on Friday. I left early in hopes of beating the traffic which is a completely futile exercise in DC. I still want to believe that if I'm the beltway before 3PM there will be less traffic!. And maybe it really is less, but bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic sucks no matter how many cars you can count being effected by it. After an hour on the road Jill called I was just getting to the Temple. (For reference, if it is after 10PM, I can usually make the trip in just over an hour) Then it was another hour as I got stuck in traffic because of an accident (not blocking any lanes, just rubber-neckers) on I95 and the plans changed again. Jill left work early also and was able to go home take a quick nap before I got there.

We talked about what a great evening it was and I suggested that we head down to Fells Point to take pictures of the sunset then find something to eat. I sent her one of the text messages that I had created for the scavenger hunt (the only to be sent) which read:

Would you rather...Eat frozen desert before dinner?
Feed the pigeons in Fells Point?

This was a reference to our first date where we ate Maggie Moos ice cream before we walked over to Little Italy for dinner.

When I got to her place it took a little bit more encouragement to get her off of the comfy couch and drive to Fells Point. The sun was setting fast and we were going to miss most of it but I brought up the fact the colors are amazing for up to 30 minutes after the sun has set below the horizon. On the way I got another call from a company looking for a very short training consultant position (only two days). We walked out on the pier and I took a few pictures of the sunset then we just stood and talked a bit as we watched the Inner Harbor and Baltimore get darker and darker. It was a bit cold a windy and at one point Jill started to turn and go, but I held my ground.

I don't remember exactly how the dialog went but here is the basic idea:
I said that it was a wonderful evening and wouldn't it be a great night to get engaged. She said, "Don't Tease Me!" and I said, "Maybe I'm not!". I turned her around and showed her the ring that I had in my fingers. She looked at it, looked at me then said, "Are you Serious?" I said, "Yeah, will you?" "YES!", "Are you Serious?" "Will you put it on my finger?" I think she asked if this was real or if I was serious at least 3 or 4 more times (there were a few more Yes's too). She started shaking (but that might have been the cold breeze). Then I tried to send her the multimedia message I had created from my phone to hers but it did not work so I showed it to her on my phone. It was the pictures of Maya with music (Life Less Ordinary by Carbon Leaf). She started to get a bit teary eyed then wanted to see it again. I showed her the wedding band that I had picked out to go with it. She of course had to try it on to see what it looked like. And of course, it looks awesome!

After a few minutes of letting it sink in she called her folks and told them the news. Donna and Bruce were excited. They said that it should happened a couple of months ago and that I should have formally asked for her hand like the other two son-in-laws did! So now I have to bring cranberry sauce along with the pecan pies! Donna also reminded me to take back the wedding band!

We had wait a while to call my family because it was only about 5:30PM (3:30PM in SLC) and everyone was still at work.

It was getting colder so we headed for home, but not before stopping at Maggie Moos to get a hot fudge brownie sundae to go. We spent the next few hours calling friends and family and sharing the news. I posted the two blog entries to announce the engagement. Then we got hungry and headed to Chili's for a late evening, high-class, romantic dinner (seriously though, comfort food Rocks!).

Saturday we spent the day doing errands, chatting with Nate and Sara for a while, birthday gift shopping and getting ideas for Christmas presents.

Sunday, Jill enjoyed the attention at church as she showed off the ring and re-told the story.

The weekend was pretty surreal. I kept catching her (and me) looking at the ring on her finger. It looks SO much better on her finger than it did in the box! She says I did a pretty good job of finding a ring that is very unique, in the style she likes (antique) but style has quite a bit of modern appeal. I also did a pretty good job of surprising her. We had talked in generalities and possibilities but she didn't know that I had the ring. That was not easy! Thanks to everyone who knew (and especially those who had seen the ring) for helping me with the charade.

Well, that is a lot details. And pretty much all we know at this point. We have several wild cards that make planning a bit of a challenge. We are actively looking for jobs in SLC in order to be closer to Maya. Timing will be interesting. So far the only thing that we are leaning towards is springtime and either the DC or SLC temple. Or maybe we will just elope to Hawaii or New Zealand!

Anyway, that's it.

Further details will be revealed later.

Here are a few more pictures.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Maya has a question!

Life Less Ordinary

Jill, would you rather...

Live a life less ordinary?
Live a life extraordinary with me?

Life Less Ordinary
Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me
Live a life less sedentary
Live a life evolutionary with me

Well I hate to be a bother,
But it's you and there's no other, I do believe
You can call me naive but...
I know me very well (at least as far as I can tell)
And I know what I need

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the
bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me
By the way, I do know why you [can't stay] away...
I [can't] keep tongue-tied [this] time

Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me
My face had said too much
Before our hands could even touch
To greet a 'hello'
(So much for going slow...)

A little later on that year
I told you that I loved you dear
What do you know?
This you [were] prepared to hear
I'm a [happy] man, I'm a [love sick] boy
I'm a toddler with a complex toy
I've fallen apart, since the ambush of your heart

The night you came into my life
Well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me.
By the way, I do know why you [can't stay] away
I [can't] keep tongue-tied but...

Honey understand, honey understand
I won't make demands
Honey understand, honey understand
We could walk without a plan.
Honey understand (honey), honey understand
I won't rest in stone all alone
Honey understand, honey understand
I'm all ready to go
But you already know...

Live a life less ordinary
Live a life extraordinary with me.
If I could name you in this song
Would it make you smile and sing along?
This is the goal: to get into your soul
If I could make you dance for joy
Could that be the second-chance decoy?
The bird-in-hand I would need
To help you understand?

The night you came into my life
well it took the bones of me, took the bones of me
You blew away my storm and strife
And shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me
By the way, I do know why you [can't stay] away
I [can't] keep tongue-tied [this] time

-Carbon Leaf [with a few edits]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Aquarium Update

I know you have all been anxiously awaiting to know how the big tank in Utah is doing.

Mom has been doing a great job of making sure the fish are fed and the evaporated water is replaced.

The corals for the most part are doing well but the anemone has not been looking too good lately. It has been shrunk down very small and not extending its tentacles very much.

While I was there, it actually looked better towards the end of the week and was moving around a bit. Hopefully it is making a full recovery from whatever it was ailing from.

Maya helped me pick out some new tanks mates. Five Green Chromis and two High-Fin (Bangaii) Cardinals. They should add a lot of activity to the tank.

The Chromis are schooling fish and like to swim around in the open water most of the time. They find security in numbers instead of hiding in the rocks like other fish in the tank.

The Cardinals are slow, deliberate swimmers that also do not hide very much. I just like the way that they appear to move around slowly without any effort or fin movement.

By the end of the week one of the Chromis' did not make it. Everyone else is looking strong so hopefully we won't loose anymore.

So here is a current list of the inhabitants of the 55 gallon aquarium:

Soft Corals
  • Zoanthid Polyps - 4 varieties
  • Green Star Polyps - 2 varieties
  • Long Bar Xenia
  • Florida Ricordia Mushrooms - 4 varieties
  • Yuma Ricordia Mushrooms
  • Gorgonian
Large Polyp Stony Corals
  • Frog Spawn - 4
  • Trumpet
  • Yellow Tang
  • Purple Psuedo-Chromis
  • Green Chromis (4)
  • Pajama Cardinal
  • Bangaii Cardinal (2)
  • Percula Clown (2)
  • White Banded Watchman Goby
  • Squamosa Clam
  • Crocea Clam
  • Purple Tip Anemone
  • Tiger Pistol Shrimp
  • Cleaner Shrimp
  • Camel-Back Shrimp
  • Sexy Shrimp
Cleaner Crew
  • Turban Snails
  • Mexican Turbo Snails
  • Cerith Snails
  • Nassarius Snails
  • Margarita Snails
  • Blue-legged Hermit Crabs
  • Red-legged Hermit Crabs
  • Emerald (Mithrax) Crabs
  • Small Brittle Stars
  • Conch
  • Bristle (Fire) Worms

Here are the rest of pictures. I still have not figured out how to get good pictures of the tank. The Clown fish and the Yellow Tang are especially hard to capture because they move around so quickly.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Birthday Inferno

On Sunday, we helped celebrate Nate, Nate and Suzy's birthdays.

Mike and Brittany hosted a great dinner.

Sara created a gluten-free birthday cake which was set ablaze.

Over ninety candles were ignited in a impressive display of flame and molten rivers of wax.

Sara brought enough icing to scrape off the wax coated top layer and re-apply the sugary goodness.

We then went to another birthday celebration for Sam where we enjoyed brownie sundaes with all the toppings.

So much for any resemblance of a diet that I may have been attempting to live by.

Here are the rest of the pictures.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Maya is learning stuff so fast. She is writing words 'the school way' now which she informed me was with both capital and lowercase letters. She can sound out words and does a pretty good job of figuring out the right letters. She is very creative with her spacing on the paper though. Words don't really need to have all their letters next to each other right? Or even on the same page?

Her counting is getting better. She can count to 100 (with some encouragement) and is working on counting by 5's and 10's. Actually getting all the way to 100 is a challenge in itself since she gets bored or distracted by about 40.

Her homework this week consisted of lots of projects to help with math. They were mostly using repeating patterns. She really enjoyed it.

On Friday she brought home a large bag filled with more homework projects that were all related to the letter M. She reallyh as a lot of fun doing the activities then writing about them in her homework journal.

Hopefully her enthusiasm continues to grow for school.

I just wish I was not missing so much of it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Field Trip

On Tuesday I was able to go on a field trip with Maya's classmates from the JCC.

We went to the Pioneer Memorial Theatre on the campus of the University of Utah for a behind the scenes tour.

It was very interesting and the kids had lots of great questions (several were asked repeatedly since they apparently were not listening to the answers).

They were able to see the sets on stage and how they make and paint all of the scenery.

They got to see how Peter Pan flies and why he is almost always cast with a actress.

They saw the room where the actors and actresses rehearse.

They saw the green room and the dressing rooms.

They saw where all of the costumes are made and then were able to walk through the storage area where a lot the costumes are stored. Some of them even got to try on some of the hats.

They saw how wigs, beards and mustaches are created.

The tour ended with a demonstration of theatre special effects.

The kids had mixed reactions as the head of Macbeth was revealed.

The two hour tour was actually almost three hours and the kids were getting pretty tired.

I think they all really enjoyed it though.

Here are the rest of the pictures.