Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Hard to believe that Steve's birthday has already come and gone, but wow, it was a fabulous adventure. This is mostly due to some serious creativity and covert contributions from dear friends and family members from around the globe.

In a perfect world, the surprises I planned for February 12, 2011 would have been executed with precision and without flaws.

Totally didn't happen that way...


I am married to the MOST CURIOUS person I have ever met, and it takes every ounce of trickery, subtlety, and flat out deception (lies, people, big ones!) to pull anything off, especially on a Saturday when he's not in class half the day like he is during the week. And I might have made a serious mistake at a pivotal moment...

Read on.

Plan A consisted of Steve and I going out to dinner at the Olive Garden around 6:30pm, then returning home around 7:45pm to enjoy a quiet, peaceful evening. Thanks to the lovely but completely absurd "call ahead seating" policy at Olive Garden, we were looking at an 80-minute wait even after calling ahead. Plan B? Find a yummy Thai restaurant somewhere nearby. After driving around for 15 minutes, we opted for Plan C (much better than Plan B anyway) - dinner at Noodles & Co.

Now, unbeknownst to Steve, Joe and Jacob were supposed to arrive at our townhouse just after we left for dinner to spruce up the place for the surprise party I had planned with friends from church, school, and the neighborhood. Here's where my tiny oversight could have been a huge disaster...

After delivering balloons to Joe and Jacob earlier that afternoon (Steve thought I was immersed in a Cricut machine demonstration at a local Michael's craft store. Ha! Right.) and promising them that I would leave the front door unlocked for them to get in without breaking and entering, I FAILED!


First of all, my blood sugar was 48 at the time we were leaving for dinner. All normal functioning power was shot - I was in survival mode, which means I basically find sugar and try to recover. Awesome. In my attempt to get out of the house for dinner and make sure that the door was unlocked, I only unlocked the dead bolt. DANG IT! I didn't realize that Steve had locked both locks, and when I turned the handle to check the second lock, it seemed fine (again, I was probably experiencing a no-sugar-induced-hallucination).

So, while we were putting Plan C into action, I notice that a text from Joe pops up on my cell phone.

It reads:
"The door is locked. What now? Is there a spare key somewhere?"

Of course not.

Insert Plan D on the fly - making up more lies in my head and keeping my cool so as not to blow the whole thing. Fifteen minutes pass, all of which are spent figuring out the next step, while trying to be my usual witty conversationalist self with Steve. I figure out the solution for Plan D, but Joe was also quick on his feet, and now we come to Plan E. His next text informs me that everyone is camping out at our neighbor's house and we should show up there for the surprise, and then head over to our place afterward.

I acted surprised all of the sudden and pretended that a text came from Jenni (neighbor who saved the night) inviting us over for pie. Was I lying? Sort of...? Did Steve buy it?

You bet he did.

We drove home, got inside our townhouse, walked out the front door (curse that door!), and then knocked on Ross and Jenni's door. We walked back into the kitchen, and SURPRISE!
Everyone was waiting there, totally going along with the crazy turn of events, and kicked off the party with a bang.


Everyone then headed to our place where we enjoyed a fabulous party.

The goodies - drinks, choc/caramel brownies, chips and salsa, veggies & dip, lemon roll cake thing, and the following:

Steve thought I was making this for my students for Valentine's day.
Ha! Guess again.
[If you want the recipe, just ask. It's super easy, and totally scrumptious.]

The gang.

More gang.

No surprise party is complete without a few rounds of Telephone Charades.

After all the guests had gone home, Steve had a chance to read all the surprise notes we posted all over the townhouse.

And here's where many of you come in!

I asked a bunch of family members and friends to describe Steve in one word, and to share a story or memory that describes why they chose that particular word.

I was shooting for 28 of these "facets" of Steve in honor of his 28th birthday, but ended up with 30. Cool!
[does that mean this counts for the next two birthdays as well? =) ]

Steve definitely felt the love.
We both want to say thanks to everyone who helped make this a fantastic birthday. I put everything together in a slideshow that I showed him at the end of the night, but it would take too long to upload on the blog, so I've posted the pictures on here in the order they appear in the slideshow instead. I've only included a few of the word descriptions to save time and space, but they were all perfect. It was fun for both of us to see Steve through 30 pairs of eyes.


One of the many words that describe Steven is "SPECIAL". From the first day I met him he was SPECIAL and quite unique for a young man. He was always smiling, loving, caring, a listener, and interested in what I had to say. We kind of adopted each other almost from the first minute we met. I said that I would have loved to have had him as my grandson and he said that he would adopt me as his Scottish grandma, how unique and unusual is that in a young man. It was obvious that he came from a loving family and his love for his wife Kristen shone brightly from his eyes. He never missed greeting me each time I saw him with a hug to show that he cared, again quite unusual, but that was Steven. He loved Scotland - cold as it was, especially Edinburgh. He loved the people, our culture and all it had to offer in the four seasons he was here. He was never critical of anything. He was very popular with the young people in our ward and mixed well. I loved him when he was here and love him still and have the very best of memories of him and his lovely wife - our Kristen. Boy did they love each other, it was very obvious in their actions to each other.

-Rita McGuire

Banana (or mango, apple, orange, etc.) - One day, there were a few of us sitting around before class and Steven told us about this game where you "glue" your upper lip to your teeth and try to say the names of fruits. Each fruit represents a person so you pass the game along ("banana to mango"). Needless to say, I spent the next 10 minutes of class time silently trying to do this with as many fruits as I could think of and in the process, made a fool of myself I'm sure in front of classmates and our professor.

- Tal Sack

After hours and hours of contemplation, a little fasting, sleep and daydreaming the only logical single word description i think even comes remotely close to describing steve is:


I know, I first blush it sounds a little too calm to describe Steve accurately. but the reason I chose this word is because steve is the Man!!! He's got it all! He's got the looks, he's got the voice, the charm, the biceps, the poise and even the lady! He's the type of guy that doesn't openly advertise his awesomeness, but those that take the time to get to know him become better from having known him. He's an example of how men should be. He's a loyal friend, and he makes those around him feel special. Plus, he's a crazy party animal, and he can make you laugh like nobody's business. and those are a few of the millions of reasons I chose the word Steve-o-licious. I love ya bro!

- Jared Perkins


If I had to choose only *one* word to describe Steve, I would choose “open”.

Steve is open to new ideas. He listens, he reads (a lot!!), and he thinks. I’ve seen him reconsider his opinion after receiving additional information on a topic, which I think is a wonderful ability. It gives him power to constantly reevaluate himself, and strive for being the best he can be.

Steve is open to new experiences (I would even say he seeks them out!). As attested by your constant world-traveling, Steve is excited to be in new places (or places that were once new, and have become cherished) and to experience the differences in culture and perspective there. I believe he enjoys being shaped by these experiences, and comes away a better person afterward. Even if the experience doesn’t appear to be all that awesome (like hiking 10 minutes up Penny Hill for a minute-and-a-half ride down) he is still open to trying it.

Steve is open to people. He shares his sense of humor, his experiences, his time. As I write this, I try to imagine Steve in a “clique” . . . and I can’t force those ideas together. I feel that Steve is all about including people, and drawing them in to what is happening. While you two were dating, it took almost no time at all for Steve to win my love and trust.

It’s very hard to choose only one word to describe Steve (as there are a lot of good words to choose from). But since the assignment said only one, I have to go with “open”.

- Cullen Irvine


Okay Steve in one word..SOURISH ;-)

This with a story that goes something like this...

A funny memory I have of my cousin is from when he visited us in Sweden. After a day full of experiences we finally sat down on the couch at my house. We turned on the computer and Steve phoned Kristen via skype for a while. In front of Steve, I put down a big bowl of mixed candy. At that time we were very tired and it was quite late, I could tell you.

After a while Kristen and I talked, but at the same time I can see in the corner of my eyes that Steve has started to eat the candy. He eats with a smile, but right as he is, I see how his face changes. Steve starts to make weird faces! I can´t stop laughing at him because I start to realize what kind of candy he has put into his mouth. It is a small pink candy that is super-sour! the beginning ;-)

After a while Steve starts to think that the candy is okay but before he can say this, he loses his face again! The sour candy alters the taste to sweet after a while, but inside this little pink candy awaits another surprise: a super-salty surprise! Steve is not prepared for this and doesn't like it at all!!! He does not know whether he'll spit it out. or what to do! On the other couch I sit and I have such a stomach ache from laughing!

This is a happy memory and every time I'm in the supermarket and see those little pink candies, I think of you, Steve! Happy Birthday, I Love u cuz!

- Filippa Fröling


The word I would use to describe Steve is "Unpredictable". From high school through college he surprised me in many of the decisions that he made. These ranged from going off to Taiwan to teach English, to the intensity in which he plays games (especially Nertz). One specific time that I remember was when Steve and I went on a double date out to Jordan Commons. On the ride out there he told a story about how when he was a kid he would get sent to his room. In his room he had some rope and he concocted an idea that if part of the rope was in the room and he was touching the rope, he was still in the room. So he went around the house holding the rope in which the other end of the rope was in his room. Everyone in the car burst out laughing.

- Kyle Turner

We wanted to share some of the Telephone Charade madness with all of you in the following videos. There were some Oscar-worthy performances for sure. First up, you'll see Joseph Castleton reenacting the warehouse scene from Footloose. Next, you'll watch Tricia McKean acting out Mubarak's demise. And the grand finale, we have Jacob Smith capturing the essence of Luke Skywalker. Enjoy.