Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jeannie's Birthday...

Here is Jeannie's birthday blog.  It took me a long time to post it because it took me a long time to edit the video.  Here's the video of the race:

Here's the full description of the birthday event:

Before we left to go on our first ship, Jeannie planned an extraordinary birthday gift.  She bought me a birthday race at Arlington Horse Park.  Here's the video for that day.

This was the first year in 5 years that we've been in Chicago for Jeannie's birthday so I wanted to do something special for her.

I told her that we were going to do something special for her birthday, but I didn't tell her what it was.  To keep it a secret, I put out decoys.  I left an application for a bowling party on my desk.  I filled it out and left it for her to find.  It wasn't out in the open, but it was in a place that she would run across it.  She did and totally thought the surprise was a bowling party.  Later, she said, "I keep seeing that application and I kept thinking, 'Jeff, put it away!  I don't want you to figure out that I saw it and wanted you to be able to keep it a secret."

That wasn't the only surprise.  Jeannie's parents flew in for the party.  Which was very fun and surprising.

Jeannie and Senja went for breakfast and then she met up with us at the totem pole across the street from our apartment.  She was surprised to see my brother and sister and both of our parents along with so many of our friend.  Then she discovered that it was an Amazing Race party.

Amazing Race is one of our favorite shows on TV and we would love, love, love to compete on the show.  So, I worked for 3 weeks to design a race for her for her birthday.

I divided everyone up into teams of four and set them off.  They had badges and clues and detours and roadblocks and envelopes and everything.

For the most part, all of our friends are pretty competitive and they jumped into it whole heartedly.  We had one friend who was a wet blanket who complained during the whole day and almost ruined it, but I told myself to ignore it and do my best to not let one selfish, whiny, jerk ruin Jeannie's fun day.

Here's the clues and what they had to do:

In the end, even though Team Purple and Team Red had crossed the finish line first, Team Gold and Team Green used their wits to finish first and second, respectively. Team Gold bought 22 McNugget packets and cut 110 minutes off their time.  Team Green bought 11 containers of pizza toppings and cut  55 minutes off their time.  That dropped Team Purple, who had finished 40 minutes ahead of the other two teams to 3rd place and Team Red finished in 4th.  Team Blue finished in last place.

The whole race lasted almost 3 hours long.  The only sad thing was that Becca and Guillermo weren't there.  They were both out of town for vacation.  It would have been a lot of fun to have them there and they would have been great at the race.

It was a really fun time and everyone really enjoyed themselves.  I really enjoyed doing it and had a great time designing it and putting it together.  There were some flaws with the wording of the final challenge and I wish I had worded it that the only way people could have gotten the bonus time subtracted from their totals was if they had actually drank the milkshake.  I also had some technological issues.  I received so many text messages during the race that my phone crashed and shut off and wouldn't turn back on for ten minutes.  I'm sure you can imagine how agonizing those ten minutes were when I had teams in the middle of a race anxious to receive their next clue.

I wish my full time job was to design and run games like these.  I know points where I would fine tune everything.  So, if you want me to design and run an Amazing Race style competition for your birthday or business outing, let me know.  I have it perfected now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Soccer game..,

I'll post Jeannie's birthday report later. I just got the final videos and will start working on creating a video for her event.

On to different things. We went to Wrigley yesterday to watch the soccer game.

It was weird seeing the field with grass over the base paths.

We had seats that were a little higher up so it gave us a great view of the action.

The first half was a lot of fun because Roma scored scored 4 goals. Second half slowed down, but was still fun.

Senja had her first Chicago style hot dog.

We had lots and lots of fun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 16, 2012


So you know, the next two blog posts are about Jeannie's Birthday and they are epically long.

For the past several years, Jeannie has wanted to go to MOTO Restaurant in the Fulton Market.

I saved and set aside money from the cruise ship job so I could take her there for her birthday.

I didn't tell her where we were going this past Saturday night, so she was totally surprised.

She was so excited.

Moto specializes in molecular gastronomy.

Here are some highlights from our meal.  There were 14 courses to the meal.

The first course was a tasting menu.  It gave us small tastes parts of each course.
 Our second course was Japanese.  This drink was in a bowl and it was spinning and popping when it was delivered.
 The first dish also had dumplings and spring rolls, but they were made of hikama.
 Then we had a salad.  The green drops are a broccoli puree, the purple drops are beets modified to be crunchy like a Cheetos. The yellow drops are yellow peppers.  There's also crunchy pasta that's actually ranch dressing.  Crazy.  Delicious.
 Jeannie loved it.
 The next course was beach.  The liquid nitrogen made it seem like a foggy beach.
 The next course was zen garden.
 It's smaller than you think.
 Those brown rocks were truffles.  The yellow drops were peppers, I think.  The sand seemed like graham crackers, but it was salty.
 The next course was a lobster cone.  The cone was actually made out of uni.  The ice cream was actually lobster bisque.  It was crazy good.

Our next course was served on a log.
 It was full of mushrooms, blueberries, venison and tons of other things I can't remember or recognize.

We then were served an avocado.  But it wasn't an avocado.  It was actually guacamole in Mexican chocolate shell, shaped like an avocado.  As soon as you pressed it, garlic and tomatoes poured out.
 Then, we were served the meat course.  On a femur bone and a butcher's cleaver.
 The meat was wild boar, venison and a few other exotic meats.
 Jeannie liked the cleaver.

We then had coffee and milk.  But, the coffee was actually a coffee gelatin over banana's and candied walnuts.  The milk was actually, surprise, milk.  But the sugar cube was coconut.
 It was really good.
 Then we had bourbon squares.  There were little dollops of flavor on each square to give it a different taste.
 Then came, "Smell The Glove".  Inspired by Spinal Tap, a glove was delivered in a bowl of smoke.
 The scent of the leather glove, actually smelled like chocolate.
 We had to wear the glove to eat our dessert.
 Then, we were delivered our menu.
 Surrounded by liquid nitrogen, the menu was delivered to us smoking in a pot.
 It had everything we had eaten.  We tapped it with a spoon and ate it along with our last dessert course.
Because it was Jeannie's birthday, they delivered her a flat balloon in liquid nitrogen.  They set it on the table and it crackled and twisted until it filled with air.  Very cool.

It was a great, fun meal.  Jeannie had a great birthday meal and was really happy for her birthday treat.

Next blog entry will be a doozy.  Get ready for Jeannie's Amazing Birthday Race.