Sat 9/12/09 - What a day! The NMW is still in AZ with our 1-yr-old, but the two older kids and I were hoppin' today. First, the kids had a primary activity at 10:00 at the church. We went straight from that to my work party, a cook out (aka "a barbecue") at a really cool park with mini golf, a train, merry-go-round, etc. We then rushed home, changed into our church clothes, and drove 1-hour to a wedding for a ward member. We got home after the kids' bedtime and we all slept well that evening.
Fri 9/11/09 - Took the two older kids to McDonalds for dinner and exercise. They exercised by running, climbing, screaming, and leaping so much that they probably burned off all of the calories from the Happy meals. I exercised my right to sit down and read a book in the Playland. The calories from my Big Mac with extra sauce were safe for the eveing.
Thurs 9/10/09 - The NMW and our 1-yr-old flew to AZ today for her brother's wedding. I tip my hat to her for flying across the country with a squirmy toddler. The older two kids and I watched a movie and then I let my son stay up late to watch some of the Steelers-Titans game to kick off the NFL season. My son is in my fantasy football league and had two players in tonight's game, so it was a cool father-son bonding moment over football and fantasy geekiness. Good times.
Wed 9/9/09 - I got to participate a little in my son's Cub Scout meeting tonight by getting roped into the Simon Says tournament. It was his second time attending scouts and it is so cool to see him at the church on Wednesday nights. I can't believe how fast he is growing up. He could get his Bobcat next week as long as we memorize one more thing. The Cub Scout Law, I think? Or slogan? Motto? Secret combination key words? I can't remember.
Tues 9/8/09 - Our 5-yr-old daughter started gymnastics tonight so I stayed home with our 8-yr-old and our 1-yr-old. Our 1-yr-old daughter basically hates me right now. I think I traumatized her in the bathtub a few nights ago when she swallowed water when I washed her hair. Since then my name has changed from, "Dah-dah!" to "No!No!No!", which is what she yells every time I come near her. We need to fix our relationship somehow. Maybe a Chocolate Milk Summit to clear the air?
Mon 9/7/09 - Labor Day! No work! We went back to Wet 'N Wild with our friends for the final time this season and stayed for most of the day despite cold temperatures and a lot of cloud cover. After the water park we met up with 20+ people from our ward for a cook out (aka "barbecue" out west.) We have so many friends in the mid-20's to mid-30's demographic in our ward. We are very blessed to have so many good friends at church. Great day today.
Sun 9/6/09 - Deleted this day from memory. Not good.
Sat 9/5/09 - One of the best days ever! Went to a co-worker's house with the NMW to watch #20 BYU destroy #3 Oklahoma! Sure, the final was only 14-13, but BYU's defense destroyed OU's offense. When OU's 54-yard FG missed at the end of the game, there was much jumping, shouting, hugging, and words that sound like cuss words but aren't (e.g. "holy fetch!", "oh my heck!", etc.) Before the game the family went to Wet 'N Wild. The water park shuts down for good after Labor Day, so we're getting our money's worth with our season passes. I won a miniature Duke football after throwing a football through a target, much to the delight of my family who was rooting me on. The ego boost was worth the $2.
Fri 9/4/09 - Our 2nd cousin from Asheville came to town tonight with her three small kids. We stayed up late eating junk, corralling six kids ages 8 and younger, and ultimately playing Settlers of Catan. While they live 3 hours away, they are our only family in the area and we are so glad to have gotten to know them out here. I'm still bitter about Settlers, though. I built on the "8" and it almost never got rolled. Grrrrr!
Thurs 9/3/09 - Had the NMH fantasy football league draft tonight. I got MJD, Reggie Wayne, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Gonzales as a few of my better players. The NMW is in the league and it was a hoot watching her draft. She would get so stressed over every pick you would have thought she was trying to disarm a bomb as the seconds ticked down to :00. Can't wait for another year of fantasy football!
Sun 8/30/09 - Wed 9/2/09 - Work is stressful. Church calling is demanding. Kids not cooperating. Very, very sleepy.
Sat 8/29/09 - Sister Beck delivered the goods. She gave us a very interactive Q&A-type format leadership training session. The principle she focused on that most impacted me was that of personal stewardship and how we can and should reach out to those for whom we are responsible. Very, very cool and together woman. She really inspired me to serve more diligently. We then went to a park in Asheville for family pictures, which is tough with three squirmy kids, but we managed.
Fri 8/28/09 - Sister Julie Beck, General Relief Society President, is hosting a multi-stake conference in Asheville, NC tomorrow. I was invited to the leadership meeting in the morning and all of the sisters were invited to an afternoon general session. We have relatives on the NMW's side who are LDS and live in Asheville, which is 3 hrs. away, so we drove up and spent tonight with them. Between the two families we have six kids ages eight and younger, so it's crazy but fun when we hang out. Looking forward to Sis. Beck tomorrow.
Thurs 8/27/09 - The NMW went to book club tonight so I had all three kids to myself. I decided to slip into "Father of the Year" mode by telling the kids I'd take them to McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes if they cleaned their rooms before 7:00 p.m. By the time I finished saying the word, "...m", they had already turbo cleaned everything. We had a fun little drive to Mickey D's drive through and shared some fun times around the table as we ate ice cream and just chilled - literally and figuratively - for a few minutes.
Wed 8/26/09 - He shoots...and he scores! Okay, I didn't play great, but my back pain and kidney stone issues had calmed down enough that I could play basketball at the church again. We have a really good group of guys to play with - a couple of ex-high school players, some good overall athletes, and one former college player. Going home with sore legs after playing hoops all night is a feeling I've missed terribly over the past year with my back problems. Man, I love to be sore again!
Tues 8/25/09 - I drive the kids to school in the morning and with today being the first day of school I escorted my daughter to her Kindergarten class. She looked so big and so small at the same time. She is going to love school, but the full-day schedule they have in NC is going to wear her out. She told me today about her "new friends!" she has already made. My son has two or three friends from last year in his class and had a good day as well. Phew. One day down and no behavioral or homework issues yet. We just take it one day at a time around here.
Mon 8/24/09 - Last day of summer for the two oldest kids. Our son will start 3rd grade and our daughter will begin Kindergarten. As we were reviewing the names of some of the kids in their school we saw a child named Voltron. Seriously. Voltron! How cool is that? Their son is the Defender of the Universe for crying out loud. I hope my kids get on his good side.
Sun 8/23/09 - Today was an "Invite a Friend" Sunday at church. I invited a co-worker but she was unable to come. But hey, we are successful member missionaries when we invite, so I did my part. I spoke in sacrament meetings about the apostasy and restoration. There were a pretty large number of investigators and it was pretty powerful to share my testimony of the gospel while knowing that several people in the audience were hearing these doctrines for the first time. I hope at least a few seeds were planted and they end up growing better than our stubborn squash plants this year.
Sat 8/22/09 - Tonight the NMW and I hosted our second annual "So You Know You Can't Dance" party. A bunch of our friends and their kids came over some a night full of snacks, laughing and silly dances. The NMW and I did an interpretive dance about the Twilight movie. I danced the role of Edward while the NMW was Bella. My favorite moment was re-enacting the meadow scene and I unbuttoned my shirt to reveal a sparkly underneath that glittered in the light. Good times.
Fri 8/21/09 - I met the fam at our kid's elementary school after work. My son will start 3rd grade and our daughter will start kindergarten next Tuesday. I'm so excited for my daughter. Kindergarten is such a big step forward in life. As we toured the halls of the school with her tonight, she just seemed to be so small in that huge school. She's ready though, and I'm excited for her. A little nervous, too, but excited.
Thurs 8/20/09 - I'm exhausted tonight. This week was one of those weeks where I had church meetings Tues-Wed-Thurs evenings. It's tiring some times to work a full day, shove a quick dinner down my mouth, then head off for another couple of hours of church duties and meetings. I stopped at Sheetz on the way home from the stake center to get a 5th Avenue and Slurpee for me and a Peanut Butter Twix for the NMW to relax with after a long, busy week.
Wed 8/19/09 - The NMW went to Wal-Mart by herself tonight while I put the kids to bed. When she came home she told me about getting blatantly hit on by a guy in the Wal-Mart parking lot. He immediately backed off when he learned she was married. Can anybody else think of a less romantic setting than a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Wednesday night? A funeral? A slaughterhouse floor? Anywhere near Rosie O'Donnell?
Tues 8/18/09 - Now that I'm almost completely recovered from surgery my appetite is coming back strong. We had Papa John's pizza for dinner tonight and I had three big pieces. Not bad after eating almost nothing but fruit for a week due to nausea. I think I might put back on the 11 pounds I lost last week.
Mon 8/17/09 - The fam got free tickets to go with friends to see our local minor league baseball team. It was a perfect late-summer evening for baseball - temp in the '80's, overcast, not too humid, etc. I'm still fatigued after the kidney stone surgery, but it felt great to finally be back to work and getting outdoors.
Sun 8/16/09 - Felt good enough to attend sacrament meeting then came straight home. Spent much of the day on the couch or floor again as the pain is still more than I had anticipated. The theme for sac mtg was "Managing Adversity", which is very relevant for the NMW and me right now. Still somewhat nauseous and have little appetite. On the plus side I've lost almost ten pounds!
Sat 8/15/09 - Why do I always underestimate how difficult it is to recover from surgery? Today has been pretty miserable. I spent much of the day on the couch watching Tiger Woods play in the PGA Championship. My right ureter is still in pain. The area the tubes were shoved up is killing. It feels like I'm urinating a flame thrower. Rough day. I was hoping I'd feel much better than I do. Not a good omen.
Fri 8/14/09 - Had surgery to remove a 4.8 mm kidney stone in my right ureter today. The procedure went just fine, but I had serious complications in post-op recovery. What was supposed to be a 30-45 min stay turned into nearly 4 hrs as the doctors and nurses dealt with my falling heart rate and spiking blood pressure. Me puking everywhere and having a searing migraine headache didn't help, either. But I survived and am now kidney stone free!
Thurs 8/13/09 - Saw the urologist yesterday and he will need to go in and forcibly remove Lenny, my kidney stone, in a very personal, invasive procedure scheduled for tomorrow. While the extraction process will be uncomfortable, I am very relieved to know the constant week-long pain is about to end. Sometimes trials pass on their own. Other times you need a complete stranger to ram medical equipment up your body and take care of it for you. There's a lesson in there somewhere, I think.
Wed 8/12/09 - What's up with my weight during this now six-day kidney stone adventure? I have hardly eaten anything solid during the last five days because of nausea and vomited a bunch of times. Some fruit, a few bites of pasta, and a bowl of ramen noodles is it. Everything else has been liquid. I thought I'd lose a ton of weight, but I've actually gained three pounds! I think the reason is that I'm drinking so many fluids that I'm retaining water weight, but I was hoping to at least lose a few pounds toward getting back to my basketball playing weight (under 210 lbs - but hey, I'm 6'6"), but no such luck.
Tues 8/11/09 - I've been urinating through a screen since Friday to try to catch Lenny, my kidney stone, when he finally passes. Every bathroom visit makes me feel like a contestant on the old Let's Make a Deal show. I enter the bathroom hopeful for a grand prize (Lenny), but end up going home with the gag gift (a wet, funny-smelling urine strainer.) Every time I leave the bathroom the NMW should play this song.
Mon 8/10/09 - Stayed home from work due to the kidney stone and the side effects of the meds I'm on. The last three days have been rough and I needed a reason to laugh. As I emerged from my bedroom this morning, my 14-month-old daughter rambled over to me, grabbed my sweatpants by at the knees, and completely pantsed me. Clear down to the ankles. Hilarious way to start another long, painful day.
Sun 8/09/09 - Skipped church and spent most of the day in my bedroom in a drug-induced fog. My favorite kidney stone comment thus far came from my mom when she said, "This too shall pass." Nicely played, mom. Nicely played. I did manage to eat some three cheese pasta bake and cauliflower for dinner - my first real food in nearly 72 hours.
Sat 8/08/09 - Spent nearly the entire day in my bedroom trying to not puke (which I only did once today - halleluja.) The pain meds are helping minimize the pain. The nausea is driving me crazy, though, and I did not eat anything for 48 straight hours. I should pass the stone in 2-3 days and will be heavily medicated (and lazy) until I do. Ugh. I'm never 100% healthy. What's next? Swine flu? Rabies? Vampire bite?
Fri 8/07/09 - Woke up this morning with severe pains in my abdominal region. My doctor found a lot of blood in my urine and sent me to the ER to be tested for kidney stones or an appendix problem. After several hours at the ER and looking like a tortured man going into labor, they found a big ol' kidney stone. After I was discharged I vomited most of the day then returned at night to the ER upon adice from the nurse. They kept me there until after 2:00 a.m. to get me pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and IV fluids. This is going to be terrible.
Thurs 8/06/09 - I'm glad Jeanine won SYTYCD. I was pulling for her. It's funny how by the end of the season I think I'm a dance know-it-all. I literally know nothing about dance, but keep finding myself saying things like, "I didn't like her lines" or "they didn't connect as a couple." It's a fun show to watch and discuss with the NMW.
Wed 8/05/09 - Yes! I was finally able to play some real basketball tonight! It was the first time in a year and a half that I was able to play full-contact hoops due primarily to my lower back problems. A recent ankle sprain didn't help either. It felt so good to run, sweat, grunt, bump bodies, box out, block shots, knock people down/get knocked down, and just plain old compete. My legs got rubbery pretty quickly, but I didn't care. I am hoping this can be a Wednesday night weekly tradition with my church buddies who are all good enough to make the games fun, but level-headed enough to not end up throwing punches. Good balance between stiff competition and friendly enjoyment.
Tues 8/04/09 - The NMW went to a photography Enrichment class tonight so I had all three kids to myself. After getting the infant to sleep I cuddled up with the two older kids to finish the second half of The Neverend Story DVD. They were supposed to go to bed at 8:30 because of some...how shall we say this?...conflicts we had during the day. But once I got snuggled up with my 5-yr-old daughter, I fell asleep. They ended up staying up later than they should have because dear old dad fell asleep at 8:15. Who am I, Morty Seinfeld?
Mon 8/03/09 - Over the weekend we went to the employee store of a friend of ours who works for a large apparel company. The deals were incredible ($8 polo shirts, $5 hats, and $11 watch, etc.), so I stocked up. One of the items that caught my eye was a black Harley Davidson hat with silver font displaying the "Live Free or Die" state slogan of New Hampshire. I liked it, so I bought it, though the NMW still does not see me as a "Harley Guy." Me neither. I just liked the hat. Not a mid-life crisis. Or at least I don't think it is...
Sun 8/02/09 - Got to visit our friends in the hospital as they welcomed their new baby girl into the world yesterday. We brought some celebratory balloons as well as a spur-of-the-moment gift bag consisting of the best candy we had available in the house (no, this did not count as an ox in the mire) and latex balloons. Unfortunately, the nurses did not allow us to bring in the balloons due to potential latex allergies. Whatever. We then went down the road to another hospital to visit an older ward member who is battling a severe leg infection. Our hands are officially sanitized after visiting two hospitals today.
Sat 8/01/09 - I encountered perhaps the widest swings of emotion of my life this evening. First, we went to a wedding reception for a ward member after her temple sealing this morning. While we were at the reception one of my best friends called to tell me his wife will be going into labor any minute. Then, while still at the reception, a ward member called to tell me that their young adult son who lives in another state was tragically killed this evening. The joy of the reception, the excitement/worry of a baby delivery, and the shock of an unexpected, tragic passing has left me drained. I'm glad we have already begun our monthly fast. I need the strength.
Fri 7/31/09 - Date night consisted of tennis w/the NMW. It had rained earlier in the day and while the tennis was fun (I won 6-1, 6-3), the sky was spectacular. First, a thick, colorful rainbow appeared. The sky then divided into half being black, ominous, and flickering with lightening. The other half of the sky was bright orange as the sun was setting. Fun date, very cool setting.
Thu 7/30/09 - Yes! Ade got voted off So You Think You Can Dance? Call me petty, but I just never liked the whole "pick in the hair" gimmick. I hope Brandon and Kayla make the finals, with Kayla winning it all. The NMW and I talked about my anti-male dancer bias, but when I think of a "dancer" I can only picture thin, lithe, females gliding through the air. Male dancers are like WNBA players to me - sure they're good, but I just can't watch them.
Wed 7/29/09 - Kept thinking today was Monday after having two vacation days to start the week. Plowed through a pile of email and voice mail at work then went to church meetings. We were finally able to get out and do some visits instead of just planning and fire fighting. Spent our last night together with the NMW's mom before she heads back to UT. She was a saint for watching the kids during our getaway and it's been great seeing her.
Tue 7/28/09 - Woke up in our great B&B in the Smokey Mtns and had big, sausage-filled breakfast. The NMW and I drove the Blue Ridge Parkway then took a long walk though the NC Arboretum. The past two days celebrating our 12th Anniversary have been wonderful. Hard to go back to the real world.
Mon 7/27/09 - The Biltmore House was unreal. The seven-story dining room was unbelievable. The tapestries, artwork, gargoyles, and expansive room after expansive room seemed to be taken from a fairy tale. The farm, ripe with plump fruits and veggies, inspired me to have a ginormous garden someday. The Vanderbilts knew how to live. Tonight we are staying in a quaint B&B outside of Asheville. Wonderful anniversary thus far.
Sun 7/26/09 - Left after church with the NMW for our 2-day getaway to Asheville to celebrate our 12th Anniversary. My MIL is watching the kids, marking the first time in nearly two years we have been childless. After an enjoyable 3-hr. drive we stayed at a relative's empty house while they were out of town. Tomorrow, Biltmore!
Sat 7/25/09 - Drove an hour to meet a co-worker who is giving us two free tickets to the Biltmore House. At $50 per ticket, the drive was well worth it. Partied with the fam at Chuck E. Cheese's in Winston-Salem then went to Wet 'N Wild and experienced Dr. Van Dark's Terror Ride w/the NMB. We are taking advantage of the summer while we can.
Fri 7/24/09 - The NMW and her mom went out of the town, so I went on a walk with the three kids. My wife and mother-in-law got home after the kids were in bed, so the three of us watched a movie. I fell asleep about fifteen minutes into it and so did my M-I-L, so I guess we'll finish it tomorrow.
Thurs 7/23/09 - My day at work consisted of a 5-hr. mediation to close out a 6-year-old worker's comp claim followed by resolving an issue in the plant that resulted in an employee termination. Ugh.
Wed 7/22/09 - Had to drive 2 hours to one of my plants for work today to lay off a member of my HR staff. Difficult day. But on a good note, the family got back from the road trip tonight! Hooray!
Tues 7/21/09 - Since the NMW is returning tomorrow night, I spent most of my evening cleaning the house and finishing the "Honey Do" list, including changing a light fixture that was harder than I originally thought it would be. After 45 minutes of sweating, grunting, and "holy crud!-ing", I finally got it installed. When I was done I gave a triumphant, "Yeeahh Boy!" right in its face.
Mon 7/20/09 - Spent most of this Monday handling so many sticky employee relations issues that I fee like I need a shower. With as much time as I spend on the phone with our Legal department, I should have just become a corporate attorney. Ended up with a migraine at 8:30 p.m. Turned off all the lights in the house at 9:00, popped in The Planet Earth DVD, and fell asleep on the couch after about twelve seconds. David Attenborough's voice is my best sleeping pill - an he's non-prescription!
Sun 7/19/09 - Still home alone and got invited to have dinner with friends tonight, which meant I ate food that did not come from a microwave or a fast food window for the first time in nearly a week. Both the husband and wife in this family are funny and talkative and we have a lot in common. They are the type of people I could have hung out with until 3:00 a.m. back in the college days. But they have a toddler and an infant, so I was gone by 8:00. You know, the whole "bedtime" thing...
Sat 7/18/09 - Slept in until almost noon! Zoinks! That's what happens when you've worked 22 of the past 48 hours and there are no early-riser kids to wake you up. Trimmed the hedges and worked in the garden where I counted 90 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 itsy-bitsy squash, 4 jalapenos, and some frustrating bell peppers that refuse to grow. My hands still smell like tomoato plants and dirt. Love it.
Fri 7/17/09 - After another 11-hr. day at work (6:20-5:20 due to plant meetings), I actually got some exercise for a change. I severely sprained my ankle a month ago but it finally feels good enough to exercise. After working in the garden for a bit I went on a 1-hour jog/walk. I'm in terrible physical shape due to my back and ankle, so it felt great got finally break a sweat, get my heart rate up, and feel my lungs burn. Ended the day soaking my sore legs in the hot tub. Great evening.
Thu 7/16/09 - Ugh! When I left work yesterday we were planning to have plant meetings today, which start at 6:30 a.m. to catch 3rd shift. Since I am on the leadership team I need to be at each meeting so I woke up at 5:30, left by 6:00 and learned that I did not read a late email moving the meetings to Friday. I was so behind yesterday when I left work that I didn't see the email. Now I'm tired and cranky and need to get up at 5:30 again tomorrow morning.
Wed 7/15/09 - It was tough to go straight from work to church leadership meetings tonight because work was...how shall I put this?.....stinkalicious. Just one of those days with difficult projects, people, and pressure. Thank heaven for Taco Bell and peanutbutter & chocolate ice cream to put a smile on my face.
Tues 7/14/09 - I was brave and invited the Elders over for dinner tonight. It was good to have their company while the fam is out west and I'm alone in NC, but I can't remember the last time I cooked for company. Pressure was on. The menu consisted of grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and frozen veggies, and I pulled it off! Dessert was ice cream. Good evening with two good Elders.
Mon 7/13/09 - Nothing like returning to work after taking a week's vacation. I am proud of myself for not even checking my Blackberry one time to monitor my email. This made for a very fun, relaxing vacation, but I paid the price today as I tried to get out from under my mountain of unread email and getting up to speed on the HR zaniness that took place last week in my absence. I need another vacation after today...
Sun 7/12/09 - Back home - alone - as the Normal Mormon family stays out West for another week and a half. Good sacrament meeting about temples. Good stake general priesthood meeting about "Rescue". Then my friends invited me over to their house for a barbecue hamburger/Italian sausage dinner. That was great! It's nice to have good friends. Especially ones with covet-worthy propane grills.
Sat 7/11/09 - Long flight back home to NC after eight days of relaxing vacation bliss back home in Utah. In my mind this vacation was never going to end. Voicemails would never need to be checked. Emails would never be opened. PEC would conduct itself. And money would somehow magically keep appearing in my bank account to finance the eternal vacation. Then - POOF! - I'm flying out of SLC back to reality. Oh well, I won the on-board Jeopardy touch-display trivia game against the rest of the passengers on my flight. "Yes, Alex, I'll take boasting for $1,000..."
Fri 7/10/09 - The NMH returned home from Disneyland yesterday so we decided to go back up to Little Cottonwood Canyon with flashlights to explore the cave. This cave is a huge, deep tunnel that goes straight into the mountain for several hundred feet. It is high enough for me to stand up straight without hitting my oversized noggin. The NMW, NMB, and our 5-yr-old daughter had a good time spelunking and even saw water flowing from inside the rock wall. Did Moses do some smiting here or something?
Thurs 7/09/09 - Went to downtown SLC to visit Temple Square today with the NMW and the girls (the NMB is still at Disneyland.) The NMW and I had also planned to do family file ordinance work at the Draper Temple but had to call that off at the last minute. While we've been in Utah we went to the Oquirrh Hills Temple open house, visited the Jordan River Temple, and toured Temple Square. Throw in Draper and there are four temples within 30 minutes of my parents' house. You can hardly turn around without bumping into a temple around here!
Wed 7/08/09 - We made it safely to BYU today and enjoyed the very cool Bean Museum. We also bought our favorite chocolate covered gummi bears from the Wilk and loaded up on cheap "Y" t-shirts since we never see them in NC. We finished the evening having dessert at my bro's house and picking up a beautiful painting I commissioned him to do for the NMW's birthday. It is an original oil painting inspired by this Hubble telescope image. It reminds us of creation and God's existence, but it is also beautiful art and we cannot wait to frame it and hang it up at home. You can visit AnthonySweat.com to see more of my bro's awesome artwork.
Tues 7/07/09 - The 8-yr-old NMB is at Disneyland with the NMW's parents, so the rest of the fam was planning our annual trip to walk around BYU today. As we headed up Point of the Mountain on I-15 we got nailed by large, sharp, mangled scrap metal debris all over the freeway. I ran over a big chunk of it while going 70+ MPH and completely blew out a tire. I pulled over and went through the odd process of changing a tire on a minivan, which involved lowering the tire from inside the van, fishing out the tire with a hook, and releasing it from a cable. So instead of BYU we ended up getting a new tire from Sam's Club. Hooray!
Mon 7/06/09 - Went up Little Cottonwood Canyon with the family and my parents for some KFC for dinner. The canyons of Utah are stunning. We ate at the same spot we used to go to frequently as kids, and it was neat to show the canyon off to my children. There is a deep cave that is particularly cool, and my son and I got to explore it. He's already excited to come back next year, but this time we will bring flashlights.
Sun 7/05/09 - Spent the 4th of July (yesterday) at my sister's house lighting fireworks and having a good time. My mom said to me, "The older I get, the more patriotic I become." I feel the same way. I love the United States of America and consider it a blessing and privilege to live here. This is the most noble, most generous country in the history of the modern world and has had a greater impact for the good of humanity than any other. America is exceptional, and I feel no need to apologize for believing this.
Sat 7/04/09 - Very special day as I baptized my son in Utah surrounded by family. It was one of the most sacred, happy moments of my life to baptize and confirm him. He is so smart, funny, and full of potential. He has learned a lot about the gospel and baptism and was truly excited to follow the Savior's example today. Surrounding him with a family full of Melchezedek priesthood for the confirmation was special as well and made me grateful for the good men who have taught me throughout my life.
Fri 7/03/09 - The NMB turned 8 today and we celebrated by going to Boondocks with his 2 siblings and 9 cousins and assortment of 2 grandparents and 6 aunts/uncles. The oldest of the 11 kids is 12 years old. The NMB loves NASCAR (his Southern heritage, I guess) and his face lit up when he drove the go karts. He passed every other kid on the track and came back beaming to me with a, "I TOTALLY beat everybody!" We played Laser Tag and the men took turns punching a bag that tells you how hard you hit. (My bro-in-law won, dang it!)
Thurs 7/02/09 - Flew from NC back home to Utah for vacation. My flight took me from NC to the Cincinnati, OH, which is actually in Kentucky. Then I had to ride a shuttle to the "B" gates. The shuttle stopped at a spot for the A1-A39 gates, but the driver told me you take that ramp to the "B" gates. Let's see? Cincinnati is really Kentucky? The "B" gates are in the "A" gate? What's next? Salt Lake is really Boise and my family is really a den of hungry badgers? Confusing.
Wed 7/01/09 - I officially "harvested" the first two tomatoes from our garden today. Last week a cucumber and jalapeno pepper were also plucked and eaten. Gardening has unexpectedly turned into one of my favorite hobbies. I had to re-stake several of the tomato plants yesterday and didn't want to wash the sharp tomato plant smell mixed with dirt off my hands. Darn hygiene! It always spoils the fun.
Tues 6/30/09 - Woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch my early flight from California back home to NC. I don't know what it is about Cali, but I love visiting here. The weather was perfect, the palm trees were beautiful, Lakers fans were plentiful, the smog was absolutely majestic...okay, I guess there are some downsides to Cali. The last couple of plants I inherited to oversee were in small, remote towns, so it's exciting to have a reason to head to L.A. instead of just rural America.
Mon 6/29/09 - Spent the day in our 75-person California plant. Nearly every employee is either Chinese or Vietnamese. I need to practice the proper pronunciation of Asian names so I can stop embarrassing myself when saying, "Cheung" vs. "Chiang" vs. "Cheng", etc. Ate a quick dinner at In-N-Out Burger and - sorry guys - but it's not as great as you all said in in response to my fast food post last year. The burger was just a burger, even "animal style", and the chocolate shake wasn't cold or creamy. Disappointed in In-N-Out. Big Mac's are better.
Sun 6/28/09 - Took the long flight from NC to Ontario, CA to visit a plant I was given HR responsibility for about two months ago. Two weeks ago the HR Manager at the plan told me she is going to retire, forcing me to quickly restructure the department in preparation for her departure. This will be my first visit to this plant - and definitely not my last as I look to hire a new HR person. (But hey, it's not all bad - California, baby!)
Sat 6/29/09 - Spent the day in our 75-person California plant. Nearly every employee is either Chinese or Vietnamese. I need to practice the proper pronunciation of Asian names so I can stop emabrassing myself when saying, "Cheung" vs. "Chiang" vs. "Cheng", etc. Ate a quick dinner at In-N-Out Burger and - sorry guys - but it's not as great as you all said in in response to my fast food post last year. The burger was just a burger, even "animal style", and the chocolate shake wasn't cold or creamy. Disappointed in In-N-Out. Bic Mac's are better.
Sun 6/28/09 - Took the long flight from NC to Ontario, CA to visit a plant I was given HR responsibility for about two months ago. Two weeks ago the HR Manager at the plan told me she is going to retire, forcing me to quickly restructure the department in preparation for her departure. This will be my first visit to this plant - and definitely not my last as I look to hire a new HR person. (But hey, it's not all bad - California, baby!)
Sat 6/25/09 - Busy church day. 9:30 - Leave to go to the church to meet for our youth temple trip. 10:00 - Leave for Raleigh from the church with a call full of youth. 11:30 - Host 14 youth for lunch at Wendy's. 1:00 - Baptisms, including 4 family file names from my wife's side of the family. 2:30 - Leave temple for LDS bookstore. 3:00 - Leave bookstore for home with car full of youth. 4:30 - Arrive at church to drop off youth, stay at church for baptism. 5:00 - Conduct baptismal service for two male converts - a father and son. 6:00 - Go home. Phew! Lost of blessings...but phew!
Fri 6/24/09 - Michael Jackson passed away. I will never forget where I was the first time I saw the Thriller video. It blew my mind. I was eight years old when it was released in 1983 and was sitting on the "blue blanket" in our living room when I watched it. MTV was still in its infancy and it was the only time in my life that a music video completely electrified me. I then spent the rest of the night perfecting my moon walk and being terrified that zombies were under my bed.
Thurs 6/23/09 - Shaq to Cleveland? It sounds good on paper, but I just don't see the Big Diesel giving the Cavs what they need to win a title. In full disclosure, I am a huge Shaq fan. Shaq Daddy has been my favorite NBA player for more than a decade, so it's hard for me to be objective. But the fact is that Shaq is old, always reports to camp out of shape, he can't stay healthy, can't guard the pick and roll, and is a liability down the stretch in close games because of his horrendous free throws. Don't be surprised if he misses the first 25 games, plays his way into shape by the All-Star break, then either clogs the lane for LeBron or kills them on high pick and rolls for the rest of the year. But if it works, I'd give my left arm to see a Shaq-Kobe Finals next year.
Wed 6/22/09 - Sad night tonight. After my weekly Wednesday church leadership meetings I went over to the home of a family in our ward that is moving next Monday. When we moved into the ward in 2003 the five kids ranged from about 8 to 15 years old, so I have watched them grow up. The two oldest are now in college and the three younger kids are active in the youth program, and my calling lets me spend a lot of time with them. They have been raised by a faithful single mother and this decision was not easy for her. I will miss this family dearly and wish them the best in their new life.
Tues 6/21/09 - A reader of my blog pointed out to me that when you Google "Shawn Bradley" that my Bradley post shows up as the fifth overall result, right behind little-known sites like wikipedia, nba.com, basketball-reference.com, and ESPN.com. Click here to see for yourself. And the funny thing is I wrote the Shawn Bradley post for my own amusement and thought it would be one of the least read columns I have ever written. Then, thanks to the Bill Simmons Tweet, it got over 11,000 views in one week. Crazy.
Mon 6/20/09 - Tonight we babysat for friends of ours who have a newborn and a toddler. Throw in our three offspring and we had five kids under the age of eight roaming and/or screaming about the house most of the evening. It is nice to be able to occasionally swap babysitting with friends since the weekly babysitter bill can get pretty expensive. And on the plus side, our friends brought us back some Cold Stone as a "thank you." Mmmmm.....Cold Stone......
Sun 6/19/09 - Very nice Father's Day today. My early morning church leadership meetings were canceled so I was able to sleep in a little for a Sunday and go to church with the family. The kids sang Father's Day songs with the Primary in sacrament meeting and made me cute little cards. My gift from the family was a very cool Lakers 2009 NBA Champions hat that will get a lot of use this summer. Our friends invited us to dinner at their place and had a good time eating, talking, laughing and playing a little badminton.
Sat 6/18/09 - My wife rocks! I got a call from her at work yesterday instructing me to meet the family at a local campground instead of going home. As part of my Father's Day weekend she surprised me by setting up a camp site so that we could hang out and roast some goodies over a fire. The fam went home at dusk and I stayed behind to have a nice, relaxing evening alone in the woods, something I've been yearning to do for quite a while now. Awesome night!
Fri 6/17/09 - Citgo has started an billboard ad campaign that promotes the company "Loyal" and "Local." Ha! That's like O.J. Simpson trying to re-brand himself as "Family Oriented" and "Non-Violent." Come on, Citgo, we're on to you. We know you are a subsidiary of PDVSA, Venezuela's stat-owned oil company. By "state-owned", you are controlled by Hugo Chavez himself! Do us a favor and be honest. How about a billboard that reads, "Every time you buy Citgo gas you are directly giving money to a crazy dictator who HATES the U.S.....but we have great Slurpees!" Sure, most oil comes from countries that hate us, but the Citgo billboards are patronizing.
Thurs 6/16/09 - Had a very nice, relaxing 2-hour drive to my company's Lenoir, NC plant today. Solo mini-road trips like this give me a little time to just be alone with my thoughts and sort things out. There are a number of major staffing issues at work that I am working on, and it's nice to get some quiet time to just think through my options. I guess I wasn't totally alone though since I had my 40-oz Slurpee keeping me company most of the drive.
Mon 6/15/09 - The NMW was in charge of the FHE activity and took me and the two older kids outside at dusk to catch fireflys. It was so fun to see them excitedly running around the front yard in their pajamas (NMW excluded, of course) and getting all giddy when we would catch a firefly. We then took the insect-powered lanterns into the bathroom and watched them light up. Fun memory.
Sun 6/14/09 - Today the NMW and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. In our wonderful life together we have had three kids, five cars, five apartments, two houses and countless great memories together. There are some nights when we are just chillin' in the hot tub and we talk about how we never thought life would be this good. I love you, NMW, for filling my life with laughs, hope, excitement, wonder, fun, support, confidence, and happiness. If there were a kazbah around, you would definitely rock it.
Sat 6/13/09 - The NMB had two baseball games in a round robin tournament. His team was 1-4 coming in. They got waxed in their first game, but won their second game 8-3. In the win the NMB went 2-2 with a single, a double, and two runs scored. It was a little hard to enjoy the games because our family was MELTING in the heat during the second game, which also conflicted with our 12-month-old daughters nap time. It may have been easier to babysit a rabid mongoose than her at times.
Fri 6/12/09 - Our 12th anniversary is this Sunday (6/14) so the NMW got a babysitter and we celebrated tonight. We went to the Greensboro Grasshoppers game and could not have asked for a better night for baseball. We then went to a great fondue place called The Melting Pot for dessert - the S'mores plate. We dipped everything from strawberries and bananas to Rice Crispy treats and pound cake into a liquid S'mores mixture. Great stuff! The NMW got the anniversary gift for the both of us - a 3-day, 2-night getaway to the Biltmore (Vanderbelt's ginormous home) in Asheville, NC when her mom comes to visit this summer. Can't wait!
Thurs 6/11/09 - Derek Fisher, I love you, man. Your game-tying 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left saved Game 4 of the NBA Finals for the Lakers. Your 3-pointer with 31 seconds left in OT won the game. The smile you gave after hitting the last big three was priceless. My smile at home was just as big as I watched by Lakers go up 3-1 on Orlando and move to within one more victory of the NBA title.
Wed 6/10/09 - Worked from home today (emails, conference calls, playing Madden, etc.) to rest my foot and see my doctor. He is concerned that I may have fractured the bottom of my fibula and is referring me out to an ortho specialist. My ankle is tender and swollen but I feel better today than I thought I would. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm eating ice cream between conference calls. Mmmmm...injuries are delicious.
Tues 6/9/09 - I blew out my right ankle tonight. My on-going back issues (herniated L5/S1) have improved to the point where my doctor told me to do light cardio three times a week. So a couple of nights a week I go in the backyard to shoot hoops, dribble, do layups, etc. and work up a good sweat. But tonight I was doing a layup drill, came down awkwardly, and completely rolled my right ankle. I thought I had snapped my foot in half. The pain was intense. Fortunately it looks like it is only a sprain.
Sat 6/6/09 - HOLY COW! Bill Simmons from ESPN not only read my Shawn Bradley post, he Twittered about it! Simmons is probably the most famous sports writer in the United States (evidenced by his 150,000 Twitter followers) and is undoubtedly the star of ESPN.com. I have been a big fan of Bill Simmons since he joined ESPN in 2001. In his Twitter about my Bradley post, Bill Simmons said "Nicely done" and linked to my post. The next 24 hours resulted in roughly 10,000 page views of my blog and a number of compliments about my writing style. Hey, I'm smart enough to recognize 15 minutes of fame when it comes, so I'm just going to enjoy the ride.
Fri 6/5/09 - A wonderful ward member agreed to watch the kids tonight so that the NMW and I could go to the Raleigh temple tonight as part of her extended birthday weekend. The drive down was full of fun conversation, laughter, Red Vines, BBQ Pringles and flavored water. After a very peaceful session we went to Chili's and ate nothing but appetizers (wings for me, 3-item combo for NMW). We even bumped into three of our good friends at the temple. Great date night.
Thurs 6/4/09 - Happy Birthday, NMW! We had a little celebration at home with a few games and a pinata. We then went to dinner at her favorite Mexican restaurant and came home for cheesecake dessert. After getting the kids to bed we watched SYTYCD and then saw the Lakers obliterate the Magic in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. What a fun night! NMW, I love you for making life so much fun. Your optimism and happiness is infectious and lifts me up. Your parenting skills, patience, and ability to organize our home (finances, bills, yard work, etc.) are remarkable. Love you, babe!
Wed 6/3/09 - Last night at mutual I was asked to present a gift and say a few words to our three graduating Laurels. My church calling has allowed me to work with these young women for the past five years, so I've been close to them since they were 12 years old. It is amazing to see how smart, focused, spiritual, funny and grounded these three young women are. I caught a glimpse of how rewarding it must be as a parent to see your teen-aged children make good decisions and remain close to the Lord. What a cool feeling that must be.
Tues 6/2/09 - The 7-yr-old NMB had a baseball game tonight. His team had a hard time getting on base so he only got up to bat one time. But in his only at bat he ripped a stand-up double into left-center that rolled to the fence. The NMB scored two batters later and ended up being the team's only run. We lost 7-1 but the coach gave the NMB the game ball with a little inscription and the date on it for his good hit. Way to go, NMB!
Mon 6/1/09 - I wresteled in the front room with my two older kids tonight for the first time in a long time. My back is still in pain but I am getting progressively better and felt good enough to get our WWE thing on. We always come up with crazy wrestling names when we go at it. My 5-yr-old daughter was Power Princess, my son was The Evil Destoyer and I was Captain Bottom Smacker. Good time. Let's get ready to ruuuuuuuuummmmmmble!
Sun 5/31/09 - Our little girl took her first steps yesterday at our ward cook out. She has been standing up really well for the past couple of weeks but has been hesitant to walk. Several times each day we will look at her with anticipation and say, "It looks like she's gonna take a step...." followed by a disappointed "Aaaaahhhhh" as she would gently plop herself back down. She was actually playing on the jungle gym at the park and just got caught up in the excitement and took two little steps. Next trick? Poppin' and lockin' so that she can get on SYTYCD.
Sat 5/30/09 - Whirlwind day. Late Morning - Had 1st birthday party at home for our little girl and watched her gorge herself on cake frosting (not cake, just frosting. Not looking forward to changing that diaper...) Early Afternoon - The NMB's baseball game. He went 0-2 but reached on a fielder's choice and scored his team's first run. Late Afternoon - Ward cook out ("barbecue" for you Utahns) which was lots of fun. Evening - Tennis date with the NMW. Phew!
Fri 5/29/09 - Tonight was my 5-year-old daughter's pre-ballet dance recital. She looked like a little princess dressed up in her tutu. Part of her dance routine was with the dads, so I got to pick her up, twirl her around, and waltz with her. I was about six inches taller than any of the other dads on the stage and my daughter was a head taller than her classmates. When I lifted her she was up so high that she probably could have changed a light bulb on the ceiling. She was beautiful. I hope she keeps dancing. She loves it. Either dancing...or play of BYU's women's basketball team. I'd be fine with either one.
Thurs 5/28/09 - Happy 1st birthday to my little girl! I can't believe that it was one year ago that we went to the hospital to welcome you into our family. Here are a few of my favorite things about you: The way you say "dah-dah!" when you see me; good-night kisses; the way your lotion smells after your bath; peek-a-boo at the dinner table; the way you burrow your head into my chest when you get shy; big smiles; curly hair; how much you love birds and being outdoors. I can't imagine my life without you, little one. Happy birthday!
Wed 5/27/09 - I was driving in my car during lunch and my AM talk radio programs were all on commercial so I flipped the radio to the FM dial. I normally have the FM dial to NPR (which I listen to with a HUGE grain of salt), but the NMW drove the car yesterday and had the FM set to - gasp! - a music station. I never listen to music on the radio in my car. But the funniest thing happened. The second I turned on the FM music station, Guns 'N Roses "Paradise City" started to play. I don't know what came over me, but I had a childhood flashback and forgot how hard that song just plain old rocks! So I turned up the volume all the way and jammed out to GNR. The only things I was missing were a lighter and a mullet.
Tues 5/26/09 - The 7-yr-old NMB had a baseball game tonight and he did well. He went 1-2 hitting and threw out two base runners while playing in the infield. My instruction to him when he hits is, "Knees bent. Bat back. Step into it!" Sometimes I feel like the evil Cobra Kai sensei in Karati Kid who makes his students repeat, "Strike first! Strike hard! No mercy sir!" But if I was half as effective, my son's team would not have lost 11-4 tonight. No mercy!
Mon 5/25/09 - Today is Memorial Day. Thank you to all of you brave men and women who serve to protect our freedoms, and to your families for their sacrifices while you are far from home. We took advantage of the day off by driving to Charlotte for a visit to Chuck-E-Cheese's and the Concord Mills Mall. At Chuck-E-Cheese's I played the Deal Or No Deal game and ended up winning the 80-ticket jackpot. Later I set the new record on Pop-a-Shot and also won the grand prize jackpot on Skee Ball. I know the first thing you think is "Steroid Cheater!" when you see amazing athletic feats like this, but I roll completely natural!
Sun 5/24/09 - The 15-yr-old convert was confirmed today and I got to stand in the circle. After his confirmation he gave a brief talk in sacrament meeting and you would have thought that he was born in the church. What a great young man! One of the young men who is close friends with the young man who was baptized also spoke in sacrament meeting to share his feelings on seeing his friend baptized. It was a moving meeting. I'm so excited for what this baptism means for our entire youth program!
Sat 5/23/09 - A really good 15-yr-old young man has been attending church and mutual with us for about a year. Some of the young men in our ward go to school with him and invited him to come to church. At first his visits were purely social, but then he started to feel the Spirit and knew the church was true. He was baptized today. His baptismal service was great - a lot of support from the ward. This young man has a good head on his shoulders and is a true convert. His conversion has also been a testimony strengthening opportunity for all of our youth and his baptism brought our whole ward together.
Fri 5/22/09 - Spring in North Carolina is more beautiful than a Kobe Bryant clutch 3-pointer. Today we enjoyed the ideal temperatures by ordering a pizza and having a little dinner picnic at the park. Our girls loved the swings while I played football with the Normal Mormon Boy. The Red Vines for dessert were a hit as well.
Thurs 5/21/09 - After being gone for work for three nights I was able to fly home from Sayre, PA this morning. Due to cost containment measures I have not really traveled this year for work, which has been a welcome change. When I go to Sayre I fly into the Elmira, NY airport, which has a total of two gates. The drive from Elmira to Sayre is about 20 miles and it is beautiful this time of year. Many of the green, rolling hills remind me of the Hill Cumorah and contribute to a peaceful drive. It was peaceful until I stumbled upon the Laura Ingraham radio show, that is.
Wed 5/20/09 - While it was frustrating to watch the Lakers get pushed to seven games by a completely undermanned Rockets team, the worst part of the series was watching Shane Battier face guarding Kobe. When I played competitive basketball we called face guarding a "chump" or a "sissy" move. But the ABC announcers praised Battier for doing it. Tonight I saw more face guarding in the Cavs-Magic Game 1. Ugh. Just as the Lakers dispatched the Rockets, the NBA needs to crack down on face-guarding girly-men.
Tues 5/19/09 - Kris Allen, I hope you win American Idol. I could see myself listening to your music over the next couple of years. Your low-key, accoustic performance are exactly my style. Sure, Adam Lambert oozes star power like nobody in the history of Idol, but he's just too over-the-top Broadway for me. Adam has been more entertaining to watch, but I could see myself buying a couple of accoustic Chris Allen songs, so he gets my vote.
Mon 5/18/09 - When I take a cramped flight for work, shouldn't I get a discount because the airline offers no seats that accomodate my 6'6" legs? Hey, if the airlines are going to charge obese people for two seats, shouldn't they give people like me a discount for giving me a tiny, miserable seat?
Sun 5/17/09 - This was Stake Conference weekend and Elder Walter Gonzales of the Presidency of the 70 was our visiting G.A. The theme of the conference was "Rescue." We were taught some very simple, practical doctrines to first rescue ourselves and then be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to help rescue others. Elder Gonzales showed a lot of faith, hope, optimism and gratitude for the gospel as he taught. At one point he said, "People in the U.S. are worried about the economic downturn right now. Brothers, everything will be okay. Believe me. I'm from South America and we have economic downturns every five years, and things always turn out okay. At this point I have a Ph.D. in economic downturns, so you can trust what I say." Between the temple yesterday and Stake Conference, I am on a spiritual high right now.
Sat 5/16/09 - FINALLY! The NMW and I were finally able to go to the temple together. Going to a temple session in Raleigh takes a good 5-6 hours with travel, so it is hard to do with a nursing child. We went with about 12 of our ward members to be present with our friend, Ben, to receive his endowment. Ben was baptized in Dec. '07 and seeing his total conversion to the gospel has been inspiring and rewarding. Sitting in the temple with our ward family to see our friend receive his temple blessings was a true blessing.
Fri 5/15/09 - I fell asleep on the couch while snuggled up with the NMW watching the Planet Earth DVD's. I don't know what it is about David Attenborough's voice, but he knocks me out every time we watch those DVD's.
Thurs 5/14/09 - I did two things today that I have not done in over a decade. 1) Jogged. 2) Attacked a medium-sized dog. I absolutely loathe jogging, but my doctor recommended I do more cardio while I'm rehabbing my back. On a whim, I went on a jog for perhaps the first time in my adult life. During my jog I had to confront one of my worst fears - being attacked by a dog. As I was jogging this decent sized dog came running right at me while barking and bearing his teeth. I had the "flight or fight" moment, and I chose to fight! I made myself as big as possible (which at 6'6" is not hard to do) and charged straight for the dog, getting ready to kick it with my size 12's if necessary. I think I freaked the dog out because it stopped dead in its tracks about ten feet from me, then turned around and ran away as fast as it could. Boo ya!
Wed 5/13/09 - I fell asleep on the couch for the last half hour of the Lost season finale. That sums up my view of this entire waste of a time-travel season. Zzzzz......
Tues 5/12/09 - Our 2nd grade son had his school music program tonight. Half of the children were dressed as dogs and the other as cats. He was a dog and did a great job singing his songs and doing his speaking part, floppy dog ears and all. The theme of the program was to teach children that even cats and dogs can get along if they have an open mind and get to know each other. While this is a great message for kids, I just kept thinking, "Dude! Dogs! Just go over there and beat the crud out of those sass-mouth cats! I mean, you're dogs for crying out loud! You don't need to take that from those powerless cats!" Maybe this mentality is why I ended up getting an MBA instead of teaching elementary school.
Mon 5/11/09 - FHE was fun tonight. We started off with a rousing version of "Do As I'm Doing", which got the kids so hyper we had to sing "I Am A Child of God" to settle them down. Our 5-year-old daughter shared a lesson from The Friend on being nice to others. We played hide 'n seek and the NMW had the best hiding spot of the evening when she hid behind a partially opened shower curtain. Dessert was a choice between red velvet cake, ice cream sandwiches or a fudgesicle. Nothing too memorable, just a spiritual but fun bonding moment as a family.
Sun 5/10/09 - Today was Mother's Day. Early-morning church leadership meetings were canceled so I got to make the NMW pancakes for breakfast. Unfortunately our 7-year-old son woke up sick and could not go to church. I had to be at church for my calling, so the NMW got stuck at home with our sick son, our 11-month-old, and our 6-year-old nephew we are babysitting. So much for a stress-free Mother's Day. She requested a garden salad and baked potato for dinner (sweet, easy cooking!) and red velvet cake for dessert. The kids made her cards and I gave her a massage/pedicure at a local day spa. I love you, NMW!
Sat 5/09/09 - I got my hands dirty and grimy today and I feel like a real man for once. My manliness got kicked off by extending our garden and adding 200 pounds of top soil. I got to use a shovel and relocate worms with my bare hands and everything! I then installed a ceiling fan in my son's room since the warm summer months are approaching. This allowed me to bust out my cordless drill, connect electrical wires, and wipe sweat from my brow with the bottom of my t-shirt. The testosterone is flowing so much in the aftermat that I feel like I should grow a beard or go watch a tractor pull or something.
Fri 5/08/09 - I made an Arby's run for dinner tonight. We have our routine down on the 5 for $5.55, so we can normally get by on about $12 at Arby's. But when I went through the drive-thru there were no 5 for $5.55 signs and I was told that the promotion had ended. I placed my order at the regular menu item price and it came to $18! After pondering my options I decided to quickly pull up to the window and tell him to cancel my order. I then drove down the street to Wendy's and got dinner for $12. Is that what it means to "live providently?"
Thurs 5/07/09 - I feel so bad for my wife. She never, ever gets sick. But for the last two days she has been under the weather. To make matters worse, our five-year-old daughter has pink eye and our eleven-month-old has a slight fever. I've had to pick up the slack a little bit around the house, which explains how our toddler ended up eating potting soil from one of our indoor house plants today. Get well, soon, hon. We all need you....and so do the plants.
Wed 5/06/09 - I have almost given up completely on Lost. The whole time travel concept drives me crazier than Hurley when he's off the island and not taking his meds. When time travel gets introduced there are no consequences to people's actions because somebody can always go back in time and change what happened. Why should I care about who lives, who dies, who gets swine flu, etc. when it can just be undone next week? The finale had better get everybody back to the present time or I'm not coming back next season. Unless, of course, the writers go back in time and scrap the whole time travel plot.
Tues 5/05/09 - Today is my dad's 60th birthday. I really wish I could have been in Utah to celebrate with him, my mom, siblings, nieces and nephews. I've blogged before about how great my dad is. For his gift this year I got him a ginormous Utah Jazz mug to keep him company as he watches sports on his big screen in the man cave. I always look forward to chillin' with dad in the man cave during trips home to Utah. Happy birthday, dad! And feliz cinco de mayo, too!
Mon 5/04/09 - Yesterday was the birthday for my best friend since childhood. We have not really lived close to each other since high school, but I always call him and he always calls me on our birthdays. While I have a decent number of friends, I don't really have a lot of life-long buddies. In fact, I am still only close with two of my friends from my younger years. Facebook has been a great resource keeping in touch with all of my friends back home in Utah, but there is nothing like the annual phone calls with my BFF from when we wore Underoos and built forts in the back yard.
Sun 5/03/09 - The NMW and I fasted together today for a family that is going through some major trials right now. Fasting for other people makes it so much easier to about it with the right attitude. When the hunger pangs hit, you just envision the people you are fasting for and feel good knowing that your sacrifice and prayers will bless them in some small way. Knowing that you are fasting to bless other people makes it easier to ignore the Barbecue Pringles and Girl Scout Samoa Cookie ice cream in the freezer. (The ice cream was quickly consumed after the fast, however.)
Sat 5/02/09 - We made the five hour drive back home from Myrtle Beach today. I always look forward to long road trips with the NMW. It gives us a good time to just talk about serious things to silly things - like what we would do with a million dollars. We drove right through the area that was devastated by wildfires a few weeks ago, and much of it was still smoldering. We had to make a bathroom stop and stumbled into a quaint little ice cream shop in the middle of nowhere. We were able to play some pool, eat great ice cream, and even got undercharged by about $5 on our order. I argued a little with the cashier that we owed her more money, but she insisted that she was right. So hey, I tried.
Fri 5/01/09 - The beach was beautiful today, though it is hard for me to watch all three kids at the same time while the NMW is in class. The beach is a dangerous place! Our 11-month-old daughter is constantly eating sand, my 5-year-old daughter can't swim, and my 7-year-old son keeps going too far out into the waves for comfort with his boogie board. I'm on high alert. I vow that I will go home with the same number of kids that I arrived here with.
Thurs 4/30/09 - Aaaahhh! I took today and tomorrow as vacation days from work. The NMW has to take continuing ed classes to keep her dental hygiene license, so she signed up for some marathon classes Thurs-Sat. The classes are in Myrtle Beach, SC, and since we already paid for her hotel we decided to make a family vacation out of it. Good times.
Wed 4/29/09 - I had been overseeing Human Resources for six plants in the Southeast and East coast. Today I was asked to pick up oversight for an additional plant in California that my company acquired last year. I am looking forward to a new challenge and it is somewhat reassuring to be asked to do more when everybody is jittery about their jobs. The downside? Flying from NC to CA as a 6'6" lug with a herniated disc in his lower back. I wonder if they will let me lie down in the aisle?
Tues 4/28/09 - I am now claiming to be an official 6'6" after a recent conversation with a smart, trusted, basketball-savvy friend. Over the past few years I have told people who ask me how tall I am that, "I'm a little over six-five", but was hesitant to claim the big six-six. I was reluctant to add the additional inch because I always chuckle when guys try to inflate their height and profess to be 6'1", for example, when they are really only 5'11". I don't want to be one of those guys, but it's time to tell the world - I am SIX-SIX. And believe me, it's not easy being tall as you can find out here in one of my all-time favorite NMH posts.
Mon 4/27/09 - We went to Moe's for dinner tonight. No, not Moe's Tavern, Moe's the burrito place. There was a special for a burrito, chips and drink meal for $5.55. The kids love it when we get meal deals because it means they don't have to drink water with their dinner. We almost always get water when we eat out, so having a cup full of Sprite gets the kids pretty giddy. We try to "live providently" by avoiding the extra $1.39 per person to get a beverage. Plus, if The Waterboy didn't teach us anything else, we know that water is good for us...and football is the devil.
Sun 4/26/09 - Attended Fannie Feaster's funeral today. She was a convert to the church and we will miss her dearly. Her family requested that their Baptist church handle the funeral services. It was my first Baptist funeral service in a predominantly black congregation (probably 7 white and 200 African Americans in attendance.) Baptists and Mormons share many similar views of the resurrection and finding peace and comfort in the Lord. The main difference is the volume with which we discuss/sing about those doctrines. My 5-year-old daughter told me at the end that she was, "almost deaf" because of the drums, organ and microphone volume. In all, our Baptist friends were very kind and welcoming to us as we paid our final respects to Sis. Feaster and I am grateful for the experience we had today.
Sat 4/25/09 - Another great day. At 7:30 a.m. I was at the church for our Area Day of Service. After some donuts and milk it was off to the Children's Museum to volunteer on their 10th anniversary celebration. My wife and I rotated watching/playing with our kids and helping with a game from 9:30-12:30. After that we came home and the kids splashed around the hot tub while I shot hoops in the back yard. Then the NMW and I had our weekly date night. We left the kids with the babysitter, did a quick K-Mart run, played tennis, then ended with cold, refreshing drinks at Sonic. Good times!
Fri 4/24/09 - Great day today. After a productive Friday at work I returned home to learn that my 7-year-old son earned his fifth consecutive "green card" for good behavior at school. My daughter just turned five last week and still had birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, so we loaded the kids into the minivan and went down to Target. We bought two of the $1.50 drink/popcorn combos, bought a small celebratory gift for our son and helped our daughter buy another Polly Pockets with her birthday cash. We then had fried rice for dinner and ate on the patio just to enjoy the warm Spring weather. After the kids went to bed the NMW and I ended the night relaxing in the hot tub. The only way the day could have been better is if the Lakers were up 3-o on the Jazz instead of 2-1 after Kobe's 5 for 147 shooting performance night last night. Oh well, there must be opposition in all things, I guess.
Thurs 4/23/09 - I got sick at work today. Right in the middle of doing a phone interview with a candidate for a Director-level role my head started pounding and I nearly barfed twice. Being the loyal HR person that I am I sucked it up, turned off the lights in my office, laid down on the floor, and gutted out the next 40 minutes to finish the interview. As soon as the interview ended (with no puking, fortunately) I went home, slept for five hours, watched Judge Joe Brown, Judge Judy, Judge Alex, ate jello and drank Gatorade. My awesome wife took the kids to the park while my migraine passed. So thanks, hon, for creating a quite place to recuperate and for providing me with nummy nummy jello.
Wed 4/22/09 - Since today is Earth Day (sorry, I always snicker at stuff like that) I just want to mention two earth-related successes in my life. First, I planted grass seed in some of the dead spots in my lawn and it is actually growing! Nobody is more surprised about this than I am. It's like I have a dozen chia pets in my yard. Second, our family planted a little garden this week. I never thought that I would enjoy gardening, but I do. I can't wait to eat the fruits of my labors and feel all self-reliant and proud.
Tuesday 4/21/09 - Adam Lambert of American Idol - you have officially converted me. I disliked you from day one because you were way too theatrical and over-the-top for my taste. But over the past few weeks I have found myself excited for your performances and then being completely blown with your songs. Anoop and Lil - it's time for you to go. Now. Seriously.
Monday 4/20/09 - I learned that a sister in my ward passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. She and I spent a fair amount of time with each other because of my calling and I knew her trials and challenges very well. She was converted to the church a few years ago and her knowledge of the gospel supported her through many of her trials. She and I spoke over the phone on Wednesday 4/14 and she thanked me for being there for her during a difficult time in her life. She sounded happy and hopeful. I am so grateful that she called. While her unexpected passing saddens me, what a blessing it is to know that through Jesus Christ's atonement that will be resurrected and that life does not end with death. I will miss you, my friend.
Sunday 4/19/09 - We left the Marriott on Saturday and drove to Maryland to spend the night with our BYU friends, the Boungiovannis. They have four boys between the ages of two and seven, and the Normal Mormon Boy had a riot with them. The NMW and I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning just talking with our friends. We then went to sacrament meeting and hit the road for home. Our 10-month-old daughter was as cooperative as a hungry badger strapped in a car seat for the last hour of the drive, but overall the drive home was fine. I loved getting away for a few days. Tomorrow - back to reality.
Saturday 4/18/09 - We went with the Peos to the DC Smithsonian National Zoo. The traffic was out of control. We were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Connecticut Avenue for over an hour. The closest parking spot to the zoo was almost in New Jersey. Once in the zoo we were delighted to see an infant ape clinging to its mother as she sauntered around the enclosure. But the coolest moment was watching a massive giant panda snap a large piece of bamboo with its jaws then rip it apart with its claws. Impressive.
Friday 4/17/09 - Instead of fighting the traffic in downtown DC we decided to ride the train into the city. What a fiasco! In the end I almost got arrested by the transit authority. Instead of purchasing four individual tickets for my family I just bought one ticket and put $20 on it. I got through the turnstile just fine then ran the ticket through for my daughter, who couldn't get through. So I just lifted her over the turnstile. The same thing happened with my son. The NMW went through a special area for strollers and infants. When I told the Metro employee that I had problems with my ticket and had to lift the kids over the turnstile, the Metro employee got very belligerent. "That's called turnstile hopping and it's against the law!", she repeated more than once. Look, lady, I paid for the rides. It's not my fault you don't have signs specifying that cards can only be used once! Sheesh!
Thursday 4/16/09 - Took today off as a vacation day so that we could hit the road for Washington, DC! Our great friends the Peos recently moved from California to New York so we decided to each make the 5-6 hour drive and meet in DC for a little getaway. When we travel we normally stay in cheap, dirty, smelly Priceline motels, but this time we stayed at the Marriott. When we walked into the room my daughter inhaled deeply and remarked, "Hey, it doesn't stink in here!" We got to DC before the Peos so we went to the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument tonight. I love the history and feel of DC. Walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is always a powerful, almost reverent, moment.
Wednesday 4/15/09 - Had a low key birthday party for my 5-year-old daughter. She chose to go to the SciWorks science museum while I was at work. I then met up with the family for dinner at McDonald's (again, her choice) and then a night cap by watching Bolt on DVD. I have always wanted my daughter to remain an imaginative, loving, helpful four year old forever, so this birthday is kind of a hard one for me to celebrate. But, hey, she had a great day, which is all you want as a parent.
Tuesday 4/14/09 - Today I had to drive to one of the plants where I oversee human resources which is located about two hours from home. In all honesty, I enjoy the solitude of just driving for four hours all by myself. Sometimes I listen to my podcasts from ESPN, This American Life or current politics. After enough from the iPod I will turn everything off and just think about whatever comes to mind - family, job, church calling, life in general. Then, after I get bored of myself, I will sing along to my iPod as if I were an American Idol contestant. Maybe I should have been a long-haul trucker...
Monday 4/13/09 - We are heeding the counsel of the prophet and planting a small garden in the backyard. I'm such a gardening novice that I had to call Home Depot to ask them the difference between top soil and potting soil. Let's just say it's going to take a lot of faith, prayer, work and luck to get anything out of our garden this year.
Sunday 4/12/09 - I was asked to be a special guest teacher in Relief Society today for Easter Sunday. Since I could choose the topic I focused on several of the questions asked in Matthew 26 - To what purpose is this waste (oil)?, What will ye give me and I will deliver him unto you? Lord, is it I? Could ye not watch with me one hour? And, ultimately, Father why hast thou forsaken me? and Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, for he is risen! I learned a great deal from preparing this lesson and spending an hour with the good sisters of my ward.
Saturday 4/11/09 - We took the kids to a community Easter egg hunt and it was a disaster! Due to muddy grounds they moved the event indoors into a basketball gym where 4,000 kids were going to wrestle over about 400 eggs. We decided to hightail it out of there before our kids got trampled. We ended up doing an egg hunt in our backyard and buying some seedlings from the Farmer's Market - cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and squash to plant out back.
Friday 4/10/09 - What a morning! Today is a company-paid holiday for Good Friday so now job to worry about. My awesome wife let me sleep in - until 10:00! I can't remember the last time I slept that long without the assistance of hydrocodone. Not only did she let me sleep in, but the NMW also gave me breakfast in bed consisting of two McDonalds ham and egg McMuffins! I then spent the morning planting grass seed in areas of our front lawn in the areas that died in the drought two years ago. It was the first time in about a year that my back has felt good enough to let me get all dirty, sweaty, grimy and manly. Great day!
Thurs 4/09/09 - The Normal Mormon Wife took a well-deserved break and headed out for Girl's Night Out, so I was home with all three kids. With the weather getting warmer, I busted out the little propane hibachi and grilled some hot dogs. At one point I simply referred to them as "dogs" and my 4-year-old daughter got a horrified look on her face, pointed to her dinner, and said, "Are these things made out of dead dogs?!" Ummm...hopefully not. Not likely. Well, maybe. Alright, probably. But - mmmmm! - those were some good eats!
Wed 4/08/09 - Tonight at church the youth had combined activity and had a number of challenges they had to complete as part of a race. One of the activities was that the youth had to make me laugh. Two of the teams made me laugh with bodily function jokes. The other team had one of its members try to tell me the whole, "So the prophet is in a limo that gets pulled over...." joke. After about two minutes the young man completely forgot where the joke was going, which was funnier than the joke itself. Needless to say, he made me laugh. And he didn't even have to reference taking a #2. His team deserved extra points.
Tue 4/07/09 - In honor of March Madness and Stake basketball drawing to a close, I present to you Jim Rome's take on "Pick-up Guy." There is Old Guy, Black Hole, Serious Guy, and The Jerk. I am definitely "Serious Guy", all the way down to knowing my stats at any moment of the game. Romie should pay me a royalty for his video montage, however, because I did a post about the different types of Church ball players last year and I think he boosted some of my ideas.
Mon 4/06/09 - With UNC running away with the NCAA title this year my worst March Madness bracket will finally be killed. Man, my picks were horrible this year! (Thanks a lot, stupid Memphis, BC, and Syracuse! A pox be upon ye!) Last year I ended up in the 99th percentile for Yahoo March Madness leagues. This year? Pending the official result of the UNC-Mich. St. game, I am currently in 35th of 38 teams in the NMH league that I set up. Even though this year stunk, I can't wait until next year!
Sun 4/05/09 - My favorite quote from General Conference came from Pres. Monson: "There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us. My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith." Hopefully, through faith, our collective future will be so bright that we gotta wear shades. (I'm assuming you're doin' all right, gettin' good grades...)
Sat 4/04/09 - Really enjoyed General Conference today. Elder Hales talk about provident living, avoiding debt, and controlling our wants was great. Either that or else I tend to remember the first talk of conference because the kids aren't going nuts yet. I was also relieved to see Pres. Uchdorf and Pres. Monson make small mistakes while conducting. Pres. Uchdorf forgot to announce the audit and statistical reports while Pres. Monson essentially made everybody sustain Elder Neal Anderson twice by using some confusing wording. Knowing that even they make mistakes conducting makes me feel better about the time when I was conducting Ward Conference and forgot to turn the time over to the High Counselor to sustain the general and local authorities. We ended up doing the sustainings after the sacrament.
Fri 4/03/09 - This is what I overheard the 4-year-old Normal Mormon Daughter say tonight as she looked up at the stars: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight...I wish that a real unicorn will show up at my house and I can ride him to school every day." She was so honest, sincere and hopeful that I bet she'll be disappointed when Uni the Unicorn (that's the name she normally gives her unicorns) doesn't show up in the morning. I know I say this too often, but I honestly wish she could stay four years old forever.
Thurs 4/02/09 - One of my general duties around the house is to get the kids in the bath, which I did tonight. This responsibility often ends with me having to endure one of my biggest pet peeves - WET SOCKS! Tonight I ended up stepping into a big puddle the NMB left on the bathroom floor and soaked my socks. Maybe from now on I'll just tell the kids to scrub themselves down from head to toe with antibacterial wipes instead of taking baths. That way my socks will stay dry and my kids will have a gentle lemon fragrance in addition to being clean.
Wed 4/01/09 - The only person who tried to trick me on April Fool's was my 4-year-old daughter. After much conspiratorial whispering back and forth with my wife, my daughter said, "Dad, ask me what color of card (for behavior) I got at school today." I asked her and she immediately said, "A 'red card'. April Fools! My teacher said I could trick you today!" She laughed and giggled at her cleverness, and so did I. Nice one, sweetie.
Tues 3/31/09 - I got a new boss at work today and she will be based out of Framingham, Mass. We spoke over the phone and had a pleasant conversation. She will be my fourth boss in three years, so I know the "break in the new boss" routine pretty well. After watching The Office last week I have reminded myself to 1) Not wear a tuxedo to work, and 2) Avoid telling my new boss that my job is "made up." Thanks for the career advice, Jim Halpert.
Mon 3/30/09 - Today was a Teacher Work Day so I took a vacation day from work and went with the family to the NC Zoo. One cool moment was having a large gorilla try to punch the Normal Mormon Boy in the face through the glass. Later, outside the elephant exhibit, the kids had a great time playing with a dung beetle sculpture. The dung beetles had make a large ball of..umm..dung and the kids kept yelling, "Look! I'm touching poo!" It was one of the few instances in which they could use the words "dung" or "poo" in public and not get chastised by their parents, so they ran with it as long as they could.
Sun 3/29/09 - Today was fast Sunday. The NMW and I fasted together for a special purpose, so it was a meaningful day. About 17 hours into the fast it become nearly impossible for me to stop thinking about my PF Changs Beef Sichuan leftovers waiting for me in the fridge. No, not waiting for me. Mocking me! I swear I could hear the beef taunting me from afar, "Neener, neener, neener! I'm delicious, you're starving, and you can't eat me! Loser!" When I broke my fast it was with my PF Changs leftovers. Mmmmm....What a perfect way to end a long fast.
Sat 3/28/09 - My wife's BFF is in town from Kansas and we always have a great time with her. Last night we got a babysitter and went out to dinner. We went to a local Asian restaurant and as we explained what was on the menu we kept saying, "...so it tastes kind of like PF Chang's, but it's not quite as good..." After a few of those conversations we got up, told our server we were leaving, and drove across town to PF Changs. Totally worth it! I love that place. I can still taste a little bit of the spice from the Beef Sichuan in my mouth and have leftovers waiting for me in the fridge. Good times.
Fri 3/27/09 - After consulting with the NMW, I told the Normal Mormon Boy the truth about the Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. His response was, "I knew it!" He did not seem disappointed nor did it appear that the world as he knew it came crashing down on his head. I was much more depressed when I learned Magic Johnson was HIV positive than the NMB was yesterday. I hate to sound like a nostalgic old man, but it is both sad and exciting to see my kids growing up so fast.
Thurs 3/26/09 - The 7-year-old Normal Mormon Boy has lost both of his top two front teeth within the last week. I think you could drive a Smart car between the gap in his mouth. As I drove him to school this morning he started to sing, "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." He is at the point in life where is is 90% sure that the Tooth Fairy is make believe, but he holds out on the 10% belief that she's real just in case. Maybe tonight I'll put a note from an angry Tooth Fairy under his pillow instead of $2. That'll learn him!
Wed 3/25/09 - There is no way Allison Iraheta on American Idol is only 16. She has way too much confidence, power, and stage presence for only being a newly-minted Laurel. The girl is amazing. She's the LeBron James of the singing world. And right now, she's my favorite to win AI.
Tues 3/24/09 - I had to miss American Idol tonight so that Pres. Obama could stand before the nation and remind us that, "Being...uhhh...President....ummm....is....ya know....hard?" Is there an number I can call to vote for that to never happen again? I would have rather endured another week of Tatiana Del Toro than no Idol at all.
Mon 3/23/09 - I am pretty sure that Aetna stands for "Aggressively Evade Those Nagging Accounts." The Normal Mormon Family must be classified as a "nagging account." We are currently disputing THREE separate rejection notices from Aetna for from three different health care providers - our kids' dentist, my chiropractor and my physical therapist. In two of the cases Aetna conveniently "never received" the referrals from our PCP's (even though they were sent) and repeatedly denied payments in excess of $3,500. Funny, Aetna never manages to lose a payment that gets sent to them. What a pain.
Sun 3/22/09 - Ended the day hot tubbing with the NMW after the kids went to bed. We never thought that we would be "hot tub people" since I don't have thick, curly chest hair, wear gold chains or use cheap cologne. But the previous owners of our house had a nice hot tub that we inherited and we love it. It's the prefect way to just relax, block out the world and have some uninterrupted time to talk and laugh together.
Sat 3/21/09 - Time for me to cowboy up, strap it on, give 110%, and take it like a man! Either that or run away screaming like a little girl who went to "The Institute of Terror" a year or two too early over Halloween. The Normal Mormon Wife is taking an all-day continuing education class today so I have the three kids to myself from 7:30a.m-6:00 p.m. Breakfast was a success. The 10-month-old baby girl only puked up her peach yogurt once on me. Wish me luck.