31 December 2010

New Years Eve

It's December 31st, the last day of 2010.  It's early here and I'm glad to see that it's already 2011 in some places, like Sydney (see fireworks to the left).  I'm going to let that be my celebration.  Because I have not slept in past 6AM the entire time I've been off.  Since December 23rd, I've woken up between 415AM and 5AM, except for one delightful day when I made it to 6AM.  No reason at all for the wake-ups.  I've not had my alarm clock on.  I've been looking forward to sleeping in and it has not happened.  Once.  So I'm pretty much doubtful on the whole "Ring in the New Year!" thing.

2010 - it's been a good year for the residents of the Den.  I'm not going to do a recap of the year here - the blog speaks for itself and tells the story of what we've done.  I'm glad we've had the last few weeks with Our Lady of BYU home and that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I have been off work.  We've had a good time.  We've even done some good.  Last night we met some friends at Feed My Starving Children and helped to package boxes of food for starving children.  It was cool.  It's a good organization and if you're still looking for a worthy donation cause at the end of the year, this is worth it.

Here's to an excellent 2011.  Happy New Year!

27 December 2010


22 years!
As mentioned in yesterday''s post celebrating CAL's birthday, I pointed out that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I had chosen the 27th of December 1988 as our wedding date and today is our anniversary.  We celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary today.

These past 22 years have been pretty darn amazing.  We've grown together, learned together, traveled together, been tested and challenged, and overcome.  It's been really good.  I can't imagine a different life.  This is how it was supposed to be.  And through it all, we've been richly blessed.  Our greatest blessings are these three:
Couldn't be prouder of them...
We've spent our anniversary with Our Lady of BYU, CAL, and the Boy.  We started the day with family pictures which will constitute our now annual belated holiday card (for whatever reason, we can't get Christmas cards out before Christmas).  That was lovely - it was freezing.  So here's hoping our awesome photographer, Nancy, can airbrush out the watery eyes, red noses, and frozen snot.

After that, we thought 'Let's keep the cold streak going' and we took off for the Morton Arboretum to snowshoe!  We had a really good time.  Who knew snowshoeing could be so fun?!  We watched our kids as they plowed through the snow, having a good time, and it was a wonderful manifestation of our 22 years together.
So tonight we'll finish our night with friends having a little post-Christmas dinner party.  It'll be casual and nice.  It will be a good way to cap our day.  I'll sleep well tonight, recognizing how fortunate I am to have married an amazing woman.  She still makes me want to be better every day.

26 December 2010


18 years old today
The end of the year brings a lot of significant activity (there's a little thing called Christmas that kind of takes over) in the Den but it also highlights our lack of foresight when it came to planning a wedding and having a baby (in that order, by the way).  Why?

Here's why....first, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML got married on the 27th of December, smack in the middle of holiday stuff.  Nice, right?  Well, we got married in between semesters and this was the day the temple in which we were married was opened, so you do what you have to do.

Secondly, our planned timing for our second child was off.  Or rather, the day she decided to appear was off.  Eighteen years ago today, 26 December, our second child and our second daughter, CAL, was born.  So on top of Christmas, we added a wedding anniversary and a birthday.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I could not be prouder of my daughter.  She's growing up and is making excellent choices.  She's ready for the next chapter in her book of life.  She'll be leaving for college this summer and I know she's ready to go.  She's going to do great.  She's brought us an enormous amount of joy.   She's a wonderful reflection of her mom.  I'm very proud of my girl.  She's growing up and she's doing it right.  Love that girl!  Happy birthday, CAL!

25 December 2010

On a Quiet Christmas Morning

It's still too early here in the Den.  Once again, I've awoken obscenely early - 415AM, just like yesterday, unable to go back to sleep.  The house is quiet, well, quiet enough that I can hear the ticking of the clock on the other side of the room (until, of course, our furnace kicks on, and then at that point, the dead will rise from the racket).

It's snowed a bit overnight so there's shoveling to be done.  I'll do that on my own.  The Boy can sleep (Merry Christmas to you!).  I'm looking forward to it, actually.  There's something peaceful to the work of shoveling snow.  Or maybe it's just peaceful today, given that it's Christmas.  Anyway, I'll throw on my iPod and listen to Handel's Messiah as I do.  What a great piece of music!

It's going to be a good Christmas day - we had a great dinner as a family last night, shared our favorite Christmas stories, and laughed a bit.  It was a good set-up for today.  I have the baked french toast concoction mostly ready to go and then we move on to our traditional Mexican lunch.  We scored fresh tamales (rojo y verde) yesterday after quixotic journey and I can't wait to try those.  Nothing says Christmas like tamales and enchiladas!

It's just going to be good to spend the day together as a family and with friends.  We have been richly blessed and I'm so grateful for the One, our Savior, whose birth we celebrate today.  For without Him, I would not have the blessings that I do.  I am thankful.

23 December 2010

On my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary

Today is my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary.  This marks the second anniversary my Mom will celebrate alone since Dad died a few months shy of their 51st anniversary.  My thoughts are certainly with her today as I know she misses Dad terribly and I'm quite certain she'd be just as happy celebrating with him on the other side, rather than being alone here.  But, alas, that's not how it is right now.

I am most appreciative of the example set in my parents' long and loving marriage.  My father put my mother first.  She was his queen and he treated her accordingly.  Awesome example.  It still seems unreal that my parents would even find each other - Dad raised in Philadelphia in a Sunday coat-and-tie, dress for dinner family and Mom raised in Ogden, UT, in a farming/cowboy family.  Different backgrounds to say the least.  But their story was meant to be.  I'm glad it was written the way it was.  I'm forever blessed to have been their first-born.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.  And Dad, I miss you every day.

And now the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML find ourselves about to celebrate our 22nd anniversary.  While it's safe to say our story has been written far differently than my parents was, it's been a great read and it's not done.  That's pretty exciting.  I'm glad we're writing the next chapters together.

19 December 2010

Avoiding the Christmas Sales Onslaught

I am pleased to report that I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday.  And I am even more pleased to report that I totally avoided this nightmare:
Can you imagine a mob scene like this?  For what?  A couple bucks off a bad perfume set for your wife?  No, thank you.

Thanks to a bit of online shopping, free shipping, and one big box retailer (and not the great Satan that is Wal-Mart), I got all my shopping done yesterday.  The Boy was along for the ride and he was a good sport.  We had lunch at the Naf Naf to celebrate our victory over the shopping demons, and that was awesome, as always.

Accomplishing that allowed me to watch the Kona Ironman coverage, which made me tear up in the last eight minutes or so.  Seriously.  Then the Boy and I went down to the Fat Bean to listen to his buddies' jazz combo play.  These kids were pretty darn talented.  It was a good end to the day.

Only four more working days this coming week and then I am off for about ten days.  I could not be more pleased.  Really, really pleased.  And speaking of pleased, thanks to a suggestion from the running icon, Jeff, I think I have my first half-marathon of 2011 selected.  I'm kind of excited about it.  More on that later.

17 December 2010

A Christmas Song I Really Like

My attitude toward most holidays is pretty dim and I can get mighty Grinch-like around Christmas.  I am delighted to say that I have yet to step foot in the Seventh Ring of Hell this year (any mall) and I'm hoping I won't have to at all (thank you, online shopping).  One of the things that tears me about the holiday season is the music - the music that's been playing on some radio stations here since Halloween.  It's mostly cloying and awful, with the following exception:

This is pretty awesome!  Handel's "Messiah" kills.  It brings me to tears pretty much anytime I hear it.

Now I can't help but wonder why, when on the rare occasion I go to the mall, that the only mob, flash or otherwise, I see is a gaggle of people who just hit the clearance sale at Skanks 'R Us, showing off really bad mullets and tattoos.  Why can't I see and hear something like this?  Such is my lot in life.

10 December 2010

In-home healthcare?

So I find myself writing this post outside the normal confines of the now snowy Den.  I've headed south to warmer climes for several days to tend to my Mom as she continues her fiesta of recovery from this dang broken arm.

Last night was my first night here and my first night alone as Mom's 'nurse.'  Given how she reacted to me, you'd think I showed up looking like the male version of Nurse Ratchet.  I am eternally grateful for the nurses we've had with Mom the last several weeks.  One in particular, Chris, has been an absolute Godsend.  She has cared wonderfully for Mom and Mom loves her.  She has made it clear, painfully clear, to me that I am no Chris.  This morning as I made her get out of bed (good pete, it was 930AM - it was time), I was informed my bedside manner was lacking.  I'll give her that.  I don't have a particularly good bedside manner.  Talk to my wife and children, they'll vouch for that.  I find that I do better focusing on the tasks of getting the job done first and then serving up the 'sugar' later.  But the sugar isn't in huge supply in my mannerisms.

It was funny this morning as Mom announced she hoped I never had to go through what she's experiencing and I asked her why.  She quickly responded that no one will be able to care for me because I'm an awful patient.  She's right.  I should probably work on that.

A few more days of this to go.  It'll be fun to see how this turns out.  This much I know - I don't think I've ever seen a woman as beloved by her friends than my mom.  Wow!  I spend a lot of my time deflecting visitors and phone calls.  But each one of them is a blessing to Mom and I'm grateful, very grateful for that. 

Time for to get back into my squeaky, sensible white nurses' shoes.  Mom's ringing her bell...

03 December 2010

On making an orphan cry

I've made it a point to NOT talk much about my day-to-day professional work life here in the Den.  That's by design.  The point of this blog is not to go on and on about what I might be doing at work or to rag on my job or my employer, who I need not mention.  Far too many people have been fired invited to find other employment because of a blog post written in the heat of the moment. 

That being said, I'm going to ask you to indulge me for this post.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a local orphanage as a part of a work volunteer service group.  Now don't get all Dickensian on me and envision the worst (I'm talking to you, li'l orphan Annie) but don't go all "Oliver" on me either.

Please, sir, may I have another?
We worked at a well-kept, comfortable, large and secure home that serves as an orphanage for a group of children between the ages of 3 and 11.  The facility serves children who have been abandoned or removed from their homes permanently due to abuse, etc.  They've seen more in their young lives than anyone of would want to imagine.

Our first task was to work the kids on their homework.  The kids' regular tutors were there and we could pick any table.  I found a table with a fourth-grader and his tutor.  The boy was whip-smart and was cruising through his list of spelling words.  Shortly after that, another boy, about six years old, was brought to our table and that's where things went south.  As he sat down, I turned to him and said hello.  He took one look at me and let out a shriek of pure terror and burst into a gale of tears.  My heart, which is notoriously hard, essentially shattered in that moment.  I feared instantly that I reminded him of someone who had done him harm.  I was helpless for those quick few seconds before one of the staff was at his side.  She quickly calmed his fears and assured him that I was OK.  She then turned to me and soother my fears as well.  She encouraged me to start reading the boy a book and that's what I did.  It wasn't long before the tears dried and a smile cracked.  Before long, we were negotiating the best way to make the letter "Q."  It wasn't long before we had to move on to some other tasks.  I was thrilled that this boy was still smiling as I left.

We did several other things while there that were incredibly rewarding.  The experience is still very near to me, and dare I say, tender.  I'm still reeling at the depth of depravity and evil in the world.  These young children been abused in unbelievable ways and now face an uphill battle to NOT have the system fail them.  I was uplifted by the work of the staff at this specific place and it gave me hope.  In spite of the evil out there, there are good, good people and they are doing good things. 

As I told my family about this experience, we are considering how we might give back this Christmas season.  We're looking forward to finding a project or two that allows us to make life better, if even for a few minutes, for someone.  It's something we need to do because we have been tremendously blessed.