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[Comments] (1) forgettable week: What a disaster. Flew to CA (Anaheim) for the week on Monday. Monday was ok. A lot of work going on. Tuesday got worse. By Wed I realized that I had no support above me or beneath me to complete this project. I was a manager being asked to play all roles, which meant forgoing sleep, food, and a good attitude in the process.

The nearest hotel EY would approve was 10 miles away, which is a big deal in LA. I also got pulled over for wreckless driving but the cop took one look at my UT license and let me off with a warning. He also asked me if I knew where I was going and instructed me to be more careful getting back on the freeway, because freeways are a new-fangled CA concept I couldn't possibly navigate. Still, no ticket was nice.

Thursday the team finally started showing support, but also required me to change my Friday flight to Saturday, due to said work overload. Meanwhile, as the team trotted off Friday night to a work party, the lone SLC-based professional burned the midnight oil. Friday night I was given more work, and Saturday saw my flight delayed. I finally got home around 2 pm. I was supposed to fly to Orlando at 8 am Sunday morning for training but I said hell no to that and am staying home. No one knows I'm playing hooky but I have a feeling I'll still have plenty of work show up in my Inbox come Monday to keep me busy. At least now I won't have to work all night after training and fighting more jet lag. And I'll actually get to see my family for a change, since it's back to LA the week after. It's the pits.

I think I'm ready to go back to India now.

[Comments] (5) a funny thing happened on the way to the house: The auspicious Ernst & Young Salt Lake City office is located conveniently across the street from the homeless shelter. Today someone followed me to my car, began crying about how he fell asleep at the bus station waiting for a ride home to Dallas and how his bag got stolen. The police wouldn't give him money; Temple Square wouldn't give him money, and he just wanted to go home and needed $13.87 plus would like some food. I gave him a $20 (which I try to keep in my car for emergencies) and he was floored. He thanked me, asked if he could give me a hug, then did so before I could object, told me I'm generous and good looking (I had a hunch he might be playing for the other team) and went on his way.

I'm going to start keeping that $20 in smaller bills going forward. Did I do the wrong thing?

I'm not interested in what Jesus would do. The older I get, and the more I study his life, the LESS I pretend to know about what Jesus would do. So while the Democrats and the Republicans fight about whether or not Jesus was occupy Wall St (I vote yay but what do I know), I don't pretend to know if Jesus would give a potential loser means to further perpetuate his loser-ness.

I do feel good about it. I can't possibly judge the intentions of everyone, and I really was not in the mood to let him in my car, driver him to Wendy's and then the train station to purchase him the required meal and ticket to Dallas, and, while time is money, it was easier to give him $20. But next time, I'm going to be more firm about the hug thing.

[Comments] (2) sorting piles: After surviving India for a whole year with a lot less stuff, I'm just amazed at all the junk in my house. So I'm decluttering, filling the trash and recycle bins, and making numerous DI trips.

My latest binge is going through my mission stuff. I saved ALL of my weekly blue missionary reports. Yeah, like I care to look at all the blue oceans. So I kept one from each companionship and threw the rest in the recycle bin. I also kept all my letters. And my parents kept all the letters that came to me. I've re-read all the letters from friends and then thrown them away. They were fun to read again, but also awkward, because some were a little personal for me now that I'm married. So into the recycle bin they went.

Some of these letters were post-mission from girls. Susie and I made fun of most of those then threw them away. Some good memories, some good laughs, but mostly forgettable times.

I would love to keep all the letters from my dear Filipino sisters, but I honestly cannot read them. The handwriting is too difficult and if I can't read it now, then when? So into the trash bin.

I'm trying to keep the family letters but not the ones from my dad. They are too preachy with nothing about what life was like while I was gone, you know, something a historian would like to read. But I did keep a few gems. One is a letter he wrote me from my dog. It says thinks like "Woof woof Today your dad went to the temple bow wow it was a crowded session wags my tail I missed him while he was gone." Another is a letter where my mom tells me about how my dad watched some Dateline in 2000 about identity theft and so they bought a shredder but it jammed while my mom was at work so my dad started flushing paper down the toilet to dispose of it until, lo and behold, the bathroom flooded! Susie and I are still ROFL about that one!

I am also keeping my White Bible and all of the Midvale East 3rd ward newsletters.

I also threw away all but my senior year yearbook. Susie threw away all of hers but refuses to throw away her mom's, dad's, or grandparent's.

I feel like there is more stuff somewhere to throw away or give away somewhere.

[Comments] (1) economy stimulation: So one of my clients is big on white shirts, ties, and suits. I don't own a suit. I don't enjoy wearing suits. My last suit was purchased during wedding planning at the tuxedo shop and served me well for seven years before my wallet finally wore a hole in the pants. Lesson learned.

So today I braved the stores suit shopping. Suits are expensive! They make it seem like a steal of a deal when it's BOGO free but now I have two suits when one would suffice. Hopefully I can remember not to wear my wallet in it, not to let the kids' sticky hands near it, and not to gain any weight so it'll last sevenplus years. I've now officially done my part to help GDP grow by spending money on stuff I don't really want.

We are also in the process of refinancing our house. Our bank representative never called or emailed us back after multiple attempts to refi. Finally Susie went into the bank, met someone else, and voila, we are in escrow! We are taking some of our India savings to pay down the loan balance, and we are going from a 6.375% interest rate to a 4.25% interest rate. Net savings will be just shy of $500 per month! No wonder the bank doesn't want us to refi! Then today we get a letter in the mail from said original bank rep. Sure it's a form letter, but he tells us to call him NOW to discuss our long-term mortgage needs. What a crock.

As part of the refi, the bank verified our credit scores. Mine is in the 800's and Susie is in the 700's. Not sure why we are different. But we are clearly credit worthy.

We also stimulated the economy by purchasing some festive holiday bundt cakes and gingerbread egg nog, which we took to Grandma's house to share. The entire meal was delicious! But won't help me in the keeping my suit dilemma if my waist outgrows the pants too fast.

[Comments] (2) the christmas box: Our little baby, 14 weeks in the womb, no longer has a heartbeat. We are very sad. Maggie keeps asking why the baby died and I tell her that I don't know why. Everyone is reassuring me I'll see this baby again and in the meantime is being watched over by the likes of Grandma June, Grandma Frances, and so on. Note to self: whether or not this may be true, and whether or not I am telling this to someone with a shared belief system, DON'T. I'm not ready to hear about that right now. Right now I just want condolences and a shoulder to cry on, which for some reason is harder to come by than one would think. I think it was especially hard because Susie found out alone while I was working in Irvine all week. And since no one there knew we were even expecting, I kept it to myself. Being home with my family has helped some.

The Christmas season is coming, which is normally a celebration of the Birth of someone special, but writers like Dickens would remind me that the Marleys were dead to begin with, and it's the end of that story that is more important than the beginning anyway, so I'm at least in the right season for contemplation.

I'm sad this has happened but will be ok. I'm blessed to already have two beautiful children and an even more beautiful wife, and we'll get through it together somehow. And there is always the hope of future children. I've had a small glimpse into the full-time reality of many infertile friends and neighbors, and perhaps that increased understanding is important somehow. I'm sure in the coming days, months, and years I'll wonder about the child that would have been. The miracle of life really is a miracle.

time warp: We visited Provo today to attend the dinosaur museum, eat lunch at the amazing Magleby's, and visit Frances and Roy at the cemetery. There is a new section by their gravesite with an angel statue and lots of kid's graves. Some are decorated quite elaborately, with Christmas trees, etc. One even had a sign saying "Santa stop here!"

I think if I ever had a baby die I would bury them in the family plot rather than in the baby section. I've wondered if the baby section plots are paid for by the city, which is a nice thought. A much nicer thought than "Santa stop here" in the cemetery at the very least.

another Christmas in the trenches: The Christmas Eve party had all the great food this year with half of the sing-along time, given that it was Saturday night and church comes early. We got home and put kids to bed around 8:30 and played Santa and watched a show and went to bed at 10:30. I set an alarm for 7:30 this morning and boy did we need it. We were all sleepyheads.

I should mention that during this trip I introduced Leonard to Rankin Bass "Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer" due to a retired Macy's Santa turned comedian's suggestion, and also to "A Christmas Story" and "A Muppet Christmas Carol." The latter two are my favorite Christmas shows and Leonard seemed to enjoy them. He and Susie have been discussing if their childhood was lacking not growing up with these shows. Perhaps.

Back to Christmas. Santa was kind enough to leave a coloring book, some treats, and a new tie out for us on the kitchen table while we hurried to get to church by 9 am for the festivities. It was a packed house which I think surprised most people. But if you don't go to church on Christmas, what's the point really? So we went. Maggie sang with the Primary which really upset Dalton. He just sat there on my lap whining like a puppy dog left out in the cold. I guess he later decided he'd had enough with being left out because, before Susie or I could do anything, he marched right up on the stage and stood there while a teenage girl sang "O Holy Night." I didn't know what to do. He doesn't do stuff like this; he's not one of those kids.

I decided going up to get him would just disrupt the musical number so I let Dalton be. I decided if he started jumping off chairs I would go get him. Halfway through the song he decided he was done singing and he came down on his own and went to the wrong pew after pew until he found us. At first I thought he went to the wrong pew on purpose to play with the Bartons.

We already know Dalton hates being left out of pre-school and I guess this was his defiant move.

I told Maggie she would get an extra present from Santa if she would wear the blue Chinese dress we bought her in Hong Kong and she finally agreed to wear the dress I love but she hates. The people in front as well as behind our pew complimented her as did Jodi at the family party. She looks so beautiful in it but that girl also has her own defiance.

Back at home we changed clothes and went to see what Santa brought us. Dalton got some cars and a racetrack for them and Maggie got dinosaurs and a dinosaur play mat for them to live on, complete with a volcano and waterfall for the pleiosaurs. They both got a DVD and some candy and socks in their stockings as well as a soccer ball for Maggie.

We let the kids play for an hour then moved upstairs to open the gifts under the tree, though truth be told I think the kids were content to play with their Santa gifts all day long. The tree brought a football and basketball for Dalton and a stuffed Stegosaurus for Maggie. The kids also got a really awesome log cabin lego set that we spent hours putting together.

We hit Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner and more presents. We played a White Elephant gift and, Maggie, unhappy with hers declared '"I got a rock" which of course set the cute-o-meter off the charts and had us all ROFL at her proper reference to the Charlie Brown Halloween episode.

Christmas is now over, and it was the best ever. I'm excited to have some new toys in the house and to settle down and enjoy a hopefully lazy rest of the year.

easy come, easy go: So. I don't think I've had such a pile from Santa since I was a kid. This year I got two new suits and ties (old one, 8 years old, died right before India and I didn't want a new one to get ruined in India), an iPhone (Blackberry died on Dec 23 and the Verizon guy told me not to bother with a new one since Blackberry is fighting a losing battle), a new camera (the old one also got put on life support in India), and new clothes and things for the house, because they either got ruined in India, got left in India, or just needed updating after our 18-month Asian trek. I guess it was all just building up for the perfect Black Friday extravaganza.

Couple all this with the new car purchase in November and I am ready to not spend any more money for a very very very long time. We saw a Buddha filled with billions of dollars of shredded US money at Ripley's in Bangalore. I could use that pot right about now.

hot and cold: Today got up to 59 degrees! Unfortunately there was a cold breeze and no sun but it was warm enough to don gloves, scarves, hats, and hit the park. I drove us to Draper Park but parked about 1/3 mile away and we walked along the trail to the park. Incidentally, the house we parked next to houses ostriches, a zebra, sheep, and horses. Now the two latter are quite common in Draper, but the former not so much. Heck, the zoo doesn't even have a zebra! No clue if it's an illegal zebra or not, but I'm willing to argue for amnesty, as it doesn't appear to be collecting Social Security.

The park was fun. A lot of slides, and we tried out Dalton's new basketball on the court there. I've definitely played worse ball in my days. The kids didn't want to leave.

The park was packed so we weren't the only ones trying to shake off cabin fever, but I was amazed how many parents think a coat is sufficient when really gloves and a hat are necessary still. 59 degrees or not, it is winter still. One girl told me she wished she had her scarf but I still didn't give her mine. Tomorrow is supposed to start acting like winter again but the last two days have been nice.


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