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[Comments] (3) The Handyman Can!: Here are the highlights of holiday 2006:

Somehow managing to get out of SoCal with the rest of the state populace in tow. The road cleared up after the 215 interchange and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. We also went through some really cool fog in Fillmore for about an hour.

It was a white (and cold) Christmas in UT!

My sister moved to UT, leaving Susie and I the only outcasts now.

Susie receiving the new-fangled iPod shuffle for Christmas. Though I think I'm more amazed that I figured out how to get songs onto it. I wonder how to get them off now....

Two Words: Swedish Bread.

Discovering (rather painfully) that an elliptical really exercises different muscles than a treadmill. That, and trying to readjust to the higher elevation.

Cafe Rio, the Soup Kitchen, the Golden Wok, and Betos.

Puppies!

Seeing half of a new cabin. Even in its unfinished state, I already think it's nicer than the old one.

Visiting various Whitneys.

Tyler: "I want to see Susie's tummy baby."

Making up Christmas caroles to entertain the nieces.

Getting a really nice Christmas gift from grandma June.

Listening to Ember read a story to Beet every night before bed.

Listening to Ember play with her new toys by herself.

Listening to Ember's alarm clock for 15 minutes (she set it for 7 am the day after Christmas so she could get up and play with her toys. She slept right through it; I, however, did not).

Contemplating moving to the Beehive State.

Seeing "Eragon" & "Night at the Museum."

More secrets than I care to recall, but will never be able to forget.

Baby showers involving lots of pink.

Becoming quite familiar with the 15 between Baker and Barstow on the way home, and watching the pile-up to Vegas stretch on for hours.

Elizabeth, saying the class prayer on New Year's Eve: "Bless Sister Chadwick's baby that it won't die."

Watching the ox and lamb keep time.

Going to bed in 2006, and waking up in 2007!

Celebrating New Year's Day at the Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney.

Putting up the baby crib, without instructions! I'm soooo impressed with myself. Those things are not the most intuitive.

Putting sheets on the baby's bed. I really should post a picture. The bedding is all Winnie-the-Pooh, and I brought all my pooh animals from home. I am missing Pooh (we bought Piglet at Downtown Disney), but we have Owl, Tigger, Kanga and Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Piglet now! Susie says Beet already has so many friends!

Settling into our new place! We really like it.

Coming back to work. Nuff said.

[Comments] (4) The Beet is On: The Beet has already fully vested herself in our lives, and she still lives in Susie's tummy. Susie has back-to-back showers the next three weekends for the Beet. Her room is almost all set (still gotta get the wallpaper up). I applied for my free work-provided breast pump, and also applied for my 6 weeks of paid leave. Honestly, that leave is one of my motivating factors this busy season.

Speaking of the day job, we were named 25 on the list of 100 Best Companies to work for. Last year we were like 60, and the closest other Big Four firm is like 58. What does all of this mean to me? One of three things, I guess: (1) I have really high expectations from a company that may be unrealistic; (2) The average person doesn't mind working 55+ hours a week for 6 months out of the year; (3) There are a lot of really crappy companies out there.

I hope that, after the Beet arrives, I'll still have the energy to work out in the mornings. Today is the first day that I actually feel like my workout regiment is changing my body shape.

I also read recently that Manhattan smells all the way to Newark? What's that all about? I always thought it was the other way around....

[Comments] (1) Wowsers: I'm gonna be a dad in 44 days!

[Comments] (5) Naughty Naughty No No No: I've been bad in not updating. But in my defense, one of the client's sites I've been working at does not allow me to peruse crummy.com.

So what's new? Nothing at all. I work a lot, I run a lot, I sleep not a lot, and I play as often as possible. Our complex gym has been locking me out the mornings, so I've resorted to running outside, of all things. It's really nice to watch the sunrise as I come up over the killer hills at the Newport Beach back bay. I always watch for Uncle Justin while I'm there, but have yet to spot him.

Susie & the Beet have been spoiled the last three Saturdays in a row. I assembled our changing table and figured out how to use the bassinet. I've also learned to appreciate the color pink! I guess people really can change.

[Comments] (3) Think Think Think: I think entirely too much. It's not bad enough that FAS 109 and FAS 123R have my head spinning this busy season. I'm also dealing with the following issues:

A lot of my coworkers are lawyers. One had a law journal on his desk. The cover story was about Warren Jeffs, the so-called Mormon polygamist who was on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List. I tried to explain to my coworker that he's not a Mormon. But back at my cube later I got to thinking about how a lot of Christians don't allow me, as a Mormon, that title. So here I am, on the one hand, proclaiming myself a Christian, all the while denying this man the right to call himself a Mormon with my other hand. I can't seem to rationalize my position in my head, and it bothers me.

Also, Susie and I have been discussing the Beet a lot. I'm very concerned because I really want to instill in her a desire to have a college degree, a career, a happy family, et al. And I'm worried that moving to UT may somewhat stifle this dream. Then I realize that my "daddy knows best" thought process may not even be right for her. So how do you guide and parent without her resenting me doing so? And am I jumping the gun? I mean, all she really wants is a loving home and the occasional bottle and diaper change. Baby steps....

Today for primary we are learning about prophets. Once again, the lesson manual isn't worth the tree desruction it caused to be printed, so we're playing memory with the pictures of the 12 apostles, and I made a crossword puzzle with the names of the latter-day prophets. I had a lot of fun learning about them as I put the clues together.

Susie and I are both kind of hoping this is our last Sunday running the ward for a while.

[Comments] (8) March Madness: Apparently the Beet has decided that March suits her best. I just hope she'll be wise enough to beware the Ides of March. Maybe she wants to be a St. Patty's baby, since it will compliment her Irish name. Who can say?

My coworker, whose daughter is due tomorrow, was born last night. And I got his workload, until my baby comes and I can farm it out myself.

Upon the advice of the sagacious Allyson, we are doing something fun each day until the Beet decides she wants to participate and come out. Today we went for Boba shakes. Susie even tried one of my boba--I'm shocked. I had a strawberry-coconut boba drink and it was fab. How come I've overlooked the combination of strawberries and coconuts for so long?

[Comments] (3) It Starts: I am extremely worn out of working 60+ hours a week and every Saturday for a month straight. The sooner the Beet comes, the sooner I get a break. Yet despite my discussing this with the Beet night after night, she stays glued inside her mother's womb.

Already I have a daughter that won't listen to her father.

[Comments] (3) She's 3 days slow, that's what she is: I love this season: girl scout cookie season! Happiness is a box of samoas. Susie calls them samosas, he he he. When we bought the box, the lady asked Susie if she was having a boy scout or a girl scout.

Today we decided that we were going to have an awesome day, Beet or no Beet. For starters, I didn't go to work today. We went shopping, had lunch at a mexican restaurant, and puttered around Crystal Cove. Susie scoffed that it cost $10 to go to the beach, but it's a pretty cool state park. Because of all the rocks at this beach, there are tide pools everywhere. We saw a bunch of huge, colorful starfish, sea slugs, and a really regal crane looking for food. There were mussels all over the rocks.

As directed by everyone we know, we had spicy food today and walked on the beach trails for an hour and a half. If the Beet doesn't come within 48 hours, medical science as we know it may hang in the balance. I, for one, think Susie hogs the baby on purpose!

Last night she kicked a lot and I could actually feel her feet and legs. She seems like a rather tall, skinny thing, based on what I felt. I couldn't be happier about that!

[Comments] (3) Deliriously Happy: I have been keeping a journal of my experiences since the little princess entered our lives. Every time I go to post it, I think of more things to write. Eventually, I'll get around to it.

But I did want to say this much: I am so happy. Rachel was a big help and we were sad to see her go. And all three of us anxiously await the arrival of Beet's namesake grandmother.

[Comments] (1) Harvest Time: (March 10, 2007): Wed, March 7, Susie and I went to the doctor’s office for her 41-week checkup. I took off work that morning to attend. The doc, however, was unable to attend. Susie had to go back later that afternoon, while I returned to work. I was pretty upset that no one called us to tell us. I understand that doctors have to go and deliver twins sometimes, but I don’t understand the underlying lack of professionalism his staff team portrayed. They couldn’t call us? Of course not. They couldn’t even find Susie’s chart.

Susie went back that afternoon, and the doctor decided our little Beet was ripe enough for delivery, and would be plucked from the womb March 9th. So I began making my preparations to take my leave beginning on March 9, including calling our NJ office to have them initiate my paternity leave, sending out emails to coworkers to assist in jobs while I was gone, etc.

Thursday morning, Susie had another stress test at Hoag. She went early because the baby wasn’t moving much. I decided I had better go to work. Little did I know that the Beet, fully ignoring her due date for over a week now, also did not want to come on a schedule. At this point, I must admit I was not very happy with her. I had to work a full busy-season week longer than I wanted to, and it was exhausting. Though I had been able to help out a lot that week at work, I was really looking forward to my two weeks off. Any sense of eternal perspective is completely washed away in the post-due date phase of life. It’s as if waiting nine months was no biggie; but whatever you do, please don’t ask me to wait another week.

So Thursday morning I arrived at work at 8 am, tied up some loose ends in preparation for the following day, and vigorously involved myself in re-tying out the a client's tax provision. At 9:45 am, Susie called to say that inducement looked imminent. Harrumph. I asked her to call back when she was sure. I had a day, after all. By 10 am it was official, we needed to induce a day early. So I wrapped up what I was doing, and began making the rounds.

Next I went home to change. I also packed up some things for myself and Susie, and shoved the baby seat in the car. I called Susie again, and she had just arrived in her delivery room. So I decided I had better start thinking like the Eagle Scout dad I am—be prepared. I ran to the ATM and took out some money. I also ran across the street to Target (against Susie’s wishes) and purchased some DVDs (“Alice in Wonderland” & “50 First Dates”) to watch and some batteries for the camera, because dads can never have too many batteries.

I arrived at the hospital just past 11 am, right in time to witness Susie be induced with hormones. So I didn’t miss a beat, or the Beet. Now we wait. Unlike Susie, I knew that inducing is a long process, especially for the father. So we settled down and watched a movie. We had the most awesome view of the harbor, including Balboa peninsula, the island, the PCH, and the water. It was quite serene and helped calm us both down.

At 1 pm the doc broke her water. Luckily I was having lunch in the hospital cafeteria at the time; otherwise, I would have had my lunch and lost it too. My worst fears were confirmed: my angel was swimming in meconium, a fancy word for poopies. Both Susie and I showed much concern for our darling, and the nurse only laughed. She said our meconium fears were irrational, but I still beg to differ. Heck, they close a pool every time a kid poops in it; how could this be a good thing for her?

Susie took to the early contractions well, which was both good and bad. Labor did not get intense until around 8 pm, when she finally dilated to 2 centimeters and requested her epidural. Epidurals are miracles. Susie tried to wait before the epidural and use the alternative stuff, but all it did was make her vomit up 5 grape and cherry popsicles. The epidural, though a little scary to witness, worked like a wonder.

By this time the Woot had arrived. She and I watched “Mobsters & Mormons” while we waited. Around 11 pm we learned that Susie was dilated 5 centimeters. This meant only two things to me: firstly, we were finally making progress. Secondly, we were in for a late-night harvest.

By midnight Susie was fully dilated, and it was time to push. By this time, the soil was no longer providing fruitions for our little babe, as her heart rate was slightly erratic. So the doc was called and we began pushing. Susie did awesome. I held one leg, and starting watching my baby’s head come towards me. She was face-up, but our new nurse was able to successfully turn her. Finally, after only an hour of pushing, the baby was in position.

Our doctor, however, was not in the position to catch her. The nurse had basically called Susie’s pushing wussy, for reasons I can’t now understand, given the fact that Susie had to hold in the baby for the next 4 or so contractions until the doc arrived.

So once the hospital staff finally was in position to bless this birth, it was time. They turned on the headlights, and Susie gave one big push. Out came a head, a lot of blood, and a collective gasp from both doctor and nurse alike. Being a proud father at this point, I naturally assumed the gasps were because my little girl was the most breathtaking thing they’d ever seen. While the above statement is not without its merits, our little Beet came out with hands firmly attached to her head. So not only was the head out, but so were the hands, arms, and shoulders. One more push was all it took for the rest to come slipping out.

There is this unit in the hospital called NICU, standing for Newborn Intensive Care Unit. For some reason, I kept hearing “ICKY Nurse” instead of NICU nurse. I thought that was pretty lame to refer to the nurse that comes and cleans off the meconium as an ICKY nurse. I’m glad to discover that I heard wrong.

Having never been in a delivery room before, I suddenly became extremely concerned. My baby was slightly yellow, and seemed unreal. I seriously thought it possible she was not alive. But then they cleared her nostrils and I saw her eyes move. Yes. Both of my girls seemed safe.

I quickly washed my hands and began poking at the baby while the Apgar was administered. She passed with flying colors—a 9. Susie quickly became jealous that I was with the baby. But EVERYONE else was with her. The doctor and nurse were still with her, while she cleared out the placenta, excess fluids (really disgusting to watch I might add), and got stitched up. She tore a lot, thanks to Beet’s little surprise move with the hands. And she had the Woot by her side as well.

So I had to remind her that I still loved her. I also reminded her that she has been to Alaska, and Beet has not. But that may not be entirely a true statement….

Little Beet came out with a full head of brown hair. Very dark, even after the blood came out. It is a beautiful color. And her eyes are beginning to turn a marvelous blue to boot. Her skin is smooth and appealing, thanks to her mother. In fact, most people assume she was born via cesarean, given the fact that her skin is so beautiful and her head is properly shaped. Brag, brag, brag.

I hogged her for a while, and then took her over to Susie and the Woot. Susie tried unsuccessfully to feed her, so I got to give her a bottle. I held onto her for a very long time, and loved every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it. The rocking chairs at Hoag are extremely uncomfortable. We moved upstairs (thanks to Rachel packing us up) to our new room, and lost our beautiful ocean view. But I’ll take a healthy Beet over an ocean view any day. My little Sugar Beet.

Maggie (it’s official now; the birth certificate has been processed) came out at 7 pounds, 4 ounces, 19.5 inches, and 100% adorable. She made her debut into the world at 1:44 am on Friday, March 9, 2007. And as the saying goes, Friday’s child is loving and giving.

We finally went to sleep at 4:30 am. Rachel went back to our place, and I slept on the couch-bed. The baby stayed with us that first night. By 7:30 it was time for me to change my first diaper. Shortly thereafter, Susie began the process of breast feeding again, and the onslaught of doctors and nurses hardly ceased. My hopes to salvage any more sleep out of the night were completely dashed by 8, when mom called. The phone calls never ended. Nor did the bragging.

What else is there to say, really? It was love at first sight. She sleeps awesome, loves to cuddle with her daddy, and I don’t even mind the diapers. The one hard part has been the feeding. She would rather sleep than eat. But if she’s gonna be a Chadwick, she’ll have an appetite before long.

She’s a snuggle-bum. She loves to lie against my chest, while I hold her bum in one hand and massage her head with the other. I like to give her Eskimo kisses. We both like to look at each other, though sometimes that makes her go cross-eyed.

The 9th, birthday of Margaret Susan Chadwick, was the longest day of my life. I went home and slept that night, so Rachel could stay with Susie. And the sugar beet slept with the nurses. I got home around 10 pm, went straight to sleep and never looked back. I awoke at 9 am on Saturday the 10th, feeling much better.

Back at the Hoag, we learned that fortune was on our side. Because Maggie was born after midnight, we have been booked for an extended stay until Sunday! We both thought we’d be on our own starting Saturday. Though I’m a little anxious to get home and to get established, I think we’ll greatly benefit from one more day of hospital support, and one more evening of sleep. For some reason, Susie and I both wanted either the 8th or the 10th (something about odd days) but the Beet knew to hold out until the 9th. So thank you, daughter.

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier! And the best part is, I think I’ll feel that way each and every day for the next few years. That’s why I am documenting this time. After all, she’ll be a teenager eventually….

I am also extremely grateful to EY—six weeks paternity leave is such an awesome benefit. Also, to the Hoag hospital staff. Not only are they proficient, they are also extremely smart. All of them agree that Maggie is the most adorable little girl born at Hoag in at least 10 years.

I love my little Sugar Beet!

The Beet & The Bean: (March 11, 2007): Our daughter is so much like Jellybean it’s a little scary. I suppose Jelly did live with us during the first trimester, so that may explain a few things.

For starters, they sleep alike. The Beet doesn’t care to have her arms swaddled. She likes them out and next to her face. She sleeps with them near her head. The Bean does the same thing. She likes to sleep all sprawled out with her front paws extended way forward.

The Bean is a cross-eyed kitten. The Beet also likes to be cross-eyed, mostly while looking at her daddy. Maybe I’m viewed best cross-eyed.

Both snore very similarly as well.

The Bean doesn’t really meow. She squeaks. The Beet doesn’t really cry. She just makes the most adorable little noises. Usually. The Beet actually does know how to cry. Thankfully, she doesn’t always do it.

House Arrest: (March 12, 2007): Feeding the Beet every three hours doesn’t necessarily seem like a Herculean task. But it is. She takes about an hour to feed and to be changed, which means you get two hours of sleep every three hours. Last night (Sunday March 11) we got up at midnight, one, four, five, and seven-thirty for feedings. Just as we’d get her back to bed, we’d hear either big, big tooties or crying for more milk. Never mind that she fell asleep at the tit. She apparently wanted a little TLC between courses. I’m so tired.

I also had a hard time sleeping. I wake up at every little sound coming from the bassinet. Does that ever stop? Or will I always be waking in the night to check on my children? I think I may never get a decent night’s rest again.

But I am so glad I have so much uncle experience. Rachel thinks I should be a SAHD. And the nurse couldn’t believe how I handled Margaret so nonchalantly. She said most dads carry the babies around as though they were porcelain dolls, but that I understood that, after what she’d just been through, that she’s tougher than you think. I’ve already had to show mommy that you have to hit harder than you want to when burping. And mommy’s finally getting the hang of diaper changing, which is great. Daddy could use a break.

The practical, CPA side of me wants to take a picture of her every hour and start drafting wills, organizing trust funds, and opening 529 college funds for her. But the physical side of me just wants to hold her in our rocking chair. The physical side is winning.

I’m once again continually grateful to EY for this leave of absence. I can’t imagine fatherhood without it. I think all companies should have paternity leave plans. And, looking back, I’m so glad we never had kids in school, because school stops for nothing. I love learning Susie’s role, and am glad she understands mine (she has more work experience than I do now, after all). What a great team we make.

Daylight Scare-ings: (March 13, 2007): Congress has decided that we should save an additional amount of light each year, and bumped up daylight savings 3 weeks in 2007. The Beet came out during this momentous weekend. This caused all sorts of problems. Firstly, we lost an hour of sleep. Not only this, but it really seemed to confuse the nurses regarding changings and feedings. You haven’t fed her since when? Well, we did lose an hour. And, obviously, the lost sleep goes without saying.

Also, the clock mechanisms of the world also were adversely affected by this event. At 2 am, as Susie was up for a feeding, the clock began moving in double time. Normally, this would be unusual. But funny things occur in the mind of an individual up at 2 am. It really creeped Susie out.

Gas: (March 13, 2007): In the last two weeks, gas has gone from around $2.60 to $3.10. I am told this is usually due to supply and demand (ie OPEC and other cartels limit production while demand in the USA around spring break goes up). Basic economics. However, I’ve got gas coming out my ears, and still $3.10.

Hallelujah!: (March 13, 2007): Today was our first pediatrician appointment. Maggie has gained 3.5 ounces in four days! This means lots of good news: 1) Susie doesn’t have to supplement with formula anymore, which means John doesn’t have to get up and heat it up in the night). 2) Susie’s got the basic gist of breastfeeding! 3) We no longer have to wake up every 3 hours to feed the Beet; 4 hours is sufficient at night. Music to my ears.

The pediatrician also noted that she can’t smile for a few more weeks. Hogwash. She’s smiled at me. I’ve even caught her smiling in her sleep. It may not be a social smile, but it’s enough to melt a daddy’s heart.

Diaper Genius: (March 13, 2007): Today I emptied the diaper genie for the first time. Never mind that Beet filled it in only 2 days. Never mind that all those diapers weigh more than she does. It really does contain the smell. What an awesome invention!

As I carried a bag of diapers out to the garbage, my cynical side really got to thinking of all the funny things I could do with that bag in my hands. Of course, it’s in the garbage. But in the wrong hands, what ammo!

It’s not that I like talking about this stuff. I don’t. But this is my life.

[Comments] (2) Sign of the Times: (March 14, 2007): A lot has changed in the pediatric world since Tyler was a baby. Apparently you are not supposed to use baby powder anymore. Ever. I always liked the smell of baby powder. Luckily for the manufacturers of the stuff, it has other uses. I wonder if they’ll remove the baby part out of the title. You are also not supposed to rub alcohol around the umbilical stump either. Also, rectal thermometers are now a no-no. That one I can live with.

She’s still a happy little sugar beet. She loves to sleep with her hands unswaddled up next to her head. And she loves to lay against daddy’s chest after a vigorous feeding.

We got this little newborn outfit from Carter’s that is a one-piece (but not a onesie) with legs, but the buttons around the legs and groin are reversible so that it can also be a gown. All the old outfits of Ember’s do not do that. It must be a new invention. I highly approve.

Baby Steps: Accountants are very concerned with efficiencies. Babies, however, are not. And if you try and explain it to them, they just go cross-eyed.

Maggie slept and fed really well last night. And she barely cried during bath time today. So why did it take me until 5 pm to finally get my haircut, go work out, take a shower, go to the laundromat, get lunch for Susie and me, and check my email? I must be assimilating her slow-paced personality.

I wish that well-meaning ward members would bring dinner by before 9 pm. I'm so tired by that point. OK, she's sleeping. Time to go fold the laundry.

[Comments] (2) Review: Rarely do I write movie reviews, mostly because I don't watch that many movies, and also because I usually don't care about the ones I do watch. But I did watch two movies this week that were notable. The first was Stranger than Fiction. I liked it not only because of the tax accounting implications woven through the fabric of the movie, but also because of the witty scripting. Fine holiday fun.

Second was The Devil Wears Prada. How can you not like something with Meryl Streep? But really, I think it was intriguing because, had the movie been in the same setting (ie big business) but been about men, the movie would have been completely different.

Today the Beet had her two week checkup. She's now up to 7 lbs, 11 oz (gaining more than 1 oz per day). So now we no longer have to set an alarm to get up in the night! Yay for sleep!

[Comments] (1) Desperate: Last night there was a baby in the other room demanding food, shelter, and a college education.

[Comments] (4) : Perfect baby. Imperfect father. Solutions?

[Comments] (5) Nicknames: Today Susie went to breakfast with a friend, at my request, so I could bond with my angel. I fed her freshly-pumped milk and took her to the Back Bay by Uncle Justin's house for a nice walk in the baby bjorn. It was hotter than I expected, but we walked for almost an hour.

Towards the end she woke up and I addressed her as Maggie, which was a bit wierd to me. I have way too many nicknames for her, including Sugar Beet, Beautiful, Honey, Daughter, Baby Girl, Cuddlemuffin, Pumpkinbutt, Snagglepuss, Bugaboo, Precious, Little One, Daddy's Girl, etc. But it felt good to call her Maggie. Note to self: use her name more often, but still keep the nickames.

I am sad to hear of Jellybean's passing. It reminds me of my puppie's passing over three years ago. I am comforted that Tonks is back, at least. Pets die much more frequently than humans, which is one of the major drawbacks to pets. Dealing with death is never fun, especially when you have to make a decision to end a life. I wonder what the Catholic stance is on ending animal life? Maybe I'll look it up.

[Comments] (1) Deep Thoughts by John Chadwick: As I feed my little sweetest at 5 am, my mind considers what my daughter's mind considers. First, does she remember the womb anymore? And if so, does she miss it? I can't imagine she would; after all, Susie and I are wrapped around her little finger. But then again, that was the epitome of the simple life.

Second, does Maggie understand that she won't always be so small and dependent? Or does she think that this is the status quo?

I took work off today to get my daughter ready for life: she now has a social security number, a gmail account, an ING money market college fund (hope she'll use it responsibly), and a birth certificate. Gotta love sitting in a government office lobby for 30 minutes just to pay $17 to get a piece of paper proving that Maggie is alive.

Things left to do include preparing a will. I feel too young to write a will, but I suppose it's necessary. I wonder how that all works? Can I write my own and just get it notarized? After watching my in-laws dealing with a lawyer to sell the house, I'm so not interested in using a lawyer. Also on the list: get a life insurance policy. I have a small one (group term) at work, but I think it'll take more than that to raise my little sugar beet.

Next on the list for the day, however: enjoy my bugaboo!

[Comments] (1) So Spoiled: Such a great Easter weekend. I decided it was high time that we had an easter hunt of our own. I hid about 15 eggs and a few presents. Susie had a really tough time finding everything, even the obvious stuff. But eventually she found lots of candy. I also got her a DVD and an iTunes giftcard, though I've reserved a few dollars on the giftcard for some Rascal Flats music.

But even more important are the presents from the Beet. She has been such an angel lately. She never fusses. Sat morning after our 5 am feeding she was wide awake, but she still let me put her down. I think she entertained herself in her crib for a full hour before going back to sleep, but at least she let Susie & I have peace. Then this morning she didn't wake me up until 6:30! By then, I'd already slept over 8 hours, so I'm the earlybird today. What a good girl we have. I'm thoroughly enjoying my weekend home.

[Comments] (5) Finish Line: I have officially survived the busy season...NOT! Even though today is the 15th, the government has extended its filing deadline until the 17th. Grr. I couldn't even enjoy the weekend.

Susie & I had some Amazon $$ to spend on behalf of the Beet, so we racked our brains this weekend thinking of kids books we liked as children. We came up with Graeme Base's "The Eleventh Hour" & got 8 Bernstein Bear books (it was buy 3 get 1 free), and finished off with "Hop on Pop," one of the few Dr. Seuss books we didn't inherit. I loved Bernstein Bears as a kid, but Susie didn't seem at all interested in them.

We went to church with the Beet for two hours today: sacrament meeting & ward choir practice. Only two people showed up to ward choir, so that was kind of a bust of our time. The Beet was extremely well-behaved until 10 minutes before the meeting ended, when she awoke quite hungry. I had to play the closing song so I handed her off to Susie to give her the bottle in the lobby. I could hear her screaming in the lobby the whole time. I was so distracted I missed my cue for the closing hymn.

Maggie didn't want a bottle from Susie, as that is my job. But Susie couldn't play the closing hymn, so there you have it. Church wouldn't be so bad if it weren't riddled with service requirements accompanying the baby-ness. Luckily, we don't have to go back to Priimary until June.

I feel like I am judged in church by how well my baby behaves. Which probably explains why all the young couples with children sit on the back rows. But it's hard to play the organ at the front of the chapel and take care of a baby on the back row of the chapel. Eventually, we'll get the hang of it. Until then, heaven help us.

Still planning on taking the Beet to meet the Chadwicks for Mother's Day, and to meet the Richardson's for Memorial Day. Good thing she (mostly) likes her car seat!

[Comments] (3) Success?: Last night I woke up at 3 am panicking. Maggie hadn't eaten since 8:30 pm. I thought, well, maybe this is good. She is sleeping through the night now. But then I thought, no, this isn't good. I don't think 5 week-olds are supposed to sleep through the night.

I went to go wake her for a bottle, and decided that before I did I had better check the roster. Apparently she had eaten at 12:30 am, right on schedule. And I didn't hear her cry, didn't her Susie even get up. Wow. I slept right through it. Cool. But what if I start sleeping through my feeding times, (which was at 5:00 am, right on schedule)?

Also, I fed and burped Maggie and changed her diaper in half an hour last night! Usually it takes me 45-60 minutes to do all that. Way to go baby!

[Comments] (4) Validation: Maggie had her six-week check-up today. She gained two more pounds, and is in the 50th percentile on all the baby comparison tests. This is a very good feeling.

The bad feeling is abandonment. I went to work today and left her to fend for herself through 5 shots! I'm told she survived, but is covered in band-aids. Time to go home and spoil her!

[Comments] (4) Moving On: Susie & I have decided that enough bad customer service is enough. We've canceled our Netflix subscription and are getting cable! My night job is basically to allow a baby to sleep on me for two hours every night on the couch. Not near me. On me. She sleeps independently in the nursery all night so I won't complain. But it's hard to read a book with her on me (it really makes the arms sore to hold it up high over her). And the network teevee ain't cutting it. For starters, the rabbit ears give horrible reception. And secondly, there is NOTHING on network teevee worth watching, except for Lost. And we watch it online anyway so that if the Beet interrupts we won't miss anything. At the recommendation of many friends, family, and coworkers, I watched about 10 minutes of that Samba with the Stars show. I thought it was pretty dumb.

So now I can have a lot more channels with nothing on them! At least channel surfing will occupy the two hours. It doesn't take long when you only have 5 stations, but will be a lengthy process now. I can't believe we went two years without telly. But before the Beet we were a lot more active I suppose.

It's nice to have busy season behind me. This Tuesday my work is paying for me to go to Club 33 for lunch. And that means I get a full day Disneyland & CA Adventure pass! And then Susie and the Beet get to come with me there on June 2. I haven't been near Disney since our tickets expired 9 months ago; I'm excited to go back. And I'll get to go on Space Mountain and California Screamin with The Red Hot Chili Peppers to boot!

Maggie's still proving to be a doll. She sleeps really good at night, and she smiles a ton. My only complaint is the spitting up. Luckily, I don't own fancy clothes so I really don't care when she does it. I just change my shirt. She must be hands down the most spoiled thing on the planet. And she knows it.

I've Been Replaced: I finally made it to Costco today by going first thing this morning. The lines and the gas station there and inside the place are so crazy that I've been avoiding going for weeks now. I bought batteries for Maggie's bouncer and her swing. She just sits in that swing all day now. Every time I go in to check on her and say hi she pretends to be asleep. She doesn't need me to hold her anymore. This is probably a good thing, but I miss my snuggle time.

[Comments] (3) Between a Rock & a Hard Bench: Yesterday was Susie's big return to organ playing. Which meant I had to watch the bug. She slept through all of sacrament meeting, at the expense of my body. I didn't date put her down because I didn't want her to wail. But those LDS pews are soooo uncomfortable I thought my body was going to give out on me. I suppose they are made uncomfortable on purpose to keep the masses awake. It didn't work; she slept through the whole thing.

She dutifully took a bottle during Sunday School and smiled at me on my lap the rest of class. I then changed her diaper in that Koala thing hanging on the wall in the men's room. Once again, she hated that big plastic monstrosity. Just looking at her in it made me uncomfortable.

We survived the Sunday, but she owes me.

[Comments] (3) UPDATE: I forgot: Maggie already paid me back. She slept for 9 hours last night. My normal 5 am feeding didn't occur until 8am!

[Comments] (2) : Today they had an "Inclusivity" training at work. And I wasn't invited. All I can say to that is "wow." Failure before you even get started. The story of HR.

Today when I went home for lunch the Beet was just dozing off in her bouncer. She took one look at me, dropped the binky, smiled, and stared at me. When I got up to get a drink, she fussed. I held her and we read a Dr. Seuss story "And to think it happened on Mulberry Street." Then we went for a little walk. When I came back to work, she cried when I gave her to Susie, and went dutifully back to sleep. Such a warm fuzzy feeling that is.

Maggie's Law: Whatever can go wrong....will. It is so hard to love the project I'm on at work right now and also love my daughter. I wish I could be two places at once. Or go without sleep. Then I could work all night. Oh well, less blogging, more snuggling. It's a small solution.

[Comments] (3) Road Trip: We are officially insane. We left for UT Wednesday night at 10 pm, just as Maggie was dozing off to sleep. We arrived in Vegas at 1 am to feed the Ford and the Beet. I kept driving (I suppose everyone has some masochistic tendencies). We arrived in Beaver at 6 am (due to losing an hour of time) and once again fed a tired car and baby. Susie took over the driving. We arrived in Lehi at 9 am, so total the trip only took 11 hours. Maggie slept the whole way, minus the last hour where we basically smiled at each other non-stop.

Grandma June loves her second-to-newest granddaughter. Apparently my cousin Sheryl, who lives back East, had a girl last weekend. In my family, Grandma June gets at least 3 new great grandkids a year. Grandma fed Maggie a bottle and held her for an hour. They got along great!

Made it to SLC around 11 am, completely exhausted, only to have each of my siblings whine about this or that and ask that we bring Maggie to see them. Sure, why not? I mean, hey, we only drove 700 miles to see you all. What's another 30? Good grief.

Anyway, Maggie finally had had enough, and we have put a moratorium on leaving my parent's house again until Monday when we head back home. Maggie is a precious gem and she earned the right to be spoiled on her terms. Dragging her here and there is not fair to her. She did let us take her to see the cabin this morning, and she really seemed to enjoy going on our walk in the woods. The remodel will be done in less than two months, and we can't wait to move up here and utilize it!

Tyler slept over last night. He told his mom "I hope Uncle John will tickle me like he used to when I was four." So I obliged him. Luckily he slept upstairs, because he threw up all night. Having not slept in about 40 hours, Susie and I were downstairs and didn't even notice. Poor grandma. Had to clean up after him. And poor Tyler. It's not fun being sick. He threw up all over himself and filled the toilet before he finally felt good enough to go and tell grandma.

Tomorrow is Maggie's blessing. Jon & Sharon are coming. I hope I don't forget my lines!

[Comments] (1) : Happy First Mother's Day to my Sweet Baboo.

Friendship: I am so popular now that I'm a dad. Strangers will stop and talk to me just to meet my baby.

Because of our trip last week, I'm now two episodes behind on Lost. I guess I better finish my work so Susie and I can catch up.

[Comments] (2) As the old saying goes....: Today I couldn't stop laughing in church. We have not had Elizabeth sit by us since Maggie arrived. But Friday night at the pie auction I told her she could sit with us again and help us finish off the last of the goldfish. First today, she showed me a magic trick. I told her she was really good and should learn some more, as to which she said "I'm not even a musician!"

She didn't stop talking through the whole meeting. And she would end every sentence with "your baby is so cute." She would touch her small feet and say "my feet used to be that small when I was a baby too!" Then she would touch her hands and say "my hands used to be that small when I was a baby too!" and on and on in this fashion.

Both she and Clayton told me that they miss us so much in Primary and they are excited for us to return. When Elizabeth told us about her upcoming trip to North Carolina I asked her if she was going to move there. So said "No way! I wouldn't be able to see your baby anymore!"

Speaking of talking a lot: Maggie has been so chatty lately. This morning after her morning feeding (around 7 am) she wouldn't let me put her down. She talked to me for 30 minutes straight and then zonked out. She did the same thing just now (and is taking a nice nap, thankfully). Girls sure do love talking.

I have to get all my work done in three weeks so I can have my month paternity leave be peaceful. Needless to say, it's going to be a nasty three weeks. Bring it on.

[Comments] (2) What I've Been Waiting For: I get a four-day weekend for Memorial Day. Then I get a four-week vacation starting June 11. Grandma June is concerned that I will be bored with my time off. I prefer to think of it as learning to relax and actually being excited to return to work July 9. In the meantime, I'm sure that taking care of Maggie and getting back into a workout routine will somehow keep me busy.

Plus, I will have primary lessons to prepare (we resume teaching next week) and organ playing to catch up on. The new ward chorister (a real piece of work) refuses to let us pick the songs. She says that's not how it's done. I tried to explain to her that since neither of us actually play the organ, that it's ok to deviate from the norm in this situation. She left us a phone message saying she'll quit if we don't play her songs next week. The problem is that I can't play I Believe in Christ, nor do I want to. I've tried to help the ward learn new songs, though they are rather resistant. So she says she'll quit, huh? I think I'm about ready to call her bluff.

Show-Off: Maggie enjoys driving in an SUV more than she does in our cars. I think she feels less crammed, and it's easier to get her in and out. I'm glad we upgraded.

Last night we went to Boudin for dinner and Maggie had a throng of adorers. Then today was EY Disney day. She wore her EY onesie. She must have been very excited to go, because she got me up to feed her at seven. These days, she usually waits until closer to eaight for her morning feeding. So we got there at nine. We got free EY water bottles and one of those little battery-powered fans. It is electronic and says EY Summer Party with the date on it. It is a very high-tech little gadget I must say.

In the park we hit Fantasy Land (what else would we hit with a baby?) She seemed a little apprehensive on Dumbo, but she really seemed to like Alice in Wonderland, the Teacups (we didn't spin), Pinocchio, and the Carousel. She seemed indifferent to Snow White. She really liked Winnie-the-Pooh. The Jungle Cruise got her wet at the beginning so she stopped liking it right away. On Pirates she basically stared at the ceiling the whole time so I don't know what to think. Susie and I kept saying how great it is with a baby because they aren't really scared of anything yet (Maggie's only fear is that of abandonment, so it would seem). So it's hard to say how she took the drops on Pirates. But she didn't cry.

At lunch she got a picture with Daisy Duck, and she got to dance with Donald and Mickey, more or less. My coworkers all loved her. We had planned to leave after lunch, but she really seemed to like it there. She wouldn't eat or sleep; she was too involved with her surroundings. Which means she'll probably sleep through the night tonight. Yay! So we stayed for the parade. She seemed to like the music and the movements of the characters. In particular, Pinocchio and Doc came over and shook her hand. And Mary Poppins went out of her way to come over and comment on how rosy Maggie's cheeks are. What a cutie.

So to make a long story short, we decided to get passes. We got the cheapest ones that only let you go on weekdays only and not at all the whole month of July or on any holidays. They are $125 each but the EY tickets were $50 each, so with the trade-in value of our tickets it was only $150 total. To put it in perspective, a ONE day park hopper is $85 each, so we use these passes twice and they are paid for. I plan on taking her to each park once a week while I'm on leave, so they'll be payed for before the month is over.

Finding Nemo submarine ride opens next week, so we'll get to go on that as well! And California Adventure has a whole section of kids rides based on A Bug's Life. Maggie can't wait to go back. She's sleeping as we speak so she'll be rested and ready to go back!

Maggie is now a little talker. She talks all the time. She'll go on and on and on and on. It's exhausting keeping up with her.

In my other world, it really is bad form for recruiters to cold call me at work. I usually just hang up on them. One rude gesture deserves another I suppose. Stop calling me.

The Cost of High Society: So EY sponsors a program called Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY). Each office gets to nominate someone in their area and it goes to regions, national, and worldwide eventually. Anyway, I participated by conducting an on-site interview of a potential candidate and did a one-page write-up on my candidate's business success story. My candidate made it to the finals, which means that I got invited to attend a banquet honoring him as a finalist.

I got the invitation on Friday. It is a black tie affair. Here's the low-down on the event: cost of renting a tux: $50. cost of two tickets to the dinner for me and my wife: $400 (not kidding). Laughing about the absurdity of actually attending: priceless.

I would love to attend, but it can't cost me two full days of pay to do so. Our disney tickets, good for a whole year, are only 1/3 the price of this event. How can a meal cost $200? Do you know how many times we can eat out for that? Needless to say, I'm speechless.

Like Mother Like Daughter: I'm trying to plan next week's primary lesson but it's hard with a snoring baby on a boppy next to you. At least now I can turn off Playhouse Disney.

[Comments] (3) Yes, Virginia, God Does Answer Prayers: Today was our first day back in primary. We were both extremely nervous. But Spencer fell asleep ten minutes into sharing time, and Maggie went to Relief Society so we could teach class unfettered. I knew the kids were excited. Both they and their parents have been telling us for weeks how much they missed us. But the primary presidency all seemed pretty happy to have us back as well. We were both dreading church so much this morning. I'm glad I don't have to dread it now.

Next on my list: figure out how to get a new title on the SUV so that we can get insurance on it. I feel scary driving it without.

[Comments] (4) Peace & Sirens: In LA for training. We came up Tuesday night only to find that my room with a king sized bed was gone. At least I got a room. Some of my coworkers did not even get a room. Apparently, the Sheraton needs a lesson on how a reservation works. They know how to take them, but not how to keep them. Pitiful. So we slept in separate beds. I wasn't in the mood to sleep that tightly.

We also asked for a crib for the bug. When we got to the room, there was a fridge in the bathroom but no crib. I kept telling Susie that they must have thought I said fridge. Two hours later, we finally got the crib. Pathetic. But Maggie got even with them: she peed all over the crib. She doesn't do that at home.

Last night was too quiet. It was my first night away from home without the Beet. But on the plus side I ate at my fav downtown hole-in-the-wall restaurant: Charlie Kabob. I can't decide if I love the food or the name the most.

Two more days and I get to take my baby to Disney!

Summer Vacation: It felt like the last day of school today. Work never takes a break; school does. Yet I get the next four weeks off. In the words of Green Day: "Wake me up when September June ends.

[Comments] (1) Wish they all could be California girls: Today Susie and I took Maggie to the beach again. But this time I insisted on taking her out on the sand to let her see the boats and hear the waves. I also held her up so that she could let her toes feel sand. She got plenty of sand between each toe, so I'm glad I didn't expose more of her to the beach. She seemed to enjoy it.

What she really enjoyed, though, was stopping at IKEA on the way home. She seemed completely mesmerized by that place. We had dinner there and Maggie talked the whole way home about her day to us. I wonder if she realizes, now that she is front facing in her bjorn, that we were there with her. She loves to talk!

[Comments] (4) Fun in the sun: Sunday was another adventure. Maggie slept during Sacrament meeting. And then she lit up sharing time. We sit on the back row of Jr primary, but you would think we were at the front. All the kids were looking at Maggie, and every time she cooed, she captivated the room. Patrick says she's the cutest person in our class, and Clayton and Lucas like to play with her feet.

Elizabeth still sits by us in sacrament meeting, and she held Maggie for a minute. She told me she wishes I was her dad. She also told me that I have vampire fangs (I kind of do).

Today Maggie and I had the (almost) ideal day. First, Maggie slept until 8:30, giving me plenty of time to clean the house and read part of my book. When she got up, I dressed her and off we went to Disneyland. We rode small world and Mr Toads. She then took a bottle and a small nap as I fled the mayhem to CA Adventure. There we went on the Monsters Inc ride, Fliks Flyers, Heimlichs Chew Chew Train (lame), and Francis ladybugs (not near as cool as the teacups, and very bumpy). We also went on the Ariel's underwater carousel which she really seemed to enjoy.

We got home at noon and she ate again and went down for a two-hour nap, so that dad could eat lunch, forward work emails to the people covering for me, did the dishes, and read more of my book. Susie came home at 4 so that I could make dinner. And now Maggie's taking another nap. She was very kind to me today, in exchange for me toting her around the happiest place on earth.

The one bad thing was that today was opening day for the Finding Nemo ride, and we weren't invited. Apparently riding something opening day is only for the rich and/or invited. So the park was crowded and we couldn't even enjoy it. Maybe next week.

[Comments] (3) We've all got daddy's nose: Went to Disneyland again yesterday. Maggie especially liked the train. I took her out of her carrier and let her sit on my lap and look around. Everyone around us thought that she was a major attraction. But she wouldn't pay attention to any of them. She was busy admiring the park. We went in the morning for three hours, went home and rested, and went back for two more hours in the afternoon. Boy am I exhausted. But it beats holding her all day at home. She didn't make me hold her at all at home. I guess that was her way of thanking me for a fun day.

Today we're gonna hit the beach. I hope she won't mind not going to Disney again.

[Comments] (4) Independence Day: Maggie loves to take the binky out of her mouth. She tries to put it back in herself, which has has done maybe once. I think she really wants to do it on her own instead of bothering us. Which is sweet. But she isn't quite there yet.

Life seems so much better with Susie working and me staying home. For one thing, Maggie seems to nap better for me, which means I have more time to cook and clean. For another thing, Susie doesn't work as much as I do, so we see each other more and can both care for Maggie better. If only Susie's job paid better....

Tonight I wanted to make an eggplant parmesan, cuz I relaly like that stuff. But all the recipes seemed way too involved for someone caring for an infant. So I'm getting it take-out from Maggiano's instead.

[Comments] (1) Maggie & Me: Yesterday we went to the farmer's market. I bought some baklava and some bok choy. They have a raffle every day at 11 and each booth gives away free stuff. Maggie and I won free peaches!

Maggie sleeps half the day. Which is great. I get lots done while she sleeps: practicing for sacrament meeting, planning primary lessons, checking my work emails, cooking, and cleaning. I'll miss it when she grows too old for naps.

[Comments] (1) Thoroughly Modern Millie: Raspberries! They are on sale for $1 a pack at Von's right now. I cleared out the store on Saturday and I'm going back for more tomorrow. That is like 75% off.

Today was my first father's day. And to celebrate, Maggie has been so good. She took me to IHOP for breakfast yesterday and she didn't even cry on the way to church. But the downside was that our ward did nothing for the fathers today. I FINALLY make it into the club and they discontinue the benefits. Figures.

[Comments] (3) Kodak Moment: Today at the Spectrum I saw a security guard riding on a Gob-mobile. It made me laugh.

Speaking of kodak moments, I think a lot of people think that seeing me with Maggie during the day (doing the shopping, going to Disneyland, etc) is a kodak moment. One lady even asked me yesterday why I wasn't at work. She seemed skeptical at my response. But why shouldn't I be able to have it all?

[Comments] (2) Mean Daddy: Maggie has decided that she will only take a nap if forced to. So that means I have to put her in her crib and let her cry it out for about 5 minutes. Now, I know 5 minutes is not a long time (some babies will cry it out for hours), but it feels like a long time. Long enough to make me feel like a mean daddy. But I know she's tired. So I guess that's what they mean by "daddy knows best"?

I just found out that I have to go to Washington, DC in July for three days for work. It's not long enough to do anything fun, yet long enough to mess up my internal clock. And Susie will be here all alone during that time. I hope that we will both survive the trip.

On the Sidelines: Last night we took Maggie on a walk at the mall and to get a Jamba Juice. There were throngs of people there lined up on the sides of the stores waiting for something. I started jogging my mind for what they could be waiting for: movie premiere, book premiere, etc. Well. It turns out that yesterday, at 6 pm, was the unveiling of the iPhone. What a momentous ocassion. And I was there! (many people had t-shirts on commemorating the event). I hope that one store had a stock of at least 1,000 phones, cuz there were a lot of people in line. I wonder if I'll ever own one? I have no idea how much they cost, but I'd probably rather not have one and spend the money on a vacation or something.

Maggie got a mild flu from her immunizations on Thursday. It's her first sickness, and I'm loving it! She sleeps a lot more and she is more mellow. It was a nice break from the high-maintenance baby I'm used to. She seems better today, so I am glad it was nothing serious.

[Comments] (4) Words cannot explain: Today is my last day with the Mags. Today is Susie's last day of work. Monday is my first day as the quote-unquote breadwinner. I'll miss the extra income.

But I'm mostly happy with the decision. We don't really know a lot of people, so basically we'd be paying a stranger to care for Maggie. And it's expensive. How can someone with no past experience or skills charge so much? Maybe Susie should take in someone else's rugrats. But seriously. I refused to consider day care where the child to adult ratio is atrocious. That and I've heard horror stories from so many people about day care. Besides, no one will care for Maggie with as much love as we will. That's not to say there aren't good caregivers out there, because there are. But none of them would love my daughter the way Susie and I do.

My biggest worry is just that Susie will be bored and hot. Maybe in UT, when we have family to help watch Maggie, she can work again. We'll see. Maybe Susie will like taking care of her more the older she gets. I know I've had a blast watching Maggie grow in so many ways. She now can sit up on her own! So cute.

So, anyway, I guess that, even as an accountant, I've realized that there are solutions that involve more than considering the bottom line.

Zoom Zoom: As Susie mentioned on her blog, we sold the Saturn. To CarMax. An ingenious place. You can sell them a car without buying one. Now, sure, we could have sold it ourselves, paid money for an ad, dickered with people on the price, paid for a mechanic to check out the car, etc. You know, do it the old fashioned way. But we didn't. In an effortless hour and a half we walked out with a check, and we barely had to lift a finger to do it. Kudos to CarMax.

Incidentally, I hear there is another Saturn sitting in b-town that was supposed to have been sold months ago. I think CarMax could give it a good home.

[Comments] (3) Baby's First Review: (By Maggie)

Today I saw my first movie: Ratatouille. I enjoyed it so much I only napped for 20 minutes, even though I hadn't had a nap yet today. I mostly just sat on daddy's lap and watched, though a few times I had to vocalize my comments at certain critical junctions of the film. Especially interesting to me were the ending credits. I was mesmerized, though I don't quite know why.

I felt bad watching such a fun movie for free, so I left them my left sock in exchange. This is the first time I have lost a sock. I never even lost one at Disney. Fine holiday fun!

Baby Swap: Last night we watched our friend's 6-month old, Connor, so that his parents could go and watch Harry Potter 5. Tonight they are watching Maggie for us.

Connor is obsessed with Maggie, but Maggie doesn't really seem to care about Connor that much. She'll look at him and smile, but Connor always wants to touch Maggie. Last night Maggie dutifully went to bed at 7:45, the usual hour. Connor, however, does not have a usual hour. His mom says she waits until he's tired and then pushes him in the stroller until he falls asleep. The baby books all say that's a no no, that children should be put down awake (yet tired) and learn to fall asleep on their own. But it's their baby so what can I say.

Well, Connor decided to be ornery at 8:15, and started screaming, which woke up Maggie. So I took him outside and walked with him for 30 minutes before he fell asleep and I could put him down. Poor kid. He was probably wary of me and his unfamiliar surroundings, so I was willing to hold him until he fell asleep. But it's a good thing that he only weighs two more pounds than Maggie, or I wouldn't have survived. He's a cute kid, but that's not a very good nighttime ritual.

Holding him made me wish I had a little boy. But I'm sure I'd feel the same way in reverse. I love my little girl, but she needs a little brother. One day. Not today. Or tomorrow. Or even next year.

I hope Maggie will behave for them tonight. She can be high maintenance sometimes, even if she is the cutest bug that ever lived.

[Comments] (1) The Jig is Up: Last week we were informed that the other 7 year-old primary teachers were being released and that we are now one big consolidated class. So Susie and I now teach 11 children, plus a Maggie. Then this week they told us that treats are no longer appropriate rewards in Primary. How else am I supposed to control 11 children while holding a sleeping baby? I think I may have to break the rules quite a bit on this one. What's the worst that can happen? They'll release us? On the bright side, today was my last day playing the piano for the ward choir.

Friday night we saw HP5. Brother and Sister Erickson were there, so we sat by them, and they let me share their popcorn. That's a real treat for us; Susie and I never buy movie theater foods. I actually enjoyed the movie. I had very small expectations for the movie, as book 5 is my least favorite. But I enjoyed the movie. Of course, the Newsweek thought it was a disgrace, what with all the leftout stuff. But I liked what they left out--no one wants to see teenagers fight on screen for two hours. And the way they handled the Cho breakup was also quite clever. I was a little sad they left out Aunt Petunia's howler, however. I also liked the actresses they cast for Luna and Umbridge. Luna was perfect. And Umbridge had a slight comical air about her that made it actually possible to stand her. I was rather impressed. Can't wait for this weekend! Please pray that I don't have to work (it's been rumored). I'm not going to get spoiled this time, dagnabit.

Tomorrow bright and early I leave for DC. I'm not going to really have any time to sightsee, so this trip is going to be a lot of wasted effort. Oh well. It'll be a slight adventure, and I'll probably be more tolerant of the heat here after spending a few days in an east coast summer.

[Comments] (2) Taxation without Representation: That's the mantra of the district, as it is posted on license plates here. Well, here I am, representing the peeps. Let the taxation begin!

My flight here was completely uneventful. They were very full so I had to have a middle seat on the first leg to Chicago. It was awful, but Sudoku and Susie's iPod helped me pass the time. No delays to speak of, though I did have to wait in the security line at John Wayne for 45 minutes. I got to the gate just as boarding began. That airport can be such a joke. It was freaking 5:30 am.

When I arrived in DC around 5, I cabbed to the hotel and then walked to the office to make sure I could find it properly. I went the wrong direction for the first 5 minutes, but once I figured it out, I found the office without a hitch. Consequently, it is on NY Avenue across the street from the Grand Hyatt. The Grand Hyatt is where I stayed when I first came to DC 11 years ago exactly. That was my first plane trip, my first trip to somewhere not my sister's house in CA, and my first experience with the business world.

I had won the sophomore competition in high school at the state level of FBLA and therefore got to go to DC for Nationals. And that trip is what made me start to consider business. Before that, I had no idea what I would do when I went to college. And there was EY, across the street. If I were a better writer, I could weave some story about the significance of all of this. But I'm a numbers person, so the facts will have to suffice. Needless to say, though, it all seems too cool to be merely coincidental. This city, I suppose, means more to me than I originally thought.

The first night I met up with a colleague and we walked down to the mall. We walked around the Washington monument and I saw the new WWII monument, which is pretty cool. It has a very calming effect on a person. Then onward down to Lincoln. I'd forgotten how steep the climb is up to visit honest Abe. I was sweating bullets at the top. The second night, after training, I trailblazed alone. Well, not completely. I strapped on my iPod and out exploring I went. It didn't feel lonely with the iPod. I walked down to the mall again, but this time headed toward the Smithsonian and Capitol Hill. It was nice to walk along with all the runners and watch the softball, ultimate frisbee, and soccer games along the way. I love that about this place: people recreating outdoors instead of at the gym! In fact, I have only seen one gym here. But I've seen enough Starbucks to make me sick.

At the Capitol building I saw an abandoned binky in the sand, so I called home:

Me: Guess where I am?

Susie: Where?

Me: I'm at the Senate building.

Susie: What's that?

Me: You know, where the House and Senate convene. The Congress Building. The big one.

Susie: You mean the Nation's Capitol?

Me: Jetlag.

Maggie apparently enjoyed listening to me, Susie says, though she didn't really talk back. I think she'd enjoy it here. Lots of people watching to do. I'm not really a suburb person, but I'm also not about living in an apartment the size of a cardboard box that costs $2000 a month. In essence, I'd love to live here, or in NY, but it's no longer practical. So I guess the suburbs win. To make up for it, I guess I'll just have to be a vacation person. I'm excited to go home to my girls tonight. It's been fun, but three days is enough. I hope I survive the flight home.

The Home Stretch: I am exactly halfway through HP7 now. I had hoped to be farther, but the last few chapters made me pause, and I re-read them. Not to give it away, but Christmas has just wrapped up and Ron did something heroic. I'm glad I'm a slow reader. I've mentioned stuff to Susie that she didn't remember, but it gives her this look of "Oh, that's what that means." I'd rather read it right than make incorrect judgments and re-read it later. And since I am so busy with a Beet and with work, I haven't had time to be tempted to look online yet. That all said, I still plan to have the book finished by Sunday at the latest. Susie hopes earlier. She keeps saying stuff. Like mother, like daughter.

Impression so far: I like it, but the tone of the book is surprising to me.

[Comments] (2) Templeton's Fair: Yesterday was my fourth wedding anniversary. To celebrate, Susie and I took Maggie to the OC Fair. What a racket. $7 for corn dogs, $6 for a funnel cake, $5 for parking, $16 to get in (luckily we got in for free), and around $6 per ride (we didn't ride anything--why would we when we can ride stuff at Disney for free?) I commented to Susie that I guess it was fitting we go to the fair. In the three years here this is our first visit and we live two miles from the fair grounds.

This fair will deep-fat-fry anything. Twinkies, Snickers, Cheesecake, avocados, artichokes, cookies, onions, cheese. Disgusting.

The fairgrounds felt so cramped to me. Susie and I both felt our hometown fairs seemed more spacious, but that's probably because we grew up in places where space is a commodity, not a precious gem.

Maggie didn't really care about the animals. I tried to make her, but she usually just looked away from them. Though in the maternity barn, the baby sheepies were all bleating and the mommy sheepies were bleating back and she seemed quite startled by the whole thing. Conclusion: baby sheep bleat nicely, but mommy sheep bleat like foghorns.

Tomorrow night we are going to celebrate at The Melting Pot without the Beet. I anticipate it being better than the fair.

[Comments] (1) Face Time: I didn't have to work this weekend! Yay! Friday the place cleared out by 4 pm, so I figured that was a sign that no one (important) was working this weekend, so I stayed until 6 pm and left for the weekend. It's like that old saying goes: "If you work on Saturday and no one is there to see it, did it really happen?" No....

So Friday night, as Susie mentioned, we relaxed at home, only to be disturbed by a girl screaming bloody murder upstairs. This is the fourth time I have heard such noises; Susie's first. So we decided to call the fuzz. I can't understand what makes a girl keep coming back to such a situation. Then again, they are just kids. Maybe it's nothing. But if it is nothing, then at least this girl will have learned not to cry wolf. And if it is something, well, we gave them a chance to work it out. Hopefully now they'll get the message. In their defense, they sure are quiet at night for Maggie (they used to like to play loud music at night).

Today we went and saw "Spiderman 3" at the $1 movie. I thought it was pitiful and the plot deplorable. The only good part was the big fight scene at the end. It's so sad to see a good original become so tarnished by its sequels. Which explains why we haven't seen Pirates 3 yet. Maggie must have agreed with me, because she was pretty fussy during the movie.

I can't believe it's August already. It definitely has been a cooler summer this year. I'm very grateful for that.

[Comments] (2) Mr Lonely: My wife and daughter are in UT while I burn the midnight oil back home. But my mission companion Shaun is coming tomorrow night for a visit until Monday morning. So I guess tonight is really my only "personal" night to do what I want (or not what I want, like working late). Should be an interesting few days--going from married with children back to having a roomie.

As Susie mentioned, Maggie had a ball swimming. She wants to be held out so that she can swim and kick her little feet on her own. She never complained about the pool water temperature or the hot tub temperature. But if her bath water temperature is one degree off, watch out.

Our Disney passes are good again starting Monday, and Susie and I are looking forward to going back. Hopefully the weather will cooperate--it's been hot the last few days.

Neverending Story: Last Tuesday Susie & Maggie departed for the magical land of UT and left me to fend for myself. Wed night my mission companion Shaun came and stayed with us until Monday morning. Thursday I took him to the train station and he explored LA while I worked. I took Friday off and we went for dim sum and to the beach. Saturday Susie & Maggie rejoined me and we went out for Indian food. Susie's curry had what appeared to be tin foil stuck to the side of her chicken. The waiter told us that it was silver. I didn't get any of the silver-laced chicken, because I was holding Maggie while she slept. But I already have silver in my mouth, so I guess that's ok.

Yesterday I also had the day off and we went to Disneyland. Maggie really enjoys Small World and the Disneyland express. She went to sleep after that. Maggie took her first bite of the real world yesterday (in the form of mushy rice cereal) and she seemed to enjoy it, though she was really hungry and rice cereal isn't as efficient as is a bottle. We knew she was ready for this step (and so did she) because she loves watching us eat. She already loves drinking from a cup, I think only because we do it. She's growing up too fast!

[Comments] (1) Back to the Basics: I had to work today. I haven't worked on Saturday since Maggie was born. But I guess all good things must come to an end. I suppose I did work from home last Saturday before Susie and Maggie got back from UT. Susie brought me In-N-Out for lunch. Around 1:30 some coworker came around soliciting lunch orders. Hello. John doesn't do 2 pm lunches.

It seems as though the worst of summer is over. Last night we didn't even turn on the air--just opened the window. And where did summer go, I ask? I suppose I should be used to not having summer vacation by now, but I'm not. Being a grown up is actually more exhausting than being a teenager.

We went out for Mexican food last night and Maggie was extremely well-behaved in her high chair, while all the babies around us acted extremely fussily. I think we've got an angel in our midst.

[Comments] (13) Big adjustment: Leonard sent us a link to an article that showed that Baby Einstein is actually proven to stunt a child's intellectual development. The study showed that those who watched the DVD's for an hour or more a day lacked a normal vocabulary. I think I've found a solution to the problem.

The Wiggles. They are like Baby Einstein (bright colors to draw in the attention of infants, catchy music, etc), except that the songs have words, which I would think would assist with the vocabulary dilemma.

I used to make fun of Tyler for watching The Wiggles. I really could not watch the show with him. But Maggie seems to like it, so I watch it with her in the mornings. The things you'll do for your own flesh and blood....

[Comments] (1) Picky Picky: Maggie had her first pea today. She didn't like it. I think tomorrow I'll trick her by alternating bites between peas and rice cereal. I have to do the same thing with Susie, so it shouldn't be too hard. After all, Maggie gets it from her mother. So I'm told.

I worked five hours today, and will work five more on Labor Day. I figure I'd rather break up the work than do it all in one long day. It's easier to be a good daddy that way, at least for me. I'm ready for busy season to be over.

[Comments] (1) From the Mouths of Babes: Today we did a puzzle in Primary of the United States. Every time the kids answered a question right, they got to put a state in the puzzle.

Charlotte: Please don't make me put in Texas!

Me: Why not?

Charlotte: It's my worst state ever.

Me: Why is that?

Charlotte: It's just about the worst thing I ever had to deal with.

That from a seven year-old.

It's wicked hot right now, so we're going swimming.

Do the Mushu: Yesterday at work they provided lunch for us Labor Day laborers. It was Chinese. My fortune says "The current year will bring you much happiness." Very, very true.

Maggie follows me with her eyes everywhere I go. It is so hard to slip out to go to work, because she doesn't miss a beat. She sees me go. I think she will grow up thinking work is the worst four-letter word out there. And when people reference the "four-letter word," she will think they mean work, and not the f-bomb.

We went to Disneyland last night and had a good time. It was very uncrowded, and Maggie found the night scene quite enchanting. That was the first time she's been out that late (besides for a walk in the hood) and she found all the twinkling lights fascinating. Susie and I commented that it was her own little version of Vegas. It must have worn her out, because she slept through the night.

[Comments] (5) Newsworthy: Susie and I have decided to leave SoCal for greener pastures. We will officially become Utahns on November 1, 2007. We will also hopefully become homeowners on or about November 1, 2007, which means that Maggie will own a backyard on or about November 1, 2007. We also will no longer have to play the organ, teach 10 7-year olds, pay $1700 a month to live in a poopy complex that has even poopier management (more on them later), will finally have family support, etc all on or around November 1, 2007. Maggie will get to have cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a cabin! We are very excited about this. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone? Besides, they've basically paved SoCal to put up a parking lot anyway. I don't think we'll miss it too much. Except for Mickey.

So I went to ask management about extending our contract to possibly stay through Thanksgiving. The turkeys. They said no. I asked how much it would cost then to stay an extra month without extending our contract. They said they don't know. So I asked if they even wanted us to stay here at all. They pretty much said no. Their loss. We're good tenants. Needless to say, someone's gonna get a nasty letter in the mail. Or maybe a package. Maggie's eating solids now....

So, as mentioned above, welcome, welcome November 1st!

[Comments] (1) Daddy's Little Ghoul: Since we will be moving over Halloween, we have decided not to get Maggie a costume. Instead, we got her a Halloween shirt from Old Navy she can wear. It's black with a glow-in-the-dark ghost on it that says "Daddy's little ghoul." I'm getting Mickey pumpkin ears.

Well. Maggie didn't like peas. She didn't like bananas. But today she ate sweet potatoes like there would be no tomorrow. I don't like bananas either, and peas aren't my favorite (though I do like edamame), but I really like the pumpkin family. I guess she's working up her Thanksgiving appetite! It's hard to introduce new foods because, if she doesn't like it, we have to keep feeding it to her because she can't have another new food for four days after introducing new foods, to aid in allergy detection. At least the next four days will be fun (and less messy). I can't believe my bug turned 6 months today.

The Daily Prophet: Two years ago, mom says: "I know people who say "I hate beets." That's a lot of vitriol to pour onto one poor helpless little vegetable." Even back then, she knew how precious her first grandchild would be!

Tomorrow is the last day of [one] busy season!

[Comments] (3) It's Confirmed: I took that carrer quiz twice, because the first time I think I misunderstood the term "likes to learn new things hands-on." Apparently they literally mean hands-on, and I'm a white collar worker all the way, though I do like to learn new things hands-on in a figurative sense.

Anyway, both times the same position came up first in the affirmative: Special education teacher.

I really considered teaching in college, but decided against it for two reasons:

1. My mom, a teacher, talked me out of it.

2. The pay.

I guess I've got my fallback now. That is, after I make my millions.

[Comments] (3) To ma'am, with love: Today is Susie's birthday. To celebrate, I took the day off work and we went appliance shopping. Front-loading washers and dryers are very expensive, but Susie and I have decided to splurge, since they are better on both clothes and the environment. We went to Boudin for lunch.

We went to Disney this afternoon and finally got to ride the new Finding Nemo subs. Susie didn't seem that impressed, but Maggie seemed to enjoy it. I unfortunately couldn't see that well, since Maggie pretty much hogged my porthole. But I liked what I saw.

The Mad Hatter came over and offered Maggie some tea. Goofy also said hi to her. When you have a doll, you don't have to wait in line. Both characters came over to us. Maggie did seem to like the Mad Hatter though. He was very cute with her.

Disney is all decorated for Halloween, including a huge Mickey pumpkin on Main Street. It was very not crowded, and the weather today was perfect. I don't think the day could have been any better. Tomorrow: off to UT for job interviews.

Fly on the Wall: I forgot to post about our experience on Pirates yesterday at Disney:

Man behind us: I'm gonna open my next business in Sweden.

Woman behind us: I don't think Swedish girls will like you.

Man: Are you kidding. Swedish girls will love me.

Woman: No they won't. They like their men with dark hair and dark complexion. My family is Swedish. My grandpa is from old towne Stockholm, grandma's from the country, cousins from Ikea, etc.

Man: You talk too much.

Later, after the drops:

Man: The thing about the Mormons is....

Long pause

Man: They just have so much integrity.

Woman: Did you know that the seven habits book is written by the Mormons?

Later, as the ride is concluding.

Man: This ride was boring.

Woman: Why?

Man: It's just that, I've been on this ride since I was five, and it never changes.

Woman: Yes it does. They added Johnny Depp and that guy with the squid face.

Man: I don't think you understand me at all.

At that point, I lifted Maggie up from laying on my lap.

Woman: Oh, look at the beautiful baby!

Man: Do you know why people like rabbits better than mice?

Woman: Huh?

Man: Rabbits are actually nastier than mice. But people like them because of the big eyes and soft skin. It's the same with babies. But really, you'd be much happier with a rat infestation in your attic than with a rabbit infestation in your cellar.

At which point Susie and I quickly exited the ride.

[Comments] (7) Head still spinning: Just got back from UT. I still cannot believe what I've accomplished this trip. Or what I still have to accomplish as a result of this trip.

Firstly, I can't believe we bought a house. I also cannot believe we qualified for a loan so easily. Apparently banks are only too eager to lend money to people, whether those people deserve the loan or not. I also cannot believe I found a house that I love. I totally planned on settling for a house with 100 things I hated about it, but I found one with less than 10. It will be a fun endeavor turning this house into a home over the next few years. Hopefully I won't lose too much sleep over the whole escrow process.

Secondly, I got my raise for the year. I have high expectations for these things, and am always disappointed. But, without saying too much, the raise is 8% higher than even my highest expectation was.

Thirdly, I got some nice job offers. Hopefully I won't lose too much sleep deciding which one to choose.

Fourthly, I have been informed that the probate court has finally agreed to leave us alone to sell a house! That is extremely good news.

Now I just have to get homeowner's insurance, choose where I want to work, hire movers, finish up all my work here, and find time to sleep. Here's hoping for a quick October.

[Comments] (1) The Final Countdown: I have made my decision, and must learn to live with the consequences. I have decided to transfer to the EY SLC office, for lots of different reasons. First, the office is moving from downtown to the Gateway, so the commute will be easier and the food options will be more plentiful. Also, if I need to buy a last minute present, it'll be convenient. Second, I am used to the system there and feel comfortable and confident in my ability to succeed in this new market. Third, I just can't walk away from the incredible raise I received this year. Few could. Fourth, it's prestigious to work for a big company, most of the time.

So that leaves us one month to finish escrow, pack and move, finish work down here, and not go crazy in the process.

The last two nights after work we have visited Disney, which is all decked out for Halloween. I'm still salivating from the 5,000+ candy corn they have decorating California Adventure. Susie wanted Maggie to wear her Halloween shirt there, but I said she can't wear it until October. Call me old fashioned, but I find it premature to celebrate Halloween in September. Monday will come soon enough.

I'm sad that Daylight Savings isn't until November this year. I could have used the extra hour of sleep this weekend. Not that Maggie knows the difference or anything....

[Comments] (3) Truth & Lies: Yesterday when I went home I noticed the car in front of me had an Antarctica license plate. Can that be for real? I don't see how it can, but it looked real.

If it's not real, I wonder. I see lots of people in California with stupid license plates in lieu of real ones (fake Angel fans ones, fake USC alumnus ones, etc). I thought that it was illegal to not display your license plates. If not, then why even bother with license plates in the first place?

[Comments] (1) There & Back Again: Back from SLO, as it is known to the locals, and those in the know, including me but not including my wife. I love being right.

Maggie slept for two hours on the drive up, which was nice. We stopped at a beach between Ventura & Santa Barbara both coming and going to feed Maggie. The water was the bluest I have ever seen, as it is semi-polluted in SoCal & the Kong, brown in NYC, and grey in Alaska (due to the silt).

We stopped for Pea Soup, and Maggie had a bite and ate some bread. The waiter couldn't believe how well-behaved she was. That place is quite a riot--there is so much junk for sale in Solvang. They have these sleeping puppies and kitties that breathe while they sleep. Creepy indeed.

Joel & especially Leah found Maggie to be quite the hot item. Leah would go up to Maggie and just grunt and grunt. Then Maggie and Leah would crack up laughing. The kids weren't shy at all, unlike the last time I saw them. Joel wasn't even afraid to go in the hay bale maze with me at the pumpkin patch. He found his own way out, in fact.

It must be nice to be able to walk to the ocean every day. We're close, but not that close. The big rock is still in the bay, and it still looked big. Sometimes things that were larger than life as a child aren't so cool as an adult. But the rock is still big. On the way home, Maggie slept for two hours straight, then screamed for two hours straight. She always looks so glad to be home. Hopefully she won't be traumatized by the move. I hope that once our stuff shows up at our home, she'll accept the move easier.

Maggie is definitely a Richardson. We gave her peach wedges to eat at the picnic table while we ate breakfast and she just gnawed and gnawed on those pieces. Millions of peaches, peaches for Maggie.

[Comments] (1) Old Man Trouble: My daughter is seven months old today. Rounding up, she's now almost a year. This can't be happening.

[Comments] (2) Calling Ma Bell: As part of the Verizon "new every two plan" I got a brand new phone yesterday. For free. An LG Chocolate phone. Not that I need all the gadgetry, but this is my first camera phone. I got Susie a new one as well, as hers was half off with the plan.

She wanted a pink razor phone. Pink. I told her pink is not good--now I can't use it. And I told her I've heard a lot of complaints about the razor phone. And sure enough, last night as she played with it, she complained about it. Oh well, hope she'll learn to like it. I love mine.

[Comments] (1) Daddy Daughter Day: I took the day off to be with my family after yet another grueling deadline ended. As Susie mentioned, it's been a long day for us. Along with packing up most of the kitchen and a few other things, Maggie managed to have a rough night throwing up, poop in the bathtub this morning, have a bad bought of the trots (luckily we were holding her at the time and it got on nothing), going to Disneyland, watching Maggie pull herself up in her crib (which we have now lowered, thank goodness), and bribing Maggie into crawling! The trick is to show Maggie her binky, then place it about 5 paces away from her. She'll crawl to it every time. The first time it was just Maggie & me; the second time Susie was there; the third time, we added the camera.

Though I didn't want to lower the crib and have her crawl till we moved, it's been fun watching her progression nonetheless. Even with my crazy work schedule, I've been blessed to be present for about 90% of these 'Maggie milestones.' But I do hate doing anything to the crib because the bumper makes it difficult to get the sheets off. I'm ready to pack it away and use the hide-a-crib until we move.

So much to do at work before the move. Better get back to the grind.

I Need a Hero: Maggie's been vomitting since Monday night. Yesterday at the doctor's office it was my turn to start throwing up. Then last night Susie started. There we were about 6 pm last night, all laying on our bed, counting down the minutes to Maggie's bedtime so Susie and I could go to bed too.

Luckily I felt the sickness coming on and only had a cup of Instant Breakfast. I skipped lunch and dinner, and am so glad I did. I really had nothing to vomit up. This morning I feel much better, and am sticking to peaches and water until I am absolutely certain they can stay down.

Now it's my turn to help Susie and Maggie recover. We've had Maggie on breastmilk and Pedialyte only, so I'm surprised she's still not doing well. I had to get out of a major assignment today. I think, though, I'd rather be at work with a healthy family.

We've been wracking our brains trying to figure out where we got this from. Especially since Maggie got it first and gave it to us. Usually it works the other way around. Well, duty calls.

Setback: I have now gone about 40 hours without vomitting. I kept down six peach slices and some cheese and crackers. Maggie was on my same track, but she just threw up. After almost 40 hours of not throwing up. This bug refuses to leave my family alone. I couldn't care less about a cure for cancer anymore. I'll stop telling doctor jokes the day some overpaid health care administrator comes up with a cure for the common flu. I must be desperate--I'll even wait in your lobby for the normal 45 minutes without complaining!

[Comments] (1) Don't jinx it: I feel almost 100% better now. Tomorrow I am going to have actual food again! Also, I've lost six pounds to this illness.

Susie also is better, which means that I can go back to work on Monday. I've got 5 days left in this office, and I've got a lot to do before the big move.

Maggie seems a lot more perky now, didn't feel feverish to the touch today, seems to have her apetite back (though we don't know for sure, as we are still depriving her a little until we are sure), and overall appears to be on the mend.

We close escrow on our house on Thursday! We will own a house very soon!

We have been informed that we are now in escrow to get rid of another house. Pinch me. It can't be true.

[Comments] (3) Armageddon Now: Link: OC Fires

Yesterday Maggie finally kept down solid food! So we were all able to attend church. I had to sit on the stand the whole time for the Primary program. It went better than any of the rehearsals at least. They announced in Primary that we are leaving. Matthew turned to Susie and told them that we are the best teachers in the universe, Charlotte started crying, and Elizabeth was extra sad. She made a knitted winter hat for Maggie that is crooked, but way cute.

We tried to go for a walk after church with our new, improved, healthy little girl. But mother nature had other plans. The Santa Ana winds picked up with gale forces of around 40-50 mph. Then arsons started a fire in Portola, about 20 miles from our house. The sky turned black and we had to shut all the windows in our house. Because we have all been sick for six days, our house doesn't smell so good. And the smoke leaked into the house anyway. By bedtime it was hot and stuffy, so we sprayed linen spray all over everything, and laced the carpets with deoderizer. But all that did was make our house smell like a cheap Vegas hotel room.

What possesses people to do such things?

First the illness, now the fires. I think we'll never regret our decision to move.

[Comments] (1) Breath of Fresh Air: My car was covered in ashes this morning. 90-degree weather with closed windows and doors sure is stuffy. I'm so glad our apartment is one of the few to have air conditioning. Seriously though, folks, I'm counting down the hours to when I can get out of this mess. It's like the entire tri-county area has turned into one big casino, but the "house" isn't winning. It's burning.

Work this week is a never-ending smorgasbord of free lunch. Maybe I should leave more often.

[Comments] (4) There & Never Back Again: So I spent October 28-30 in Orlando at a work conference that, despite the sickness I was battling and the extreme jet lag I was experiencing, turned out to be a really fun conference.

I got back to CA around 10 pm on the 30th, and we left apartment living forever behind us by 10 am on Halloween Day. En route on the 15 to UT, we got detoured in Barstow onto Route 40 all the way to Needless (on the CA-AZ border), then had to take the 95 up to Las Vegas. All because of an oil spill in Baker. This added an extra 100 miles to our journey, and to our spirits. It was a hot day in the desert, we were unfamiliar with our route, and the 95 is a one-lane highway. We somehow managed to make it to Vegas by dinnertime, and the traffic there was absolutely horrendous. Every freeway exit in the city was backed up onto the freeway. We ate at Denney's for dinner, because it was the only place we could get into easily. Some random guy thought Maggie was cute (what can I say, when you are right, you are right) and gave her a pomegranite. Her first tricks-or-treats!

We made it to St. George around 8 pm and pretty much just called it a night. The next day, luckily, was uneventful, and we made it to our new house around 3:30! Someone (either the realtor or the previous owners) made 5 key copies, none of which worked. Luckily there are two originals, so we are set. And Maggie gained some new toys. The fridge and stove were a disgrace, and we realized that the bathroom shower was installed upside down! We opted to simply buy new drip pans, my mom scrubbed the fridge, and we peeled off all the vinyl lettering decorating every wall in the house. Some of it is ok, but we need to give this house our personal touch.

We now finally have all our old furniture, our new dining table, two new area rugs to cover the cold hardwood floors, our very own front-loading, environmentally-friendly washer and dryer, and are awaiting our new front room set, coming tomorrow. The boxes are all unpacked, the internet is set up, the phones are set up, Maggie's room is now lavender instead of navy blue, and we're ready for our first homeowner adventure story. (Hopefully it won't be too horrendous, the house is only 8 years old).

Shameless plug time: buying our washer and dryer at Home Depot was a dream come true. They were extremely professional (unlike our Lowe's fridge-buying experience). We bought our dining set and area rugs at RC Willey. The sales rep was nice, the delivery men not so much. The called me at 6:45 in the morning to notify me my table would be delivered in 15 minutes. Of course, they woke up the Beet. Disgraceful. That is way too early.

I love the view we have: the east bench and the wasatch front out the front, and the west side oquirrh mountains and freeway-watch out the dining area. I think I bought this house mostly for the view.

We are slowly acclimating to the UT climate. I once again am dutifully carrying chapstick in my pocket, all the bottles of lotion are open, and we've all had our first winter cold for the year (Maggie's still getting over hers, and hates it when we try to wipe the dried snot from beneath her nose).

I leave Sunday for San Jose for another round of trainings, and begin in the SLC office on November 16th. The time off has been nice (and extremely productive), but it'll be nice to go back to making money faster than I can spend it (and boy have we spent this last month).

Thanksgiving is around the corner!

Do you know the way to San Jose?: La la la la la la la la la.

In San Jose for training. Our hotel is in Santa Clara right next to Paramount's Great America amusement park. I actually went to that park in 1997. It still looks quite the lame park.

So far the training has been pretty good, but I already want to go home. I start work in the SLC office this Friday, and here's hoping for a smooth transition from the OC to the SLC.

Even though it's only 6:30, I'm tired. The last three weeks have been exhausting, but Susie and I have accomplished much good. Think I'll retire to bed with a good book soon.

When I was a kid I always thought it would be fun to move around a lot. I now know better. The best lifestyle is one close to home. Here's hoping our UT residence will last for many years. I'm tired of moving.

[Comments] (4) The Fabulous Fifteen: Despite living in Draper, I made it to work downtown yesterday in under 45 minutes. And home in about the same. Not too bad. The 15 is a dream after the 405. The worst part is navigating downtown. The parking structure for our building is two blocks away, so I have opted (like many of my colleagues) to park for free in the Avenues stake center and walk about 10 minutes into the office to save money. I really think that, once we move to the Gateway in January, I can cut the commute to 35 minutes. Very excited about that.

First day of work involved unpacking boxes, knowing that in two months we are moving and I get to re-pack them. It's gonna be a slow time until the next busy season, being the new guy and all. For once, I'll actually get to enjoy the holidays.

I think I need to write a letter to the makers of those stair gates. Ours does not fit flush on the wall. It is therefore loose, and I fear if Maggie were to pull herself up, she would tumble down the stairs with a gate on top of her. So aren't we therefore better off with no gate? Would she not get injured less without a gate crashing down the stairs with her? It seems like my mom would stuff a dishrag onto one side of the gate growing up to fix the loose gate, and now it does seem more snug, but still unsafe. I do have to wonder how many tumbles down the stairs it would take before she learned her lesson anyway? If only one, maybe we should stage the fall in a controlled environment. I have no idea. But I do feel I'll get a call at work one day that Maggie will have her first set of stitches from such an incident.

Maggie finally seems to have acclimated to her new house, and is again sleeping through the night. I'm telling you, she came this close to sleeping in the garage. But we've survived the transition. Unfortunately, the lost sleep is gone forever.

Today's task: putting up Christmas lights. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

[Comments] (1) Vocalizing my thoughts: Now that I have a commute, I have time to think again! Here is my Top 10 "thankful for" list this year:

1. Susie. She's always at the top, and for different reasons each year. I love her.

2. Maggie. Each day with her, I feel more fulfilled as a human being than I even knew was possible pre-parenthood. She is the apple of my eye.

3. EY. Between the 6-week paternity leave and the opportunity to transfer to an office I am not quite sure needs me that badly, I feel like an asset to the Uncle Ernie family.

4. Eagle Gate. I get to walk under the Eagle Gate at the corner of South Temple & State Street every morning. It brings back many fond memories of visiting Mary & Harry when we were little, who owned a beautiful home above the Capitol building and below Ensign Peak. Of course, I'll be even more grateful come January when we move to the Gateway and my commute shortens 10 minutes each way because I don't have to drive downtown anymore.

5. Disney. This has been an emotional year. Between having a baby, moving, working more hours, etc, it was always nice to be able to forget my worries and go play for a few hours every week. Plus, it was always fun to get out and have people faun over my daughter. Once again, thanks to Uncle Ernie for the discount APs!

6. Our primary kids. I miss them already. The hardest part of leaving California was leaving those kids. I looked forward to church every week, even though it was hard to do primary with Maggie in tow. I wish them good primary teachers in the future, and that they don't have to grow up too fast.

7. Our new house. Over time, that house will become a part of us, and it's been fun to invest myself into it, both financially & emotionally. The view is calming, and there's room to grow!

8. I'm thankful to be near family again. The past year or so we were "flying solo" was not easy. It's nice to finally feel grounded somewhere surrounded by a support group. And once Maggie decides to like them, Susie & I can re-instate date night!

9. Grandma June & IHOP. Glad Susie gets to go every week, even if I can only go once in a while.

10. Last but not least, the gospel. Nuff said.

[Comments] (1) Let It Snow: Today is my first snowfall in years. Today is Maggie's first snowfall ever. It is very pretty, and I managed to drive home safe in it. Yay for the holidays!

[Comments] (3) Clueless: I have made arrangements with the girl in the cube in front of me: She will stop saying the f-word and taking God's name in vain, and I'll ignore everything else she says. So far, it seems to be working. Today at lunch I was telling another co-worker our arrangement, and this girl commented that she also never uses the c-word.

I was not aware there was a c-word. I asked what it was and she and this other girl refused to say it. Apparently it is really bad. So it appears that the newest word to be added to the English language this year is a cuss word. Swell.

In other news, Maggie's sick again. Apparently sickness is just a normal part of winter life in Utah, because mom and Jamie are sick too. Maggie had a hard time sleeping last night so I let her sleep on me while I attempted to sleep on the couch last night. I really don't think I slept one wink all night, but Maggie seemed happy with the arrangement. I'd rather be grumpy than have Maggie be grumpy, so I guess it was worth it.

[Comments] (3) Let It Blow: It snowed pretty much all day yesterday. I am definitely glad that it decided to blizzard on a Saturday than on a work day. I actually got to enjoy it! Susie and I got to shovel the walk twice, and it wasn't that bad. Also, we live in a cool area because our roads were clear by 11 (my mom's and brother's neighborhoods still weren't clear by 4). I guess we must pay more taxes for the added benefit of early snow removal.

We also accosted a free Christmas tree yesterday from one of my mom's neighbors, whose roads were atrocious at 3 pm. The pathfinder slid every which way down her street. That is, until we put it into 4-wheel drive. I don't know what possessed Frances to have 4-wheel drive in CA, but we sure are benefiting from it in UT. Anyway, free Christmas tree!

The tree had lights on it, but they were colored. So I removed them all and strung 800 lights on this 7-foot tree that will be a permanent fixture thereon. Today in the paper, I was looking at the ads for trees, basking in the fact that mine was free. Anyway, it appears that most pre-lit, 7-foot trees come with around 500-600 lights. I repeat, ours has 800. I hope airplanes don't try to land in our front room. But I think it looks better with the extras.

So stringing the tree is how I spent a snowed-in day. It probably took me 2-3 hours to put all those lights on, because I did it the right way. There had better not be any rogue bulbs in the batch, or the tree may find itself rolling down the street.

And it would. It is always so windy here on South Mountain. Which basically means now that snowbanks are forming from the wind re-shuffling the snow. Once again, glad I don't have to drive in it.

Tomorrow I become better than the average driver--my commute moves to the carpool lane!

[Comments] (7) Neverending Snowy: This past week was pretty eventful. Wednesday I got to go to a client in Provo. We went to lunch at Los Hermanos, which was a blast from the past. But alas, I still have not been away from Happy Valley long enough to miss it. I was happy to get back on the right side of the point.

Thursday I took TRAX to work. It was nice not to have to drive, but it does get crowded for the last leg of the journey. People have told me they study for school/CPA exams on the TRAX, and I must admit I find that hard to believe. All the people on their cell phones are pretty distracting. That night Susie picked me up from work to go to our work Christmas party. It was held at Rice-Eccles Stadium up in the box. The view was awesome and the food was not bad. They had Brie, and the dessert was this pumpkin-cinnamon with pears thing that was quite festive. I also won an iTunes gift card and movie passes. We were entertained by a comedian that recently came from NYC. I wonder if Sumana ever saw his act. But I can't remember his name. He started off slow, but finished pretty funny.

Friday morning I took my UT Laws & Rules test, and passed. So I'm now one step closer to receiving UT reciprocity with my CPA license. I think the last step is waiting impatiently for the government and to pay lots of money. That night it began raining. It turned to snowfall by dark and still hasn't stopped.

Friday night Justin & Tyler slept over. Tyler is afraid of Maggie. He says she hurts him whenever she touches him. He also begged me to get Maggie off his coat. He said she would rip it. Not sure how that is playing out in his head. Tyler had a busy day yesterday. The school buses at his elementary are labeled by animal instead of by number. He takes the flower bus to school and the bear bus home. Yesterday it appears that he conscientiously decided to take the monkey bus home. Some parent recognized him when he got off the bus and drove him around town until he recognized his house.

I mentioned to Susie that this is why a laminated info card should accompany any child's backpack that is not old enough to memorize a phone number or address. Unfortunately, though, that would not have helped. He left his backpack on the school bus.

This morning was our ward party, breakfast with Santa. Maggie didn't seem too traumatized when he made his grand entrance and came up to us and said hello to her. She did, however, scream when placed on his lap. The photographer mentioned that maybe Maggie's brother should hold her. Maggie's brother? Do we look old enough to have a 13 year-old? I'm offended. Do I look like that kind of Utahn?

Lunch and the afternoon were spent at Boondocks. Justin & Tyler occupied their time with laser tag and video games. I occupied my time trying to keep track of them in that madhouse.

My last bit of weekly news involves me riding in the carpool lane the rest of the month. For only $50, I bought a pass to ride in the carpool lane! Considering that one toll road in CA costs $9 each way, I think I got a very good deal. Rush hour is now my favorite part of the day!

[Comments] (6) Politically Correct: Rather than threadjack Joe's post, I have a few comments of my own. I've been considering the state of the Union, and how it can improve. I must admit, I do not think that Huckabee would help. If he is the embodiment of the Christian right, consider me not a Christian. Anyone who believes that AIDS victims should be quarantined, or that it's "ok" to hate certain groups of people (homosexuals, Mormons), or that the budget should be loosened even more to increase the debt of the nation is not in line with my vision for my America.

Having said that, I am not sure if Mitt is my man, either. Though I have no doubt whatsoever that he would act independent from the Church, perception can be powerful. In essence, I don't want every decision, good or bad, to be associated with the Church. The Church has no posterboy, unless of course you consider it to be Jesus Christ. Not that Mitt is proclaiming himself to be the Mormon posterboy. But I'm afraid the media would paint the picture as such.

I won't even discuss Guiliani. So I guess that leaves me with Clinton or Obama. Obama I like, I think, though I haven't studied him in depth. The whole Oprah frenzy is kind of a silly tactic, though, I must admit. Then there was Hillary. Once again, I don't know enough about her. But most people I know tell me they would never vote for her. When I ask why, their responses are vague and unconvincing.

In short, to coin a phrase, Huckabee, "thou almost convertest me to be a liberal!"

Lastly, Susie & I have been following a story of a Utah family who adopted a boy through LDS family services. The birth mother, in ID, gave him up for adoption. The sperm-donating father, nowhere to be seen during the past two years, wants him. And apparently he gets him. Give me a president willing to promote a change to this twisted type of judicial law and I'll have found my candidate.

[Comments] (3) Yay & Nay: Grr: Our garage door spring has snapped in two. I have to open the door manually (and it's cold and heavy) and it costs $450 to fix.

Yay: It's covered under our appliance warranty the seller's gave us.

Yay: Maggie has learned how to drink out of her sippy cup and likes to eat food chunks we give her (cheese, green beans, sweet potato puffs, gingerbread cookies, etc).

Grr: There's crummies all over my clean floor.

Yay: Only 10 days until Christmas!

Grr: Due to snowstorms and work, I haven't bought a thing.

Yay: It's Saturday! I get to spend the day with my Beet!

Christmastime is here: This morning we celebrated my Grandma June's 90th birthday with her. It was a very nice reception, and Grandma seemed to be in very high spirits today. Maggie also seemed to enjoy watching all 100 or so of us gathered together. She very slowly is getting over her stranger anxiety, and finally seems to recognize certain family members' doting as not being a threat to her well-being. Maggie really enjoyed Rachel, and warmed up to her very nicely. Rachel has already come and gone, and I think she's gonna miss Maggie more than she realizes.

I am taking the next week off to enjoy Christmas with my family. It looks like Maggie's first Christmas will be a white one (not that she cares in the least). My first gift arrived early, and I am now the proud owner of a LoveSac. I'm looking forward to spending our first Christmas in our place.

Don't Blink: The other day Maggie and I were playing downstairs. She toddled off around the corner, and I kept doing what I was doing. When I finally went to get her, she was nowhere to be found. Not in the hallway. Not on the stairs. So I turned the corner to go upstairs and there she was, 4 stairs from the top. All by herself! I was both excited and scared at the same time.

Now it appears to be her new favorite toy. All she ever wants to do is climb the stairs.

Merry Christmas!

Ready or Not: Grr. I just finished book 3 of the "Faith of our Fathers" series, which is historical fiction about the Civil War. I thought it was the last in the series, but there apparently is a fourth. I borrowed them from my dad, who does not seem to have the fourth. And to make matters worse, it's one of those snooty books that does not come in paperback. I suppose I could buy it and then give it to my dad for his birthday, as it seems rather silly for him to have the first three and me to have the fourth. But I'm not sure my dad reads anymore. Before I start any more of his serial collections, I'll have to make sure they are complete.

Maggie aroused herself around 5:45 so I snuggled her and she went back to sleep. I don't feel tired anymore, and December 31 seemed like a very fitting day to be awake well before the sun to ponder a few things alone. I've set some goals for next year. I don't remember last year's goals, but I usually get what I want, so for the sake of the argument, we'll just assume I achieved success. I know at least one goal from last year was to stop throwing my money away in rent and to buy a house, which I've done. Another was probably a copout goal, like having a baby, which obviously also happened, considering Susie was 7-months pregnant when 2007 began. I look forward to 2008 and think it has a lot of potential. Bring it on!

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