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[Comments] (2) Tears in Rain: In San Jose for training until tomorrow. It's pouring outdoors. But at least it's not 20 degrees outside. The training has been fun, but the days are long.

On New Year's Day Grandma June called to inform us that my cousin Sheryl's daughter passed away in the night. She was (as far as we know) completely healthy. Her timespan on earth was only 8 months. Now every time I look at Maggie I feel like crying for about 10 different reasons. This was my cousin's fifth child and she is expecting her sixth. I'm told her pregnancy is now at risk, and her kids are having a hard time understanding what has happened. I cannot even fathom what she is going through. So the weather outside today matches my mood.

[Comments] (6) The Twilight Bark: I'm going to kill the neighbor's dog. I don't understand how someone can put a dog out all night when the temperature is 20 degrees anyway.

Tomorrow and Friday I get to work from home while we move offices to the Gateway. Today we had an "everything must go" free-for-all. I procured a ficus tree that was even too big for the Pathfinder. But I somehow crammed it in there and now we have a jungle-themed front room. I also got a black EY golf shirt, and my coworkers, unbeknown st to them, procured 2007 intern shirts and hats (they'll find out Monday when they open their boxes in the new place)!

Things to do tomorrow: vacuum the car from the tree spillage, fix our fence that fell apart in the windstorm, fix the stepping stone wall that crumbled in the windstorm, figure out who to vote for in the UT primary.

Ten points for the individual that can name the book reference in my title.

[Comments] (1) Cold War: Our new building allowed us to move in, even though it's not done. Not a good idea. There are no blinds on the windows, and the tax department faces south. This means that we are all blinded half the day. But even with that glaring sun, the temp in the building only got up to 64 degrees today. I wore my coat all day, but the gloves got in the way of typing. Result: frozen extremities.

But I've finagled a trip to the OC for work the last week of January. Hopefully I can warm up sufficiently that week to survive the rest of winter.

[Comments] (2) Life Events: On Kristen's note, I got my first speeding ticket last week. And I totally deserved it. Going 60 in a 35 zone. But my cop was nice and only wrote me up for 11 over, and traffic school will take the points off my record. I'm actually kind of glad it happened. I need to slow down and the cop treated me very fairly. I didn't even ask him to reduce the ticket. 27 over and reckless driving to 11 over is a big plus. Hopefully I can go another 11 1/2 years before getting another one.

Susie and I received a calling -- Sunday School teachers to the youth. I'm way excited. The Bishop said the Primary came running for us (big surprise) but he staved them off since we spent the last 2+ years in there. He could tell we needed a break. I've always said I wanted to teach Sunday School. I have no weekday commitments, and I find the lessons more interesting than the "farmed-out" versions of stuff they use in YM/EQ. On a side note, I don't particularly like those president manuals. They don't give the whole story and sometimes quotes are taken out of the context in which they were given. It bothers me.

It is the winter of endless snow here, and I'm ready for spring. Unfortunately, two more storms are coming. Pretty soon we won't be able to shovel over the hills on our driveway. I guess if Congress ends up giving up a $1500 rebate, we could be good consumers and buy a snowthrower. But I'd rather spend the money on an elliptical machine.

Lastly, it's busy season. I've got a lot of work to do, and the commute is getting in the way. I may ask the boss if I can work from home one day a week.

[Comments] (3) Reality check's in the mail: I spent all last week in the OC. The weather was beautiful and everyone was happy/shocked to see me. Joe even bought me Jollibees, and no mealtime went by without a dining invitation. On the downside, I ended up working 70 hours and hardly had a chance to catchup with anybody or even realize where I was. It felt surreal to be back there. At least we finished early Thursday and I made it back to my room just in time to watch Lost.

Now it's snowing like crazy. So bad, in fact, that they have canceled church. Now that's a first. People here don't think twice about driving in the snow. At least, my coworkers don't. I fully intend to enjoy the time home with my Maggie.

[Comments] (4) I'm not Joe or Sumana: But I still have an opinion. (Kristen had asked what Joe &/or Sumana thinks of the stimilus bill). But I am a tax accountant. And that does qualify me to state my anger at this bill. It's NOT free money. It's an advance on your 2008 tax return. So if you normally get a refund, your refund in 2009 will be smaller. If you usually owe, expect to owe a lot more.

How is this helpful? It's a timing difference only. And my guess is that most people won't realize this, spend the money, and will find themselves in dire straights next spring. Where's the beef? they'll ask. And then, with the realization that the money they spent is no more, a real spending freeze will occur, and the potential for another recession will loom. What a fiasco.

What with busy season in full swing now, I was having fun thinking of how to spend my money. Now I'll probably just end up saving it. Bye-bye elliptical. Bye-bye new computer. Back to work.

UPDATE: Apparently I was misinformed. The tax rebate is indeed free money. It will appear as a one-time refundable tax credit on your 2008 tax return that you have already received. (two cents)But that still doesn't make it good. Anytime the government issues money and thereby increases the national deficit, we as Americans have elected to place our spending policies on the backs of our posterity. So I will probably still save my money for Maggie's/future children's college funds. I cannot in good faith spend money I've stolen from my children and grandchildren. I know it is the American way, but as for me and my house, we will not squander their inheritance. (/two cents).

[Comments] (1) Oh Deer: Saturday morning I awoke to find something interesting in the snow in the front yard. It sure was not dog droppings. It looked like rabbit droppings, only bigger. I became nervous our neighbors had a wererabbit or something.

Other droppings in the neighboring vicinity confirmed that the deer have come down the mountain to eat my leafage. Which is fine. But please, I don't require you leave behind anything in return. I hope none of them get hit by cars coming this far down the mountain.

[Comments] (2) Going postal without the gun: Maggie's getting over something or other. Who knows anymore what it is. I've lost interest. But she was up in the night screaming for like an hour. Susie said "I can't go in there; she'll make me feed her." So I picked up on the cue and went into her. I gave her some water. Still screaming. I gave her some pain medicine. She wouldn't take it. So I picked her up and gave it to her. By this point, as you all realize, I am holding her. And did so for 15 minutes afterward. She was still awake when I put her back down and stared at me through her crib bars so I couldn't leave. Finally she rolled over so I curled up on her floor with a boppy as a pillow. Fifteen minutes later I was back in bed. I still think Susie should have to get a paper route if I have to work and do night duty.

This morning I had to leave early for a "breakfast meeting" at 8 am. The "breakfast" offered was a stale muffin. The "meeting" to speak of was a chance for the individual practice to mingle with the corporate/partnership practice. What, we couldn't have done this over lunch? Or better yet, done this not during busy season? I am soooo tired and have such a headache.

I also have no work. I gave it all to a staff, like I was instructed to, becasue I had "too much." Now everyone who didn't give anything up has work, and here I sit. With nothing to do to distract me from my headache. Is it possible to call in sick from my life for a day?

[Comments] (8) They were right: I do miss SoCal winters. But the good news is that today it was too warm to snow so it rained, the inversion is gone, and next week is supposed to reach 45 degrees. I know that seems cold, but it sure feels warm now. There are patches where I can actually see grass!I am definitely going to get out this weekend and enjoy it. Winter's firm grasp on us is slowly loosening.

Speaking of grass, it's almost that dreaded time where we have to buy a lawnmower. I really don't want to buy a gas mower. They are noisy, yucky, require additional gas purchases, and just plain bother me. So the dilemma is this: do we splurge for a cordless electric one (never would I buy a corded one, what a nightmare), or go old school cheap with a push mower?

Pro to electric mower: it does all the work. Con: it costs $400.

Pro to push mower: the epitome of eco-friendly. Cheap. Cons: Quite a workout, our house is on a hillside.

I guess that final point could be a pro, but probably not at first. What to do?

I cannot believe it: There actually is a company out there called "Websidestory."

[Comments] (8) Fiscal Fight: The UT legislature is busy working their 30 required days now, wrapping up the budget mostly. I have recently come to find out that it is written in the UT constitution that a balanced budget is required and debt is strictly prohibited. Thus the state is always in the black.

I for one think that's awesome. Some people here cry that all that means is that taxes are super high to ensure the budget can logically be balanced every year. But my research disagrees. Of the states polled, 19 have rates higher than UT, 15 have rates lower than UT, and 14 are substantially similar. I know, that only adds up to 48 + UT makes 49. Somehow in my haste to publish I missed a state. I'll blame TX. They're not a part of the Union anyhow =).

And it's true. I got a pay increase moving here. Not literally. But in take-home pay. Something like $40 a paycheck more than I got in Cal.

What would it be like to have such laws written into our federal constitution? Well, for one thing, spending on frivolities, like a war, would cease. Or at least it would curb the issue of $200 toilet seats being shipped to Iraq. What a different world that would be.

[Comments] (3) Unbelievable!: Our neighbors three doors up are selling their house. It's the same style as ours and I wanted to know the asking price. Unbelievable. The picture on the website is of OUR HOUSE!

I called the realtor to tell him his photographer did the wrong house and he says, get this, I KNOW! The neighbors haven't had a photographer yet so he just pulled ours from the file because you can't really see the address in the picture anyway. Do I have a problem with that, he asks?

I'm a reasonable human being, so I told him I guess not, since pictures of the real house will be up by Monday, Tuesday at the latest. But isn't this a violation of my privacy? Shouldn't he have to ask my permission first? I'm too lazy to look into the legal ramifications of this, but I have a feeling the law would be on my side.

[Comments] (1) Birthday Girl: Happy Birthday to the littlest princess. I think she knew something was up, because she sure was in great spirits all day. It's been a year full of learning experiences, sleepless nights, and snugglefests. Here's to a lot more where all that came from.

[Comments] (1) Somebody's poisoned the waterhole: Yesterday on the news they ran this whole segment on how they are finding significant trace amounts of various medications in our drinking water. No wonder my cholesterol is down.

This of course led me to reflect on a scene that occured shortly after Frances's passing. The home health nurse, and others at the scene, if my memory serves me, were urging Susie to dump three gallon-sized ziplock bags worth of old meds down the toilet. I really couldn't explain why at the time, but that really did not seem like a good idea to me. I really felt like dumping them in the garbage was the right answer. I know I know, dumpster divers would have had a field day. But still. I couldn't help but think that this was harming innocent fishies, let alone the human race.

As it turns out, in SL county at least, you can take your meds to the police station. They have bins to collect them that look like library return repositories. The officers weekly fire up the ovens. Wish we'd have known about this then. I still can't help but think how we were innocently cajoled into doing the wrong thing.

[Comments] (5) Yeah, right: Because Maggie is a smallish tot, the doctor advised us to feed her foods like butter. Am I the only one that thinks this is a bad idea? So instead at lunch today I let her have some of my coconut ice cream. I am giving her something less healthy but hey, at least it tastes good and won't clog her arteries.

We have had most of the snow melted in our yard for about a week. There is a patch that has been clinging on, and refused to go. Today it held out for friends, and now we have about three new inches in our backyard. I guess the American Puxatawny Phil was right, winter's here to stay.

Lastly, I need some boba. Do I dare quit my oh-so-great job (heh) and open a boba store here? I'd be the only one in UT, so I'd have a lock on the market. But on the other hand, maybe there's a reason there isn't one in Utah. Maybe boba's against the word of wisdom.

[Comments] (1) Sitting Pretty: Yay! Luck was an airplane this weekend, my friends. I had to go to San Jose Tuesday night for a one-day training on Wednesday that made me stay until Thursday morning because there were no flights out that night.

My flight to San Jose was absolutely deserted. I think some connecting flight didn't make it. I had a whole row to myself to read and take a nap in. Then on the way home the flight was full, so guess who got bumped up to first class? Moi! First time ever. It was awesome. At least, it was once all the people boarding the plane are seated. It's hard to look at them in the face, so I buried my nose in a Sudoku book. Really, they are still my peeps, and I'll be rejoining them when I go to Dallas in May. But it was fun to pretend for a day that I'm worth a seat that's too big for me!

[Comments] (15) VCP?: Our DVD player died. It was a wedding gift and I'm sure we registered for cheapest old thing. Susie wanted to get it repaired but I looked up new machines and decided that it's probably cheaper just to buy a new one. So for $60 we got a VCP/DVD. Our VCR is mine from high school and also only works when repeatedly banged on. This new combo machine is pretty cool. You can play a video and a DVD at the same time and toggle back and forth while both play simultaneously. Don't know when I would ever do this, but it's a nice touch. Also, I should point out that this new machine does not allow video recording, only playing. Thus it's a VCP, not a VCR. Just so's you know.

My NCAA bracket is failing miserably. I'm sure glad I didn't enter my work tax group bracket. It cost $5 to enter. I opted out, as I figured it constituted gambling. However, the boss, a stake president, entered. As did most of my mormon coworkers. I'm confused. When would it be considered gambling. $6? $10? Why is this not gambling? This is why I don't necessarily want to still live here when Maggie enters teenage-dom. It's so much easier to explain to kids why our family values are different from their friends when all of their friends are from different faiths. But when they are from the same faith: how to explain it then? I think it'll be easier to raise kids with the values I adhere to elsewhere.

[Comments] (4) Anti-Dentite: Last night I was dutifully flossing under my permanent retainer and poof, the glue holding the right side of the bar died. Needless to say, my tongue had an interesting night playing with it.

This morning I went to my old orthodontist. I've had the bar 9 years. The doctor said it's really only necessary to keep it for 6 years, so he could take it out. So now all my teeth are finally free! He also told me some people like to keep the bottom bar forever, and he'd reglue it if I wanted. I declined. He didn't charge me, and I only had to wait in his lobby for 10 minutes. All in all, not a bad start to the day.

[Comments] (2) Dancing Queen: Against Susie's better judgment, I got Maggie two Wiggles DVD's for her birthday. So loves them to pieces. She watched one of them three times in a row at Jamie's house, and when Erin was watching her the other day, she brought Erin the DVD case and pointed at the tv repeatedly until Erin turned it on. She really gets into them. I may have created a monster. Now Susie & I will only be able to watch our shows when she's asleep. Good thing we don't really have any shows to speak of.

I guess if we wanted to watch a show we could always put the Wiggles on the laptop while we watch on the tv. Or we could be mean and show Maggie who's the boss. Though I think we may be surprised at the answer to that one.

I can tell that Maggie is ready for busy season to end. Now whenever she sees me she clings to me hard and cries if even Susie tries to take her so I can get stuff done. Poor little thing. She knows who the moneymaker is!

[Comments] (5) Vindication: So, after all the complaining about gambling, guess what? I entered the work contest that required no upfront payment to participate, got second place, and won $75! Who would have thought Kansas would beat Memphis in the championship game? Apparently, me and the person who got first place.

In other news, Maggie has finally decided to no longer be tooth challenged. The teething has been a bit hard on her, but it does seem to quell yet another paternal worry. I wonder what new worry will fill the void? At any rate, at least I know it won't be about Maggie calling me a jerk. My heart goes out to you, Kristen.

[Comments] (1) Dairy Queen: Maggie's favorite foods are cheese, yogurt, and milk. Some days, that's all she'll eat. Lately, she's chosen to drink a gallon of milk a day and then forgo anything else. Luckily, she doesn't seem to care for ice cream too much (too cold).

[Comments] (6) 5K Foray: I ran in the SLC 5K today. I believe I finished around 27 minutes, making for a 9-minute mile. Disgraceful. I hope to do better in the Draper 5K this summer.

The thing that irks me about a 5K is that a lot of people enter it to walk. And these walkers think they should be at the start of the line. It's extremely difficult to get a good start with all of these walkers. I think the walkers should be at the back of the pack, but before the jogging stroller people. But that's just me.

The other thing that irks me about a 5K is the ruckus. Parking was a challenge, getting on the freeway to go home was a nightmare, and I had to get up at 5:30 am to wait in a cold park all morning for the shotgun. The finish line was chalk full of vendors, congratulating us with pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. At 8 am. I don't know about most people, but running makes me lose my appetite, not gain it. And 9 am is way too early for such garbage. Luckily, EY provided us with fruit, yogurt, and toast. A much more seemly reward after running for the cure, whatever that means.

I'd like to think I could try the 1/2 marathon in two years. But realistically, I don't see it happening.

UPDATE: I ran it in 26:49, which means I ran 8:38 minute miles. That's not too terrible, I guess. I guess my real goal should be to not walk on that uphill block between 2nd & 3rd south next year.

[Comments] (1) Weeding & Speeding: Last night, after I ran another 5K in training for the Draper 5K this summer, I decided to weed the rock bed in the front yard. Maggie came with, as Susie was napping. Maggie wasn't letting me do any weeding, so I got her car out for her to play with.

The next thing I know, Maggie is cruising past me down the sidewalk on our steep hill. Luckily, her car was crooked and it crashed into the other rock bed. It stopped, she didn't fall off. I went over to her, and she had on the biggest grin in the world. So at that point I dutifully put away the gardening tools and proceeded to "drive" her up and down our steep sidewalk. I finished the gardening tonight. And played car again.

Who knew our shy little girl was such a daredevil?

[Comments] (5) The Office: Ever had one of those days where you just want to throw your computer out the window and storm out of the office, never to return? If not, have you ever dreamed of saying "you can't fire me, I quit!" If not, have you ever thought of slipping your boss a mickey?

I've had two such days, both of them since I moved to the SLC office. Today was one of those days. Interestingly enough, on both of these days, pay days, I mysteriously got an extra $500 in my paycheck, mostly for good behavior. I guess it's a sign to focus on the good, and forget the bad. So today I simply turned off my computer and left without doing my timesheet. It wasn't as dramatic as the the above-mentioned notions, but it sufficed. The money is nice, but really I appreciate being appreciated. I guess I'll live to see another day as an accountant.

Back to watching the Wiggles with Maggie.

[Comments] (1) Lightly Toasted: I took Friday off (speaking of the term quite liberally, considering I told my coworkers I needed a day off to rejuvenate, but they still called me all day long). Anyway, we fixed the shower, pulled weeds, planted some flowers, pulled weeds, planted some little bushes, pulled weeds, mowed the lawn, pulled weeds, turned on the sprinklers, pulled weeds, went to Ember's soccer game, yelled at the weeds, and on and on.

Saturday we went to the cemetery with Grandma June, because it was Grandpa's 97th birthday (that is, if he were still alive). My mom's car got a screw in the tire, so we waited on the grass for about 30 minutes for AAA. Then we worked more in the yard. I think I am half tanned, half sunburned now. I guess it beats the pasty white complexion one gets all winter here. Maggie got to experience the whole weekend my way, because she wouldn't leave my side. I can't help thinking Frances would be proud of my horticultural efforts. I think sometimes I feel her inspiring to keep pruning and beautifying., because I certainly don't do it for fun.

Speaking of lightly toasting, congrats to Sumana on her upcoming graduation!

[Comments] (4) Can you hear me now?: So yesterday was fast and testimony meeting. There's this new lady in the ward, from England, rather obnoxious really, and her cell phone rings in church. She answers it, while sitting on the second row of pews, and talks on it for a good 5 minutes before putting it away. All the while, this lady is on the stand crying about something or other.

I have to wonder where some people learn their etiquette. Would it have killed her to sit in the foyer if she is expecting a call. Or, at the very least to answer it, say "hold on a minute, love" and walk into the foyer to continue her conversation? I was not raise to presume the world revolves around me. But apparently some people were. What it must be like to be living in that sort of delusion.

[Comments] (1) Serta-fied: For Mother's Day I bought Susie something that will hopefully provide us both a better life: an expensive, fancy-type mattress cover. It has a pillow top to it. We tried it out last night and I slept great! It felt like I was sleeping on a cloud. Or like I was sleeping in a swank hotel room bed, which I get to do for work travel sometimes, and is also where the idea for this present came from. Susie unfortunately didn't sleep any better. Well, Happy Mother's Day anyway, sweet baboo!

On the way home: Today we visited our old ward in Costa Mesa. Talk about a warm reception. Everyone, including the Bishop, asked if we were back for good. When we said no, they seemed disappointed. Then in sacrament meeting the bishop formally announced that we were visiting today and everyone should come and say hi. And people listened. People I had never talked to when we lived here expressed how much they missed us. Susie mentioned that it felt like we were going home, not going on vacation. Our church experience made that true.

We went to Sunday School, held in the Relief Society room. I'd never been there before, due to our lifetime Primary calling. It was a trip. The room is painted light pink. Pink. And they have these wierd valance and curtains with floral patterns from the eighties. I also had to ask for directions to Priesthood.

I think we're slowly fitting into our new ward in Draper, though I still feel inadequate working with the youth. I just have an easier time relating to children than to teenagers. But I just can't shake the feeling that the Costa Mesa II ward is home, and that we are not done with the place.

Mouse in the House: Saturday we toiled in the yard in the oppressive heat of the day. We mowed the lawn, weeded the side yards, and planted our garden! That night, after Maggie went to sleep, Susie and I layed out on the backyard grass to enjoy the twilight. I thought out of the corner of my eye something moved in the garden, on the hill near the bushes and ground cover. So I went over to the whole in the ground I uncovered while trimming back the ground cover the other day, and there was a mouse, no bigger than my thumb, looking up at me quite apprehensively.

Susie is enjoying conjuring up ways to end its life. My stance is to live and let live, as long as its not in the house. And we have mice poison boxes in the house left from the previous tenants (and now I know why!) If it were a rat, I'd feel differently.

Maggie had her own mouse encounter last week. Picture here.

[Comments] (5) Feelin' It: Had a very nice Memorial Day weekend, despite the cold and the wet. Kristen, Aaron, Lily, & Gunnar came for breakfast Friday morning. Lily & Gunnar picked on Maggie a little bit, but I think it was good for her. Susie says Maggie picks on Collette sometimes. So it was her karma catching up with her. Friday afternoon we made the trek to Provo to pay homage to Roy & Frances. We walked around campus afterward and I finally came to peace with BYU. The walk was nice and I realized it's a nice place. I no longer hold the university in contempt.

Saturday we took Justin to see "Prince Caspian." I clearly have forgotten the Narnia series, as I was confused in a few places. But I really enjoyed the movie. Maggie wanted to play, of course, so I sat on the floor off to the side while she walked around and read books. She started throwing things, so I scolded her, she cried as usual, and I rocked her until, miracle of miracles, she fell asleep in a public place (something she refuses to do). So even though my entire left arm fell asleep, I got to watch the last half of the movie in peace. We spent the rest of Saturday at my parent's entertaining Chad. He was supposed to go paintballing, but Jodi & Franco bailed without telling him. Poor kid. He spent the day weeding. So we got him pizza for dinner.

Sunday was awesome. I taught a personal best Sunday School lesson. I think the kids really enjoyed it. It was on prophets so we split into teams and we played memory with the quorum members. We also listened to parts of conference and they had to guess which of the brethren was speaking just by the voice. Then I played some Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc to do the same thing with. The point was that they need to get to know the brethren as well as they know One Republic. But they actually did a pretty good job at naming the prophet by voice (better than Susie & I did). We've had two less active kids coming more regularly lately as well. I felt like I related to the kids really well. Problem is, it's hard to come up with lessons like that every week. The manual, of course, is no help.

Sunday night we went to the cabin and spent the night. It was really fun. Even though we did the same thing we do every night at home (went for a walk, put Maggie to bed, read books, went to bed) it was fun to do it somewhere else. It wasn't too cold and we got to watch a lot of people fishing at the lake.

Today is back to work (and to running). I'm up to 4 miles now every morning, so I am improving. I'm really enjoying these early morning runs.

[Comments] (1) Just do it: Now that we have a home and space to fill, Susie & I have finally put an emphasis on building up an emergency supply storage. We have beefed up our 72 hour kits and have started to horde water. We were going to buy a 55-gallon barrel, as seems to be popular among the Mormon food storage crowd, but it just didn't seem right to me. Firstly, how in the world do you rotate that water out? Secondly, if we had to evacuate our home, I can't lift 500 pounds of water up the stairs. Thirdly, I didn't like the idea of running a hose through the window to fill it up with sub-par water. So instead we are going to buy a variety of 6-gallon jugs. They are portable (though still weigh about 50 pounds when full), are easy to rotate, and can be filled up with inside water. So far we are up to 20 gallons (or roughly 120 pounds) of water, 25 pounds of flour, and 3 strategically placed emergency kits filled with flashlights, clothes, food, toilet paper, diapers, etc. We also have a little propane stove.

Still need to buy sleeping bags, spare propane barrel, and stock up on food we can feasibly rotate. Susie has also planted a garden. We are just hitting the tip of the iceberg. What a lot of work.

Timing is everything: This morning I opened all the windows in the house before I went running, to keep the house cool in anticipation for a hot day. Then after my run I played the piano. Our neighbors heard it, and stopped by. Their two daughters need piano lessons, as they just bought a piano at DI. And because they heard me playing, Susie now has two more students!

Then on our walk with Maggie this morning we happened by a yard sale selling a "Little Tikes" table and two chairs! For $10! These things are like hundreds of dollars at the store. Now we can move past the high chair and we have a craft table for her to work at.

We also took Grandma June to the cemetary to retrieve items off Grandpa Garn's grave and to IHOP. Grandma misunderstood Susie on the phone and thought ALL the Chadwick's were coming, when what Susie really meant was that I was coming. Maggie ate almost an entire pancack off my plate--cornbread pancakes.

Got home just in time for Maggie's nap, and I'm getting lots done in the meantime. I love the weekend.

[Comments] (1) Go Green Go: Yesterday at work was a happy day. For the next two months, in order to promote flexibility, encourage EY employees to go green, and to help the workforce adjust to the new levels of inflation, we are allowed to work from home once a week. I have asked for Wed, (nice commuter's break right in the middle of the week). I'm very excited about this, and the implications it has for company morale, UT's air quality, and the environment as a whole.

I've often wondered if the world would switch more to a telecommuting system as we scramble to have mass transit catch up with rising fuel costs. Unfortunately, I think that, due to the extreme lack of professionalism exhibited by many people, that pipe dream is still a way's off. Both because I've been certified a professional by both the states of CA & UT, at least I can benefit. Here's to the planet's future!

[Comments] (1) Summer Days: It's been so long since I've lived in a neighborhood where children can be heard out playing into the wee hours of the night. It's really calming for me to go to sleep hearing the neighbor kids playing their summer vacation away. I enjoy that about our neighborhood.

Other recent successes include: actually getting home taught for the first time in 3 years, getting caught up on all the weeding, planning ahead for Sunday School lessons (today we played Cranium, church style, to high acclaim of the participants), losing 5 pounds, getting new glasses & prescription sunglasses, spending quality time with family, and organizing a successful IHOP party for Grandma June.

Also, though Maggie is months away from talking, she understands a lot of what we say. She can point to all the body parts covered in the song "Heads, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes" and when we say things like "let's go for a walk" she goes to the door; or "can you get your shoes" she actually fetches her shoes. Now we just have to get her to listen when we say things like "come back please." She loves to run down the street. Being a parent is loads of fun!

I Nailed It: I am so sick of the bare wall in our front room, especially since we haven't touched up the wall from the previous owners, so it is full of holes. We want to make it a picture wall. So to accomplish this, we took family pictures back in Nov. Problem was, it was a cold day and the photographer did a poor job. So we couldn't use those.

December was ok because the Christmas tree went there. But from Jan-today I have been frequently upset at this huge, bare wall. So we took family pictures again in May. Susie and I placed our order in record speed. Unfortunately, my family moves at a snails pace, and the order all went in as one. So we are still waiting.

Today I couldn't take it anymore, and hung all the frames on the wall, even though the only pictures in the frames are of those people that come with the frame. I'm sure they are nice people, and now they are our people. Honestly, I don't care anymore. It looks awesome to me, and I should have done it months ago. Who cares if I don't know them, and some of them are sideways because I know the picture we ordered will go the other way? Finally, I have a family picture wall. I officially feel moved in now.

Mr Lonely: For some unexplained reason, I find it comforting to log onto Gmail and find Leonard logged in as well. Even if he is on "away" status most of the time. I guess with my crazy work hours and random e-mail checks, it's nice to feel like I'm not the only one still working. And he's two hours ahead of me to boot!

[Comments] (1) Patient Patient: I am the worst infirm person ever. I pulled my quad about two weeks ago running a 10K. As I was only 4 miles in, I somehow plucked up the stamina to run the other 2 miles and finish the race. The pulled quad put undue strain on my opposite ankle, which in turn has led to quite the sprain.

I put myself on bed rest starting Tuesday, because Monday night after work I noticed my ankle had tripled in size. I have been on bed rest ever since, and am starting to go stir crazy. I'd rather be sick than have a sprained ankle. I can't get up and walk. Finally this morning I am able to walk without pain, but obviously the area is still sensitive and will require rehabilitation to get me back up to speed.

I'm not used to being waited on, so I still try and do things on my own. It's frustrating me because my ankle still hurts, it frustrates Susie, who is only trying to help, and it frustrates Maggie because she is pretty bored of sitting on my bed all day.

Every morning it feels gradually better. I can't wait to be back up on my feet again.

[Comments] (2) hot and heavy: The 4th was pleasantly cool yesterday, due to cloud cover and some slight breezes. We spent the morning at the Lehi pool for the annual Holbrook swim extravaganza. Maggie decided to hate the pool for the first 5 minutes, but thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the swim. She mostly cruised around in her little inflatable thingy, and watched people dive and play. She also snuggled with Grandma and ate raisins while we had water relay races.

Lunch was at the cabin, and we stayed the night. Maggie got to pet the neighbor's horses and seemed to be pretty excited about it. Today's much hotter so we are hiding inside. I'm ready for September weather now.

Grandma June was supposed to die Thursday night, but she still made it to the parties, and actually stayed at the cabin until the last family left. It's amazing what one can do on her deathbed.

[Comments] (2) The winds of change: Had to fly to San Jose last night, after quite a long day at the office. While checking in, I noticed a seat opening on the front row! So I switched seats. I was first to board in the general class, had loads of legroom, and had plenty of overhead bin capacity to put all my luggage in. I never check luggage, as I don't believe in the practice. Too much to be left to chance. Also, the Delta magazine was brand new so I got to do all the sudokus and crosswords, which occupied the entire flight. And the lady who sat next to me was the last to board so I had plenty of room until the end.

I was also the first off the plane. And since I don't check luggage, I got right into a taxi and was in my hotel room by 10:15. I bet the rest of the office didn't saunter in until around 11:00. Sweet.

Maggie keeps getting cuter and cuter. Her favorite activities lately include brushing her teeth with our toothbrushes, running away when we ask her to come, putting rocks in her car, putting rocks in the green waste, playing with her kitchen, coloring (well, more like playing with crayons than coloring), and, as usual, watching The Wiggles.

Sunday I assisted with fast offerings because all the YM are apparently out of town until August. Let me tell you, I'll be slow to "volunteer" ever again. It took two hours, it was 95 degrees outside, and two people were not very nice to me. I also need to start home teaching less, or they'll slap me with more people. My stellar record has already prompted them to call me as the Home Teaching Supervisor. I may demand a raise.

[Comments] (3) Birthday Bonanza: My BIL turned 29 on the 9th. My nephew Logan turned 14 yesterday. My nephew James turned 9 today. Logan got a cell phone for his birthday. My brother is the best father in the world and only got him one so he can continue to fit in with his friends. It's now come to that. Cell phone=surviving Jr high. Back when I was there it required trendy clothes. Now it requires gadgets. Wonder how Jr high will evolve when it's Maggie's turn.

In other news, men suck.

[Comments] (1) Single Parenthood: I honestly don't know how they do it. I've been a single parent for the past four days. And I still had to work, which meant taking full advantage of naptime and then working into the wee hours of the night, starting at 8 pm when Maggie is in bed and continuing until the work is done. Which sometimes wasn't until 3 am. And then all over again the next day, beginning at 7 am, Maggie's signature wake-up time. Don't even mention yard work, though I did manage to mow the lawn last night. Susie, come home.

This week was Draper Days so I took Maggie to the parade yesterday. She seemed to enjoy it. Some of the people realized not everyone could chase for the candy so a few people actually handed Maggie tootsie rolls and salt water taffy, the signature parade candies. Maggie especially enjoyed the Herbie replica, the horses, a man dressed as a cow imploring us to eat more chicken, but did not care at all for Chewbacca.

Maggie and I have also spent the evenings at the park. Though I don't like going on the slide with her, because it shocks us over and over again, Maggie's really enjoyed it. It's next to a skate park, which means that I occasionally have to put up with pre-teens making out in the slides. All I can say is I am glad to no longer be playing the dating game.

Maggie has been good about eating. She usually wants what I'm having. So I put a banana in my Instant Breakfast and she loved it. Susie's not too happy about it, however. And since raspberries are $1 per package right now, we've been having lots of smoothies. This morning I put raspberries in my cereal and Maggie thought that was pretty cool. So once again, she had what I was having.

We missed church today. I was supposed to teach Sunday School and get set apart for another calling in EQ today, but oh well. Maggie woke up at 6 am (shudders) and by 8:45 was ready for a nap. So I gave her one, assuming we'd just skip sacrament meeting. She didn't wake up until 11:45. She's never done that before, and of course it was on a day when I had to stay home with her. I figure it's karma anyway. One time we didn't have Sunday School because the youth all went to a retirement home to do Sacrament meeting. No one told us, and we weren't happy about coming home early from a vacation only to sit in an empty classroom for 45 minutes. Today must have been payback.

It's gonna be a busy summer at work from here on out. At least it'll take my mind off of the heat.

[Comments] (3) Just wonderin: So Maggie has been up all night coughing. And because cough medicine has been deemed dangerous to babies in our day and age (even though we were all raised on it, thankyouverymuch) I've had to put up with her. I've given her tylenol for the pain and even some oragel. She got the oragel all over me so I licked my fingers clean. My tongue went numb! Apparently oragel is nothing more than novocaine. Which raises an interesting point: if novocaine can be given orally, then what's with the shot of novocaine at the dentist? Why not give it orally? It just goes to prove my point: doctors and dentists are sadists.

Poor Maggie is sick. I was up all night with her Saturday. Then Sunday after 2 hours of sleep it was off to teach Sunday School. Then home and back to bed. Maggie's cough has lessened so last night was thankfully less eventful. Today is back to the grind all over again.

[Comments] (3) 5 years and counting: Today marks 5 years of bliss. Susie got a new computer to commemorate the ocassion, which I am now proudly using. We got a desktop and it's nice to have a real keyboard, mouse, and a big screen to type on. Susie got me a coupon for a massage. I'm apprehensive to use it, however. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure it will relieve some stress, which work just can't seem to give me enough of these days. But I'm a little nervous to be touched by a stranger. I like my personal space very much.

I hate it when Maggie gets sick. We pamper her, especially in the night. Then when she gets better, she expects the same pampering. This usually leads Susie & I to sleep on the air mattress in the basement so we can sleep through the crying until Maggie remembers the real status quo, as opposed to the poor sick baby status quo. Here's hoping for a good night sleep, if there is such a thing for a dad.

[Comments] (2) with style (and green gravy): Susie and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday by dropping the Beet off at Jodi's and jaunting over to Le Cheesecake Factory. I had the Miso Salmon, and I must say it was excellent. The miso and something about the salmon took away all traces of fish taste. Susie even tried it. Now that's really something. Even though it was on the lunch menu, it was enough for two meals.

We got a cheesecake to eat and one to go. To go, we got my favorite: Lemon Raspberry Creme Cheesecake, full of lemon-raspberry soaked lady fingers surrounded by cheesecake. Yum. For the table, we decided to try something new: Pistachio Cheesecake. It had a flourless chocolate cake crust and was beyond good.

Afterwards we walked around the mall. We used to always peruse South Coast (indoor mall) and The Spectrum (outdoor mall) in SoCal but here we normally stay away from malls. I figured out why yesterday. South Coast, in particular, had no food court. It had real restaraunts. It also had H&M, Borders, Williams-Sonoma, etc. All the malls here have to offer include Panda Express, Hot Dog on a Stick, and stupid trend shops like Hot Topic and Aeropostale. Nothing fun. I used to enjoy clothes shopping. Now it's a chore (except for Maggie--it's still fun to buy her clothes).

It's August, which means only one thing to me: personal life goes on hold while work takes over. I have so much to do between now and October 15th that I am literally losing sleep over how to get it all done on time.

[Comments] (4) Young & the helpless: With yet another traumatic event that happened in our lives in the wee hours of the morning, I must say I'm not a happy camper with life in general. It seems this summer Susie and I have suffered one problem after another, all completely different, and most very jarring. I've kept a good front so far, and really tried to Pollyanna-ize the whole experience by playing the glad game. But I don't think I have it in me for anything further at this time. Please, all, send some good vibrations our way. Thanks.

Alpine this: So we had a work party yesterday at the Park City Mountain resort. We got to ride the Alpine coaster in turns while Maggie took a nap. And we took Maggie on the lift and the Alpine slide! Technically you have to be two to ride, so we lied. Honestly, do you really have to be two to sit on your dad's lap on the lift pointing frantically at the alpine slide? Maggie did clutch me pretty tight on some of the drops, though. She's been obsessed with slides as of late, so this trip must have been a dream come true for her.

I can see why some chidren should not be allowed to ride, however. It would be a harrowing 20 minutes indeed if you had to ride a ski lift with a toddler that refuses to sit still!

We saw all sorts of gophers and prarie dogs trying frantically to burrow under the slide. I wonder if they're up to something. We also happened across a gopher the size of a cat along the way. Be afraid. The alpine coaster is awesome! You just meander all the way up the mountain, lulling you into a false sense of a serene country ride. Don't be fooled; the down parts were fast and furious. It was pretty cool.

Lastly, I found out that Mike (a neighbor) is kin (a cousin) to Stephanie Meyer, of the Twilight persuasion, not the bologna persuasion.

Ryan started the fire: Our mountain is on fire. Lucky for us, the wind is blowing hard northeast, so we can' smell it, nor do we have smoke and ash all over our yard. Unlucky for us, Brook is on a fire in Oregon.

Contrary to popular belief, a woman need not be bitchy to get the respect of a man in the workplace. Just sos you know.

[Comments] (3) Badger of Honor: I posted a few weeks ago about the curse of responsibility getting me a calling as the EQ home teaching/guilt coordinator. Well. That never happened. Today I was made EQ Secretary, which means the guilt role PLUS a bunch more stuff, including weekly meetings. Joy.

I've explained to Susie that this calling was inevitably mine, because I do my home teaching AND I go to EQ every week (unless I'm in Nursery with Maggie). Half the ward only shows up every few weeks to remind us they are alive. The other half mysteriously disappears during EQ. They were in Sacrament Meeting, and their kids were in Nursury when I picked Maggie up, but they were nowhere to be found. Probably smoking in the boys room.

In other news, one more week to go to the dreaded deadline. This has been the worst one stress wise and the second to worse hours wise.

[Comments] (6) Free Babysitting: I realize I haven't been to the temple since we moved. Busy season in the winter got in the way, and during the summer my parents are never around and Jamie moved to Logan and Erin got a job. It's been tough. Just getting my recommend renewed was a nightmare because they only do it on Tuesdays here instead of Sunday. I really want to go, and I'm hoping against hope to take Tuesday off since Monday is the 15th, but my parents cancelled on babysitting. I can't remember why because I'm so out of it this week, but it seemed like a wierd reason to me. And even though Erin doesn't work Tuesdays, she can't watch Maggie either.

And even though I got up at 5 am all week, I'm getting pressure to work tomorrow to get the work done. Never mind that I never had to work a Sunday in the OC. Apparently it's too much to ask for among my so-called peers and equals in terms of religious beliefs.

What's the point of this rant? I moved to Utah for a family network that doesn't seem to exist. I've been having dreams that I moved back to the OC and even got my old cube back. I wonder if it's even a possibility at this point? I'd go even without the old cube, even though I really liked that one. If this rant doesn't make sense, chalk it up to lack of sleep, extreme anxiety, and missing my beet, whom I saw for a total of 3 hours this week.

UPDATE: None of the above matters anyway. I'm at work today. Kel surprise. I'm waiting for the client to get here and have nothing to do. What a joke. So. Got my raise today. I guess if you are going to ask someone to cancel a personal day, it's an ok day to give a raise, as long as the raise exceeds expectations. And it does. It triples expectations. Even though it's my lowest % raise, it's not the lowest $ raise. Hooray for increase in base! Sorry for the previous rant. I was tired due to lack of sleep and getting bad sleep (not feeling rested in the morning having bad dreams about work not getting done, not being able to explain to partners what I did on returns, things not tieing out that I had spent hours tieing out, etc).

It's a Miracle: I finally have no unread messages in my email. Hope it lasts.

[Comments] (1) neverending workie: Thought I was going to have the weekend off, but the boss had other plans. At least I convinced him to let me work from home. He almost ruined my massage.

So I finally had my first massage on Saturday. Contrary to popular belief, it was a bit akward. I still can't decide which scenario is more akward: a male or a female masseuse. I was informed I would have a male but in the end had a female. Halfway through the massage I was in that relaxed, sleepy mode. At that point it was nirvana and wasn't wierd anymore.

We've also began the laborious task of painting our garage. Susie wanted teal; I wanted white. White it is. We've put primer on the drywall and will apply the paint next weekend. Is it wierd to paint a garage? I've seen a few that I thought looked really nice and Susie and I figure that we can do it ourselves because it's just a garage so it doesn't have to be perfect. Susie already likes it better with just the primer.

We also bought some new plants and ripped out all the old ones in the front yard. I have my own vision for the yard that will take years to come to fruition. One step at a time. This weekend's step was to rip out the ivy in the front yard grow box and the 3 green shrubs next to the driveway. We've replaced it with some wheat bundles and blue fescue ground cover. I figure that our decor should match our surroundings, and since our subdivision is the fields then so be it. I like that it added my own touch and I put in very easy-to-manage plants that apparently require little water, lots of sun, and thrive in bad soil. Go figure. I'll never have to touch them again. To appease the wife, we got some hyacinth bulbs as well. I seldom get on a yard-work kick so I figured I'd better run to Home Depot and do all this stuff before the mania waned.

Work should be interesting this week. Among other things, I get to fly in a client's private jet to Jackson, WY so he can sign his return.

[Comments] (7) Gimme a break: So all I'm asking is, when is it my turn to be irresponsible? I pay my bills, I don't borrow money for ANYTHING but a mortgage (not cars or school even), I don't lend money to people that would blow it on blow pops or whatever the hell they spent it on, when money comes in the door from my job, I pay myself first by putting some away (ie my salary is not excessive at the expense of the little guy, etc) and I hedge with the rest by putting some into food storage and rainy day funds. I also had kids on my own dime, when I could afford to.

If a BANK doesn't understand how to use money, what other business stands a chance? I mean, the meltdown of the financial district is absolutely appalling. And now I have to pay for it! We all have to blame someone. It's easy to point fingers at the GOP (and they aren't innocent), though in UT of course the masses have all found some way to make this the fault of the darn liberals. I personally blame Greenspan. He had to have known there was a housing bubble, and he did nothing to make it harder for irresponsible people to get a loan. He could have raised interest rates. He could have restricted loans to the central banks, keeping cash tight and the dollar strong. He could have kept inflation in check. And he didn't. And guess who has to pay for it?

At least I'm not a DINK anymore, and I get a child tax credit. I'm willing to have another child to further reduce my tax liability. If the Feds can't spend it wisely, then I'll keep it myself, thankyouverymuch. Until the people of this country can get back to the Protestant work ethic and can learn to stay the hell away from the Joneses, let alone keep up with them, then I forsee the fall of a great nation. What a shame.

Why oh WY: I forgot to post but I flew to Jackson, WY last Friday so my really rich client could sign his tax returns. Said client has three personal jets. I flew in style! Did you know that flying to Jackson only takes 40 minutes? The drive takes 6 hours. I had this yummy coconut thing on the plane. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fly coach again. His employee, who flew with me, had to stay past our meeting. No matter. I still took my jet home and he had another brought up to take his employee home later.

Also, he has a book on his coffee table of the Grand Tetons. I picked it up, looked out his window, and noticed that the view from his window is the same one on the book! He has an unobstructed view of the Tetons that is to die for. I'm told Dick Cheney also lives in Jackson. Lucky for us, I wasn't shot.

[Comments] (3) If I were running for President: this is what I'd say. Sure, our 401k's are down to pre-2001 levels, the Dow is below 10,000, Osama is still at large, people are losing jobs and are upside down in their houses, the value of the dollar is equal to Canadian coinage, fuel and food prices are up 10%, but I've got GREAT news....

I just saved a TON of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!

True story. Near 50% savings. AAA was royally ripping us off. Fifteen minutes really can save you 15% or more.

Yikes: I don't think I'll ever be able to retire. Just glad my company has a pension in which I have vested. I hope it can last the night.

My Voice: I spent some time today researching our presidential candidates while Maggie sat on my lap and watched the Wiggles on the other half of the computer screen. My findings:

1. Obama's website is so much easier to peruse than McCain's.

2. Obama's tax plan is superior to McCain's. McCain wants to tax the employer-paid portion of my medical benefits. That is beyond ridiculous. So even if I don't get a raise next year, my tax bill goes up? There has got to be a better way for self-employed people to fund their medical plans than taking from those who have decent insurance because they work for corporate America.

3. Further, McCain's tax plan is similar to Bush. Keep cap gains at 15%. Who among us had a cap gain on our 2007 1040? None! Only the rich do. Don't even get me started on trickle down economics. Obama would eliminate the benefit. I guess I'm torn. I believe that cap gains can be lower than 35%, but not 15%. 25%, I think, would still encourage investment without unfairly benefiting the already rich and famous.

4. Obama's plan is tax and spend. McCain's is just spend.

5. McCain/Palin are pro-life. Obama/Biden are pro-choice. Obama voted against the ban on partial birth abortions. He also did not vote on other important legislation in this area. But Palin is against abortion, even for rape and incest. Can't we find a happy medium? Though I am somewhat disgusted with Obama on this one, does it really matter? I mean, if a President can overturn Roe just like that, then why hasn't it been done in the past few decades, when we've had way more conservative presidents than not? I'm not sure this issue is as important as we think it is.

6. Same with same-sex marriage. Does it matter? If this is eventually a federal issue, and makes its way to the Supreme Court, well, then that has little to do with the President. After all, Prop 22 was overturned in CA by conservative judges. While I'm not a fan of Prop 8, I'm ok if it passes because it's up to the will of the people, not the CA Supreme Court, to legislate this issue. And you never know what a S.C. nominee will do once elected. A conservative put in O'Connor, yet she often took a very liberal view of the Constitution in deciding cases while she served on the bench.

7. I just read today that Palin was found guilty on the firing of her ex-brother-in-law's boss. I guess all the candidates have skeletons in their closets, so I won't say too much here. But her guilt was decided by a bench of 14 conservatives and 4 liberals. So it was a bi-partisan decision.

8. McCain wants to save bad mortgages with more bailouts. He will personally assist subprime mortgages by writing down the value at purchase date to today's value to keep people in their houses. That is a very liberal stance for a Republican presidential candidate.

9. Obama is definitely inexperienced. No doubt about it.

10. I don't like the scare tactics I see in McCain's ads. Today I read that he told his party to settle down; that an Obama presidency would not be the end of the world. His supporters booed him. I don't like that at all. The party I once supported has gone the way of using fear and scare tactics to win elections. They want to tell you what's wrong with America, and who is to blame for it.

11. Both voted for the bailout. I was (and am still) against the bailout. Clearly, based on the recent trend in my 401k, so was Wall St.

12. Both candidates seem committed to alternative fuel research, even with falling gas prices. Their policies are different to acheive this, but honestly understanding them is not my forte. But the point is, both understand and support the need for independence from foreign oil, something our current executive chief doesn't.

Result: Undecided. I am now an Independent Libertarian, because I feel like the Republican party (ie the people in office) are hypocrites. Most of their fiscal policies are liberal now anyway. And the members of the party seem to be very mean people. I'm sad to see the way hate has destroyed many of them. Just because someone has a different vision for America, doesn't make them wrong, or evil. It makes them different. Still deciding who to vote for, but wanted to put a few facts out there, esp on the fiscal side, since I am more qualified than the average American to understand the heart of what they say.

Bookworming: I finally procured a copy of the third book in the Eldest series, Brisingr, yesterday. My nephew Logan was kind enough to lend me his copy, so I can stop being number 600 on the library list. I look forward to starting it today, now that busy season has officially ended!

Today I finished the first book in the Twilight series. It was rather silly and extremely girly, but I'll probably read the other 3 anyway. Maggie will most likely pick them off the shelf one day and I like the idea of reading what my kids read, just to make sure I approve and that we can carry on conversations about such things. I think the author created a fascinating world, but limits herself with no plot and gushy garbage that limits half the world's population from her readership.

I'm also number 20 on the library list for book four in a series about Jerusalem circa 600 BC. OK, so it is elaborating on the origins of the beginning of the BoM, including Lehi's flight from Jerusalem, Laban's ultimate demise, and the ransacking of the city by the Babalonians. But they are very well written, and I'm excited to get my hands on it. Problem is, the two books above will have to go on hold while I get through it, since I'll only have 3 weeks to read it before it becomes the property of owner number 27.

Lastly, I am reading an historical fiction series about the Revolutionary War. I've read 4 of the 7 books now, but am putting them on haitus for the moment. They aren't as good as any of the above, but it's been interesting to ready about the Revolutionary War in light of the current election year.

For the last two series, I started reading them by picking them off my dad's bookshelf. My dad doesn't read much any more, due to poor eye sight, so none of the series are finished. I always end up getting the last few in the series from the library, or finding out the series was never completed for unknown reasons. It's frustrating to have so many series going on at once, but it's also comforting knowing that I will not want for reading material for some time to come.

[Comments] (1) Short stories: As goes Wall St, so goes Main St, or so the media would have us believe. I disagree. I think it's more apropos to say as goes Main St, so goes Wall St. The story: my cousin just moved here from Oregon and is trying to procure a house. She found a lovely one for sale by owner and made a bid. The owner called and said she had another bid, and would they be interested in increasing their bid. They did. She calls back. The other party upped their bid. They declined the bid war. Months later, they see the house is still for sale by owner. They go in and make another bid. Sure enough, owner calls back with another third party bid. My cousin sees through the sham and retracts her first bid. The next day, the house is listed on MLS. Greed run amok. And being in Provo, the owner is probably Christian. Like Mark Twain said: "If Jesus were here today, he would be anything but Christian." What a warped world we live in.

Susie and Rachel also perused Provo yesterday to visit their parent's gravesite, and visit the Creams. Susie picked up a copy of the Daily Universe. I couldn't resist the letters to the editor. Surprisingly enough, there were some great letters in there. One in particular noted that the demise of Prop 8 will not in fact end the world. For example, MA allows gay marriage and we have yet to shut down LDS Family Services or the temple there. But the real zinger was a letter about a man who is proud of his Medicaid. He had a baby that had complications. $300,000 later, the Medicaid picked up the whole bill, which means that I assisted in the birth of his child. I guess I'm ok with that, but he didn't even have a copay? It boggles my mind how the LDS population can be so eager to take handouts of Medicaid and pell grants with one hand and then disclaim the socialism they enjoy with the other.

Last story. I know somone whose neice was fired from Old Navy. The claim: she checked her mother out, which is against company policy. She promises that never happened, and has asked to see a copy of the receipt that would show her mother's credit card number and her cashier ID. The company will produce nothing I personally am boycotting Old Navy for a year. Disgraceful behavior to get out of paying unemployment.

[Comments] (3) Trunk or Treat: Thursday was my first Trunk or Treat ever. It was insane. The parking lot was packed! We ran out of candy. This was my first ever Trunk or Treat. I always assumed, having never participated in the ritual until now, that it was a CA-invented notion. Susie begs to differ. She thought it was a UT invention. But Susie did have to admit she did have Trunk or Treat growing up, whereas I did not. I think Susie assumed it was a UT thing because it is a Mormon thing. I assumed it was a CA thing because there are a lot of areas in CA that are just not conducive to trick or treating. The sad thing is, we may never know the truth.

Today, for those who don't use the Mormon calendar, is what they call Super Saturday. What is Super Saturday you ask? It is a Saturday wherein all the women get together to make cork boards out of recycled felt (think McGuyver) while John babysits their kids. I'll return and report, if I survive.

[Comments] (2) What a Day: Things that really bother me:

1. People that think that the rain doesn't matter, and they can still drive recklessly.

2. People that are afraid of the rain and drive 15 mph on the freeway.

3. These new-fangled blogs with the radios at the bottom. I don't want to listen to your dumb songs. I have my own songs playing on my iTunes and your automatic radio clashes with my style. Also, I usually check blogs when Maggie is asleep. And your intrusive music is not appreciated.

4. People that tell me "oh you should vote for so-and-so to be your Draper House Rep. He's for Prop 8." How is that relevant? I live in UT and Prop 8 affects Californians. UT already has a law in place (big surprise) so why does it matter? On that vein, I really dislike people that lie for votes. Did you know if Prop 8 fails that the gays can make Mormons recognize gay marriage in the temple, or risk it being shut down? Phooey. Boston temple is still up and running. So are all the temples in Europe. If you really really feel that God wants you to vote yes on Prop 8, fine. But don't do it based on lies.

Things that excite me:

1. Voting! Though I didn't get to pull any levers. Just touch the screen. And I also didn't have to wait in line (thank goodness, because it's pouring rain outside).

2. Fast Offerings on Sunday. Why, you ask? Normally I dislike doing YM responsibilities due to the laziness of YM. Especially because it was pouring rain. But I stopped by several houses of prominent members in the neighborhood with Obama signs in the window! I really doubt UT will cast electoral votes for him, but still. I'm not alone! I'm not the only one that wants the Republicans to understand that they can't tote the same old rhetoric every 4 years and then do nothing about it, nor am I the only one out there that thinks McCain should not get the Mormon vote because he hates Mormons!

3. Getting to leave work on or before 5. Now I remember why I moved to UT. Slow season!

4. Holiday season. The time has come.

[Comments] (1) Condimentary: We went with Brook & Erin to Rib City for dinner. It boggles my mind that Susie dislikes red meat but likes ribs. I don't really care for ribs, so I had smoked turkey instead. Maggie got a free meal because she's under four! It consisted of what we assumed was a chicken nugget and some fries. Instead, it was a chicken leg and fries. How a 19-month old is supposed to eat that is beyond me.

Anyway, Maggie and her fries. She thinks that fries are just a tasty, somewhat dissolvable utensil. For ketchup. She loves ketchup. She ate way more ketchup than fries tonight, by dipping her fry repeatedly into the ketchup. Then licking off the ketchep, and repeating the process. That kind of grosses me out, but it beats her begging for more Halloween candy.

[Comments] (12) The End: In order to put the current political round behind me, a few thoughts.

A lot of people have asked me lately how I can be a Mormon and a "liberal thinker" at the same time. Some have gone as far to infer that I illegally hold a temple recommend. My response is thus: True believers of the LDS (or any) faith believe in a certain number of absolutes. That is to say, my church is right, so the rest are wrong. Some take this farther than others. I still believe that good people of ANY faith can go to heaven, but at the end of the day I too believe my religion is the most correct.

These same people want the rest of the world to be black and white. So if the Republicans are right, then the Democrats are wrong. Unfortunately, life does not work that way. Case in point: lieing to kids about Santa Claus, Nephi killing Laban, etc. So then the reason I can be both of what I am is because I can pick and choose what I believe out of politics. I can choose to accept people for who they are and believe in welfare and still be pro-choice. The following article says the rest far better than I can: Link

Time for my soapbox:

I believe in raising taxes to help out those less fortunate. Some people call it welfare. The truth is, though, our country is already very socialist. The public school system, child labor laws, etc are all good things, and all socialist ideals. I think too many people are just plain selfish. I'm willing to give of my excess, regardless of whether the ultimate recipient is deserving or not.

I believe in socialized medicine. This is so because I don't want to endure any more emails about fundraisers for bone marrow transplants for the little timmy's of the world. Just give them the transplants already before I start to cry.

I can choose to be pro-choice and still support a party that isn't, based on the article above.

I am willing to give the Republicans my vote, in the future, if they can cut the bull and get to work. They had the run of the mill from 2000-2006 and did nothing. To win back my vote, the following is required: stop hating Mormons, gays, and illegal aliens. Stop staying you are pro-choice and care about life and then allowing thousands to die in the Superdome because you are both on vacation and incompetent. When you say you are fiscally conservative, then mean it.

Lastly: I don't blame Bush for the economy. I won't blame Obama either. I blame greed.

[Comments] (1) Preemptive Strike: There are at least 10 homes in my neighborhood that have set up and turned on the Christmas decor. The halls are decked, making feel like a Scrooge. But hey, it's only mid-November.

I've also been blessed with an early Christmas present: surgery. I need hernia repair and will go under the knife in two weeks. I'm not very excited, and have switched doctors. My first doctor told me I had a hernia, end of story. Lucky for me, my neighbor is a surgeon and I went to see his partner, who spent 30 minutes describing the condition, its origin, the procedure, my surgical options, etc. AND I didn't have to sit in his lobby for an hour. I've decided it's worth living in a nicer neighborhood to have an 'in' in the medical profession.

On War & Peace: NOW the neighbors have their Christmas lights on! As you probably know, this means war.

Speaking of war, our home teachers came by last night. One of them informed me that we are in an economic downturn. And history has shown that the only surefire way out of an economic downturn is to start a war. And here we are, electing a president that wants to end a war! The horror.

I may have a solution for him. I have attended two different tax conferences the past two days, held at varying hotels in the valley. Both hotels were also hosting other conferences, both with the trite slogan "Bringing Wall St to Main St." I cringe to think of what that entails, but it most likely includes instructions to buy low, sell high, and screw over everyone that gets in your way. I think the show "Survivor" runs on the same premise, but in thongs instead of double breasted suits. So I propose we initiate our own conference that teaches us how to "take Main St to Wall St," as in taking it to the streets. Show the fatcats a thing or two. Only problem is, I don't own a pitchfork. But Grandma June gave me a metal hoe. And I have a push mower....

[Comments] (4) Death becomes advertising: My short jaunt to CA from 2005-2007 greatly changed the state of UT. There are now billboards all over memorializing the passing of loved ones. The signs are normally very colorful, with the name of the individual and the birth and death date displayed below. For most signs, that's it. For others, there may be a tag line such as "miss ya already" or "thanks for the memories."

Having witnessed the publication of Frances's obit in the local paper, it appears that billboard obits are not really much more expensive. But if I'm allowed my druthers, I'd prefer not to be immortalized to the commuting community.

Do other states do this? I don't EVER remember seeing this in CA, but I also didn't drive as much there.

[Comments] (3) Turkey Lurkey: Thanksgiving was at the cabin this year. It was a full house. Leonard made brussel sprouts. I think it was my first time having them and they were good. They taste like broccoli but with an improved texture. I was even surprised by how many of the pickies in my family tried them and liked them. The bacon may have helped.

Today we put up all the decorations, including our new tree ornaments. Instead of throwing away the old ornaments, they are now scattered throughout the house in various bowls and whatnot, acting as their own decor. The ultimate way to reuse and reduce.

I normally avoid Black Friday, but yesterday I couldn't help but notice the awesome adverts for ellipticals. I've tried to avoid buying one but let's face it, UT is not, and will never be, CA. I just can't get outside to work out when the weather is cooperative. And I've decided that I don't like working out in gyms. I prefer to grunt and sweat in the privacy of my own home. Plus then I can control what's on tv. So we bought one today (happy early Christmas to me), and I spent the remainder of the day assembling. I'm going to use it tonight when Maggie is in bed and Susie's taking Leonard to the airport. For being in a recession, the mall sure was packed.

I also saw gas for $1.49 today. Next to the elliptical, no Christmas present can top that, especially since my work per diem is still $0.585/mile!

Maggie's sure going to miss having Leonard around.

[Comments] (4) The Highlights: Arrived at the hospital at 10:30, right on time, like a good patient. Had to take my blood pressure twice, because supposedly my nerves ruined the first reading. I think the nurse did it wrong. Put on the drafty gown and plunked down in a drab, windowless room for two hours just waiting. Apparently my surgery was delayed because the surgery before me went over by 2 hours. I'm not quite sure how that happens. But never fear, because my doctor was notified of the delay so only I had to wait around. I wonder if I can send them a bill for $900, since I bill $450/hour at work. It was cold. And I was starving.

Gave Susie my glasses and got pushed around enough of the hospital to completely disorient me. Waited for the anesthesiologist. He was funny and kind; the highlight of the surgery. Wheeled into the OR. Fell asleep. Woke up too soon. Ached all over. I'd been iodined, bruised, and shaved. The hernia appears to be gone. I didn't even get to see the laproscope. Trying to heal. In a lot of pain. Refusing to take too many meds.

Not only did my neighbor, who is a surgeon, help with the procedure, his wife made us dinner last night! I'm very grateful. She is the only one who offered any help, and it is appreciated. Even minor surgery takes a lot out of a person. Now I know better. No surgery is too routine to be overlooked.

[Comments] (3) A very Maggie Christmas: Maggie has her own nativity set to play with. Her first object was to intersperse the set with her own collection of little people and some farm animals. Her next step was to move the whole scene to her play airport. I suppose we should tell her that Jesus fled to Egypt; he didn't fly to Egypt. Then today she purposefully hid two of the wise men under the couch. I think she more or less has the Christmas story down pat.

[Comments] (2) home for the holidays: Today Susie & I, after seeing an advert in the paper for Christmas tree-shaped butter, decided it was high time to peruse Pirate-O's. At first blush, the place smelled like Frances's home in Bakersfield. Susie concurred that wet dog smell was wafting through the store. The store did not seem to be selling any sort of animal products, however, so the smell is a mystery. Pirate cologne?

They have quite the assortment of bric-a-brac. In particular, they have all the Cadbury chocolates, so Rachel no longer has to bring smashed boxes of the stuff with her from London town. They also have quite the impressive array of marzipan sweets. They also have those candy necklackes in the form of handcuffs, g-strings, bras, and whips.

But most important of all, they carry delicious stroopwaffles and Loacker's Quadratini. I haven't seen quadratini since the Kong, so it was a nostalgic delight to be sure. The store is more expensive than I would have expected, but I did my part to stimulate their economy.

this and that: We've got snow all around us now, so I stayed home from work today. I don't think I'm supposed to shovel snow yet, though the doctor pronounced me healed today.

Yesterday, during office hours, we had our tax practice par-tay. We went to a movie together, which was wierd. In order to see something copasetic for all, "Four Christmases" won out. My two cents: a miserable failed attempt to revive "Meet the Parents." Shame on Reese Witherspoon; I trusted you.

Then back for the White Elephant exchange. I've discovered being nearly last certainly has its benefits. I had only 4 people following my choice. I stole two pairs of holiday socks, because Susie is really into that kind of ticky-tack. Then the person after me got a Haagen-Dazs gift card. The person after him stole my socks (apparently lots of women like tacky socks) so I stole the Haagen-Dazs. Then the next lady stole the Haagen-Dazs from me! So now there were only two people left, two unopened presents left, and a lot of opened garbage I didn't want. I chose wisely and scored a brand new Chutes & Ladders game! Merry Christmas to Maggie!

[Comments] (3) tis the season: Today at church many glorious things happened:

1. They finally got a new printer so I no longer leave the clerk's office with updated rolls and home teaching sheets that leave black cartridge residue all over my fingers.

2. No one showed up for our Sunday School lesson, even though they were all in Sacrament meeting. So I guess Susie & I will have to eat that whole batch of muddy buddies ourselves.

3. We were released from said Sunday School calling!

Things not so glorious on this cold December day:

1. Maggie is sick (and teething, I think).

2. I am in charge of snow-shoveling at the church this week. The prior 3 weeks, no one helped the President or the counselors do their duty, so it looks like I'll be shoveling alone.

3. The weather forecast calls for lots of snow.

The Sunday School thing is bittersweet for me. I really feel like I failed in this calling. I think those kids really hate us. Why else would they not come to class when I constantly see them in Sacrament Meeting? I guess to be fair, they show up to class on days they weren't in Sacrament. But I feel like we never connected with them; we were always the enemy. We tried being their friends, playing games, making Sunday School as fun as possible, bribing them with treats, but it never seemed to be good enough for these kids. I was the Primary champion in Costa Mesa. I just don't get it. I mean, I was a teenager more recently than I was a kindergartener. So why is it I connect with 5 year-olds but am hopelessly lost when it comes to 15 year-olds?

Oh well. I really did try my best, so I don't really have any regrets. But I still feel like I failed. The only thing that makes me feel like I succeeded on a personal level is the fact that my attitude changed from "What's wrong with these kids?" to "I'm really worried about these kids." I guess I'll just move on and try and do well at being EQ Secretary to compensate. That's not an easy calling either. It's the same idea of guilting people into doing the right thing, just with a different age group.

worth the trip: Yesterday we went to visit Grandma. We tried Monday, but a snowstorm thwarted our efforts. Because Tuesday is Brigitta's day, she brought Grandma a loaf of Swedish bread. I adore Swedish bread! So when I inquired of said Swedish bread, Grandma was only too happy to implore me to eat the whole thing! I think Grandma feels bad letting good food like that go to waste, but could not stomach any of it. I ate about 1/3 of it and dutifully took the rest home for breakfast this morning. Yum!

I also went to the store for Grandma. Her list consisted of milk, a huge tub of ice cream, and Christmas cards for next year. I got her a sweet deal on a pack of 18 cards for $1.25. She said she got some cards this year from people she didn't send any to so she is getting a jump start for next year. The poor woman won't commit to a party tonight because she may die, but is set for next year's card exchange.

She also said she isn't giving out money this year on Christmas, though I think she tried that line before. I dutifully told her that no one comes for $10 but to see her. I'm not sure she believed me, however.

[Comments] (2) The Nightmare Before Christmas: Maggie was diagnosed with RSV around 3 pm on Christmas Eve. Because she is under two, she is hospitalized until the virus goes away. She has been poked and had her nose suctioned out too many times, with no end in sight.

The update is that she is now off the IV, having finally decided to eat and drink on her own, and we all slept pretty well last night, all things considered; Susie on the pull out and me in Maggie's bed.

She can go home once her oxygen level is above 90. She's on oxygen at the hospital, but are down to 0.5 liter now, having previously been at 1.0 liters. So we're slowly making progress. She also played with some toys really well today.

I'm at home doing laundry, as we are out of clothes. My brother and his kids were kind enough to snowplow our driveway, as it dumped another foot and a half Christmas day.

She's such a poor little thing; it's breaking my heart.

[Comments] (4) Shout-out: Big thanks to Brook, Ember, and Logan for shoveling a foot of snow out of our driveway while we were otherwise engaged at the hospital. And also for putting dinner in our fridge the night of our return.

Thanks to Les Gilbert for taking over my job as snow shoveler at the church this week, and also for taking care of our trash cans.

Thanks to Jamie, David, mom, Jodi, and Franco for visiting us and livening up an otherwise dreadfully boring, depressing couple of days in a building full of sick people. And for the food. The cafeteria food was ok, but some of the cafeteria workers were unkind so any meal not there was great.

Thanks for all the phone calls, text messages, and prayers from well-wishers all over the world. If I don't text you back, know that I got your message and appreciate it. I hate texting, and our phone plan charges us for each text, hence why you received no reply. I'd call as a reply, but I figure you texted me because you didn't want to talk to me so calling you back as a response to a text seems like a bad idea to me.

Thanks to all the nurses at Primary Children's Medical Center. They were all very professional and helpful.

Thanks to Santa for waking us up at midnight Christmas morning to deliver to Maggie a stuffed moose, blankets, and other junk.

We also appreciated having our own room the first two nights. The third night we had to go in with another RSV patient, a 2-month old baby. So sad. She'd been there 12 days and I'm sure has another month to go. Her family was not there so the room-sharing went well. I felt bad she was all alone, but my guess is that either her parents have other kids to attend to or maybe they live in some godforsaken section of the northwest and this hospital puts them miles from home. I wish that baby well. She reminded me that we didn't have it so bad after all. RSV is hard because we were quarantined to our room. Maggie was so anxious today to leave that I'm glad we got out of there.

Thanks to God for answering our prayers. Christmas Eve I gave Maggie a blessing and I just knew what to pray for: patience. I knew she'd be ok but I also knew this was going to take time and honestly the stay was not that bad. Cabin fever set in just as we left. Between book reading and cuddling, the time really flew. The last day we had to force feed Maggie every two minutes to prove to the doctors that she is no longer dehydrated and fit to go home. There were a lot of conversations with Maggie about eating to avoid another IV, etc. It's so hard to know what's best for her but I can't force her to eat. I wonder if God ever feels that way about me: he knows what's best but won't force it on me. My sister mentioned this experience makes her weary to have kids. I'll admit, it's scary. But there is a whole other side to parenthood that a non-parent can never understand. The human experience, for better and for worse, is amplified in parenthood. Though the last few days were harrowing, I wouldn't forgo the experience for anything.

Get well soon, Maggie!

[Comments] (1) Out with the old: Reasons I'm glad to see 2008 end:

1. I got my first traffic ticket this year.

2. My house was broken into this year, with my computer and Susie's purse stolen.

3. Hernia operation.

4. Spending Christmas Eve and the following three days in Primary Children's Hospital waiting for Maggie to overcome RSV. Can't wait to get THAT bill in the mail.

5. The election year is over. Maybe we can all get back to normal now.

6. My 401(k) can't take it anymore.

7. I just realized, counting that Susie and I went at 6 am this morning, that I only went to the temple 3 times this year. Hoping to do better next year.

8. Sprained foot that incapacitated my summer running season. At least now I have the elliptical for the winter.

9. I worked too much this year and hope to do better this next year.

10. It's time for a change.

Most people post how the year was great and they look forward to many happy returns. Not me this year. I'm glad to get rid of 2008 and sincerely hope 2009 will be better.

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