This is winter?

I’ve got a bunch of random cell phone photos from recent events. We’ve had such a fun fall and early winter (if you can call this “winter”) with lots of activities. First, our kids got to participate in a live nativity at the Kaysville Tabernacle. They spent all of 10 minutes acting their part, and by acting I mean sitting still looking pretty.

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We also went to the Kaysville Light Parade, which really is a sad excuse for a parade. But the kids loved seeing the 10 floats or so, it wasn’t very cold, and there was hot chocolate at the city offices awaiting them at the conclusion of the parade.

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Abby and Leah both played volleyball with Farmington City for the last 6 weeks. Leah was on a 4th/5th grade team with her friend and neighbor, Sierra. This was Leah’s first year playing and she was awesome. I had the good fortune of being her coach and had a blast. Luckily, at this age, learning drills from YouTube makes me a qualified coach. Let’s just say I’m a better coach than I am a player in this sport.

Abby completed her second year and was on a 6th/7th grade team with her friend since infancy, Siena. Abby loves volleyball as well and she had an excellent coach who she also had for soccer. If we can keep her with that coach for the next few years, she’ll come out ahead, for sure! I’m not good enough to coach these girls in volleyball as they get older.

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I saw this painting, “Not Alone” by great-grandma Minerva Teichert, in an LDS church in Riverton last week. This is the second church I’ve seen this painting in and I always feel touched when seeing this particular scene. It shows Mormon pioneers with their covered wagons and angelic hosts accompanying them on their trek. It alludes to the Old Testament story of Elisha and the Israelites as they prepared for battle against Syria. The odds were not in their favor, yet the prophet Elisha knew they had more help and even stated, “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then the Israelites were treated with a vision of the heavenly beings on the mountain ridges there as support (story found in 2 Kings 6).

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Jen got brave recently and darkened her hair from her natural sandy blonde to a dark brunette. She looks hot as ever and was quite the contrast to her cousin with her constantly bleached blonde coifs.

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Finally, there’s a house in Fruit Heights that goes all out with their Christmas lights. We enjoy driving by with the kids to show them the display. Well, the neighbors, not wanting to be outdone, simply put up one simple light display, the word “Ditto” with an arrow pointing to the over-the-top house. We got a good laugh at the sight.

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Birthdays on the Freeway

Now that I’m working in South Jordan for three months, I have to travel down I-15 if I choose to drive my own vehicle to work. With a high volume of vehicles and a high rate of speed often comes theatrics. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen:

  • A car blow a tire and manage to not swerve into any cars while pulling over onto the shoulder.
  • A car in the left shoulder facing the wrong direction — it had spun probably a minute prior.
  • A tow truck hauling a pickup truck backward (trucks have rear-wheel-drive so the free wheels are the front) and, due to the speed of freeway travel, the bed liner of the pickup and all the contents literally lifted off the bed and floated in the air before slamming onto the roadway directly in front of the trailing traffic.
  • Large wood chunks (debris) in the middle of the lane.
  • Half a dozen near misses of trailing vehicles nearly rear-ending the vehicle they were trailing.

I’ve driven to work for 12+ years now on various roads and don’t remember this many traffic issues in so short a time. Perhaps the roads are getting more dangerous, or perhaps I’m just more aware. Regardless, I am grateful I haven’t been involved in any of these observed incidents.

On to better news: Austin turned 4 on Saturday. This kid is such a joy to have around and everyone seems to love him. He flirts with the teenage girls, plays with the teenage boys, gives his momma just enough snuggle time to melt her heart, and offers his help when I’m doing a project. He’s often found approaching someone and asking, “Do you want to play with me?” He had a great birthday and was so genuinely happy, grateful, and delighted with everything that happened on his big day.

The new 4 year old wearing his new kicks and shirt and holding his new (left-handed) baseball mitt.

The new 4 year old wearing his new kicks and shirt and holding his new (left-handed) baseball mitt.

Cupcakes adorned with army men

Cupcakes adorned with army men

We sang to him (like 5 times during the day) but he had some fun with the candle before telling us what he wished for. See the video.

Jen also got him a Nebraska Huskers hat — he’s apparently had a fascination with them for a while now. While I served my LDS mission in Nebraska, we don’t openly cheer for the Huskers or have any other memorabilia hanging around the house. But he was delighted to get his hat. See the video.

Livin’ the Dream

We’ve decided that the longest day of the year isn’t the Summer Solstice. No, it’s really the Sunday with 1pm church where you move your clocks back an hour to accommodate Daylight Savings Time. I don’t know how many times we looked at a clock today and said, “It’s only 10:30am?”

Fall here has been spectacular, although we’ve had a bone-dry October. Our secondary water was turned off Oct. 5 and our lawn could have used a few waterings since then. However, I don’t have any interest in using culinary water for that at this house, so I just let the brown spots appear. I’m pretty sure it — and I — will survive.

The mild Fall meant we had a very enjoyable Halloween. The kids didn’t even wear jackets under their costumes and came home with a bunch of loot. Although I actually have 4 kids, and although all of them dressed up and begged neighbors and strangers for candy, I didn’t get a picture of Leah. She went trick-or-treating with a friend and was gone at picture time.Costumes! My sister got a hot tub recently and hosted a family party. It was Ammon’s first time in a hot tub and all indications were that he liked it. Not that he can really feel the heat on his paralyzed legs, but it was fun regardless.

Full House AmmonThe World Series wrapped up recently and we had the euphoria of celebrating the victory of our favorite team. Both Jen and I lived in Northern California as kids (her in Sunnyvale and me in Sacramento) and we’ve followed the team since then. The crazy thing was that my brother, Adam, is a life-long Royals fan. I never honestly even considered the idea that our two teams would meet in the World Series. Exciting postseason. In the picture below, Jen’s sister (also a big Giants fan) was watching with us via Facetime. It was fun to enjoy the conclusion of the series together.

IMG_20141029_211530I am currently “on detail” as the GIS Coordinator at the headquarters of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. That basically means I get to do a different job in a different location for three months, after which I’ll head back to my normal job. I now have to travel about 36 miles to work each day and go back and forth between driving and using public transportation (train / bus). I just happened to email the hydrologist a few days ago about some project ideas and said, “Hey, I’d like to go to the field with you.” It didn’t take long for him to find an excuse to get out. We drove from South Jordan up to the Wellsville Mountains west of Logan so we could check on the condition of a stream channel that has been impacted by cattle. It was a gorgeous day and made me happy.

IMG_20141030_125153 Finally, Abby (front row, third from the right) had a piano recital on Saturday immediately following her volleyball game. She played “All of Me” by Jon Schmidt and rocked it. She loves playing and had a knack for the instrument.

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13 years!

A few weeks ago Jen and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. As any good husband would, I took the day off from work and …. wait, it was a federal holiday? Oh, yeah, that’s right. Thank you, Christopher Columbus.

As I look back on the day, it sure felt like we did things I wanted to do. Jen continually says that spending time with me is the treat, not necessarily doing anything special. So, really, it’s her fault we went hiking, had lunch with my mother, and attended a Jazz game.

We decided to hike the Y in Provo. Neither of us had done it since we were in college many years ago. It was a nice steep hike and Austin, our hiking companion, did fairly way about 3/4 the way up. Then he tripped and he was physically and mentally done. We carried him the rest of the way.

Anyway, it’s been a great 13 years. We’ve had so much fun together and we’ve got a love that will last forever. I’ve grateful to have found this great woman!

Austin thought running this trail would be fun. He quickly though otherwise.

Austin thought running this trail would be fun. He quickly thought otherwise.

On the way down

On the way down

A "selfie" with two other people

A “selfie” with two other people

Panorama overlooking Provo and Utah Lake

Panorama overlooking Provo and Utah Lake

Fall Break

Our visit to the Ranch last weekend was monumental. It was Fall Break for the kids so we took 4 advantage of our time off and spent four days down in Wayne County. We had a special treat this time because my folks, my brother Ammon, and my 17-year-old nephew came as well. It was fun to show my family the red rocks and why we like going down there so much. It was difficult going back to work today.

My mom wrote and shared pictures from her perspective here. I’m going to dump a bunch of photos below.

Life isn’t slowing down

First of all, I have to say “I called it.” Jen and I went to Lagoon without any kids for the first time all year. While we were at Lagoon, both of us were glued to the MLB gamecast of the Giants – Nationals game 2 of the NLDS. We watched the gamecast as we waited in line between rides. Just before we got on the White Roller Coaster at Lagoon, the game was in the top of the 18th inning. We climbed into the roller coaster, I put my phone in my pocket, and said to Jen, “Brandon Belt is going to hit a home run while we’re on this ride.”

We had a fun ride and as soon as we got off, Jen pulled her phone out to read a text message she got from her sister, Katie, that said, “BELT HOMERED!” I couldn’t believe it. I yelped like a little girl I was so excited. The Giants squeaked through the bottom of the 18th and the game was over. It was totally my fault the Giants won that game. I willed Brandon Belt into that home run.

I love this time of year. We’ve had such a great August, September, and now October. We’ve had plenty of rain, some warm weather, and only a few dips into the 40s at night to remind us that winter is coming. Our tomatoes have done crazy good this year and we’ve bottled around 2 dozen jars of tomatoes. We went to Snowbasin Ski Resort yesterday and went on a hike in the trees … the Aspens have already peaked, the Maples are done, and the Oaks just seem to turn brown and drop, so I’m not sure we’re going to really partake of any foliage beauty.

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

Today is also my brother, Ammon, celebrates his birthday. He was born 19 years ago and we’ve enjoyed having him as part of our family for as long as we have.

I replace the brakes on my Honda this week. I’ve known for a while they were on their last legs, but I’ve allowed other things to get in the way of logic. I got a quote from Les Schwab for a replacement job ($359) but wasn’t keen on dishing that out. That price included a caliper rebuild, and I didn’t think I needed that. I went to O’Reilly Auto Parts on Thursday night, spent $100 on rotors and pads, and spent an hour and fifteen minutes doing the job myself.

Old on left, new on right.

Old on left, new on right.

Finally, I was asked to relinquish my duties as a Sunday School teacher and take on the duties of Scoutmaster for our local troop. Here’s to round 2 for me!

The blessing of neighbors

Ideally, I live here. No, not necessarily in humid and buggy Tennessee (although I’d be close to my sister for at least three years while they are in school). But that kind of property, with some barns, a great farmhouse, and with enough land to let my dog(s) roam free.

In reality, I live in the house represented by the orange star in the graphic below. It’s typical suburbia, although with more room to breath than our last neighborhood, where we could just about hear our neighbors brush their teeth.

The house with the yellow star largely keeps to themselves. They are very nice people, but we don’t see them much (their kids are grown and in college now).

The house with the blue star has been vacant for about 9 months now. The renters moved out and the owners gutted the thing and cut down the jungle that was previously called the backyard. They also removed the fence separating our property from theirs. That’s been a blessing and a curse. The kids can now easily visit friends who live on the street behind us without climbing fences or walking around. It also provides much easier access to the mountain, which is directly up Harvey Rd. Unfortunately, that house now has a sale pending, so we may have to change our behavior. In addition, they may want to put up a fence and will probably ask me to pay for half of it. No thanks.

The house with the green star has been largely empty for 18 months while the owners were on an LDS mission in Indiana. My kids have been playing in their backyard, swinging on their rope swing, I’ve been parking my truck on his driveway, and I’ve been borrowing his tools. Well, they returned today.

So we’ve had a pretty quiet last year in terms of neighbors and now we’re going to have to adjust our lives back to the idea of “oh yeah, we live in a neighborhood and can’t just do whatever we want.” Sigh.  Where’s that 750 acres again?

Our neighborhood

Our neighborhood