Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Report

It was a very successful Christmas for us. Our giving was well received, and our receiving was very well received - by us! We are so glad to have been home for the Holiday, close to so many family.
It was also quite eventful. Kira's youngest sister got engaged Christmas night! Congrats to her and her fiance!

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Avey was spoiled rotten! Not only did she get the most toys out of any one of us, but two of them were from people she's not even related to and has met only once! She got a huge bunny rabbit bigger than she is, and a little robotic puppy dog that barks and wags his tail. She adores them both. She will not stop talking about the puppy most of the time.
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Momma and Daddy got some very thoughtful and generous gifts from family. But the most important and valuable of all was to have them home for Christmas.

We miss you all and wish you a Happy New Year! So long, 2008!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blahs and Yadda-Yaddas

How did finals go? Thanks for asking. The answer is I don't know yet, but I think they went well. I know I got an A- on my Statistics and Research Methods class, and that was much better than I expected. It turns out I do know a little something about that word "validity". Who'd have thunk?
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I got to thinking this week how much like a dog I must be in Avey's eyes. I follow her around everywhere as if I had a leash on, she pets my hair when it's in range, she throws/drops and I fetch, I clean up her table scraps, I sniff at her rear end, and I sometimes bark at cars as they drive by.
But then, I could turn it around. Avey has been on all fours most of her life, she gives very slobbery kisses, takes several naps throughout the day, looks forward to a good walk, poops in the house, gets a bath about once a week, is not allowed to get up on the couch, chases squirrels, and will eat anything she finds on the floor.
I guess we both have some evolving to do. Just imagine what poor Kira has to deal with on a daily basis.
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If you haven't noticed, I added a few more songs to my playlist on this blog. Yeah, that one to the right of this post. I'd like to comment on two of them.
Radiohead- "All I Need" This song doesn't sound like much for the first couple of minutes, but that's the trick- you have to listen to the whole song. Trust me, they're building to something.
Marcy Playground- "Angel of the Forever Sleep" This one is great for anyone who is dealing with, has dealt with, or is afraid of death. It's about the angel who comes from heaven to escort souls to their final destination. I like it a lot, anyway. Happy listening.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finals

Why ever do I continue to put myself through the torture of higher education? I have three essays to write this week, and probably the most difficult test of my life coming up on Tuesday. The real irony of the whole thing is when I remind myself that I'm forking out good money in order to have the "opportunity" to do all of this.


Avey, deep in thought...


I read somewhere that some neuroscientists believe that in twenty years, it will be possible to install little computer chips in humans' brains and we will be able to, essentially, download information directly into our brain cells. After about 8 hours of studying the concept of statistical validity, and still feeling like I'm only starting to understand the vocabulary, I'm all for a little brain surgery.
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On top of all of this, Christmas and its accompanying stresses keep poking into my stream of conscious thought. Some years I wonder if it wouldn't make more sense for everybody to just keep their money and buy their own gift that they really want. If you do the math, you probably spend about as much as you receive, right (parents and grandparents excluded)?


Oh, by the way, we haven't gotten around to doing our Christmas letter this year. If you're that interested, just review the past 50 or so posts on this blog. Better luck next year.


Avey sits on Daddy's shoes for some light reading

Sunday, December 7, 2008

They Grow Up So Fast

Big news all around this week. First off, I want to send out a really big "Woo Woo!" to my brother-in-law who is officially engaged as of last night! I can't believe how old that makes me feel and I remember just a few years ago when you were way too young for this kind of thing. Wild...
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In other news, Avey finally took off with her walking! It's the oddest thing, too; she started it just tonight. We were at a family dinner and afterwards were all sitting around in the living room and she started making her way across the room from Momma to Daddy to show us toys. She was taking 8 and 10 steps at a time, and when she started to lose her balance, would just slow down and catch herself. I think she's finally built up the courage to walk! Funny how that kind of thing finally clicked for her. We'll have to get it on video for another post (she's in bed right now).
The Princess seems to be in the Renaissance stage of infancy right now. (1) She's picking up new words all the time: the other day I went in to get her from a nap and she said "poop". Sure enough, she reeked like a banshee. (2) She's found Jesus: Kira and I were kneeling for a morning prayer, and Avey came over and leaned up against a chair and folded her hands to join in. Now she folds her arms during prayers, at least for a few seconds. (3) She almost overnight switched to big-person foods. She doesn't want anything we give her with a spoon anymore. She wants things she can pick up with her own little fingers. And my little carnivore is all about meat. She tried one of Kira's healthy hot dogs the other day and never looked back. She wants canned chicken, roast, and turkey at every meal.
Before we know it, she'll have cracked all my passwords, hacked into my bank account, and hot wired my car. Somebody's got to nail that girl's shoes to the floor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

To Utah and Back Again

Thanksgiving was quite the adventure. In brief, we had a very uneventful drive over there, with great weather, and Avey was as well behaved as we could have imagined. She played and sang and talked happily until she was sleepy. I was getting pretty cranky in my seat after just a few hours, but she was very content. Sleeping while there was not exactly possible. Avey was teething something fierce and there were 5 children in the house. Avey's suffering was not in vain this time, though. She woke up with two brand new teeth on the bottom.
Even though we didn't get much sleep, it was still a lot of fun to be there with all the family and see our old stomping ground again. My biggest regret was that we were too late for me to drop in at my old job and see my coworkers. I'll see them in February though.
The ride home was bad. We were stopped in traffic for an hour only to find out that the route ahead had been closed due to weather. We were about to give up and try to find lodgings for the night, but my resourceful father-in-law knew an alternate route and had us home before 10pm safe and sound.

We are both sad that we missed seeing our old friends in Utah, but alas, it just wasn't in the cards this time. We need Thanksgiving to be about 2 weeks long next year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Giving of Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for. We all do, probably, but I am really thankful for a special time of year dedicated to reflecting on this simple fact. The Thanksgiving Holiday is not just a time of Turkey carcases, football, pies, stuffing, and great shopping (although I'm thankful for all of these things as well). But it's a time to think of how great we really have things. For example, Avey is thankful for teething tablet mustaches... I've said some of these before, but I am thankful for every one of them, in no particular order:

1. Everyone I know (above a certain age) can read.
2. We are all in relatively good health.
3. Chocolate, in all forms.
4. Avey calls me, clear as day, "Daddy".
5. I know who my parents are, and I know they both wanted me and planned to have me.
6. I've never broken a bone.
7. My family will never have to go hungry.
8. I've never lost a close family member.
9. I am loved.
10. Clean water.
11. All the knowledge we have.
12. Music, except for country.
13. I've never been in a natural disaster.
14. My daughter's deep-belly laugh.
15. My wife treats me with respect and dignity.
17. I just skipped number 16, and no one can do anything about it.
18. Avey will know Bach, Handel, Dvorjak, and all the greats.
19. I can talk to almost anyone in the world with ease, thanks to technology.
20. My daughter can be anything she wants.

I could go on for hours, of course, but here are just a few to get warmed up. I hope we all take a few minutes and do this kind of thing this week, and every other week for the rest of our lives. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Walk This Way

Avey has been working on building up the courage to walk for quite some time now. She's walked around holding onto furniture, our fingers, our pant legs, walls, and anything else, and can stand up for several minutes at a time. But for some reason, she just doesn't want to take steps unsupported (physically, not emotionally). For several weeks, she's looked about like this:
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Her record so far is 6 consecutive steps. We're sure that if she just decided she could do it, she'd be all over the place getting into who-knows-what. But for now, she's content with getting around under the support of others.
I guess that's cool. For one, we don't really need to chase her all over the place any more than we already do. Two, before long she won't want me to carry her, so I'd better soak it up while I can. And third, even though she can do it on her own, I'm glad she seeks the readily available supports. We Americans are so focused on independence and doing it ourselves that we sometimes isolate ourselves. I'm glad to see Avey doesn't mind admitting that she's not quite ready.
And before we know it, she'll be walking all over us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birthday

I decided not to write "Happy" before the title because I turned 27 on Friday. That means I'd might as well be 30. What a scary thought...
As depressing as it is, Kira did her best to welcome me gently into the club (she's been a member for a few months now) by letting me sleep in until 7:30, making me a spectacular breakfast, buying me a comfy shirt, and ordering me to not do any homework all weekend. I got some nice cards and phone calls as well, and my dear mother made me a special dinner tonight with the rest of my family in town. It was a wonderful birthday, truth be told.
Kira also surprised me on Wednesday on campus by bringing Avey and some wicked-delicious eclairs from a dutch bakery nearby. I'm a very vain person when it comes to my daughter, so the best present was getting to show her off to my classmates again. On that note, here are some videos. The first one is Avey demonstrating her newest and most impressive word, "Tylenol".
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We never practiced it with her, we just told her what it is when she would point at it and she said it one day.
This next one is her impression of a cow.
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"Moo" indeed, Avey.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloweenies

Check out what we found in our front yard one morning this week! There were four of them eating crab apples and grass, and close enough to spit on from our window. Kira thought quick and whipped out the camera. It was kind of funny, because her dad just went Elk hunting and didn't see a thing. We let these guys pass through unharmed though.

Halloween was fantastic this year. I think mostly because it was the warmest one I've ever experienced in Colorado. It was around 70 degrees all day!
As you can see, I forgot to wear a costume.

She looks very serious, doesn't she? It's not because she's embarrassed, but mostly because she's tired. She had skipped her afternoon nap to Father's dismay.
After she was in bed, we watched an old Hitchcock film, Dial "M" for Murder. Pretty stupid title, but I was totally unprepared for all the suspense in the film. I highly recommend it.
We had no trick-or-treaters all night, which left more candy for my little brother and me. We worry about poor Avey, who probably wonders about everybody's sanity after the display of makeup and funny clothes. She witnessed my mother putting mascara on my little brother's face (who was going as Chuck Norris), and saw witches and werewolves all over the place. Of course, after she woke up, she probably thought it was all a dream.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When it Rains...

...it floods. I'm sure this week could have been busier, I'm just not quite sure how. To start the week off, Avey was teething something fierce all week. She had a fever most of the week and was way cranky and moody. One second, she was playing like all was well, the next she was wailing like a banshee. She woke up feeling worlds better today and hasn't stopped smiling and telling everybody she passes, "Hi!".
Of course, Dad had two exams this week. Both were take-home, but one took about 12-14 hours to finish and the other took around 8. Mom had a full client load, and in the time she wasn't at work, she was at work at home trying to console poor Avey.
On top of all of this, Kira and I were asked to speak today in church.
All turned out well, though. Avey has at least one more tooth just about to poke through on the top, Dad passed the 8-hour exam (no grades are given, you just have to get 80% on that exam before finishing the class) and had his 12-hour one in a day early. Kira learned to appreciate Avey's non-teething days even more, and we both received a lot of compliments on our talks. They went much better than I expected, actually.
I'd like to say that this next week will be a little less hectic, but now I have to really start cracking on some other schoolwork I had to put off to finish the exams.
I guess there's no rest for the weary. Except Avey; she gets all the rest she can stand. Hence the wild hairdos.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Word About Music

Hey all,

As you may or may not have noticed, I have slowly been putting together a playlist on my blog. In fact, if you'll shift the focus of your eyes ever so slightly to the right of this post, you'll probably see it. Yeah, right there.

Anyhoo, I wanted to share just a bit about the playlist; why I chose to share my love of those songs with the world, what they mean to me, etc. So here you go. I recommend plugging a quality set of headphones into the computer and spending a couple of hours reading this, then studying the songs with the volume turned all the way up. WARNING: this may change your life.

Let's start with the first song I chose for the list, shall we?

Coldplay - "Fix You"
This is pretty much the most amazing song Coldplay has ever written, and if they never write a better song, I will still put them on my "Greatest Bands of All Time" list. I chose this song because it not only has an epic feel to it, but the lyrics have come to mean a lot to me personally. I'm normally not one to pay much attention to lyrics - takes too much brain power - but Coldplay seems to have unusually uplifting messages in their songs. I find that whenever I'm down, wondering what it's all for, why hard things happen to people I love, why life is such a struggle, and why I've gone through dark times in my life, this song understands that. Each of the lines is or has been applicable to me, and for that I feel almost connected to it. I only wish that it had been written years ago during the darkest time of my life; "when the tears come streaming down your face... when you lose something you can't replace... when you love someone, but it goes to waste..." And the hope is clearly there, the light at the end of the tunnel; "Lights will guide you home."

Muse
You'll notice I have several songs by Muse. They are the most recent addition to my iPod, and a very welcome one at that. Not a whole lot of sentimental meaning behind these, but they are high on my recommendations list for anyone looking for a fantastic band. My playlist here includes some of the tracks of theirs I think everyone can enjoy. For more specific recommendations, email or call me day or night.

The Beatles/John Lennon
Ahh... what can I say? "Imagine" is probably Lennon's most poetic and beautiful song and part of his legacy as a musician. The message is clear, and really what separates us from the animals, I think; we have the ability to think of things as they could be. I'm a dreamer.

Pearl Jam - "Wishlist"
Most poetic PJ song ever. "I wish I were a messenger and all the news was good." Brilliant. This one speaks for itself.

The Smashing Pumpkins
My personal favorite band in history. Billy Corgan wrote the best version of "Landslide" in history, and has written some of the most poetic and meaningful lyrics I've encountered in my life. My favorite line of his is in the song, "Muzzle", his greatest poem to date: "My life has been extraordinary; blessed and cursed and won." Doesn't that just say it all? We will win. Making it through all the hardships and all the wonders makes us who we are, and it is because of them we are extraordinary. And we will win.
"Medellia of the Grey Skies" does not have explicit lyrics. For some reason that's in the title to that link. I have shed more tears to this song than I like to admit. It has a very personal meaning to a particular time in my life, and often still does. I think it captures perfectly the longing and desperation a person can have to be what a loved one wants. It used to have more romantic meaning to me, but has taken on new meaning to me as a father. The lines, "If I could, I'd dress you all in pearls, I'd give you what you wanted. You're all I notice in a crowded room... If I just could be anything for you, just anything at all..." capture, I think, the pressures I feel as a husband and provider to be what is best for my wife and daughter. They are the reasons I do everything I do. And I constantly struggle to be the husband and father they deserve, yet fall short at times because of my humanness.

Radiohead
I hesitate to start this one; I might end up writing a novel. My experience is either that you love Radiohead, or you haven't heard enough of their stuff. Some of their stuff is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you take a bite, you're battered and fried. In my opinion, Radiohead is the second greatest band in history. Have a listen. It's hard to explain.

Keane
These guys are also a fairly recent addition to my iPod. I actually know of very few bands or albums I sincerely liked upon first hearing, but their album Hopes and Fears had me hooked from track 1. Their sound is so melodic and rich, and Tom Chaplin has one of the purest voices I've heard in a long time.

Marcy Playground - "America"
Remember these guys? Probably not. They had a big hit back in the 90s and have had a small fan base ever since. I thought their first album was pretty good, and saw them in concert where I fell in love. John Wozniak has a dark sense of humor about his music half of the time, but writes deceptively almost humorous music for his lyrics. I personally hold MP as my third favorite band of all time and I hope they never stop making music. I chose "America" because I think it's a beautiful anthem and tribute to the country. It matches my feelings well, and the music is full of emotion.

Ben Folds
I hated this guy about the first 20 times I heard him. I've grown to really enjoy his music over the years though. His voice is more real than a lot of artists out there, meaning that it's not real flashy, but genuine. Through his music, he seems like a fun guy; the kind of guy I'd like to chill with. And judging by his covers of other artists, I think we have pretty similar taste in music.

I think that's enough for now. As I add more music, I just might make a comment here and there about them. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Eternal Struggle

I suppose the title is a little misleading now, because she's usually spot on these days. But this video is of Avey trying to feed herself a pea about a week ago.

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What I find hilarious is that she misses her mouth with the pea, but the thumb is so close, so she just slides it right in. Hilarious!

So get this; I won a drawing about a year ago and got a free night at a Marriott. Of course, Avey was just a few weeks old, so it was out of the question then, and then we kept putting it off because we weren't sure how she'd handle it if we were to leave her with somebody else for an entire night. And honestly, we took her to the hotel on our 3rd Anniversary and she did not do so well and it made the trip a bit of a hassle. Anyway, so we were down to the wire because the coupon expires on the 18th of this month. We decided to go for it and leave Avey with Kira's parents, who were gracious enough to take a swing at it. So what happened? Let me tell you.

We fed her at their house and put her down to sleep after she'd gotten more acclimated to the room and crib. She was quiet for a few minutes, then cried off and on for several minutes. After we left, she calmed right down and fell asleep, slept about 9 hours, ate a good breakfast with Grandpa's help, played, took a 90 minute nap, played some more, etc.

So we had a grand old time at the hotel and even slept in. We went to go get Avey, naturally expecting that she would whimper and reach for us excitedly at the sight of her loving parents who brought her into this world, and keep her fed, shower her with love and affection, and play some pretty entertaining games with her if I do say so myself. But what happened? Grandpa brings her to the garage to meet us there and she barely even glances in our direction, mostly in annoyance because we're blocking her view of the grandparents' dog. Well that's a fine how-do-you-do. She didn't even miss us!

Of course, after the excitement of seeing the dog wore off just a little, she did warm up a bit more. It's kind of nice to know that we can leave her and she won't be permanently damaged, but we were kind of hoping she'd have some kind of attachment to us. I guess it's our own fault for leaving her with such awesome grandparents with such an awesome dog.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Fun, Old Habits

Avey has found a new favorite toy. In an effort to entertain her while she ate the other day, Dad busted out the tape measure and showed Avey how it gets really long and recoils. She found this absolutely fascinating and has enjoyed becoming part of the fun. As pictured below, she holds onto one end while Dad walks away with the other end. She braces herself and then lets go to watch it zoom toward me and disappear back into the orange case. Woah... Ahh... good times. Notice that she still sucks her thumb to make sure we can't sneak in any bites of food while she's distracted.
We also finally went for it; yes, we let her cry it out. Well, we tried graduated extinction anyway, which is not so "harsh". After a year of rocking her to sleep and after several attempts finally having her down, then waking up a few hours later to do the whole thing again, we were ready to try just about anything. She's a very sweet girl, but just didn't know how to fall asleep on her own, so we decided it was about time she tried it. We built up our courage and let her cry in her crib for 15-minute increments earlier this week. The first night she cried 2 1/2 hours. The second night she cried 40 minutes, but went down for her naps without a peep. Now, not quite a week later, she'll cry anywhere from not at all to 20 minutes, but it's usually in the 5-15 minute range. And she has been sleeping through the night most nights - no wakings! Today was the most amazing thing. I was rocking her a little before her morning nap and she was laying on my shoulder as usual. Then she popped her head up and pointed to her crib, so I laid her down without a sound and she slept about an hour. I think she's starting to enjoy sleep as much as I do!

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

1st Birthday!

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...Avey is so thoughtful. She had to make sure everyone else tried her cake before she did.

Thanks to very generous relatives, she made quite the haul. Her real birthday is tomorrow, of course, but it looked like today would be the best day for everyone to get together. And Avey loves a crowd, especially when all the attention is on her.

She is definitely developing more of a personality lately. And that personality is stubborn! If she doesn't want to sleep or eat, she will put up the fight of her life. But she's also learning a lot, too. This week she learned "button", "bow", and the below picture was taken when she learned "hat". It's part of a Halloween costume we pulled out of a box to see how she measured up. Man, does she frighten my socks off...

Kira and I had a busy Sunday singing in my parents' ward, and both teaching the lessons during the third hour of church, then getting everything ready for the party. We're both exhausted now, which may explain why this post is so poorly organized, and ends so abruptly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Super Mom & Dad

...Or at least striving to be. Mom, because she had her first client this week! She did much better than she expected and is very excited to use her degree once again. She also went water skiing for the first time in years on Saturday and got up on the second try (that's on only one ski)! What a woman!

That makes Dad super (by default anyway) because he got to spend lots and lots of quality time with whom we affectionately call "The Princess" while Mom was gone. She first came to campus with Dad because he had a meeting with all of the clinical students. She was very well received (and she would expect nothing less) and very well-behaved. We had the most fun in a stairwell playing with our echos.

For some reason, though, Avey thinks that Dad putting her down for a nap does not mean anything close to Mom putting her down for a nap. With Mom, it's nap time. With Dad, it's party time. Saturday night she had some problems too. It looked a little something like this:

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Hence "The Princess". It is her bidding that we stay up and party, so her will must be done. I've come to the sad realization in the last three days that Avey outsmarts me left and right all the time. When feeding her (attempting, anyway), if she decides the winter squash is not to her liking, she merely sticks her thumb in her mouth. That's it; it's over, man. Check...mate. I just sit there in the chair in front of her holding the teeny plastic spoon with a glob of squash slowly getting cold, wondering what on earth to do with the situation. I try putting the spoon to her mouth anyway, but sure enough, that hand is still there and I just get squash on her sleeve. After several failed attempts at giving her examples of how to eat, coming in at different angles, trying logic and rhetoric (when I'm really desperate), etc., she feels sorry for me and takes her thumb out of her mouth to allow in a few more bites. "Thank you, oh merciful one... I'm not worthy..."

I need to find that wee little research journal of hers to figure out her plans.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun With Words

Avey has been doing a lot of work on words lately. Here's a brief video to demonstrate some of her progress:

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Notice how she can say the "duh" sound and the "k" sound, but won't put them together to say "duck". Also, her "duck" sounds a lot like her "dog" and sometimes she confuses "dog" and "daddy". I try not to take offense though.

Sometimes I think Avey is just running experiments on us and is a better psychologist than I will ever be. I imagine that she wakes up from naps and, before making a sound, starts taking down notes in a wee little journal she keeps hidden from us. I imagine her entries going something like this:

September 14, 2008 - day 351 - I've decreased my father's hours of consecutive sleep time to 4 and, thus far, he has shown decreased cognitive ability in almost all areas. He maintains simple tasks, but at key times of the day (particularly after meals) enters an almost zombie-like state, sometimes even drooling while staring off into space. These findings are most encouraging for my future plans to have complete control over him. Mother's tolerance is much higher for lack of sleep, though she continues to demonstrate intriguing spouts of grumbling and shouting the longer I refuse to eat. Her behavior has become very predictable. Father will go to great lengths attempting to (what he calls) "distract" me while mother tries to feed me. He does things that would otherwise be considerably embarrassing. My next experiment will involve randomized bursts of mania coupled with almost simultaneous whining. Hypothesis - mother will attempt to put me down for a nap whilst father will attempt to cheer me up with one of his ridiculous games, then pull out the camcorder during a manic burst. Results to follow tomorrow.

She plays ignorant, but I'm slowly catching on.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Deepest Apologies

I have recently become aware of some horrible grammatical errors in a few of my past posts. I apologize for any offense I may have caused and I assure you, I do care. I just noticed today that in my last entry, I spelled "ought" o-u-t. Lord knows how I missed that. I also just fixed "bare with us" to the correct "bear with us". I also apologize in advance for any future errors. Please let me know, keep reading, and have patience (not patients) with me.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Never Fails

So it was the first week of school, right? In case you didn't know, that also means that it's the worst week of the year. All of these things that could go wrong wait around for a while until the first week of school, and then they pounce on you!
Monday was pretty good - met some more classmates, met the professor with whom I'll be doing research, etc. Tuesday I woke up feeling really achy, knowing I was probably coming down with something. Not wanting to miss my first class and leave an everlasting impression, however, I went to school to tough it out through the 2 and a half hour class. By the end of the class, I knew I was in trouble. I stood up to leave and while walking through the hall, I got way dizzy and felt like I had been running at full speed for the entire class. I opted to go home for the rest of the day.
The problem with that is that I already had a ton of reading to catch up on and I instead spent the rest of the day on the couch watching shows like American Justice and Cold Case Files. I had a fever of 101.3 and couldn't do much of anything. Kira took excellent care of me - making me soup, taking care of Avey by herself, checking my temperature, telling me it was okay to rest, etc.
Wednesday, I was feeling much better, but still very tired. I went to class and did some of the other reading to get more caught up.
Thursday was probably worse than a fever. It was the day we were to get our Internet set up; our modem arrived in the mail and there was an instruction sheet telling me to first call Comcast. This is where everything went horribly wrong. To make a ridiculously long story painfully short, after being transferred about 9 times, waiting on hold for a total of over 2 hours, making a trip to the local Comcast store, waiting in their line for a good half hour, going back home, and calling Comcast again to wait 20 minutes just to be transferred yet again and be told that I was not eligible for the price I had agreed to ("Oh, it's in the fine print."), I have decided never ever to attempt to do business with that company again. Comcast is now on my blacklist, right below Wells Fargo (that's a story for another time).
So the inevitable consequence of that is that we still do not have Internet in our home. We feel cut off from the world in a very strange way. I at least get it at school, but poor Kira can't even check her email or the weather. I set something up with another company, though, and this should have us set up by the end of this week. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe I can get some adorable pictures up.
In the meantime, this week ought to be much better. For starters, I don't have classes today or Tuesday! I love Labor Day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Limbo

Well, we should have the Internet set up by the end of this week, so I'll be able to put more pics and vids on. In the meantime, you have to just read.

Loading the truck went well; we had a lot of really good help and just barely fit all of our junk into the truck. The drive to Colorado was wild. I was running on about 5 hours of sleep and we ran into some heavy rain down the road. Unloading the truck went very quickly. We had some very enthusiastic family members eager to get us settled in here.

Our apartment is great! My In-Laws did a very nice job scoping it out for us. It's quite a bit bigger than our old place, but also not as well-lit. In fact, only the kitchen and the bathroom have overhead lights! We've got huge windows, but will need to invest in a few more lamps to get the place looking sunnier.

Avey has really loved being around all the cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. She steals the show wherever we go. Poor thing was sick a couple of days ago and it seemed the only comfort she had was my keys. She got a hold of them and wouldn't let them go for the rest of the day. She even fell asleep with them locked in her little hands. I had to steal them back after she'd passed out.

Today is my first day of school and I'm kind of in a whirlwind. I just got briefed on my work duties and it's going to be an adventure. Kira gets trained for her job on Wednesday and we're all slowly adjusting to life. Kira learned that one of the 3 most stressful things someone goes through is moving, and we can attest to that. We miss everybody in Utah, but are beginning to get used to things here in Colorado. Give us another couple of weeks and we'll be in our routines.

Monday, August 18, 2008

We're Here, and We're Alive

We've made it to the Springs! We are alive and very busy with unpacking and all that "getting settled in" jazz, so bear with us and we'll get internet access of our own and start getting some quality posts up soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last Day at Work

Friday was my last day at my job. I'm taking the next week off to concentrate on packing and all that jazz. It was a very bittersweet last day. Everyone made me feel very valued and appreciated and I feel that I will be missed. It was very difficult for me to leave my office for the last time and walk the grounds that I worked so hard to keep up. I've made so many good friends this last year and had so many good times. I wish that I could somehow stay and also move back home, but as we know, the only constant in life is change.

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Luckily, I'll be coming back to visit in February. The paper I coauthored was selected to be presented at a conference in Salt Lake City! I've also been invited by the main author to be a guest lecturer for one of her classes at a nearby university. If you didn't know, when you're in graduate school, undergrads will believe anything you say.

So, our packing is underway. We've got a nice group of helpers lined up to load the truck, and ample time to get all of our junk together. Hopefully, we'll have some time on the side to visit some favorite places and people too. In the meantime, farewell, Utah.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Down to the Wire

It's one thing to look at a calendar and see a bunch of boxes that tell you you've got just two weeks until you move. It's quite another to buy a gallon of milk at the grocery store and see that it expires after you'll have moved! For some reason, that made this whole thing become reality! But it's okay, I packed three boxes this week!

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Things are slowly coming together. I have this last week at work and then a week of mad packing and tying up loose ends.

Kira has officially been hired out in Colorado and just needs to finish some paperwork and decide what hours she would like to work.

Avey, however, is clueless as to what is going on. I think it will be good though, because she's getting pretty bored with our current apartment; she's already explored about every square inch and could use some new territory. She's standing up on her own quite easily and it's pretty scary to go and get her from a nap to find her standing in her crib, awaiting our arrival.

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She's been full of surprises lately. Last night, for example, she went to sleep around 8, then woke up at 10pm or so and stayed up until 12:40am, then slept until 3:45am, then slept from 4:45 until 8am. We're pretty sure she's teething, and hope that's where all this is coming from. In the meantime, we're trying to endure.

I'm still searching for the perfect background, but I'm afraid this will have to do for now. Try not to gag while you read in the future.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Any Better?

Okay, I had some not-so-thrilled feedback for the background, so give me your votes for this one. Or if you have some good sources for backgrounds, pass them on. Thanks.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lazy, Hazy Days

Well, I've decided to join the 21st Century and am trying to get my blog looking a little better. So, here's my first attempt at adding video! This is from a couple of weeks ago, when Avey was just starting to crawl. Now, she's fast as lightning, of course.

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Also, let me know what you think of the new background. I still don't think it's very "cute" as the advertisement would have you believe. I looked at the ones under the "masculine" category (seeing as I'm a dude), but they all looked more girly than the rest of them.

For those poor souls reading this who do not currently reside in Utah, Thursday was a holiday: Pioneer Day. They worked hard so that I didn't have to for one day! To commemorate their sacrifices, I went and saw The Dark Knight on Wednesday night with a coworker, and Kira went Thursday morning with an old roommate. For a lengthy review, call or email me. In brief, I was not disappointed; and those of you who have tried to shop for me know that I am easily disappointed.

So Thursday was pretty low key. I babysat while Kira was in the movie, and then we pretty much just lounged around the house the rest of the day. I'm sure we would have made great pioneers...

The really cruel thing was going back to work on Friday. Not so much for the work, but the chronological torture. I kept thinking it was Monday all day.

On Saturday we were blessed with a visit from my maternal grandmother (who had never met Avey), an aunt I hadn't seen in probably 12 years and her kids, and an uncle who lives nearby. We had a pleasant afternoon and Avey was very entertained by my grandmother's necklace, earrings, and bracelets.

Last night Avey slept about as much as an insomniac at a Pearl Jam concert, so Kira and I have both been very fuzzy all day. By "fuzzy", I mean that state of consciousness where ones brain might as well be day-old oatmeal. You parents know what I mean.

We were invited over to dinner tonight with a family in the ward I used to home teach. The meal was amazing and their kids kept us all entertained. We sure are going to miss the friends we've made here.

My brain is beeping "low battery", so if it hangs up on you, just rememb-

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the Move

First off, I want to give a big congratulations to Colorado for being the least obese state in the country! Well, a state can't be obese in the first place, so I really should congratulate the residents of Colorado. I heard the results of a poll over the radio and was proud to hear our favorite state was the best (or least worst anyway) at something. Soon, we will join your ranks (meaning we'll move there, not that we'll lose some weight. Although that would also be nice).
Well, it happened; Avey is officially crawling! Aaaahhh! She moved a couple of feet last Sunday and her progress has been exponential since. She's all over the place now as you can see...
Although we are very proud of her progress, it's kind of bittersweet. It seems that she finds new places to get stuck all the time, and things we didn't think were a hazard before are now of great interest to our little explorer. And the adventure continues...
In other news, we found an apartment! We put in a deposit on a place back home and so the move is feeling very real and very close now. That's bittersweet also, but I'll write more on that the closer we get.
In the meantime, if anyone wants to come over and throw away some of our junk, feel free.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Kira!

This week was a celebration of the birth of my dear, sweet, talented, virtuous wife, and mother to the sweetest little girl in the whole wide world: Wednesday, Kira, Avey, and my brothers in town all met me at a Brazilian restaurant near my work (it's one of our favorite places). Then, that night we opened some presents, met some friends at the nearby duck pond for root beer floats, and then came home to light and blow out candles in Kira's birthday blueberry pie:
Yesterday, we had plans to go see the new Narnia movie, but it is no longer in theaters! Kira decided she wanted to go to a local water park instead, so we did that. I don't know about Kira, but I'm getting way to old for those kind of thrills.
Avey has been crawling around more and getting stuck in the weirdest places. She got a whole lot of compliments at church today, and I think they're getting to her head, because she has become more and more of a performer in public. Today, she was rocking back and forth in my lap and her hair was sticking straight up and swaying like the branches of a tree in a soft breeze.
It was almost hypnotic.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Birthday U.S.A!

It was another successful, long weekend. We started Friday off with a visit to the parade... Avey was mostly excited about all the excitement. I'm not sure she watched many of the floats or bands or flybys, but she saw all the people and how they were clapping and cheering and she joined right in.
She sure gave Dad a good workout too.
We spent the evening with Kira's sister's family a few miles away and had some good food and fun. Kira's birthday is later this week, so we celebrated with a blueberry pie she requested instead of cake, and opened a couple of gifts.

There's a lot to make me thankful for the U.S.A. The more I learn, the prouder I am to be an American. Here are just a few of the reasons why, in no particular order:

1. I have never had to go hungry.
2. My voice counts when choosing who will lead us.
3. I can worship as I see fit.
4. I can write anything I want on this blog.
5. Kira and I can have as many kids as we want (or more).
6. Everyone I know can read.
7. My daughter can have a college education.
8. I don't need to ask permission from anyone to move to Colorado.
9. My bloodline does not dictate what I can and cannot do.
10. I own what I buy.

If we lived in another part of the world, at some different point in time, each one of these things I take for granted would be a fantasy. Even today, many people cannot claim each of these. This is just a little reminder that you have it better than you think. So now I will exercise another right with this closing statement; God bless America!

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Long Road Home

We took a short trip up to Idaho to see my Grandma and new Grandpa (both were fairly recently widowed and got married to each other) this weekend. I was pretty amazed at how uneventful the trip up was; Avey slept and played the whole way up. It was great to see a lot of family too. My dad was already up there for a visit and a lot of his siblings were nearby for a cousin's wedding. We also dragged my brothers along for the ride.

The trip would have been just about perfect had it not been for the drive home. We made a stop to eat and feed Avey, which was fine, just added a chunk to our trip. Then, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, traffic became horrific. We were in bumper-to-bumper rows of endless cars for almost an hour, inching along slowly while Avey slowly became sick of her car seat. In short, it was a miserable last two hours in the car and we got home that much later than we'd planned. Ugh.

The good news of the blog is that I have a job! Well, I have a job set up for graduate school. Briefly, I was not awarded a work-study stipend from the stingy government (I guess we made too much money last year or something). That meant that I would have to work for free for the next year, essentially. But I hooked up with a professor out there who has some funding. He looked over my resume and offered me 20 hours a week! That's actually about as good as it gets for a grad student. So things are really starting to fall together.

Kira completed her application to work also and it looks like she'll be able to work as much and often as she'd like, so between the two of us, I think we'll be just fine.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tests Up the Wazoo

This was a very busy week, full of tests. First of all, Friday was the belt test for the Tae Kwon Do students at my work. Because I hadn't actually been tested at any belt level, the instructor had me finally test through all the belts up to blue (the fifth belt) on Wednesday so that I could have some credibility when testing the students. I crammed over the weekend and for a few minutes Monday and Tuesday and tested and actually passed! So I am officially a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do! As you can see, Avey is really proud of me... Friday was also the day I had scheduled my SSW exam. Passing the exam means I get licensed as a Social Service Worker. All that means is that I get a big fat raise at work! It was a very long test, and the hardest part was staying awake for the whole thing. I passed and now Kira keeps making fun of me because it's a social work license (you may not all know, but psychologists and social workers are sort of mortal enemies).
My dad also came into town for the weekend on his way up to Idaho. We had some fun with him and Avey put on a show as usual; she now waves with her left hand by making little circles. It's adorable.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Eli Got His Groove Back

Well, after some sleepless nights and a whole lotta pep talks from Kira (including the nice tribute below this post), I tried again! Thanks to all of you who fasted and prayed on my behalf. Nobody told me about it, but I'm sure a lot of you did, because it paid off. I baked the cookies and they actually turned out edible this time!

That's not to say I did not run into my share of snags. First of all, I got baking and when it came time to add the flour, I was about 4 cups short! I mean, I scraped the bottom of the container and there was no flour left in the house. As I flashbacked to last week and my left eye began twitching while I broke into a hot sweat, Kira said, "Didn't you have some in the freezer?"
Oh yeah.

So I fished that out of the freezer, mixed it in and got the perfect consistency in the dough and prepared for the icing on the cake (as it were. But in this case, it wasn't at all. In fact, it was the chocolate chips in the dough).

I must have nearly passed out this time when I saw that we had one bag of regular chocolate chips and one bag of mini-chocolate chips. I could feel my hair turning grey as I searched through the cupboards for one more bag of chocolate chips. I queried my brothers to no avail. I even ran to a fellow baker in the ward, but found that she was fresh out. She assured me that the mini-chocolate chips would be fine and I began to believe her. But, just like buyer's remorse, by the time I had walked home, I was in a panic again. I tried one last time with our next-door neighbors and, finally, the chocolate chip cookie gods smiled upon me, for they had half a bag of milk chocolate chips and half a bag of semi-sweet. Praise be to Cookie Monster (I figure he's got to be one of the cookie gods)!

After a whole lot of baking, they came out very nicely. I think I just might recover from last week.

That, in combination with some other happenings today, made for a great Father's Day. Kira, against all my protests, made me a delicious breakfast of bacon and æbleskivers (a Ricks family tradition). Avey and Kira let me sleep in a little extra, and I even got a nap today! I'll tell you, I can get spoiled pretty easily. A little sleep and a lot of chocolate, and I'm happy as a clown.

Happy Father's Day!

Kira here; this is my first (and maybe last) post on the blog. I figure Father's Day is a worthy cause for me to share my thoughts about...yes, you guessed it, Avey's AMAZING Daddy! I appreciate the many sides of Eli: the thoughtful man...
the goofy, nerdy boy...
and the darn, handsome stud!
Eli has many excellent qualities and talents such as baking, blogging, enjoying Avey even when she is not really acting very enjoyable, keeping possibly unkind comments to himself when I often blurt out mine to him, seemingly endless patience with Avey and me, making puns, writing, singing, appreciating music, remembering tasks and dates without writing them down, folding baby laundry, doing dishes, grocery shopping, enduring "chick-flicks" and other unclaimed obsessions (American Idol), giving back rubs, and I could continue on and on. He is a punctual and dependable employee, he is loyal, trustworthy, he places others' convenience above his own, he uses good manners, polite words, and excellent grammar, and he is an unabashedly adoring father. He seems to possess the extra measure of patience for parenting that I lack (perhaps because he is away from Avey all day?) and comes in and "saves" her at the right time. Avey is blessed to have Eli as her father and I am blessed to call him all mine.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Failure

Here's a picture of Avey showing what she really thinks of Wal-Mart's weekly ad:
She sure loves to destroy paper!

Well, brace yourselves for this one, lads and lassies; today was pretty much the worst Sunday of my life. And I've lived for over 26 years, so I've seen my fair share of Sundays. I'll start at the beginning...
It was a warm Sunday afternoon several weeks back. I was off to do some home teaching after church and I hadn't had much of a meal all day, so my thoughts surrounded all things edible. To my amazement and pleasure, my home teaching partner brought me out a fresh plate of cookies his wife had just baked a few minutes prior. Now, as you probably all know, I am outrageously picky and critical when it comes to cookies. I look at cookies the way a wine connoisseur looks at wines. I'll judge them on texture, distribution of chocolate chips, use of butter vs. margarine, whether it was baked on aluminum or stone, whether they used dark or light brown sugar, a convection or conduction oven, etc (the term you are searching for is "obsessive-compulsive disorder").
So, needless to say, I was a bit skeptical when he handed me the plate. However, I bit into the cookie and got that feeling; you know, the one where you realize your life will never be the same from that moment on; where you wonder what purpose your life had up until that moment. The cookie was far better than anything I had ever baked in my life. The experience was almost spiritual.
Needless to say, I demanded the recipe (politely at first). She gave it to me while passing in the hall at church a couple of weeks later, writing it down from memory and handing it to me. I patiently waited for the chance to try it out myself and, yes, today was the day!
I quickly cooked lunch so that I could get it out of the way and have no distractions while I worked. I carefully read the recipe, and with almost surgical precision, measured out and mixed each of the ingredients.
This is where something went horribly wrong.
Near the end of adding the flour, it struck me that the dough was feeling awfully thick for such amazing cookies. I retraced my steps for the recipe and was doing everything just as it said, so pressed onward. I baked the first twelve...
ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS! I have never had something so dry, crusty and flavorless come out of my oven in all my life - and I've baked Hot Pockets before.
I again retraced my steps, finding nothing incorrect about following the recipe. I consulted with my dear mother, a veteran baker, to ask her counsel. I then followed her advice and added more butter. The result: texture was much better, but flavor left me wanting like an eight-year-old boy one nickel short of a cool, satisfying ice cream cone on a sweltering Summer's day.
Three more attempts to adjust for the error, but alas, it was not to be.
Somehow, I must have done something wrong, or had some spoiled ingredients, or she left out some vital information in the recipe she gave me. You're probably thinking, "Just check the recipe again with her and try it one more time." Thank you, but I may need a few weeks before I can bring myself to bake anything again.
Yes, I do think it's pretty pathetic that I measure my manhood by my baking skills. While you're bringing that up, why don't you point out how I'm the only male in the world I know that keeps a blog! Man, I'm such a girl...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Week After

Is there anything harder than the four days after a three-day-weekend? You know what I'm talking about; your alarm goes off Tuesday morning (far earlier than any alarm should ever go off), which pulls you out of that dream where you're on a quiet beach, laying in your hammock eating the biggest hot fudge sundae you've ever seen in your life while the London Symphony Orchestra is playing a phenomenal version of "Stairway to Heaven" ever so pleasantly from the palm trees behind you and, just as you're wiping some of the hot fudge off of your chin, some guy in a tux you know is named "Jeeves" asks you to "pardon the interruption, but the bank just called and said they've decided to just start loading up your account with all sorts of money".

Yeah, your alarm wakes you from that and you roll over and mumble some sort of soft profanity as you realize the vacation is over and reality is here with a vengeance...

You walk through the door at work and make eye contact with a coworker who's just been woken from that same dream. Neither of you says anything; neither needs to say anything. That look on your faces is enough. It seems to say, "Yes, work stinks. I'd rather be doing just about anything else right now, but it's only 38 days until the 4th of July, right? That will keep us going...think of the 4th..."

And somehow by Wednesday, that glorious extra day of freedom seems a cloudy fantasy. Maybe it never actually happened. Maybe it was a moment that existed only somewhere in the cells of your brain, along with that hammock on that beach. Alas... only 33 more days until the next oasis: Independence Day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Long Weekend, Long Drive

Is there anything better than a 3-day-weekend? Of course! A 4-day-weekend! But we didn't get one of those, did we? I still really like the extra day off, though. As a sort of default vacation spot, my siblings still living at home made the drive out here with my dad to visit. That was quite enjoyable and Avey put on some pretty good performances including clapping for the first time! As part of the family togetherness, we drove up to the Hogle Zoo and saw the sights and smelled the smells (that second part wasn't too pleasant). The bad part was getting there; we took about 6 wrong turns trying to find it and spent probably a whole extra half hour getting there. But the weather was perfect.
We visited some of Kira's departed relatives in the nearby cemetery today and have been taking it pretty easy otherwise.
We hope you've all enjoyed the holiday. Try not to cry tomorrow when it's all over.