(19 December 2017)

The house is in an interesting state right now. Downstairs, it is decorated for Christmas with lights, stockings, trees, ornaments, various countdown calendars and other decorations. Upstairs is a completely different story. We were finally able to start the 'saving Mom's sanity' renovation: moving the stairs to the 3rd floor out of my room. It was fine having the stairs there when the 3rd floor was my "mom-cave" but now that we have a kid sleeping up there, it doesn't work out so well. We've been planning on moving the stairs for several months but the situation with Jake put it on the back burner for a while. But now we are in full swing. Some space was taken from a different bedroom and the stairs put there. Builders did the stairs and framed the new doors. We demolished everything with the old stairs except the stairs themselves, which the builders could do more efficiently with their tools. BeachKid was a bit surprised to see the drywall go flying when I took a sledgehammer to it. Maybe he never considered that Mom was that strong or destructive? We had to wait a few weeks for the electrician to come to move a bunch of the lights around but now we are installing the drywall and insulation on the new stairs. The older kids are helping Dad with that when they are home since it is a good skill to have and will hopefully help them appreciate the work that goes into making a comfortable home.

With Christmas less than a week away, coworkers have started saying things like 'See you next year'. Normally, I look forward to the new year. It brings new challenges and opportunities. Sometimes it brings a feeling of relief that the old year is finally gone, as was the case at the end of 2009. While I don't know exactly what 2018 will bring, I do face it with some amount of trepidation. Not for me but for my children. The permanent placement for the two foster kids is still in limbo and I wonder where they will end up. Jake is going to face some painful consequences and, perhaps more painfully, be forced to actually start dealing with the issues of his past that he has buried and avoided for so long. We still need to figure out Jake's long-term placement. Marisol and Cody are, of course, worried about their brother. In short, I see a lot of uncertainty as I look down the road at 2018.

(27 November 2017)

Having watched The Year Without a Santa Claus a few days ago, I find myself wishing that I could be like the Mother Nature character in that film. When Mrs. Claus comes to her because the Miser Brothers are refusing to cooperate, Mother Nature summons her boys. They arrive almost instantly. There's the first thing I like. She tells the boys they need to set an example and tells them exactly how to do it. When they still argue, she summons lightning, which convinces them to obey. That's the second thing I like.

Mother Nature

(24 November 2017)

We are slowly decorating for Christmas. I say 'slowly' because today found us with two sore throats, one vomiting child, and an ant infestation in the kitchen. To say all of that slowed down the decorating would be a massive understatement. Cody gets very clingy when he's sick, and he's rather particular that it's Mom that he's clinging to, so I was useless in decorating until after bedtime. My husband managed to put some lights up on the front windows but that's all the energy he had since he's got one of the sore throats (and accompanying aches and pains). Our plan for the day basically became a Christmas movie marathon. Not that I minded -- it's good to have a 'down' day now and again.

After everyone went to bed, though, I put the lights on one of our Christmas trees. In the stillness of the night, I let my mind wander while I worked. I thought of what was happening in our lives at this time last year. Mikey was still with us and in fairly good health, save for the inability to control his bowel movements. We were awaiting the rewrite of our home study, which was required because the adoption process had taken so long that our previous one had expired, which would then clear the way for us to adopt Marisol and Jake. We had no idea that 10 snow days were coming!

The saying about how life can change in the blink of an eye came to mind, which made me recall some of the times that has happened to me. Seeing that first positive pregnancy test. Being told that I was carrying twins. The doctor telling us he'd been unable to save them. Holding Cody for the first time. The judge announcing she would sign the adoption decree. Reading the email from my husband indicating that Jake's behavior had crossed some boundaries. In each of these cases, life dramatically and permanently changed in an instant. Suddenly, the 'old' life was gone. New joys, sorrows, concerns, and cares bumped almost everything else out of my life, at least for a time. After each, I've had to find what's been called a 'new normal,' though admittedly we're still working on that in relation to Jake.

Change is inevitable. I wish, though, that sometimes it wasn't so hard. Or sudden.

(5 November 2017)

BW challenge day 1

Day 1: A big pile of laundry. Actually, this wasn't even all of it. There were still two loads in the laundry room. With four kids, laundry is certainly a big part of life.

BW challenge day 2

Day 2: The family jack-o-lanterns. You may notice there are actually only five of them. That would be because I never had time to carve mine. It's still sitting inside the house. So this was supposed to be both a tongue-in-cheek commentary on how busy moms are while also representing the fun things we do as a family. To be clear, I was present during the carving - just unable to work on my own pumpkin at the time.

BW challenge day 3

Day 3: Cosmo lounging around. Not only was this supposed to elicit a chuckle since Cosmo is already black and white, but it's also supposed to show how much my animals mean to me. I miss Mikey very much but mostly I'm thankful that he had so many wonderful years with us. Fortunately, Cosmo is still here and amusing us daily with his antics. He loves laying in the sun and scouting out the softest places in the house. He'll sleep in one place for a few days and then move on to a different one. In the last week, I think he's basically been rotating through all the bedrooms at night since we've seen him sleeping in almost all of them.

BW challenge day 4

Day 4: Link and Zelda in Breath of the Wild. I love the Zelda games in general and Breath of the Wild is no exception. Actually, it's my favorite one. I love the openness of it, that I can explore whatever and whereever I want whenever I want to do it. Not to mention the awesome graphics. Playing this game has been my "comfort activity" as it were since I got it back in June. Cody loves watching it and figuring out some of the puzzles.

BW challenge day 5

Day 5: Running and fall. I took this picture on the trail near the house, where I've been doing a lot of my runs recently. I do often run on the treadmill at work but I also love running on trails. It's easier to 'zone out' a little on the trail while also passing the time by seeing stuff I don't see on the treadmill: birds, rabbits, deer, and sometimes even coyotes. Yes, I actually saw a coyote (twice -- once on the way out and then again on the return) during my run this last week. I also love many things about fall: the chill in the air, the feel of the leaves crunching under my shoes, the colors, and (of course), football!

BW challenge day 6

Day 6: A soccer net. Soccer has ruled our weekends for the last two months, though that season ended yesterday. Next, it'll be basketball. I chose this to show my interest in my children's interests as well as some fun family times. Just because I can, I'll say that HotShot was by far the highest scoring player on her team, even though she usually played defense during the second half of each game and missed two games (one for injury, one due to a scheduling conflict). While that is extremely impressive, what's more important to us as parents is that she (and the other kids) had fun, got some exercise, and learned some things such as teamwork and perserverence.

BW challenge day 7

Day 7: A sculpture of Christ's hand. I truly hope that, in spite of my many failings and flaws, anyone who truly observed me for a week would see that I do believe in Christ. He is my Savior and the one hope I have of ever living with my Father in Heaven again. I'm a lost cause without Him. My greatest desire is to live with my family, including all my children, for eternity. It is only through Christ that such is possible.

(21 October 2017)

Noooooo!!! The Cougars had their 7th straight loss today, which guarantees a losing season and no bowl game!!


(10 October 2017)

Cody turned 6! I'm not exactly sure how six full years have been able to sneak by since I first held him, but the calendar says it has. He's grown into a fine lad. He's gotten into Hot Wheels and magnetic pieces of different shapes that can be combined to form all sorts of contraptions. He loves to help cook, especially spaghetti. He loves to read and is reading at probably a 2nd grade level right now, in spite of only being in kindergarten. It annoys BeachKid when Cody can easily read words (or books) that BeachKid struggles with, so we have to remind everyone that we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

Cody with cake

BYU Football is certainly going through a period of weakness. During a press conference, Coach Sitake said "Nothing is balanced right now. The only things we're balanced at is being bad." Yeah, that's a fairly accurate description of the season so far. From perfectly thrown passes which simply weren't caught to all the turnovers, it's been hard to be a Cougar fan... but a Cougar fan I remain. The Cougs are 1-5 thus far, with 7 games to go. Some easier games are coming up but I think it'll be a miracle if they Cougs can salvage a winning season out of this mess.

BYU's 1-5 record

I love the first weekend of April and October, when our Church holds a world-wide General Conference. We get to spend two days receiving counsel and instruction (and usually some hilarious anecdotes) from Church leaders. At our house, we try to make it fun by having doughnuts or cinnamon rolls for breakfast and random snacks out during the day, which is a treat because normally the kids know they get a piece of fruit for snacks. The kids like to set up play tents where they will eat and color or take notes as they listen. We all hang out in our pajamas, which is certainly a plus!

Don't get me wrong. I haven't always loved General Conference. As a kid, I thought it was akin to torture because it involves a lot of talks. It wasn't until I was a teenager, and really more as I headed off into the world, that I really came to understand the value of it. The world is getting more and more confusing. As an example, gender identity was much simpler when I was a kid. If you had boy parts, you were a boy. If you had girl parts, you were a girl. Now we have genderless bathrooms, which people of either gender can use at the same time. The idea that the heavens are closed is hard for me to fathom. It seems to me that we need heavenly direction now more than ever, so it doesn't make sense to me that a loving God would just leave us to our confusion. Instead, I believe He has called prophets and apostles, as Christ did in His time, who can help guide us. These men are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they have been called and ordained to receive revelation and guide us through the perils to eternal life. How grateful I am for General Conference!

(20 September 2017)

I've actually been taking some time to slowly work on my web page redesign. The home page seems to be coming together but I'm still figuring out how to set up the picture slideshows in a cool way. All in all, it's a really fun way to practice some of the things I've been learning in some online classes. I completely understand why it's said that we should be lifelong learners. It's so exhilerating to learn something new!

(8 September 2017)

My little boy has started kindergarten. The first day of school for kinders was almost a week after his siblings started going to school, but he waited about as patiently as a 5-year-old can. Until Monday night. That's when he decided to make a sandwich for his lunch so he wouldn't forget the next day. Did I mention that he doesn't really like sandwiches? He was up and dressed in record time on Tuesday, constantly reminding me that we couldn't be late to his first day. When we got to the school, all the kinders and their parents were herded into the gym to meet the teachers. As soon as he went in, Cody spied one of his friends from soccer, so he immediately went over and they started comparing backpacks and lunch boxes. When his teacher came in, Cody could hardly contain himself, running over to join his classmates. She took roll and then, somehow, got them all in a line as they departed the gym for their classroom. It was quite cute to see all those little kids with their big-kid backpacks.

Cody on the first day of kindergarten

In other news, it's now public knowledge that Jake is no longer living with us because he has become a risk to the other children. He is safe in his current location but I'm hoping it'll be temporary since I don't like him being so far away. He made some horrible choices but he is still just an 11-year-old boy. My 11-year-old boy.

I'd like to thank all those who have stood by us during the last two months as we've dealt with this family crisis. He spent 6 weeks couch-surfing among grandparents and friends, with a few days at a hotel. I will forever be grateful to those who hosted him.

Parenting sure is tough. I can honestly say that I never anticipated that I'd have to make the decision to send any of my children away. I hoped they would eventually leave on their own for honorable pursuits such as missions, college, or marriage, but those would all come when they are much older. It's not the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent though. Saying goodbye to my twins probably takes that spot. But it's still pretty hard. My husband and I both take our parenting responsibilities quite seriously, trying our best to do what's right for the family as a whole as well as each individual. While this situation hasn't completely resolved yet, we do believe that we've done the best we could so far. Jake is in a safe place. He's not in a group home, which was pretty much the recommended place to put him. We knew he'd be victimized there and/or learn inappropriate behaviors from the other kids and we certainly didn't want either of those to happen. Instead, we somehow found a friend who is willing to take him while we figure out the long-term plans. I hope it's not too surprising that we don't have his long-term plans set in stone yet. It's been all we could do to figure out where he was going to be from day-to-day and week-to-week. We also had to fight to keep the foster kids and deal with all the normal "start of school" stuff. And my job. We'll get it figured out though, hopefully before too much longer.

On a happier note, I was able to take Jake to see BYU (and pick up more BYU swag...) and Temple Square. I'll be sure to put some pictures in the Q3 picture set. We were able to spend some quality time together and have several heartfelt discussions about everything that is going on, as well as make some memories.

Selfie with BYU's 1984 national championship trophy Selfie with our new hats

Some selfies. The first is in front of BYU's national championship trophy, won in 1984. The second is us sporting our new BYU hats. Go Cougs!

(27 August 2017)

School is starting! The kids are all excited about the new school year. HotShot will be in the middle school while the rest will be in the elementary school. I went shopping for school supplies yesterday (sans children) and left the items in some bags. Upon awaking from my after-church nap this afternoon, the kids begged me to divide up the supplies so they could put them in their respective backpacks. As I did so, the kids sat eagerly awaiting whatever was next coming to them. Who knew that two dozen pencils could elicit cheers? One child said it was just like Christmas! I don't recall ever being quite that excited about pencils, but I do remember the joy of the new school year. I remember being able to go to the "big store" to get school supplies since they had a better selection. I'd often have a hard time sleeping the night before school started -- both because I'd probably gotten used to staying up late and sheer excitement. It's interesting seeing it from the parents' perspective now.

(22 August 2017)

Yesterday, we joined millions in America in staring up at the sun as the Great American Eclipse occurred. We would have seen 99% of the eclipse at our home but my husband really wanted to experience totality, so we headed south to Salem. Fortunately we have friends who live there and didn't mind us camping in their backyard. So we took the kids and my in-laws and hit the road. The traffic to Salem was amazingly light, which made us wonder if the media coverage had scared people away.

Map of the the 2017 Solar Eclipse path

After enjoying a delicious breakfast, complete with "eclipse pancakes" (pancakes with melted chocolate), I took my first look at the eclipse (through safety glasses, of course). The moon was just barely starting to cross in front of the sun. Cody thought that was "cool". It was a while before I could notice an actual difference in the amount of sunlight, which reminded me just how much light the sun emits. As it got darker, it got colder, though I think only my mother-in-law really minded. Finally, totality hit. The street lights came on. We saw some stars shining. I took off my glasses and gazed up at the sun even though the rational part of my brain was screaming that it was a bad idea. It was beautiful. In talking with one of my friends later I said I couldn't really think of a good word to describe it. He suggested "surreal" and he's right. Seeing the corona was much cooler than I imagined. The two minutes of totality seemed to simultaneously stand still and pass by all too quickly. This picture was taken in Oregon but not by us.

Sun during totality

To me, all of this was an additional witness that there is a Supreme Creator and a reminder of how insignificant our understanding is compared to His. Our family is going through a tough time and it was reassuring to me to know that He who controls the orbits of the planets is keenly aware of even the smallest happening among His children here on the earth. While I cannot see what the future holds or what the learnings from this current trial are, He does.

(3 August 2017)

Hard times will always reveal true friends.

We are still very much on an emotional rollercoaster. It's not appropriate nor needful to post any of the details here for the time being, but suffice it to say that our family is certainly going through a tough time right now. Out of respect for the privacy of those impacted, we haven't told very many people what is going on. Of the people who have been informed, it's been comforting to see that every one of them has stood by us with a non-judgmental attitude. Rather than try to cast blame, they've offered to help in any way they can, whether that is to offer the advice we sought or just to be a listening ear. Thank you, friends, for watching out for me and my family. We still have a very long road to go and a lot of unknowns staring us in the face and your support will be needed for a while, but I trust we can get through this.

(28 July 2017)

Not too long ago, my husband and I were reflecting on the wild year we've had so far. I commented that if I had to describe it in one word, I would choose "change". He said he would choose "pain." Both fit very well. Unfortunately, our painful year of change doesn't seem to be over yet.

(13 July 2017)

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I came across this quote today and it struck me as interesting so I felt like sharing it.

I got some more Rubik's cube toys today! In addition to a 4x4 cube, I got these two:

Solved Skewb Xtreme Messed up Skewb Xtreme

Skewb Extreme: Whoa. This is like two cubes in one! There are six sides which solve into "X" shapes, but there are also six triangles which need to be put together as well.


This thing is called an X-cube and it blows my mind just to look at it -- so I had to buy it.

(10 July 2017)

Drum roll please! I actually found some time to gather and post the pics from Q1 and Q2. Please note that I was careful to select pictures which do NOT have HotShot and BeachKid since I'm not currently allowed to post pictures of them. They are involved in our activities, I promise! I'm excited about a new format for these picture pages that I'm still working on as I get bits of time.

I will share one funny anecdote. I went grocery shopping last Saturday. There was this cute little girl in the checkout line in front of me. I complimented her on her hairdo and asked if the baby in the cart was her sister. She responded, shyly, that it wasn't her sister because her sister was in Michigan. I responded that I have a sister in Michigan as well. At that, all shyness was gone. In her mind, we were suddenly the best of friends and we had ourselves a fine conversation. It was quite cute.

(5 July 2017)

My, how things can change. I remember that Fridays in middle school were 'running days' in gym. I hated it. Absolutely hated it. In high school, my gym classes didn't do much running, perhaps because I mostly took Weight Training, but I remember one time when we did. I learned from hard personal experience what shin splints were. OWWWWW!!!! Fast forward to yesterday when I voluntarily got up early to run a 5k -- even though I'm still getting over a case of bronchitis! I'm not sure how that change happened exactly but it's obvious that it did.

Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day in traditional fashion. We played at the splash pad, grilled up burgers and hot dogs for dinner and stayed up late to watch the town's fireworks show. At one point, I was reflecting on my upbringing. My dad is a citizen, my mom is not. She's grew up in Norway and has been in the United States longer than she's been in Norway but has retained her Norwegian citizenship. I respect that and think it's great, but I'm also glad that I'm a citizen of this country. Like anywhere else, it has a mixture of good and bad people. Industrious and lazy. Liberal and conservative. Old and young. And pretty much any other set of polar opposites imaginable. But I love that I can take my family to the church of our choice without being persecuted for it (though even that happened notoriously in the 1800s). I love that my children can get a good education from good (though grossly underpaid in my opinion) teachers. All discussions of how healthcare should be paid for aside, I love living in a country where we do have access to good medicines. I love living in a country where Deafness isn't an automatic cause for being hidden from society but instead there are laws that protect my access to qualified interpreters. It's great living where women can have a career and men can be the stay-at-home parent if that's what works best for their family. I recently saw the movie Hidden Figures, which is quite good. Though some of it is somewhat fictionalized or a combination of events, it made me really glad that segregation is a thing of the past. In my job, I've had the opportunity to meet and work with people from a variety of backgrounds and I'm better for it. Anyway, those are just a few of my rambling thoughts.

Over the weekend, two foster kids moved in with us. This was planned (as opposed to being an emergency placement situation) and we do expect to adopt them at some future time. Just as was done when the other kids were in foster care, their names and pictures will not be posted here as long as they are foster kids, but I may comment on some of the fun things they do or say. So, we now have five kids. Two years ago, we just had one, Cody. The house is certainly more full of life now than it was back then. Not surprisingly, there's also a lot more bickering now too. Ah, the joys of sibling rivalry.

(25 June 2017)

Summer vacation is in full swing at our house. For me, one of the most interesting moments was one morning this last week when I was hugging the kids before going to work. One asked why I was dressed, as opposed to being in my pajamas like the rest of the family. The response of "I have to go to work" was met with an 'oh yeah' facial expression. Days sort of lose their meaning to kids in the summertime. As long as we tell them when to get dressed for church, I guess they can get away with that. I sort of miss those days of being a kid, but not enough to want to go back and do it again. Or at least not all of it. I disliked having braces and I don't mind having all the high school drama behind me... at least with me experiencing it personally. It won't be long before high school drama will be playing out but with my children as the participants/observers.

I still can't believe I'll have a kid starting middle school and one in kindergarten this next year. Both are big milestones. I chuckled recently when I realized that my family will hit every possible 'first day of school' this year. The 6th graders start one day early so they can get used to their new building, learn how to open a locker, and how to do the other things expected of them. Then the rest of the district starts the next day. Except for kindergarteners who start the following week (to allow for some individual evaluations during those first few days).

I don't have anything in particular that I wanted to send out to cyberspace today - but felt like saying something, so here it is. :-)

(14 June 2017)

Cody looked so cute today as he walked with his class, in their little graduation caps. After they sang some songs, his teacher called each kid up one by one. As she talked about that child, he/she would pose with their graduation certificate. Cody was identified as the Sign Language King, which is a role he's loved. At the end, his teacher started to tear up as she said how hard it was to see all of these kids leave soon to go to kindergarten but how she knows they will do well. Then we joined our 'graduates' for some cake, hugs, and well wishes.

It was interesting watching Cody as we prepared to leave. He showed nothing but excitement. Not a hint of sadness or anything like it. Maybe that's just the way he is. I noticed the same the day that Mikey died. When we dropped Cody off that morning, he knew Mikey wouldn't be there when he came home. He simply gave Mikey some pats, said that he'd miss Mikey and happily went into his classroom. At the time, I thought perhaps he didn't quite understand. Since then, he's commented a few times that he misses Mikey, but nothing more than that. No emotional outbursts or crying fits. Just acceptance.

Cody in graduation hat

(13 June 2017)

Where have the last five years gone?

After Cody was born, I was able to take four months off from work: two for maternity leave and two for the sabbatical I had been putting off. Right around the three month mark, Cody started going to daycare. It wasn't all day initially but we built up to that over the course of the month so that when I actually did go back to work, we were both already used to the separation and the new routine.

Tomorrow, he will graduate from "Juniors" (aka Junior Kindergarten). (Don't call it 'preschool' around him because at his daycare, 'preschool' is the class for the 3-year-olds.) How is it possible that he's gone all the way through their program and will shortly be in kindergarten? Perhaps I'm just being sentimental, but it feels like the end of an era.

Here's a picture of Cody about a month after he started going to daycare. I'm glad he's not quite that small still... but it doesn't feel like he should be graduating yet.

Cody at 4 months old

(4 June 2017)

My family tried to get me one of the 'NES classic' consoles, a palm sized replica of the original Nintendo gaming system with something like 30 of the classic games preinstalled. It is amazingly popular so the only way to really get one was to pay a huge upcharge (like $400 for a $40 device). Unfortunately, it was cancelled, so they were unable to obtain one for a reasonable price. Instead, I was surprised with a belated Mother's Day present of a Nintendo Switch! The most awesome thing about this was that it came with the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild.

In the few days since I got it, I've greatly enjoyed playing. I have to say that the graphics are amazing. The animals (deer, fish, etc) move like they would in real life. The landscape has variety: grass of different lengths, hills and rocks with cracks and other imperfections and other such details. Instead of using magic hearts that randomly appear to regenerate health and energy, various items such as mushrooms, herbs, butter, milk, and meat gleaned from hunting are cooked over an open fire. Various ores are obtained which can be sold to get rupees needed to buy items, rather than finding them while cutting the grass. At first I thought I'd miss cutting the grass in a Zelda game but there's just so much more to do that I haven't missed it at all. Another key difference between this and other Zelda games is that while there are still the major objectives, there is a lot more freedom in how those objectives are met. As an example, the first part of the game is on a plateau with 4 "shrines". The game leads you to the first one but after that, it's up to the player to decide the order of the other three. Unlike in Ocarina of Time, there isn't an annoying guide that pops up every so often to 'remind' you of what you are supposed to be doing. If I want to go straight to a shrine, I can. If, instead, I want to explore the woods and hunt for some meat and experiment with cooking different recipes, I can do that just as easily. The landscape is so big that it feels like there's always something to explore... and that was just the beginning section!

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to me!

(22 May 2017)

Eight years ago tonight was the first hospital stay I can remember. Being admitted there was the start of 25 hours of a wild emotional rollercoaster, culminating in the birth and death of our twins. My husband commented recently that we've now lived more of our married life after we lost the twins. That's so weird to think about. What was once the 'new normal' is now just 'normal'. I can't say that the pain has lessened each year or anything like that. It's more like an injury that has scarred over. I no longer dwell on them every waking moment, perhaps because I've since gotten busy with three other kids, but I absolutely miss them. I often wonder what their personalities are like. I say 'are' because I know that their spirits live on. I know that I will someday be reunited with them. It could very well be that I became acquainted with one or both of them in the premortal existance but that I simply can't remember that while in mortality myself. I like to think that they are very aware of the happenings in their family, including the recent adoption of two of their siblings.

In the meantime, tomorrow is their birthday and I just want to shout out to cyberspace that I love and miss my boys very much. They are not forgotten.

(18 May 2017)

Who needs tv when you've got kids?

That's a quote from my husband one day, said in response to a thrilling tale of something strange one of the kids did. It's true that kids can be quite entertaining -- and sometimes very frustrating -- and parenthood is best endured with a big dose of a sense of humor.

In 5th grade around here, the kids get to go on a 4-day, 3-night field trip to "Outdoor School" which Jake has been anticipating. Unfortunately, his behavior over this school year has been less than stellar, culminating in us actually taking that trip away from him. However, we are nice parents and do want him to do the fun stuff, so we gave him the opportunity to earn it back. Every day, for 5 weeks, we would discuss his behavior and assign it as 'red' (bad) or 'green' (good). If he could get 18 green days, he would be allowed to go. It wasn't until he was very close to getting 18 red days that he really started putting some effort into it -- and the difference was absolutely incredible. He was so pleasant to be around. Family time was FUN! Our stress levels were lower. Jake even commented on how much better it felt when he chose to behave. Amazingly, he managed to get the 18 green days. The very next morning, however, he made some very poor choices when it came to his behavior. Since he'd earned the trip, we weren't going to take that away (lest he be unable to trust us), but there was something terribly ironic in having a conversation with him that was basically "You were good and earned the trip, but you are grounded until then." Oy.

The icing on the cake though was today. Earlier, he made the realization that he would miss the fun events this weekend, as part of being grounded. We have a policy in our family that if you misbehave, you miss fun activities. So, at bedtime, Jake innocently asked Dad to let him know when fun things are coming so Jake will know to behave. Wait, what? Does he really not understand that we expect him to always behave (though he is human and will flub up from time to time)??? Fortunately, Dad was able to explain the need for constant good behavior since opportunities for fun things are sometimes unannounced and spontaneous.

Kids are fun, aren't they?

(8 May 2017)

As independent as I like to be, there's something special about knowing that my husband will come to my rescue if needed. While transporting two foster kids to our house for a weekend visit, a brand new tire blew. No one was hurt though we all were more than a little surprised. Using the videophone app on my phone, I was able to call my husband and let him know what was happening. As I'd predicted, he offered to divert our kids from bed to the car and come to help, especially since we were only a few miles away. While I can change a tire myself, I was grateful to have the help, especially with those tight lug nuts!! In addition, my husband is very smart and thought to toss the bicycle pump into his car on the way out of the driveway. Turns out that the spare was flat so without the pump, we'd have been stranded for a lot longer than we were. Overall, I felt very special, loved by my knight in ... dirty SUV.

We all have our little quirks. One of Jake's is that he often doesn't listen very closely. It can lead to some hilarious (or frustrating, depending on the mood) conversations.

Dad: (listing off events this weekend)... and then Mother's Day.
Jake: On Monday?
Dad: I didn't say anything about Monday.
Cody: (concerned) I thought Mother's Day was Sunday!
Dad: Easter is always on a Sunday. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. What day was Mother's Day on last year?
Dad: I'll give you a hint. We were in church.
Jake: April?
Cody: Sunday!!

(3 May 2017)

Fourteen years ago, I married my best friend. Since then, life has given us both ups and downs, but there's no one I'd rather have with me for the ride. He's the calming influence when I'm hot-headed, the voice of reason when I'm riled. My constant support and shoulder I can cry on when I'm sad. His quick wit brings a dose of humor, almost daily. He's a wonderful dad to our children. Here's to many more years together! It feels like he's always been in my life, even though the truth is he's been in it less than half. Maybe that's just because of how much of an integral part of my life he has become. I love him so much and, equally as important, I know that he loves me.

Collage of wedding and honeymoon pictures

(25 April 2017)

Due to spring break last month, the normal Cub Scout pack meeting was not held. As such, it wasn't until today that Jake received his Arrow of Light.

Jake putting pin on Mom's lanyard Jake receiving his arrow

Cody has been showing an interest in my Rubik's cubes. Earlier this month, he learned how to identify which pieces need to be where to fix the top layer, though he can't actually do those moves yet. He'll point to one and say "Mom, this needs to go there..." and wait for me to do it. So, when I came across this item in the toy department the other day, I had to get it for him. He loves it and can actually solve it most of the time. At dinner today, he told me that he actually solved one case that had been puzzling him. "I did Mom! I really did!!" he said, with evident pride.

Rubik's bear

(20 April 2017)

We spread Mikey's ashes at the Oregon coast this morning. We knew that we wanted just me and my husband present, so we took advantage of the kids being in school and each took the day off. As we drove to the beach, the rain was coming down. We were reminded of day he proposed when, as we got to the location we had chosen, the rain stopped. We walked along the beach a ways until we found a place we liked. I gingerly poured the ashes onto the sand as the sun came out. We stood there for several minutes, watching the waves start to disperse the ashes, each deep in thought. When we walked back to the car, a sprinkle of rain started to fall. By the time we got into the car, it was a downpour. I guess our timing was perfect.

We chose the beach because Mikey loved it so much. To clarify: he loved the sand, not the water. I find it mildly ironic that his ashes are being spread by the very water he so often avoided. Oh well, that's what happens at the beach. Here are a few of my favorite "Mikey at the beach" pictures...

Mikey chasing Fox on the beach Mikey on the beach

(18 April 2017)

If dogs don't go to heaven, then I want to go wherever they go.

It's been a full four weeks since we said goodbye to Mikey. Some days it feels like life is moving on. Other days, it feels as if a dog-shaped chunk has been ripped from my still-beating heart which was then left to bleed out. I know, I know we did the right thing and that Mikey's spirit is pain-free and running around somewhere. I know death is a part of life and that when my time comes to pass through that portal, Mikey will probably be there to greet me, tail wagging. I remind myself of the many fun times and experiences over the years. While I feel a fair amount of grief and pain now, I don't think I would not get him if I could go back in time. There were too many good and fun experiences that I would have missed out on! I think part of the pain is that, for several years, Mikey pretty much was like our kid, especially when it seemed our family was slow to grow. Mikey was a huge comforting influence when we lost our twins. He stuck close when I was sick while pregnant with Cody. And a million other things. It's hard to lose that, even if it was in his best interest.

(16 April 2017)

We had breakfast for dinner tonight. At one point, I left the table for a while (chasing kids to bed maybe since it was late?). When I returned, I was surprised to find my uneaten egg and ham still on the plate. Somehow, I apparently thought Mikey would have eaten it. Sigh.

(15 April 2017)

Cody told me that today should be one of the best days of my life because it's my birthday AND it is Saturday. So cute. My family did pretty much let me do what I wanted, which was very nice. I had an interesting thought at one point during the day. When my mom was my age, I was in high school. A few years later, we went on a trip to see BYU. I remember thinking she was "so old" -- but I think my perspective has changed a bit.

The kids were really excited for me to open up their presents -- a variety of unique Rubik's-cube type puzzles. As soon as I'd open one, it was immediately borrowed and messed up. I think we'll be having fun with these for a long time to come.

Solved wheel cube Messed up wheel cube

Wheel Cube: This thing is interesting in that there are two rows for some colors and three rows for others. Corner pieces do not need to have all three colors!

Circle cube

2x3x3 pie shape: Looks simple, right?

Gear cube

Gear Cube: All moves must be 180 degrees. 90 degree moves lock this up.

Solved rhomboid cube Messed up rhomboid cube

Diansheng Moren Rhomboid: I'm not even sure how to put this one into words.

(11 April 2017)

"No one can truly understand why dogs are called 'man's best friend' until they have experienced the loss of one"

I'm really missing Mikey today.
Heart in pieces

(5 April 2017)

I can't believe I forgot to mention that Mikey always wanted to be the center of attention. If people were gathered to talk, he was always in the middle of the room, unless someone had food. Then he checked that out first. Whenever we tried to play a game on the floor, it was a battle to keep Mikey off of the board. Eventually we learned we just had to play games on the table.

(3 April 2017)

Cody likes to mess up my Rubik's cube and then give it to me to solve. As soon as I solve it, he messes it up again, with the biggest grin on his face. Today, while we were playing this game, I mentioned that I would love to teach him how to solve it someday. He wanted to start immediately, so we spent a few minutes learning how to identify where each corner piece of the selected color should go. He used the pattern of colors to start telling me where the middle pieces should go. He can't do the moves yet, but he knows where each piece of the starting layer go... after only about 20 minutes. I thought that was pretty cool.

(31 March 2017)

Obviously I don't normally put an update on here on a daily basis, but I'm finding it to be sort of therapeutic. I promise I'm not actually as depressed as I may sound... I just miss my buddy.

But, I'm still learning more about CSS and other cool stuff for making cool webpages. I made a small edit to the pictures on this page which I think looks great, but the big changes will be part of an overall site redesign that is in progress. I'm still trying to visualize what layout I want, but I have a few ideas.

(30 March 2017)

For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

We got Mikey's ashes back this morning. My husband did the actual pickup, perhaps because he wasn't sure I could handle it. So it was in my room that I got to see the box which contains all that physically remains of my precious dog. It's amazing how small it actually is. In life, he weighed 70 pounds, but a lot of that is water which would have evaporated during the cremation process. What was more touching, though, was that my husband had been clearheaded enough that day to order a special plaque with Mikey's paw print and name. We will keep that in a special place.

It's still hard to believe that he's gone. When I sit on the floor, I keep expecting him to come in and plop down beside me. He loved to sleep with his back against my leg. I've had to catch myself several times as I've been about to ask a child to "feed the animals" and change it to "feed the cat." Cody dropped some food the other day and then commented that it was sad we didn't have a dog to come clean it up as Mikey would always have tried to do. But I am glad that his suffering is over.

I thought of a few more memories:

  • Mikey loved the "magic window" -- any fast food drive-up window. He'd jump up on the back seat and whine until we opened the back window. Then he turned on the charm, full blast. More often than not, the worker would say something like "Awww, what a cute dog! Can I give him a treat?" One day, the folks at KFC ran out of the dog treats, so they gave him a piece of popcorn chicken instead. Mikey didn't complain a bit.
  • When taking Mikey to Doggy Daycare, my husband would sing this little song that he made up. He'd get just a few notes into it and Mikey would be jumping all around with excitement. Granted, sometimes he did that even before the song. I don't know the tune to the song but the words went something like "It's doggy daycare day. It's Mikey's favorite day. And it's doggy daycare daaaaaay. And it's Mikey's favorite daaaaaaaay. Yay!!"
  • At the old house, Mikey would watch the world through the fence. It was one of those fences where you could only really look through two boards at an angle, but he figured out how to do it.
  • He was terrified of my husband's remote control car. He would go hide behind the chair -- until we started putting dog treats on it. Then Mikey would follow it around, from a safe distance, until it stopped or the treat fell off. Then the treat was snapped up.

(28 March 2017)

My husband said it best today: "What a roller coaster of emotions!" A week ago, we were drowning in grief over the passing of our beloved dog. Today, we had an experience that was sweet and exhilarating. We were able to take our children to the temple so Jake and Marisol could be sealed to us, to forever become part of our eternal family. Cody was able to go as an observer, so we were all there. In addition, we had several family members and dear friends in attendance, which made it all the sweeter.

Afterwards, we were able to take some pictures while we were all still in our white clothes. The one I love best is of the three kids.
Kids after the sealing

(24 March 2017)

Be still, my soul; Thy best, thy heavn'ly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Just a few more Mikey memories...

  • Mikey once chewed through the power cord for a lamp -- while it was still plugged into the wall. It was a good thing that my husband heard the sparking before a fire started...
  • His bladder was huge, about three times normal for a dog his size.

(23 March 2017)

Obviously I can't list 14 years of memories here, but at dinner tonight, we mostly shared our positive memories of Mikey. The kids had some but the bulk of it was my husband and I sharing some with the kids, as we had many more years with Mikey to make those memories. Here are some of them.

  • We took Mikey to a 'dog day' at the pool once, to see if we could get him to into the water if he saw the other dogs enjoying it. At one point, I was on one side of the pool with my husband at the other. Mikey heard my husband call him (the intent being to lure Mikey into the pool to swim across) so he walked all the way around the pool with a "You called?" expression. Then he found the door that led outside and played in the sand instead.
  • Mikey's name sign was based on the word 'hyper', which was a perfect description for most of his life.
  • He loved to go to the dog park. He'd always poop within the first minute or two and then go play. One day, he was running full speed and basically T-boned another dog who had been running perpendicular to Mikey's path. The resulting yelp got everyone's attention (except mine but I was already watching). Amazingly, both dogs were fine.
  • My husband's grandmother made a gourmet sub-style sandwich one day when we were visiting. We didn't know that until Mikey came out of her room, holding said sandwich like a prize in his mouth, tail wagging fiercely. "Look what I found!!" Oh, we were so embarrassed. Fortunately, Grandma wasn't too upset.
  • Whenever the sun would shine, Mikey wanted to bask in it. At the apartment, he'd beg to be let out onto the deck and then complain if we made him come in, which we did when the downstairs neighbor was out smoking. At the house, he had a few favorite places to lay in the grass. One was by the back fence. One was near the house, kind of by a gate. How he didn't burn up considering he was wearing a black fur coat will forever remain a mystery to me.
  • He had short black and white fur, which was fairly coarse. Except for his head. The fur on his head, especially behind his ears, was soooo soft.
  • He loved to just "be with." He'd usually curl up next to my chair if I was reading a book or under the desk if I was on my computer. He'd often lay on my husband's feet. At dinnertime, he was almost always laying under the table.
  • When we took Mikey on the Youth Trek, our group somehow didn't have enough water. We all got mighty thirsty as we hiked under the bright summer sun. Unlike the rest of us who just had to deal with it until we arrived at Camp, Mikey was happily (and noisily) drinking from every stream along the way. We were very jealous of him that day.
  • The day I brought him home from the shelter, he chewed through his leash in under a minute. Fortunately, I was able to get a chain one. He chewed on it once and decided to leave it alone after that.
  • When we were visiting Fort Stevens, we explored an old WWII bunker. Some friends and I climbed some stairs in one area. My husband tried to stay downstairs with Mikey since there was a stair missing and was rather steep for a dog, but Mikey wasn't having any of that. "Where Lizzard goes, I go!" was his motto... so up he came!
  • I lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor when I first got Mikey. The stairs leading up to the apartment were the kind where you can see through the vertical spacings. Mikey was terrified of that! For the first few weeks, I could only get him to go up the stairs by holding a treat in front of his nose. Then he didn't seem to mind it. He never minded going down, just going up. The office of the apartment complex kept dog treats handy, so Mikey would get one whenever I needed to pick up a box or pay the rent. When we took our walks at other times, he'd always try to lead me back to the office, even if they were closed for the night.
  • Mikey was very smart. He'd walk quickly at the start of his walks, stopping only if he absolutely needed it. When we turned around to start heading home, that's when he'd stop to smell every blade of grass, trying to make the walk last as long as possible. Except when it rained. Then he would pee once and try to convince us that was enough.
  • When my then-boyfriend wanted to propose, he asked to bring Mikey with us to the Oregon Coast... knowing that Mikey would eagerly go up the big sand dune, forcing us to follow. The place where he wanted to propose was up there and needed a good excuse to get me to climb the thing. In the time it took us to climb up once, Mikey bounded up and down several times. Well, not the whole way. He'd go up a ways and then come down to where we were and then race up again, as if to make sure we were still following.
  • For a while, we had to put mousetraps on the couch to keep Mikey from climbing up and sleeping there. At first, they had to be set so they would 'snap'. Later, we could set the disarmed trap there and accomplish the same purpose. We also had to put mousetraps on the bottom branches of the Christmas tree to keep Mikey from getting too close and knocking it over.
  • In Colorado, he went on a hike with us to the Continental Divide. He easily covered twice as many miles as the rest of us since he would wander off to sniff this or that and then come back. At the end, while we were waiting for our ride back to camp, Mikey fell sound asleep -- in a ditch.
  • Mikey liked to squat on a bush when he went poop... as if the bush was a toilet or something. We never understood why.
I miss him so much.

(22 March 2017)

A line that Marius says in Les Miserables has been going through my mind over the last 24 hours. There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain goes on and on.

Yesterday was really hard, I'm not going to lie. After we came home, I tried to sleep for a few hours because I didn't feel like doing anything else. Then I played video games, allowing myself to get lost in another world. We took the kids out to Sonic for dinner since we didn't feel like cooking and we all sort of grieved together. The older kids still felt like going to Scouts and Activity Days, so I took them there. After putting them to bed, it was back to the video games. Then I played some more this morning. I guess that's just part of how I grieve -- I hide and process it little by little. I have to admit that it felt kind of therapeutic being able to whack the living daylights out of a bunch of animated bad guys without causing any actual damage to anything.

One thing that has helped has been remembering some of the fun times and Mikey's little quirks. Here are a few, including some my mom reminded me about.

  • When he lay on his bed, he would often sleep with his head hanging off the side. It always looked terribly uncomfortable but he would always do it!
  • He loved to open presents, like for birthdays or Christmas. He was always very good about leaving the presents under the tree until Christmas morning though.
  • Whenever an egg was cracked, he would come running. Actually, I thought about making eggs for breakfast this morning but couldn't bring myself to face that one yet.
  • Popcorn! When the air popper would run, Mikey would sit and wait for any kernels which missed the bowl, or the ones that got knocked out of the bowl by a popping kernel.
  • Whenver anyone would come to visit, Mikey would try to get his nose into their suitcase to search for any goodies... and we'd find chocolate wrappers around later. Never enough to hurt him though.
  • "I have to go outside!!!" turning to "Never mind!" when he realized it was pouring rain.
  • Dishwashers: Not once but TWICE Mikey managed to get a dishwasher rack stuck on his collar while trying to lick scraps off of dinner dishes. The first time was in our apartment. Forks, knives, spoons, and everything else was flying everywhere before he shook himself loose. The second time was at our house. This time, I managed to grab the rack while he was flailing around and help get it loose, but I did get a scar for my efforts.
  • He drank his water very loudly. We had Deaf visitors who would suddenly stop signing and ask what the weird noise was when Mikey started getting a drink nearby.
  • He hated the water, usually only going into a stream up to his ankles, if at all. We were at the beach one day when we met another black dog. The two of them played and ran around until we weren't exactly sure from a distance which one was Mikey. Then one ran to the ocean, and we knew ours was the one running away from it. On a youth Trek we went on, Mikey found a tree over a stream that he used to cross rather than fording it like the rest of us. Exactly how he got up on that fallen log I'll never know, but he didn't seem the least bit concerned about falling off.
  • He loved going to Doggy Daycare. Somehow, he'd always know when it was Friday. If it was a holiday, such as Thanksgiving, he would get ticked that we weren't taking him to play. He's probably the client they've had coming the longest. He went up until the end of January, stopping only when he could not get up unassisted anymore.
  • Mikey loved to watch the world go by. He spent hours sitting by the window, with his chin on the windowsill, just keeping tabs on everything.
  • At the old house, he had an interesting way of sitting on the stairs. He'd be at the point where the stairs turned 90 degrees. He'd sit with his butt there but his front legs would actually be down on the next step.
  • Mikey was the most treat-motivated animal I've ever seen. He would do anything for a treat. He didn't like baths, so we'd have to put treats in the shower to entice him to get in. If we walked away a little bit, in he'd go, even though he had to have known we would hurry back and slide the shower door shut, thus trapping him inside.
  • Whenever we would have a soft bed out, such as for sleeping near the Christmas tree or leftover from a slumber party, we could be sure that Mikey was going to lay on it. I remember one night at Girls' Camp. He and I were sharing a tent. When we went in for the night, he claimed my sleeping bag. That was fine while I was getting things organized but when I tried to move him to the soft Mikey-sized bed I'd created right next to me, he looked at me like I was crazy.
  • He loved ear rubs and being scratched at the base of his tail.
  • He was quite protective of Cody, always staying nearby. There are very few pictures from Cody's first year that don't have Mikey in them. If he wasn't in the picture, I guarantee he was nearby.
  • He was never very fond of the cat, but he was forever trying to get into the kitty litter, so we had to creatively block off his access - at least until we got a Cat Genie.
  • I loved Mikey's tail. He'd walk around with it up and it would curve over his back, with a bend or hook a few inches from the end, so it would point down to his back.
  • Back to the treats... if we gave him a treat one evening, he would expect it the next. It was so hard sometimes to resist giving in to his begging for one, especially when he looked at me with those eyes.
  • Doorbells: He could watch us push the button for the doorbell and still bark like crazy...
  • Mikey did not fear or respect the vacuum cleaner in any way, shape or form. We could vacuum right next to him and he wouldn't move a muscle.
  • At the old house, whenever Mikey got spooked (such as during the annual Air Show that brought jets zooming right over our house), he would hide in the bathroom. Yep, the bathroom. That's where we would find him, quivering like a leaf.
  • Not too many people know this but he had seizures sometimes. Shortly after our twins died, he had the first one that we saw. It was very scary and I was terrified we were losing him. Still reeling emotionally from the death of our sons, I prayed fervently, asking that he would be ok because I couldn't stand losing him so soon after burying the twins. He survived, obviously. He had a few more over the years but the best we can guess is that it was some kind of epilepsy.
  • He had a bit of a mischievious streak, especially when he was young. The first afternoon that I brought Mikey home from the shelter, he chewed through his leash while I was on the phone. Not long after, he started chewing up my bedding whenever he could. One day, I set mousetraps and placed them on the blankets. Then I went into the bathroom to see if he would trigger the trap. I peeked underneath the bathroom door just in time to see his paws jump away from the bed... and thus ended that habit of his. Don't worry - the mousetraps didn't hurt him. They just startled him when they snapped.
  • He loved to sleep in his kennel -- as long as the door was removed.
  • He had a sensitive trachea, so we used a Gentle Leader which went over his snout rather than connecting the leash to his collar.
  • He would sleep in until whichever of us adults got up last actually got up. He'd look at the first one to get up with expressions that seemed to communicate "what are you doing up?", regardless of what time it actually was.
  • He had one episode with fleas. I only mention it because he had the strangest reaction to them. You know that feeling when a shiver goes down your spine? That's the best description of how fleas bothered him. He just kept doing that spine shiver thing.
  • When he did the "play dead" trick (or "bang" as we called it, as if shooting a gun), his tail would almost always wag. So here was this 'dead' dog with a wildly waving tail. Other tricks he knew were sit, stay, lay down, spin in a circle, shake (which he always did with his right paw), "shake the other paw", and "Get Lizzard" (as in 'get her attention')
While he loved everyone in our family, I'm pretty sure he felt a special bond with me. A few weeks ago, I went to Utah for a few days. When I came back, I greeted everyone. Mikey was so excited to see me that he couldn't wait for me to come to him. He tried so hard to pull himself up so he could come to me. Needless to say, I went to him and gave him all the love I could. Maybe that's what I'll miss most - the eager greetings when I come home.

(21 March 2017)

Mikey, our 16-year-old black lab mix, passed away this morning. He's been my buddy and confidant for 14 1/2 years. I already miss him greatly but I know that he's running free in the spirit world now, free of the physical pains and limitations that his aging body was dealing with. He had a good long life, most of which was with us. He loved to sit in the sunshine and hated the rain, which is weird for black labs. He would do anything for a treat. I can't really sum up 14 years in a few words, but I'll just say that I'm very grateful that I had him in my life. Cody said it best when he said his goodbye: "Bye Mikey. I'll miss you and love you."
A younger Mikey, basking in the sun

(24 February 2017)

Today, I have the opportunity to spend a few hours on BYU's campus. I have so many memories of this place. So many. Stressing about tests. Hours spent with my friends (many of whom I'm am still in contact with). Hiking up the hill by Helaman Halls to get to campus. Watching football games. Learning ASL. Learning how to snowboard. Hurridly cleaning the apartment for the monthly cleaning checks. Countless hours spent in the engineering computer lab. Sitting in the front row of the Marriott Center for weekly Devotionals, especially when a General Authority or Apostle came to speak. My first visit. Logging into my email account for the first time and finding an email from my Mom -- which happens to be the first one she ever sent! Ice cream and chocolate milk from the Creamery. My first trip to the temple to do baptisms, since there was no temple in Anchorage at the time. My senior project. Having three different roommates my freshman year. Watching as "the pit" transformed into an underground extension of the library. Reading the email from Intel with the offer of an internship. Doing Phantom of the Opera as a signed song with my best friend. Too many tests in the Testing Center. ASL Club. Graduation. And so many more. I am so thankful for the privilege I had of being a student here.

But has it really been 15 years since I graduated? 20 since I first set foot on campus? It hardly seems possible. But as I look around, some things have certainly changed. Deseret Towers is gone, as is the walkway that used to connect the Law Building to just outside the WILK Student Center. Some other construction projects are in progress. The SFLC has been completely redone, and apparently so have the Heritage Halls dorms. Off campus, the Albertson's that I would shop at is now a Walmart. The dollar movie theater is closing. The University Mall seems to have greatly expanded. Some of the offerings at the Cougareat are the same but some are much different. Perhaps the most telling indication of how times have changed: the number of laptops/computing devices that I see. When I first came here, laptops were big and heavy as bricks. There were not a lot of places to plug them in to get internet access. Now they are commonplace, and connected to wifi. There is even a guest network, to which I'm currently connected... checking my work email.

While part of me longs to be back here, among the students that I see, mostly I'm glad that I'm done with school. :-)

(8 February 2017)

Running season is upon us. Last summer, I ran my first full marathon. I did a 10k event in the fall and then ended up taking some time off from running. Life happens. I've been trying to get back into it but was kind of floundering without much of a goal. I'm debating if I want to do all that training again and do a second marathon this year, with my brother-in-law who is tackling his first. Oddly enough, it was an Uberthons challenge to run 500 miles during 2017 that seems to have helped me find my motivation again. They do have an option where you just do 25 hours on the crosstrainer (30 minutes = 10 miles they say) but that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying to me. So, that's my new goal. 500 miles. Realizing that I missed my workouts for several days in January (snow days, work responsibilities, and other stuff like that), I'm coming a little late to the game but it is certainly possible.

To that end, I've signed up for a 5k series: 4 5k runs held throughout the year. Two years ago, I did the half marathon series, so this could be considered a step down but considering that I haven't really run in months, I think it's just right. My older children have both expressed an interest in running with me sometimes, so I challenged them to be ready to run a 5k in March with me. I'm absolutely positive they'll have to take walking breaks, but I'm looking forward to doing that run with them. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition.

P.S. The kids had their 10th snow day of the year earlier this week...

(30 January 2017)

It's been said that we should never stop learning. At work last year, I made a simple webapp to automate a redundant and somewhat boring task. It was enough to remind me that I've had a desire to learn more about web design but hadn't gotten around to actually doing it yet. I have a lynda.com subscription through work so I've been taking a few classes, in increments of about 30 minutes or so since that's about all the free time I have any one time (see previous posts about having three kids running around at home). I just finished one on CSS, which deals with the presentation of web pages (fonts, sizes, colors, and a lot more), which was something I've been wanting to learn about for years! Now I just want to play with it! No, not just play. I feel compelled to experiment, so you'll probably notice the look and feel changing a bit as I make tweaks and edits. Eventually I want to do an overhaul of this site to make it look a little less 'homemade' but there are another few classes I want to finish first.

(23 January 2017)

The annual Cub Scout pinewood derby is upon us. This year, the troop is letting anyone who wants to race a car for fun do so after the boys are done. So, Marisol and Cody have both been excited about building cars. Dad showed Marisol how to use the sander, so she spent a good part of the evening using it to get her car into just the right shape. At one point, I saw her doing that while Jake was washing dishes in the kitchen. I love how my kids are learning stuff that, in years past, would have been for the "opposite gender". Jake is learning to do housework and Marisol is learning how to use power tools. It made me smile.

It's been a wild month for school. The kids had school cancelled for 9 of 17 consecutive school days (starting from the first snow day back in December). As much as I love my kids, I was pretty darn happy to see the school bus finally come again last Wednesday morning. I can only take working from sitting on the floor in my room for so long...

I hope you enjoy the slightly new look of this page. I'm slowly working on redesigning the page. :-)

(10 January 2017)

Today, we had the privilege of having the adoption finalized for our older children. When we first went into the courtroom, Cody wasn't sure if he wanted to sit with the rest of us (who were in the front as participants) or not, but the judge said he could sit wherever he wanted. He eventually came and sat in my lap, so the whole family was there at the table. The lawyer asked a few questions to verify that we knew the adoption would be permanent and then the judge signed the papers. Cody immediately blurted out "I have a new brother and sister!" which made the judge smile. We later went to a celebratory dinner to the Old Spaghetti Factory - while it was snowing outside. The kids now have a snow day tomorrow (after having one on Monday and missing school for their court appearance today). Such a hard life. ;-)

So, world, please welcome Jake and Marisol to cyberspace and our family!

Family with the judge

Official announcement

The 4th quarter pics are posted. These actually include Jake and Marisol since I no longer am forbidden from putting pictures of them up on the net.

(7 January 2017)

It's hard to believe that it is already 2017, and that we are already a week into that! My mom and her husband came down to spoil the grandkids...I mean visit which was enjoyed by all, especially Cody. Since he's not in kindergarten yet, he had the chance to have the grandparents all to himself for a while every day after the older kids had to go back to school. Here's a basic update on what is going on with all of us:

  • Fox: The love of my life broke his little toe shortly after the New Year started, by being accidentally kicked by the heel of a child who didn't want to go to bed. Not exactly the stellar start to 2017 that he was hoping for but he's improving day by day. He is still teaching ASL at the high school as well as one class at the local college.
  • Lizzard: I just passed my 15th anniversary with Intel, so I have two more years in which to take my second sabbatical. We're thinking about a trip around the world just for me and Fox, assuming grandparents are willing to help take care of the grandkids, but nothing official yet. I'm managing to watch some CSS and other web development classes online so I'll be applying some of those new learnings to this website during the year, or at least that's the plan.
  • Jammer: He is in 5th grade. He played soccer in the fall and is playing basketball currently. He earned his Webelos rank in Cub Scouts already and is ~75% done with earning his Arrow of Light. Just a few more things to do before his birthday...
  • Applejack: She is in 3rd grade. She recently discovered chess and has been eagerly attending the Chess Club at school. After being quite hesitant to read during the first several months with us, she's now found with her nose in a book more often than not, which is awesome. When she's not reading, she's doing some kind of an art project. I am in awe of her creativity.
  • Cody: Cody is 5 years old, which he happily announces to anyone who asks. He loves trains and construction equipment -- and the Robot Turtles game that he got for Christmas. His favorite food is spaghetti, which he says he would eat every day for dinner if we let him. He will go to great lengths to protect his spaghetti, including taking the noodles to the barbershop so his siblings can't eat them while he's gone.
  • Mikey: Amazingly, Mikey is still with us. He's 15 (almost 16!) years old. His health has been declining a bit in the last 6 months or so, but he's hanging in there. It's sometimes hard for him to walk and we think he can't hear very well anymore, but there is nothing wrong with his nose. He can find treats anywhere.
  • Cosmo: Our cute kitty is approaching 8 and is as adorable as ever. For a cat, he's amazingly social. Lately, he's decided to find whoever is sitting on the reclining couch and curl up in their lap for hours on end. So...warm...

Read the 2016 entries