12 December 2018
Zero. That's how many people died in the Alaska earthquake almost two weeks ago. The most-needed roads have been repaired. My faith in Alaskans appears to be well placed.
2 December 2018
Two days ago, I was at work when I heard about a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that was centered just north of Anchorage. Of course this made me worry about my parents and their spouses and the other friends I have who live up there. Mom texted fairly quickly that she was fine. It took about another hour to hear from Dad, probably because he was evaluating the damage to his merchandise like so many other businesses. In the hours and days that have followed, it appears there were no fatalities or serious injuries. That alone is amazing. It's true that Alaska isn't the most populated state but one would think that with so much falling from roofs and cracks appearing in roads that someone would have been hurt but it seems that wasn't the case. I'm thrilled about that but amazed nonetheless. A few hours after the quake, I put something on facebook that indicated that I knew the Alaskans would help each other and they'll get things cleaned up and move on with their lives. What I wasn't sure how to express at the time was that I just knew they would behave, for lack of a better word. Not that all Alaskans are saints, because they aren't, but living in relative isolation does something to a people. I found this best demonstrated by the observation that there have been NO riots nor lootings. I'm so proud of the example the folks in the place I still consider as 'home' are showing to the rest of the country and the world. They were prepared and they aren't panicking.
In other news, I took Marisol and Cody on a 'mini-vacation' over Thanksgiving to Great Wolf Lodge. A fine time was had by all. We played in the waterpark, did some of the scavenger hunts, ate junk food, watched football -- and even happened to be there when Santa came! In the pictures, Cody is doing his best wolf imitation in the water and reacting with joy/surprise when the final treasure chest opened up for him.
9 November 2018
I've been thinking of childhood dreams a bit recently. Perhaps part of it is because I came across The Last Lecture, based on a lecture given by Randy Pausch. He was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who, shortly after getting a terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, gave an already-scheduled lecture about achieving childhood dreams. After I read the book, I watched the lecture on YouTube and found it to be quite interesting. He gives some truths to live by, such as being honest and not being a jerk, but he also addresses how persistence and hard work are needed for success.
He shared some of his childhood dreams such as floating (rode the Vomit Comet), playing in the NFL (never did that one), writing an entry for World Book Encyclopedia (did the entry on Virtual Reality), and being an Imagineer (was able to do that during a sabbatical from his professorship).
So, what are my childhood dreams and how am I doing against them? Well, I'm not sure that I dream quite as big as he did, but I suppose it's not necessarily the size of the dream that is important. I do remember that I wanted to 'help develop cool technology.' There's no doubt that I'm doing that, in my small way. Those who use the chips that my team designs will never know my contribution but my coworkers do. And I do. I get great satisfaction from my job, though there are days when I want to disavow any knowledge of computers. ;-)
I dreamt of having a family, though I'll confess the idea of being pregnant was not appealing when I was a kid. It still isn't since I got quite ill both times I was pregnant but that's another story. I did know that I wanted to have a family and try to give my kids a happy childhood like I had. I now have one bio son, one adopted son, and one adopted daughter. Not all of them live in the home, though I see the one that doesn't fairly often. Looking back over the struggle to bring him back to Oregon, I'm reminded of the "brick walls" mentioned in the lecture. Parenthood is not easy by any stretch of the imagination but there are moments when I'm with one or more of the kids that it feels like the fulfillment of that dream.
Off-hand, I don't remember what other childhood dreams of mine were. Maybe my mother will remember something I mentioned all those years ago.
What were/are your childhood dreams?
27 October 2018
What a wild month it has been. Let's see if I can recount some of the highlights.
I had a great weekend in Seattle at the end of September, even if the Cougars were horribly trounced by the Huskies (35-7). I was able to catch up with some good friends from college and meet their three charming children. It's sometimes weird to think that I met these particular friends more than 20 years ago. How can that many years have possibly gone by? In many ways, I still think of myself as the eager 18-year-old who graduated high school with a lot of ambitions and no fears but the calendar says differently. I'd like to think that I've done a decent job in pursuing some ambitions and have done well for myself but maybe I've been lulled a little bit into complacency in terms of some of my dreams.
Cody turned 7!! He was pretty excited about it, especially when he got the chocolate Pokemon cake he'd been craving. He also got a lot of Pokemon cards and some Pokemon shirts. And a Kindle which was very well received considering it wasn't Pokemon. ;-) Actually, in all seriousness, Cody is a voracious reader and he was absolutely thrilled to get his very own Kindle.
Fox and Marisol found themselves taking an unplanned trip to Colorado when Fox's grandmother passed away at the age of 97. There, they spent some time with siblings, parents, and extended family.
Just for fun, here's a picture taken sometime during the last few weeks. Fox and Cody are both obviously napping, Marisol's feet are visible as she's reading a book and Jade is keeping watch. Actually, I think her head is only up because I'd walked into the room.
This last week, BYU's women's volleyball team, which is ranked #1 in the nation and is undefeated, came to the University of Portland. In a rather spur-of-the-moment decision, I decided to take Cody and Marisol to the game. They loved it! BYU was able to win 3 sets to 0. Cody in particular seemed to enjoy learning how the game worked and got into it, cheering the Cougars along with the other BYU fans. They announced that the previous attendance record for a volleyball game was 1000-something but that it was shattered by our attendance that night of 2200+. BYU travels well.
During this year, I've again been working towards an ambitious running goal. Last year, the goal was 500 miles, which I just barely achieved. This year, the goal is 633 miles (1018 km). As of this morning, I crossed the 500 mile mark -- two months earlier than last year! I think that's especially cool given that it felt like I didn't get to do much running during the summer since I had to spend so much time with Jake. When I participated in the Halloweenathon this morning, I not only crossed the 500-mile mark but I was also able to pick up the medal! That means I've run at least 1000 miles in the last 22 months. Me -- the person who once upon a time thought that running was a terrible thing. Actually, I saw a shirt today that said "My sport is your sport's punishment." Well, however it happened, I'm a runner. Not an elite one but a runner nonetheless.
24 September 2018
BYU moved up to #20 in the AP poll with a win over FCS school McNeese State. That sets up a top-25 matchup this weekend between #11 Washington and #20 BYU in Seattle. And I'm going to be there!!! I can't wait!! I really hope the Cougars emerge victorious, as they did the last time I went to a game at Husky Stadium.
17 September 2018
BYU took down #6 Wisconsin last Saturday. As a result, they moved into the Top 25 yesterday. Today, they received National Team of the Week honors by the Football Writers Association of America and NCAA's Team of the Week!! It feels good to be a Cougar fan, especially after last year's subpar season.
11 September 2018
Sometimes life sucks and that's just how it is. We found out through the grapevine that the foster kids' local social worker decided to withdraw the permission which allowed them to live in the state (as foster kids), which forced them to move back to their home state with just a few days notice. Their move date was two days before they would have started school here. They were ripped from their soccer teams, friends, community, and family because the social worker took something that one of them said as something other than the wishful thinking it was. Needless to say, this has been tough on us and certainly it's been hard for them. They are with people they know for now but are likely to be moved to a less-than-ideal placement as their permanent home.
So, that's what we've been wrestling with here. We're each coping with our various levels of grief in our own ways.
23 August 2018
Another month or so has gone by, just as crazy as can be. Fortunately, Jake will be back at school next week and I'll actually be able to work at the office and interact with adults on a more-than-once-every-two-weeks basis. I'm grateful that I've been in a position where I can work from random places so I could fulfill Jake's supervision requirements but I'm also very much looking forward to the two of us not being joined at the hip.
One thing I've learned about my husband during our many years of marriage thus far is that he is often most productive in the middle of the night. He's naturally a night owl anyway but when you combine that with a dramatic decrease in interruptions, he can do a lot during those nighttime hours. So, once again, he's been staying up late working on the lesson plans for the coming school year. A few days ago, he was sleeping in (while the kids were at the grandparents' house) after staying up most of the night -- at least until he was awakened by sirens. Then the dog howled and he realized they were close. Dragging himself out of bed and to the window, he was shocked to find firefighters in the driveway. Dark, thick 'smoke' was coming down the hill from the farmer's field above us and the firefighters were investigating. Fox led the lead guy through the path that we know can get past all the blackberry bushes and they searched, but didn't find any fire. Thankfully. They eventually concluded it was likely just stuff being kicked up from a tractor. Given there haven't been any flames in the few days since, that's probably the right conclusion -- but what a terrible wake up call for my hard-working hubby!
For the condo, the washing machine has been fixed, the new carpet installed, a new 220V outlet installed and the oven moved in. Granted, the oven isn't installed yet. We gave the boys our old oven and allowed ourselves the luxury of the new one (since we'll use it more anyway). But the counter has to be cut first to allow the bigger oven to actually fit into the slot. It doesn't seem to bother the boys much though, at least not since we lent them our frying pan.
13 July 2018
Bonding leave went by way too quickly. Or perhaps it just felt that way because it was so busy!!
The stairs renovation project was finally completed! Or at least completed enough to make it liveable. We knew what day the carpet was being installed so it became a race against time to get the texturing, painting, door hanging and other such tasks completed before that day. We made it! I have to say, it looks wonderful and has been very functional. The trim may not be installed yet, but the project is at a point where the girls each have their own room (and thus are not gabbing with each other to all hours of the night) so we're calling it good. Hooray!
We closed on the purchase of a condo for Jake to share with my brother, since it makes more financial sense than paying each month for an apartment. As soon as the stairs project was done, all of my attention turned to the condo renovation. We were able to remove the wallpaper and repaint the place before the boys moved in. A bunch of other projects are in random states. The carpet is ordered but won't be installed for another two weeks. The oven is there but needs the attention of an electrician to convert the 220V plug to a jbox connection (or install a 220 outlet I suppose). The windows need to be replaced, but we now have the approval from the HOA to do that. So, things are moving along though the place isn't all that impressive just yet. My poor brother commented that this may be the first time he moved into a place that "still needed to be put together." Yeah, probably true. Hang in there, bro.
My husband presented at a teaching conference this week, which made things interesting for child care. The summary is that I got to have both Jake and Cody with me in the office for a few days (since the internet hasn't been installed at the condo yet). The only reason I mention this is because Cody was absolutely adorable in his excitement. Whenever we went through the lunch room, he'd play this game where he'd jump from the reflection of one of the overhead lights to the next, laughing gleefully. The office across from me isn't currently being used because the person is out so that became Cody's office for a few days. He got such a thrill from adjusting the desk height and sitting in the big chair. He spent most of the time just happily reading on my kindle, though he did do a puzzle and paint a picture as well. The highlight, though, was probably that I got him some tator tots to have with his lunch. He says Intel makes the best tator tots. They seem like all the other tator tots to me but I'm glad he was happy and so well behaved.
4 June 2018
Our new dog, Jade, is a now-7-year-old lab/husky mix. She's quite friendly but I find it interesting that she's bonded the most with Fox.
For Mother's Day, I have to mention that the family did an awesome job. I got the (obligatory?) breakfast in bed but then I was directed to a mysterious email. Even though it said it came from my husband's email address, it claimed that an extra BYU box (dropped in each state as a countdown to the football season) had been dropped in Oregon and was waiting to be found. The picture attached to the email showed a familiar location. So, we all got BYU stuff on, because you can't go BYU Box Hunting without BYU gear, and went in search of it. We found it! We got it! Inside was a random assortment of awesome stuff, including a replica helmet, candy, and a sushi takeout menu. That last one is just strange since I detest sushi. Here is a picture of us, though I had to hide the faces of the foster kids.
In other news, I've had the last two weeks off as part of the bonding leave to which I'm entitled due to the placement of the foster kids in our home. I used 2 of the weeks in April so I have 4 remaining. It's been great to spend some extra time with the kids (meeting them at home after school for example) as well as having time to get caught up on my workouts and misc projects. There was a Thanksgiving/Christmas block decoration that I've been trying to get around to completing for 18 months that I was finally able to do last week. Of course, it goes without saying that I'm also helping out with the renovation project at home. We're getting close to the home stretch now that we are doing some painting! Almost done, almost done...
We have also ventured into the world of orthodontia, with Marisol getting braces. She seems pretty happy about it for the most part. She was certainly looking forward to it!
12 May 2018
Sure enough, the folks who took Thunder decided that they couldn't keep him because he was antagonistic towards their cat, so he's been back with us for the last week or so. We now expect to rehome him with a trucker who lives in Alaska but will be driving through the area here soon. I find it funny that he's going to Alaska given that's where I'm from. I wish him well on his new adventure.
Meanwhile, Fox has found a 6-year-old dog that he hopes will be a good fit for us. Her owners are letting her stay with us for a week as a test to see if it's a good placement. She is very calm and seems happiest when one of the kids is resting their heads on her side, even though she only met the kids a few hours ago. We haven't introduced her to the cat yet.
1 May 2018
Life never settles down here. At least it feels that way. Marisol discovered last night that she has lice, which resulted in a late-night run to the store to get appropriate shampoo and such. It also resulted in a huge pile of laundry, since all of our bedding and the kids' stuffed animals all got piled up. Fortunately, the rest of us seem to be in the clear for the time being.
I think it's safe to say that we have gotten used to our new routine, at least on some level. I take Jake to school in the morning and then go to work. I pick him up in the afternoon and we go to the library, where he does his homework and I log in and do my job. Three nights a week, I cook dinner for him and my brother (usually involving the use of the crockpot) while my family has started cooking dinner at home. I find that if I let them know what's for dinner and give them instructions, they can handle it. Interestingly, Cody likes to keep the instructions and put them into the cookbook he's compiling.
We decided that Thunder will need to be rehomed because he keeps nipping at/biting the kids. And the neighbor. And the plumber. We were trying to hold out until a dog trainer could come give us some advice but when Thunder caused Cosmo's eardrum to rupture while they were fighting, we decided we can't wait any longer. He's just too high energy for our family right now. Interestingly, he's become very protective of Cody - to the point that he tries to break it apart if Fox is giving Cody a hug. He's a great dog and I wish him the best. He's with a new family right now but we aren't sure if it'll work out since they apparently have a cat and didn't notice the warning that Thunder isn't a fan of cats.
16 April 2018
Happy Birthday to me (yesterday)! I had a fabulous birthday! I grilled some steaks and hot dogs and we had a chocolate trifle for my birthday cake. The family gifted me with Super Mario Odyssey and MarioKart 8 for my Nintendo Switch... plus some extra controllers so the family will be able to do play MarioKart with me. I sense some fun times coming.
General Conference earlier this month was absolutely amazing and exactly what I needed. A talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy was particularly insightful to me. In it, he mentioned that Nephi and Moses were both on the Lord's errand but met with several failures before they achieved success. That part spoke to me specifically since I'd been frustrated that our attempts to move Jake closer to the family kept hitting roadblock after incessant roadblock.
In terms of the living situation, we were able to get a month-to-month apartment for Jake and my brother and got them moved in. All in all, I was away from home for about 2.5 weeks, though I was able to go home during the day once spring break ended since Jake was in school. We aren't sure of the long-term plan just yet but at least we aren't living in a hotel anymore. I need to be home with my family... and they need me.
30 March 2018
Here we are, on the eve of another General Conference. I find myself in need of much spiritual nourishment this time around. The last 6 months have been some of the hardest I've had. Almost as soon as we take what we think is a step forward in resolving some of the many stressors, we've been hit with something that feels like a few steps backwards! The latest one is that no sooner did we get Jake back in Oregon, with expectations of having him live in a condo with my brother, and suddenly the condo purchase is at risk due to circumstances beyond our control. We've been dealing with that for the last week while he and I have been camped out in a hotel. The seller gave indications last week that if the 3rd party responsible for the problem doesn't show some positive progress, she'd prefer to let the deal expire and put it back on the market. Given the lack of forward progress, she may have a point but theoretically anyone who tries to buy her condo will hit the same issue since it came from the HOA. As such, I'm expecting that the deal will fall through and Jake and I will spend General Conference weekend and Easter in a hotel... after which I'll spend some of my bonding leave next week trying to find an apartment to move the boys into short-term. Given all of this, I really need to know that God actually gives a darn about me or my family, because it sure feels like divine help is very slow in coming. We're just trying to provide for our son, but all these obstacles are coming up. It's so hard to understand. Hopefully some answers, or at least some peace, will come through General Conference.
27 March 2018
Life is a wild ride. Just when it may be settling down, the floor drops out from underneath and you fall into a roller coaster which starts doing loop-the-loops while you frantically search for the seatbelt. Oh wait, there isn't one!! So, yell if it helps but mostly just hold on tight!!
On an entirely different topic, I tend to watch movies from Netflix when I run on the treadmill, to help distract myself. There have been a few movies I've seen recently which have resonated with me in some way. The first was An Unfinished Life. It's a story of forgiveness. Einar needs to forgive Jean, whom he has blamed for his son's death years before, in order to actually move on with his life. As touching as that was, I was more impressed with Mitch's forgiveness and desire to help the bear who mauled him a year before. Not only does he not want the bear to be killed, he wants it to be set free from the town zoo when it ends up there. In spite of the pain that the bear's actions causes him on a daily basis, he holds no grudge towards it. This attitude results in him having a great deal more peace in his life, in spite of his physical pain, than Einar experiences with his perfect health.
The second one was Leap! I thought it was a cute story about some orphans until near the end when Camille and Felicie are asked why they dance. The question had been asked a few times before in the movie but never really answered. Camille, rather expectedly, replies that she dances because her mother requires it. Felicie's response shows much more heart and passion. In the days since, I've found myself wondering what I'm that passionate about in my life. Sometimes, I'm not sure there is such a thing but perhaps it is my children. Much of what I do is to provide for my children in some form. I go to work to pay the bills, though admittedly I have a job I love more than the average person does. I cook dinner because they need food, and so do I. I'm fighting so hard to bring Jake closer to the family because I love him and believe that it will be better for him in the long run to be near his family. Why do you (whatever you do)?
19 February 2018
I've always loved the Olympics. Some of my earliest memories are of my family watching various Olympic events, usually figure skating. We would gather around the tv and cheer for the United States and Norway, since my family contains citizens of both countries. Now that I'm grown, I have the chance to watch as my kids gain an appreciation for amazing feats of athleticism. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that we don't normally watch tv, so the kids are relishing the chance to get screen time that they don't even have to earn! We've watched both skiers and snowboarders fly out of the halfpipe, huge jumps and tricks from slopestyle events, exciting races in snowboardcross, and the beauty that is good figure skating. My daughters both have a crush on Nathan Chen, a skater who had a disasterous short program (17th place) and then come back and land 6 quads in his free skate, to end up in 5th place. We watched as the Norwegian 4x5k crosscountry relay team fell way behind and cheered as the 3rd Norwegian skier made up 26 seconds, positioning them for the gold! Cody insisted that he wanted to watch the Norway/Germany hockey game, even though I don't think he's ever seen hockey before. And he watched it, all the way through the shootout finish. During the opening ceremony, there was a segment where Intel drones stole the show. Marisol watched that and declared that I am cool, though I had nothing to do with that show. I just work for the company that put it on. But I'll take the compliment anyway.
Of course, life isn't just about the Olympics. Last week was downright crazy for a number of other reasons. On top of the expected well-child checkup and orthodontist appointment, Thunder ended up with kennel cough and I got pretty scratched up while breaking up a fight that Cosmo instigated with Thunder, which resulted in a trip to urgent care and a followup appointment. It's just been crazy, but we got through it. I guess some weeks are like that.
Then there's the weather. We've had a very mild winter, evidenced by the daffodils already in bloom. Then yesterday we woke up to some snow. The forecast wasn't too good so we opted to leave the girls home while the rest of us went to church in the RAV4, which has all-wheel drive and chains for the tires but not enough seat belts for the whole family. Fortunately, we were able to get to church and back without any real difficulty. We saw the fire trucks out last night, many times, due to icy roads. Today was already a day off from work and school but the roads were good here. The news is saying that we'll get more snow tomorrow. We'll see.
22 January 2018
Cody lost his first tooth! A few days ago, he was eating an apple with dinner. I kept thinking I saw a hole between his teeth but couldn't be sure. Finally I asked him to smile. He did and, in surprise that he wouldn't have told me about this, asked "You lost a tooth?!?" His reaction of "I did?!" told me that it had just happened. After fearing he had eaten it, we did find the tooth on the table. Cody had put it there after trying to chew a bite of apple and finding something hard instead, but hadn't given it a second thought. He's so happy and excited. He made us put the tooth in a little treasure box so he could take it to school today. Apparently he will get a "tooth necklace" and be able to sign the class "tooth book."
12 January 2018
Thoughts from watching President Monson's funeral:
- A legacy of love was left just because he tried his best.
- A legacy of service: "They do not love who do not show their love." - Shakespeare
- "How would you like to paint a bright spot on your soul today?" - Pres Monson when asking others to help with service.
- "I feel we've done some good today." - Pres. Monson on several occasions after visiting someone
- I love that Pres. Uchtdorf said that Pres. Monson's stories are like parables from a modern prophet.
- "There will never be another like him." - President Nelson
- "We are all better because of him." - President Nelson
- "In a world saturated with 'selfies,' he modeled selflessness" - President Nelson
- Story shared about how missionaries were allowed into Germany because the leader knew and trusted President Monson. Wow.
10 January 2018
Last week, God called His prophet home. Like many in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I'm happy that he is free of pain and reunited with his wife, but I'm saddened at what we've lost. Personally, I will miss his stories and his unique style of speaking. His talks were always full of wisdom and insight, with many quote-worthy gems. A selection of my favorites include:
- "Your Heavenly Father loves you. That love never changes. It is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is always there."
- "Do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks."
- "Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most."
- "Let us not demean or belittle. Rather, let us be compassionate and encouraging."
- "Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time for one will dispel the other."
- "Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change."
- "Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives."
- "Be found doing the work of the Lord."
- "Choose your love. Love your choice."
- "Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval."
- "Be the same person you are in the dark that you are in the light."
- "If you ever find yourself where you should not be, get out!"
- "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong."
- "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
President Monson showed a very human side when he shared how a bad choice involving matches when he was a child nearly turned into a disaster. God's prophets aren't perfect. They are as human and flawed as the rest of us. Seeing how God was still able to use that fire-starting boy gives me hope that he can use me in some small way... and that my son, who has also made some pretty serious mistakes, is not past all hope either.
God be with you 'til we meet again, President Monson.
3 January 2018
Once again, the year has changed. Last year, I took a goal to run 500 miles. In spite of all the craziness, I was able to achieve that goal. I'm darn proud of it! I'm signed up to do it again.