2 December 2023

I sure do like having my laptop back. I was able to finish up the picture pages for the trip to BYU that Cody and I took as well as our recent trip to southern Utah for Thanksgiving. We went there to visit my Dad and his wife. I lived in the area when I was very young but don't remember anything about it, so it was fun to go and see the red cliffs that Dad has been telling me about since they moved there. We did some hiking/exploring, ate tons of delicious food, watched movies and entertained the dog, among other things. The only 'hiccup' in the trip was when the kids left the iPad in the rental car -- and we didn't know it until we got to security and it did not come out of anyone's bag. Fortunately, I was able to dash back and tell the rental car folks about it. The car itself was already being cleaned but the word got to them that I was waiting for it so when it was found, someone drove it over to me. By the time I got back to the security line, which had been incredibly short when my family went through, it had increased dramatically in length! Fortunately, it moved fairly quickly so I was able to get through and back to the family and even get a bite to eat before it was time to board the plane.

Anyway, check out the pictures!

15 November 2023

My laptop LIVES!!!!! The motherboard went kaput about a month ago. Fortunately, it still had 23 days left on the warranty, so the repair was free. However, it took a while as the part was on backorder. Actually, they were about to give me a new computer instead but then the part came in. I don't mind one bit. I like this laptop. Anyway, it means I can finally upload the update I wrote while my laptop was gone... since I don't have the uploading software on my work laptop.

20 October 2023

I have a few minutes so I guess I can try to summarize the events of the year so far.

Jake spent 5 1/2 months at the Oregon Youth Challenge Program (OYCP) due to his poor academic standing. He'd basically skipped all of 4th quarter for the 2021-2022 school year, attended for the first part of the 2022-2023 school year and then started skipping all his classes again. This put him at a serious risk of not graduating high school. The grownups in Jake's life were on board with OYCP as soon as we heard about it (come on, a free quasi-military program???) but it took Jake a little longer to agree to it... and they require the youth to accept their place there, not the parent. Initially, he hated it (as we knew he probably would) because he was being transitioned from a schedule where he did whatever he wanted (usually nothing) to one that had every minute scheduled for him. They spent the first two weeks learning about the expectations, marching, teaching how to care for the clothes, make the bed, etc and a lot of pushups to incentivize them to work together. After the first two weeks, they transition into school where they try to cram at least 8 credits (or roughly a year's worth) into a semester. They don't let the kids slack off either, with 80% being a D I think and kids who aren't caught up on homework missing the fun activities. There was lots of service trips to the surrounding community as well. At the first break (after being there a month and a half or so), Jake was adamant that he was quitting the program. To his chagrin, we'd suspected he would feel that way and likely "disappear" when it was time to return, so we prevented that by having him and me stay on Mt. Hood and go snowboarding. In the end, he was -- shall we say -- properly motivated to return to the program and did so without a fuss. At this point, I think his attitude changed. Realizing he was going to have to stick it out or do something much worse, he made the best of it instead of resisting. As a result, he found he thrives in the highly structured environment and even started thinking about joining the military as a career. This is a huge improvement in my view because he has a hard time thinking about the future, preferring to focus on what he wants right now. His natural leadership abilities shone through and he was able to rotate through many of the leadership positions available. When he had his second break, with roughly two weeks left in the program, we knew he'd willingly go back to complete it... which also shows significant growth. He successfully completed the program with just over 8 credits if I remember correctly and hopefully the knowledge that he can do hard things -- because OYCP was certainly that!

With a fairly recent change in church policy, Cody was eligible to receive the Aaronic Priesthood in January, even though he was still 11. The new policy is that kids move up classes in January rather than at their birthday, so those who are 11 on January 1st move to the youth programs and so on. That was a very special day.

February brought some snow days from school and Church, and a fun snowman in the back yard. Given I work from home, I didn't get the snow day but I did take time to go play with the kids during daylight hours and made them up later.

In April, I spent the evening of my birthday playing Mario Kart online with some friends. It was soooo awesome! One of the happiest evenings of the year so far, for sure.

May brought the highly anticipated release of Tears of the Kingdom, the follow-up to Breath of the Wild. Cody and I were thrilled to say the least and we spent the next few months doing almost nothing else in our spare time. It's so AWESOME! I love how creativity is encouraged with all the different building materials and such. Just, so neat!

When we had a few warm days in a row, I was eating a popsicle when the school bus pulled up on those days. The kids on the bus commented on it to Cody, so we decided to have fun with it. Thus, for the last month or so of the school year, we would be found with a different ice-cream something when the bus came. The driver and the kids seemed to really look forward to it and wonder what we would come up with next. For the last one, I was eating ice cream from a 3-gallon Tillamook Ice Cream container. In reality, I was eating from the much smaller bowl inside the bucket but to the kids' view, I was eating a ton of ice cream. Hee hee hee!

In early July, Marisol got her wisdom teeth out. A week later, she and the hubby went to Ukraine for two weeks. While they were gone, there was a fire one day about 2 miles from us so we were put under a Level 1 (Get Ready) evacuation order. Fortunately, the many fire departments who answered the call were able to put it out before it spread into a wildfire. Wouldn't that have been an interesting email to the hubby in Ukraine: 'We're fine but the house is gone....'? Glad it was one I didn't have to send.

On August 15th, we were stunned when our dog, Jade, suddenly passed away. I'd noted that she looked 'not quite normal' when we returned from Cody's middle school registration. I took my laptop downstairs to the couch to be with her, since she absolutely insisted on being with us and the others were planning to go somewhere. Don't remember what it was. An hour or so later, Jade seemed to lose control of her bowels and pooped on her bed, which she's never done while she's been with us. She couldn't get up on her own so the hubby carried her outside to be hosed off. I cleaned up outside while he replaced the soiled bed cover with some towels and helped her get comfortable on it again. Obviously by this time, we knew that she wasn't feeling well but thought it was probably the start of a slow decline as we experienced with Mikey all those years ago. I resumed working on my laptop on the couch nearby. Another hour or so later, the work day was done and it was time to feed the animals. As I put my computer on the dining room table, I looked down at her - and knew she was gone. Something about the way her mouth was hanging open wasn't normal. Long story short, sadly I was correct and she had passed away sometime in the hour or so prior. How grateful I remain to this day that I moved downstairs to be with her. She died with someone she loved nearby at least. Here is what I put on Facebook -- her obituary if you will.

Our dog, Jade, peacefully (though unexpectedly) passed away this afternoon.
Jade was a golden retriever/husky mix who came to us in May 2018 because her owner needed to rehome her. I think she was just under 7 years old at the time. She was the gentlest pooch I've ever met. The very first day she was with us, Cody was using her as a pillow and she didn't mind at all. When we adopted the cat family, she was so upset when she was not allowed in the same room with the kittens (we weren't sure Mama Cat would be ok with it). Mama didn't show any concern so after a while, Jade was allowed to be in the same room (with supervision) and didn't mind at all when the kittens were climbing on her, though she may have growled slightly when one bit her ear.
She howled when she heard a siren but rarely cared if there was someone at the door. She loved making friends with the barn cats, even earning their trust since they knew she would not chase them - she just wanted to sniff.
The amount of fur that dog shed was almost beyond description. "Fluffy" didn't suffice, so we described her as "flooooofy." If you pet her at all, fur flew.
One unique feature was her heterochromia (different colored eyes). Marisol learned that word and was impressing everyone, including the pediatrician, by using it.
She was convinced that our catio should have been fitted with a doggy door (instead of a cat door) and called a "dog-io".
Strange as it may sound, Jade absolutely LOVED blackberries. She couldn't get enough of them. I'm glad she was able to enjoy some in her last days since some of our blackberries are ripe.
More than anything in the world, though, Jade just wanted to "be with." Going through pictures, there's hardly a picture of the kids relaxing at home without Jade nearby. Didn't have to be doing anything special -- she just wanted to be with the pack. In her view, the COVID-19 lockdown was the best thing ever since it kept the pack home all day.
My home office is going to seem a bit lonely without her sleeping in the doorway, blocking my way whenever I went to fill up my water bottle... and interrupting my meetings if I happened to forget to move her bed into the room! My house is already feeling empty, though I suppose it'll be a bit easier to keep clean.

Unfortunately, we knew that Cosmo would be departing mortality not long after, though we did not know when. He had lost weight at the beginning of the year and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer in his stomach and several other organs. That diagnosis came in April, with a prognosis of only two weeks or so of life remaining. To say I was devastated would be a gross understatement. A week went by. Then two. Then a month. Cosmo was still around and perky. Two months. Three months?? How did we get to four months?? He was still losing weight during this time but it seemed to slow down because of some steroids we gave him each evening. Around the beginning of September, however, he was looking so skinny that we knew it couldn't be long. After Jade's sudden passing, I had an intense NEED to ensure that Cosmo did not die alone if at all possible. Thus, for more than a month, one of us was with him - except when the whole family went to church. When Cosmo started leaving our bed at night to sleep under the kitchen table, I dragged the spare bed's mattress down there to sleep near him. Perhaps that sounds a little crazy to do for a cat, but Cosmo was never 'just' a cat to me. He got skinnier and skinnier but still he hung on. Knowing that he loved the sun, I'd move him (in his bed) to the sunny spot and adjust as the sunny spot moved during the day. At night, I put an extra soft BYU blanket that he'd always loved on the foot of the mattress on the floor and he usually moved right to it. When he stopped eating and drinking, we knew it was time because we'd committed months before that we were not going to let him suffer. All those months, he was still purring and seemed happy. We knew the effects of dehydration would be painful, so we let him go on October 23rd -- more than five months after his diagnosis. How grateful I am that he didn't listen to the vet when she predicted he only had two weeks left. Here's his 'obituary' that I posted on my Facebook page:

For the second time in as many months, we had to say "good-bye" to a beloved pet. This time, however, we knew it was coming. Cosmo was diagnosed with cancer last April and given about two weeks to live. No one told him that, so he hung around for more than five months.
Cosmo joined the family in August 2009, when I was in a deep depression over the loss of our twin boys a few months before. He turned out to be exactly what I needed -- something to love. He was ~6 months old at the time and in need of a family, so we were able to help each other.
In spite of being much smaller than the dog we had at the time (Mikey), Cosmo immediately decided that he was going to be top of the animal pecking order -- frequently showing it by laying down in the window right where Mikey wanted to look.
When Cody joined the family, Cosmo absolutely LOVED all the new "cat-sized" furniture that appeared. We learned to double check the stroller before we collapsed it because Cosmo would hang out in the basket underneath.
Cosmo was a very social cat. When people would come over, he'd inevitably come sauntering in to check it out, trying to look as though he just 'happened' to be walking through.
He loved sleeping on the tree skirt under the Christmas tree each year. Most nights, he'd sleep next to my feet - which was great in the winter but could get a tad warm in the summer.
Sunny spots were probably his favorite thing. Even in recent weeks, as his strength was leaving him, he'd go to any sunny spot he happened to see.
One of the coolest things he did was at dinner. We had to set a place for him because he would jump onto the chair and sit like a gentleman until he got some milk. We got a collection of lids from spaghetti sauce jars that we'd use as his saucers and boy did he love it.
I already miss him terribly. Through all of the drama of the last several years, Cosmo was that non-judgmental, comforting presence that I've needed. I'm so grateful for having had the pleasure and privilege of having him as my cat -- my very first cat at that.
Until we meet again, Cozzie, may the sunny spots be plentiful...

While our Florida trip included the first few days of 2023, I consider that trip as happening 'last year' since most of it was in 2022. With that understanding, the highlight of the year so far was a trip Cody and I took to Utah. He'd been wanting to see a BYU home football game for a while, preferably one that we would win. Obviously I don't have a crystal ball but I figured the first two games of this season were good candidates and let him choose. He chose the Sam Houston @ BYU game. So, we headed down on Friday (he didn't have school), spent much of the day on BYU's campus before the game and then thoroughly enjoyed the game itself. It had a very late kick off so it was almost midnight when we returned to our hotel room. A few hours later, we were up to catch our flight home in time for Church, though we were both so sleepy it was hardly worth flying back that early. Oh well. We had the time of our lives in Utah and I took a long nap after Church so all was well.

Noticeably absent from the above is a workout report. Simply put, I just haven't felt like running this year. Or many other things for that matter. Just a down type of year I guess.

15 October 2023

Pictures from the Florida trip and Q3 of this year are now posted. Only one I have left to do is my trip with Cody to Utah. I'll admit it feels good get this blog more current, at least from the perspective of pictures. There are some happenings that I'd like to document properly.

11 October 2023

Added the picture pages for the last half of 2022, except the Florida trip. Sadly, that's as far as I got when I was picking out pictures previously, so the 2023 ones may take a little longer -- since I have to pick them out first!

9 October 2023

While watching Monday Night Football, I was able to add 3 picture pages (Q4 of 2021 and first half of 2022). It was made much easier by the fact that at some point in the past, I apparently picked out the pictures I wanted for those three pages. So, there were just sitting there, waiting for me to process them.

8 October 2023

Cozzie's page has now been updated. Next, I guess I'll have to add some of the "quarterly" groups of pictures. First, I have to go through pictures and pick out the good ones. So, these may come one or two at a time...

6 October 2023

It's been 12 years since we first held Cody. Not sure how it's been so long but I've loved the journey -- at least most of it. The birthday boy seems to have had a fun day as he invited some friends to come over after school. They ran around, played Among Us, ran around some more, cooked spaghetti for dinner, played some more Among Us and generally had fun goofing off with each other.

Here's a collage of pictures that my Mom put on Facebook. I like it.

Pictures of Cody through the years

I was able to update the rest of the picture pages except for Cosmo's. I may be able to do that tomorrow but it may have to wait until Sunday.

5 October 2023

After working something like 12 hours yesterday, I had no time to work on this project. It happens sometimes. Fortunately, today was not like that. Using some of my automation techniques, I was able to prep a lot of pictures to add to the various pages and make the updates to several of the pages. It's pretty cool actually -- I just open a file, add a few lines, run my Python script on that file and PRESTO! Updated web page, ready for posting.

So far, I added pictures to the pages for me, Jake and Marisol. I even updated our mug shots on the Family page. Not bad at all. I have more that I'll be adding for other pages in coming days.

3 October 2023

I think I finished updating the people/pet pages, at least the first time through. Now I'll have to add some more recent pictures -- and create some of the quarterly picture pages as well. But not tonight.

2 October 2023

The work I did yesterday is already paying dividends! The new python script lets me regenerate the files anytime I want, so I'm able to move pictures around in my input file, rerun the script and PRESTO! The file is updated. This is a HUGE step forward from the perl script I used to have. In fact, probably one of the hardest things about keeping the family/animal pictures updated was the fact I'd have to resize them, move them to the appropriate directories, manually edit the corresponding PHP pages and finally upload it. Standardizing the file extensions also helped, since I no longer need to worry about some files ending in .jpg and others in .JPG. Don't worry if that makes no sense to you, Mom. Suffice it to say it's much easier to add pictures now... though now that I say that, I guess Mom will be expecting more updates. Meh, that's ok I guess since that's the primary purpose of this web page anyway.

First, I'll convert the existing files (or at least those that will be updated with new pictures in the future). Then I'll get around to actually adding some pictures from the last two years or so.

1 October 2023

I actually did a fair amount of work on this site today, though most of it was behind-the-scenes stuff that wouldn't be noticeable yet. I had a perl script that generated the code for the picture pages, but since I don't have perl on this computer, I rewrote it in python -- and added a bunch of new functionality besides! Of course, there were a few bugs that needed to be fixed but I got it working. The script gets input from a file, which I've been rewriting for all the picture pages which are still being updated since I didn't have the original ones anymore. So -- not much to show for it yet, but a lot of stuff did happen today.

30 September 2023

Obviously I haven't been updating this page this year. It's just been a tough year in many ways. There are several updates that I want to do -- and a few that I need to do. For example, I needed to update the header on this page to reflect some changes in our number of pets. I'm hoping that as I take the time to write some belated entries and update pictures, I'll be able to process some this year's events.

4 March 2023

Snowboarding is my happy place. I got to go snowboarding today. It very much is my happy place. That is all. :-)

Me at the top of the lift

14 January 2023

As you may have seen from the last entry, I didn't quite hit the stretch goal of 1200 run/walk miles for the year, though I did hit the original goal of 1100 miles. For biking, I was basically one ride short of the 300 mile goal as I completed 286 miles. I'm actually quite proud of both as they are both an improvement over 2021. I probably could have hit them. One reason why I did not was that I picked up a chest cold or something for a bit in December and took it easy so it wouldn't turn into pneumonia or something right as I was going to go on vacation. There was also a decrease in motivation - perhaps due to the rain and certainly the ice storm we had one day. All in all, I'm satisfied with the numbers though a teeny-tiny part of me wishes I could have done more in December -- but such is life.

Chart showing miles run per year

The problem is that the lack of motivation has continued into January. Here we are, almost halfway through January, and I only have 15 or so miles because I am just not feeling like doing anything. I know I want to change up my goal and haven't quite decided what the goal for 2023 should be -- but mostly I'm struggling with a severe lack of motivation. Not just with running, but with most things. Sigh.

Read the 2022 entries