Way to Go, Idaho!

Well, we moved to Idaho Falls about ten months ago. And while people outside the Rocky Mountain states probably see Idaho and Utah as virtually identical (and it's certainly an easier transition than most interstate moves would be), there are some differences. So here, in no particular order, are my impressions of our new state compared to Utah.

  • Most of the time it's 5 to 10 degrees colder here. Which is really nice in the summer. In the winter the roads seem to just be covered with ice perpetually. Any fear I ever had about driving in snow and ice is long gone.
  • Since I've spent most of my life living in Utah, where anything harder than beer is confined to liquor stores, it was just a little odd to see aisles of wine at Walmart. But I got used to it quickly.
  • Service people seem much nicer here. From cashiers at Walmart to servers at restaurants, almost everyone has been friendly. The one exception is our local post office, where the people have kind of had an attitude.
  • A lot of people here just look a little more weathered. I can't think of a better way to describe it. There's just a larger proportion of the population that kind of looks like they've had a hard life.
  • This is one that genuinely frustrates me. So many people just let their dogs run around free without any attempt to keep them in their yard. I have been approached by so many barking, aggressive-looking dogs while out running that I have started planning my routes to avoid as many as possible. I am going to get some dog mace and maybe a self-defense baton.
  • I like the small-town feel. You can get anywhere in town within 20 minutes.
  • There are a few businesses I miss from Utah, but not too many. There's no really good Chinese food around, and the only decent movie theater doesn't do reserved seating. But most stores I like are here.

There's some good and some bad, but overall I am happy we made the decision to move. Homes are so much more affordable here, I like my job, and we have a great ward. I hope this is the last move for a long time.

Training for Parenthood

I've had several friends and family members recently become parents, and it has made me think back to when I became a father 11 years ago. At least, I'm pretty sure that's right; I don't remember so well anymore.

Anyway, there are a lot of things in life that we train for, from job interviews to athletic competitions. But we don't necessarily train for parenthood. Why not? Many parents would say it's the most important part of their lives. I know I didn't really feel prepared. So, in the interest of helping those who are considering parenthood (or have less than nine months to prepare), here is my 4-week program designed to get you into parenting shape.

Week 1

Sunday: Stay up all night.

Monday: Wake up for 30 minutes each time at 2 AM, 4 AM, and 6 AM

Tuesday: Carry a bowling ball in the crook of your arm for 3 hours.

Wednesday: Make 4 different meals for dinner.

Thursday: Clean your toilet with nothing but baby wipes.

Friday: Sleep in a chair all night.

Saturday: Yell for an hour, cry for an hour, then laugh for an hour.

Week 2

Sunday: Wake up at 2:37 and stay up until 10:15.

Monday: Chew your food and spit it out onto your clothing.

Tuesday: Go to the store unwashed and in your pajamas for one item.

Wednesday: Make one of your favorite meals and then throw it away.

Thursday: Don't shower.

Friday: Don't shower.

Saturday: Shower, but with the door open.

Week 3

Sunday: Place a 20-pound weight on the floor. Lift it up 8 times per hour for 16 hours. Bend from the waist.

Monday: Play a 100-decibel siren sound for 10 minutes at a time, 8 times during the day.

Tuesday: Watch an animated film repeatedly for 24 hours straight.

Wednesday: Pick a cherished keepsake and smash it on the floor.

Thursday: Drop a carton of eggs on the floor.

Friday: Be 20 minutes late anywhere you go.

Saturday: Dirty every dish in the house.

Week 4

Sunday: Draw all over your walls with permanent marker.

Monday: Sleep for 2 hours.

Tuesday: Sleep for 4 hours, stay up for 2 hours, then sleep for 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Look up symptoms of illness on the Internet for two hours. Do this at 1 AM.

Thursday: Blow your nose on your shoulder.

Friday: Drop a bowl of spaghetti on the floor.

Saturday: Sleep on the floor.

There you have it! You are all ready for parenthood.


This is Cyclone.

Well, she's Clara. But while we have tried to give our other kids nicknames, this is the first one to really stick. And boy, is it apt.

I'm not sure if we were just lucky with Sam and Allison, but they didn't do a lot of the stereotypical kid things like drawing on themselves, taking off their clothes, and making messes just for fun. But Cyclone does all that, in addition to chasing the cats around and occasionally stepping on her baby brother.

On the flip side, she is exceptionally sweet. She won't stop kissing James, is always excited to greet me when I come home from work, and approaches everything with remarkable enthusiasm. She simultaneously makes me feel older and younger. I can't imagine life without our sweet little terror.

Cat Starvation Averted: A Reason to be Thankful

Last summer, on the night James was born, things were understandably crazy, and we never locked the cats in that night. (For anyone unaware, they are outdoor cats that live in the garage.)

The problem is, Dortmunder never came back that night. Or the next. Or the next.

With the new baby I didn't have much time to worry about it, and I figured he could take care of himself. We wondered if he had finally had enough of Vin and decided to run away. We walked around the neighborhood calling for him, and I even went into some of the houses under construction and called for him in case he had been trapped.

After about 10 days, he finally came home one evening, scrawny and starving but otherwise looking okay. Katie in particular wondered where he had gone, and was disappointed that we would likely never find out.

Later in the summer Sam and I were out taking care of the lawn one day, when our new neighbor came over to chat for a minute and ask about our cats. She asked if we had a fluffy orange one, and I said we did. As it turned out, Dortmunder had been stuck in the furnace of their house as it was being built. He apparently crawled into a heating duct and had fallen down to the furnace area and was unable to climb back out. She eventually got the builders to come extract him, and they took him home for a night to feed him. Their little girl wanted to keep him, but they felt certain he belonged to someone, so they brought him back to the neighborhood and released him. It just so happens that he lives next door, so they can play with him whenever they want.

Last week Vin disappeared for a couple days. The day before Thanksgiving Sam and I decided to check some of the houses currently under construction. Sure enough, there she was, in the furnace of a house just down the road. We were able to get her out and bring her home.

There might be a moral here about how curiosity isn't good for cats. That'll probably never catch on, though.

Experimental Thanksgiving

This year I am going to give Katie something she has always wanted—holidays with just the family.

I have always enjoyed spending time on Thanksgiving and Christmas with our extended families, but it's been a constant source of stress for Katie. With the move this year putting us farther from our families, it seemed like a good opportunity to start establishing our own traditions.

I do the majority of the cooking for us (not to be confused with the baking; that is Katie's department), but I've never cooked a turkey before. I am looking forward to giving it a shot. And we won't have to worry about picky kids not eating someone else's food. It will just be the usual pickiness of them not eating our food.


One of my good friends posted to his blog after a long time, so I decided to follow suit. I know I'll never be caught up on everything happening, but I can at least share something.

Having four kids is crazy. Seriously, what were we thinking when we decided one more would be okay?

I guess I'll backtrack a bit here. On July 11 of this year James was born. This was a little different from us in that our other three kids are four years apart. But we're getting up there in terms of child-bearing years, and the last couple pregnancies took a while to happen, so we decided not to wait so long. And we were surprised at how quickly he was on his way.

Anyway, back to the present. James is now four months old, and he is a pretty good baby, but he has his moments. Meanwhile, there's Clara, who is now 2-1/2. And, well, we've taken to calling her Cyclone.

I don't know if we were just spoiled with our first two kids, but they didn't do a lot of the stereotypical naughty things as toddlers. But Clara has decorated much of our home with markers (as well as herself), she went through a period of constant undressing, and she is kind of a jerk to her baby brother. She also doesn't really eat anymore, so I can only assume she survives through some kind of psychic parasitic link with us.

My days basically consist of getting the kids up and ready for school, going to work, coming home and making dinner, and trying to get the kids to bed. That's seriously it; there's no time for anything else. Meanwhile, Katie spends all day trying to take care of James and keep the house in some kind of order.

Still, if I'm crazy it's a good kind of crazy. I mean, look at these guys.

As long as they pick a restful mental hospital for us, we'll be okay.