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Showing posts from 2017

Help Thy Neighbor

I don't generally get too serious on the blog, but last night I had an experience that was really faith promoting. It all started when Katie accidentally backed the van into the closed garage door. So it was bowed outward and wouldn't open or close. I came out to look at it and tried pulling it back into place a bit. But it was pretty messed up.

A neighbor was out walking his dogs and saw me, so he came over to help. I wouldn't have thought to ask anyone for help on this because I figured this would require a professional. But apparently he has fixed garage doors before. So we started working on it, and several things were out of place. After perhaps 30 minutes of hard work (mostly by him) it was working again. It was interesting that it all happened when he was outside, which isn't all that common after dark in  mid-December.

This was one more instance of my Father in Heaven looking out for me, which lately it seems like I've had many instances of. I hope I can be…

Where are you, Christmas?

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What's the deal with Christmas? Why does everyone get so stressed and nearly kill themselves over it? I struggle to understand why people cause themselves pointless anxiety, and why Christmas has to be a big deal. In particular I don't understand the question "Are you ready for Christmas?" As if it's a storm that's coming.

To me Christmas means you put up a few lights outside (not an elaborate display, just a string on the house) and spend an afternoon putting some decorations up in the house. You do a little online shopping for the spouse and kids, and that's it. Why do we treat it as this huge obstacle to be surmounted? It should be a time that allows us to be cheerful and focus on other people, as well as religious devotion for us churchgoing folk. I just feel like 75% of what people give themselves to do is totally unnecessary (though this isn't necessarily limited to Christmas).

In other news, I just received this amazing sweater and am super exc…

Up Endoscope!

Most of my friends are in their mid-30s, and therefore have more than a decade to go before their recommended colonoscopy at age 50. Once anyone reaches that age, I highly recommend following the medical community's advice to have one done. To ease anyone's fears, I'll tell you all about the preparation in light of the scoping I had yesterday (my third).

First, you are supposed to pick up some meds that help "clean out" your digestive tract. There are a couple different kinds available. Suprep is the more expensive one (it cost me $45 even with insurance), but in my experience it's easier on the system and is worth the cost.

Then, the day before the colonoscopy you go on a clear liquid diet. You can probably have a normal breakfast, but afterward you can only have things like apple juice, Jell-o, Sprite, and chicken broth. No juice with any kind of pulp, nothing with red or purple coloring. In my opinion this is the most challenging part.

In the evening befor…

Are You Happy Now?

I think there are two kinds of happiness: moment-to-moment happiness, and overall happiness.

A given day can swing wildly between happy and sad, but your overall happiness has more to do with overall satisfaction and contentment with life. For example, I have a loving wife and children, and nice home, and a good job. I am happy, and couldn't really ask for more out of life. But one day I might be sick, or the kids will be driving me crazy, or work is especially hard. In those moments I am not happy. But they don't really affect my overall feelings about my life. That is a lot harder to impact. It's kind of like when I'm running and I can look at my current pace or my average pace. It takes more miles of running faster or slower to change the average.

On the bad days I try to reflect on how nothing is really wrong with life, and I have no real cause to complain. I can't say that it always works, but it is helpful to remember that things do get better. 

Just my thoug…

Splash

It was like being in a TV show.

Katie was rinsing out the tub when she turned it off, but the water kept coming out. Hot water. So not only was there a small danger of the tub overflowing (fortunately it wasn't clogged), but it was using all the hot water.

For a couple of weeks the handle had been giving some resistance when we shut it off, so we mostly had the kids using the other tub. But that day it broke. I removed the handle, but the only piece of hardware in there I could access was turning freely without affecting the water. Fortunately, our next-door-neighbor does some plumbing work on the side, so I shut off the main water to the house and ran over for help.

Fortunately he was home (he's a firefighter and therefore can be gone for a day at a time) and kindly came over to take a look. He could immediately tell that something called a "cartridge" had gone bad. It's a simple fix with the tools he had. Fortunately, Home Depot had the right replacement part, …

I'm an 8 Again...

Okay, there are two ways to go about this. The first is to read whatever it is that I'm about to write. The second is to just watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5W6JyF7br8&t=2s

If that link is dead, or you just want to read instead of watch a video for some reason, I recently went to the emergency room. I had only been once before as an adult, although my parents claim I went all the time as a kid.

I had been feeling sick in the gut for a few days, and one day my body decided that it would try to wring everything out of me. I was trying to keep hydrated, but my mouth was completely dry and I was starting to get a dehydration headache. This had happened in just a matter of hours, so between that and writhing in agony I decided to go to the emergency room. Katie drove me, and when we arrived I thought about the part where Brian Regan talked about how valet parking would be ideal at a hospital.

I got checked in after a few minutes. I did get my own room, unlike Bri…

Agent Isaac

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Today this young man turns 12.



When Samuel joined our family, Katie and I were living in Provo in an apartment. I was in my final year of college, working two part-time jobs. It was a busy time, and as with many (all?) we felt like we had no idea what we were doing. I also came down with crohn's disease a few months after he was born, and that first year or so was kind of a blur. Now it seems so quaint to look back and remember having just one child to give all our attention to.

I think I'm coming around somewhat to the idea of birth order heavily influencing personality, because he seems to fit in there in the best way. Samuel is our helper, which shouldn't be a surprise. He has a good sense of responsibility and is often asking us how he can help. He can watch the other kids for us somewhat (we haven't left him with the other 3 kids for an extended period). James really loves Sam and often asks where he is. They play well together.



I remember one day when Sam was in …

Red Delicious

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One of these things is not like the others...

I honestly expected that we would have another boy. Over three generations of my family, the men had produced boys at about a 3:1 ratio. But I was excited when we learned we were going to have a girl.


I don't remember much about Katie's pregnancy with Allison. But when she started to go into labor we figured we would have a few hours, as we did with Sam. And one thing they drill into you during birthing classes is that deliveries always take FOREVER. So her contractions were 20 minutes apart when I hopped in the shower early in the morning, and when I got out a few minutes later they were two minutes apart. We were renting a house from a friend who lived in the connected apartment, so he came over to hang out with Sam while my parents drove over, and we rushed to the hospital. Because of insurance stupidity, we had to cross town and miss several closer facilities. Meanwhile, Katie notes that Allison was trying to join our family in…

Cyclone Warning

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And then there were three. As we prepared for our third child, we learned something interesting from the other women we knew who had had three. The third pregnancy was apparently much more difficult than previous experiences. And so it was with Katie. She deal with some painful (but not dangerous) medical issues and just had a very uncomfortable pregnancy (relatively speaking, I mean, since they are all beyond anything I could comprehend—CYS accomplished). But then it was time.

The children in Katie's family all have K-sounding names, and I've always liked names like Clara, Kara, Kira, and whatnot. And at the time the current Doctor Who companion was a Clara, so I liked it even more. So we had her name picked out in advance, as opposed to Allison, who will be up next.



Clara was born around 11:00 at night, if I recall correctly. Our friends around the corner helped watch Sam and Allison while my parents drove down from Salt Lake (we were living in Lehi). I came home a few hours…

Meet James Hiller

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Meet James.



I thought it might be interesting to do a post about each of my kids as a sort of snapshot that could be fun to look back at later. So I'm going in reverse order for some reason.

James was the kid we were expecting seven years earlier, when in fact Allison showed up. Katie had his name all picked out and everything. We always planned on this being our last child, and I thought sooner would be better before we got even older, so there's only 2 years between Clara and him (4-year gaps between the other kids).

James joined the family one hot summer evening at almost midnight. I decided to give him the middle name of Gideon, after my favorite person in the Book of Mormon. We had just moved to Idaho 4 months earlier, so we didn't have a lot of family around. But we usually keep to ourselves after having a baby anyway. I can take time off of work and do the cooking and more or less take care of things for a while as Katie recovers.

James has mostly followed the patte…

Odds and Ends

Taking a page from the Book of Jen, I've also got a lot of unfinished blog posts. Maybe none of them is individually enough for a whole post, but together they make something. Or nothing. Whatever. Here we go.

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04/14/17

I don't have time for a lot of hobbies. I figure that once you have kids you place most of your focus on them, and just try to have maybe one thing for yourself. Most of the time I consider running as my single hobby. But there are a couple other things I enjoy that could be considered a hobby. And I just realized that I don't always have someone close to me who shares in my interests. But let's see what I discover as I write this.

Running: I started this hobby because of a friend who wanted to do a triathlon. In the end I just wanted to run. I didn't care about the cycling or swimming. I haven't kept in touch with him much the last few years, and he hadn't been…

Rules of the Road

It's been a long time since I've posted anything about running, so I figure I can indulge myself a bit. It's been a difficult summer, with one illness or injury after another, and I feel like I'm barely maintaining basic conditioning, let alone improving. This year marks a decade since I started, though, and I've learned a few things over that time that might have been nice to know earlier. Here are a few random tidbits I've figured out over the last ten years that may be of interest to anyone just getting started.


The single most crucial aspect of running is consistency. If you don't set a schedule you won't be consistent. If you're not consistent, you will never progress.You can do more than you think you can. It's all about incremental improvement. When I first started, a 10k seemed intimidating, never mind a half marathon or more. Now half marathons are routine, and I just need to conquer the idea of marathons being routine. I've run a co…

Totality

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So I happened to move to a place in the totality of the 2017 eclipse. It was certainly not a factor in the decision to move, but when I learned about it I was excited. I don't know nearly as much about astronomy as I would like, but I still enjoy it. I imagined myself driving slightly farther north to Rexburg, where it would be the best possible viewing.

Then I started hearing about how crazy other people were about this event. Phrases like "once in a century" were thrown around, and hotel rooms were supposedly going for $1,000 per night or more. Rumors started circulating that the city was expecting 500,000 people and hospitals were preparing for an influx of more patients. The city was even bringing in 5 life flight helicopters from Utah. Expectations were that driving up to Idaho the weekend before the eclipse would be awful.

Then I learned that I would be traveling to Las Vegas the week before, and would get home the night before the eclipse. Moreover, I would actual…

50

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A couple of weeks ago we went to Bear Lake with my family to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. It was an interesting weekend for several reasons. We had never stayed under one roof before with my family. My only sibling who is a parent is my sister, who has a two-year-old. So we were a little anxious about kids being loud and keeping people up. Katie doesn't care to spend too much time in the company of extended family, preferring the comfort of our own home. And there were just the usual stresses of fitting everything in the van that we needed for a long weekend, and the three-hour drive with them.

My parents rented a very nice cabin with three floors, up on the hillside overlooking the lake.
We got to catch up with everyone, as my sister and one brother had never even met James, and my other brother had only seen him once in passing when we visited Salt Lake overnight. We also spent time talking with my parents about their personal history, asking questions about their…

Is Ignorance Bliss?

Katie just informed me that she watched a documentary on 9/11, which made me think. I often hear people talk about shows they watched that hold no interest for me. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I feel there isn't much to be gained from certain subjects. They may hold some perspective as to the triumph of the human spirit, but I feel like the negatives outweigh the positives. Here are a few things I don't really want to get into detail about.

The Holocaust
Climate change
Crimes against children
True crime in general
The dangers of [x common thing in your life that will kill you]

When it comes to man's inhumanity to man, I feel like I get it. I know people can be horrible; I don't need to know all the details about specific Nazi war crimes to understand the depths to which people can sink. I feel like maybe this leaves me ignorant, but I don't know. If I see a headline about another Catholic priest involved in a child abuse scandal I don't think I nee…

The Most Interesting Baby in the World

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Yesterday was James's birthday, and it seems like a good time to reflect on the experience of having him join the family, and this crazy parenthood thing in general.

James is a really happy baby most of the time. He's super smiley and has some rather suave looks.



He's just started saying a couple words. As with many babies, he started saying "Uh-oh" quite a while ago, but I never know if it counts. From a linguistic perspective, he's communicating an idea verbally, so yes. He also says "Cat," or "gah" and uses the term for dogs too. And it seems like he is constantly asking, "What's that?"

He started off doing the same monkey crawl Clara did, using one knee and the other foot, but he might be settling into more of a regular crawl. He's been standing for a while now, and the other day he took one tiny little step while free standing. Our kids don't generally walk for another month or two after hitting the year mark, so…

Van Ambition

My summer has consisted of two intense colds bridged by an ongoing sinus infection, and now I seem to be developing bronchitis. This is very odd for me; I don't recall so much summer illness ever before. But with illness comes the opportunity for interesting dreams. And while I was half asleep for the last portion of the night between coughing fits, I had another one.
My family went to University Mall in Orem, Utah. I ended up dropping off Katie and the kids and parking the van somewhere. I think we were looking for some Sunday dresses for Allison, but the store manager had boxed up all the dresses her size and donated them to charity. So we went out to try to find the van. It was night, and we couldn't find the van. I ran all around the mall looking, and finally found where I had parked it, but it was gone. 
We called the police but had a hard time getting through. We found someone we knew who helped us go to the police station. The police eventually found some surveillance f…

Of Monsters and the Moon

I had a couple interesting dreams last night.

First, it was as though all of Stephen King's creations existed at once in a world and were trying to get me. It was one of those dreams that doesn't necessarily terrify me, but it does leave me feeling exhausted. I remember trying to find where I could go that they wouldn't find me, although I really don't remember anything about specific monsters.

Second, it was the Rapture, in a pretty protestant-style situation. The good people were allowed into heaven. What you did was to wait until the sun appeared like a square cursor on a computer screen, and then stare at it, and you and whoever you were touching ascended. I was trying to gather my family. Katie put on warm clothes, because at altitude it's freezing, of course, so I followed suit. It felt like things kept delaying us, but we finally were ready.

I said goodbye to the house, and I felt very emotional about it. We ascended, which really only lasted a few moments a…

Developments

The thing about having young kids is that things tend to change frequently, and we've had a few things happen. So this is more of a family journal type post.

Since last summer Allison has been wanting to learn to ride her bike without training wheels. We've worked on it a few times, but I didn't think she was ready. She got a new bike for Christmas, and it still seemed kind of heavy for her. But a friend brought her smaller bike over and Allison just started practicing balance, and then started using the pedals, and within a few minutes she had it. She tried her own bike after a while and got that down too. It was amazing to see how fast she picked it up.

James finally started crawling. Our kids have an interesting history there. Sam never crawled but went straight to walking, holding our fingers for several months until we were at a church activity one evening and he just took off to chase other kids. Allison crawled normally. Clara did her monkey scoot thing which was am…

Camp Frozen Dune

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So, that happened. Camping, I mean.

Friday afternoon the boy scouts gathered at the scoutmaster's house to caravan to the camp site. Questions about where we were going were answered by naming some person that apparently everyone in Idaho knows. "It's at so-and-so's place." Oh. Okay, then.

Eventually I was able to get someone to point out where we were going, more or less, on a map. And eventually we were off. The property was a patch of dirt in the scrubland just a few minutes from some local sand dunes.


We basically got there in time to set up camp and cook dinner. Then we hung around the fire and the kids told scary stories while I tried to watch the Jazz game on my phone (there was surprisingly decent reception). Of course it rained a bit, which is pretty much a legal requirement when you camp, and then it cleared up and the temperature plummeted. We all scrambled for our tents and, in my case, shivered for the next 8 hours.

I hadn't been camping in 20 ye…

Fix-It Weekend

Last weekend was kind of an interesting one where lots of things seem to happen close together. It started Friday, when Katie informed me she had driven to the school and had gotten a flat tire. I had her use the tire inflator to get enough air in it to get home. Later I couldn't see an obvious nail or anything in it, so I took it back where we had gotten it for warranty-covered repair. They had to replace it, but of course they didn't have the same tire in stock so I had to pay for an upgrade. Blah.

On Saturday the kids went outside to hide plastic eggs with candy, and Sam put one in the furnace exhaust pipe, which drops down into our basement. I spent all day trying to flush it out, using a shop vac from either end to suck it out, then an air compressor, and even a hose to flush it out with water. I never managed to find it, but things were obviously moving through the pipe well enough so I patched things back up. I ordered a 30-foot flexible inspection camera that attaches …

There and Back Again

Last weekend my family visited Salt Lake City, the first time we had returned to Utah since moving. All in all, it went pretty well, although James struggled with a drive that was longer than anything he had endured before.

A couple weeks previous I had traveled to Texas for a work convention. So what to me has been more travel than usual has made me think about traveling. It's something I've never really understood. I mean, I get travel when there's a necessity, and I do understand the occasional vacation. What I don't understand is people who travel frequently for fun. It's just so exhausting, and I think you spend more time in preparation and sitting places waiting than you do enjoying your destination.

I guess I have a strange feeling that you should live where you live, and spend the vast majority of your time there. But maybe I'm just jealous because I have four kids now and don't have the money to travel for fun. I suppose I will chalk it up to "…

Something Fishy This Way Comes

I want to write this down before I forget it.

Last December we made a payment to a doctor for one of our maternity bills. The check bounced, which is of course our fault. Later we paid off the full amount when we got our tax refund, but a week or two later they ran that check again, so we paid twice. Katie talked to the bank and the billing company, and each blamed the other.

I finally went to the bank and determined that someone physically brought this check in a second time to cash it, which happened 10 days after we had paid the full amount. The management company said they didn't show this payment and eventually shifted the blame to the medical practice itself. They finally looked into it, and one of the partners called me. He showed that they did get this additional payment, but he also claimed that his bank automatically ran the check the second time. That doesn't square with what I understand. I believe someone was trying to embezzle money through the practice. At any r…

Revenge of the Banana

This all started with a banana. As I've noted before, bananas are something I want to like but struggle with. But I think I've discovered how to like them better.

It's because I have this thing with maintaining my weight. My philosophy is that if I put on a couple pounds I work to eat better and get rid of it before I get overweight. But most people scoff if I make any kind of comment about trying to eat healthy. "Pssh, what do you have to worry about?" Well, I don't think I should make it harder on myself.

Anyway, I've been on one such cycle recently, trying to minimize foods with added sugar and stop with treats for a while. But breakfast is hard, because I love me some cereal. I love to have it in the morning, and then have a bowl before bed. But it's hard for me to figure out what to eat for breakfast without it. I love eggs, but you can have only so many before you get sick of them too.

So I decided to get some plain oatmeal, which I feel is pret…

Look at My Watch. You Feel Yourself Getting Sleepy...

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I wasn't going to post this, because it's boring. But then I realized that I don't care; it's something that has been on my mind, so I'm writing it.

I might be part magpie or raccoon or something, because I've always liked shiny things. Like watches. I remember getting a little blue watch in second grade and wearing it for years. I loved that thing. Maybe there's a correlation between liking watches and me being obsessed with getting places on time.

Anyway, several years ago I decided I wanted a watch with a digital representation of an analog dial, I don't know why. It just seemed novel. In 2013 I got one of the first commercial smartwatches, a Pebble. It let me do the digital/analog thing, as well as showing notifications from my phone, letting me control music, showing weather, and acting as a display for my running apps on my phone. It's first and foremost a watch, and with a simple e-ink display it gets several days of battery life.



I've be…

Sock It to Him

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Sam started learning martial arts about three years ago, when we were living in Lehi. He took to it immediately, and was good about practicing. It helped hi build some confidence and self-discipline, as well as physical abilities. A lot of kids start that kind of thing and don't stick with it, but it's been a big part of his life.

When we moved he started at a new place here in Idaho Falls, with a style similar enough that he was able to pick up where he left off, and he earned his first degree black belt last fall. It was an incredible achievement for him, and the culmination of a lot of seriously hard work.



He's had this mentality of always wanting to be ready to defend himself, and he's even been complaining all winter about his heavy coat and boots limiting his mobility. That being said, he's never shown any aggression or bullying tendencies. I have complete trust in him in his interactions toward others.

Yesterday Katie informed me that he had hit a kid at sch…

Seriously Unpopular Opinion Alert

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I've become much more keenly aware lately of the differences of opinion I have with other people. With the presidential election in particular, people whose opinions I value and respect have differed from mine, when I feel the reasons for my feelings are so obvious that anyone who thinks otherwise must be ignorant of the Truth. And I recognize that those feelings are wrong.

Of course, things are complicated. Several months ago, after yet another mass shooting, I wrote the following and very nearly posted it on social media. Then, realizing it would not foster open discussion but simply incite rancor, I decided against it. Here it is.


I'd like to share an opinion for once, bearing in mind that it may differ significantly from yours. And that's okay; we can disagree without animosity. Let me first say that I like guns, I enjoy shooting them, and although I don't own any I believe we have a constitutional right to own them.

I would gladly give up that right if there's e…

Nostalgia and the Double Standard

The other day while driving, rather than use my phone for music I popped the first CD I ever owned into the stereo. August and Everything After, by The Counting Crows. After 20-something years I still enjoyed listening to it. 

At the same time I recognized that the singer's voice can be really whiny, and some of their songs kind of ramble aimlessly, especially on later albums. But I still enjoy them for the most part.
It reminded me of how things we grew up with are given a different standard than things we are introduced to as adults. Many of us have a ridiculous movie we've enjoyed since childhood, but when showing it to a friend or spouse who hadn't seen it before, they think it's terrible. What is it about things we associate with our youth, that they get a pass on quality? 
There are other things too, from Kool-Aid to Kraft macaroni and cheese. I love all of them unashamedly.

Winter Update

Our adventure of Idaho winter continues. There's a solid layer of ice on all the non-main roads that has hardened to the point that no amount of traffic can weather it away. Things are hunkered down waiting another couple months for some semblance of spring.

One of the funniest things is the road leading out of our neighborhood. The layer of ice there is about 4 inches thick, with tire ruts on both sides of the street that actually reach the pavement. So you have traction there but can't help but feel that the car will get high centered on the ice.

The ruts, however, seem to have been formed by some of the many large trucks that abound in this habitat. My little commuter car isn't quite wide enough to comfortably fit on those ruts. As a consequence, I bounce back and forth in a way that reminds me of a car on rails at an amusement park. If you try to turn farther than the rail allows, you bounce back rather abruptly. It somehow makes me think of people crossing the plains …