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Showing posts from 2019

New-clear

Well, it's been a minute. Things have been extraordinarily busy, and I've been hanging onto some news that I wasn't really ready to announce until things were official. But I'm changing jobs next month.

We moved to Idaho for me to take a marketing communications job at a nutritional supplement company. And it's been great. I love the people I work with and enjoy what I do. But earlier this year I was contacted by a recruiter for the Idaho National Laboratory about writing for them. The INL is a huge complex that performs research into nuclear power and other areas of energy and national security. The have a site out in the desert an hour away that houses the Advanced Test Reactor, but I'll mostly be in town working with the people managing nuclear research programs.

It's going to be a big adjustment, for two reasons. One is learning the technology itself, and I'm trying to research as much as I can before starting. The second reason is that working for …

Rogue Won

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It's funny how attached we become to worldly possessions. That's the case with my car.

This is a 2001 Pontiac Sunfire. Katie bought it when we had just started dating, in December 2003. She drove it for a few years until we got something bigger for her to take the kids around in, and this has been my commuter car for the last 10 years. So yeah, I've become attached to it. It's not much to look at, but it's been surprisingly reliable over the years. It's also got relatively low mileage for an 18-year-old vehicle (164,000).

But all things must come to an end, and so it's time to bid farewell to this relic of our courtship. And like our courtship, I went through a while "shopping around" and then once I found the right vehicle it clicked immediately.

I ended up getting a 2015 Nissan Rogue. It's significant to me because every car I had ever owned was a GM vehicle (2985 Chevrolet Celebrity, 1994 Chevrolet Corsica, 1999 Chevrolet Lumina, the Sunfir…

Time Flies

I rarely have a moment when I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. And as a creature of routine, I am generally pretty comfortable in my rut. I am also always aware of what time it is, so it's not surprising that my life is more or less scheduled out to the minute. Here's my daily routine, Monday through Friday.

5:45 Wake up
5:45-6:00 Shower
6:00-6:20 Read scriptures
6:20-6-40 Exercise
6:40-6:50 Get dressed, get things ready for work
6:50 Wake up kids for school
7:25 Get the kids out the door for the bus
7:30 Leave for work
8:00-Noon Work stuff
Noon-1:00 Walk (Mon/Wed/Fri) or run (Tues/Thurs), eat lunch
1:00-5:00 Work stuff
5:00 Leave work
5:30 Get home
6:00-8:30 Make dinner, get kids to do homework
8:30 Have kids brush teeth
9:00 Get Clara and Allison in bed
10:00ish Prepare whatever I need to for the next day and get ready for bed
11:00ish Collapse from exhaustion

I try to encourage Katie to get out for a bit in the evenings for a break, and she goes to the gym …

Kindergarten Clara

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Clara started kindergarten this year. There's always something unique about sending your child off to school for the first time. There's a little relief, and a little sadness. And since Clara has always been our wild card, we weren't totally sure what to expect.

She was really excited, though, and counting down the days. I don't really remember her expressing any fear about it, which seemed a little unusual.

It's still the first week, but she's been goo about getting up early. As a side note, I swear our elementary school's 8:00 starting time is earlier than others. I think mine started at 9. And Clara has usually slept until past 9. So getting her up before 7 is a huge change. We'll see how it works out in the freezing winter months. Oddly, we requested afternoon kindergarten but didn't get it; in the past it's been no problem because more parents seem to want the morning schedule.

Last week we had back to school night and met her teacher. Appa…

Do You Like Scary Movies?

This is one of those subjects I usually avoid because it seems like so many other people talk about it, but here we go. I enjoy a good horror movie. I think it's like vigorous physical exercise—tough while it's happening, but there's a rush of endorphins when it's over and you survived.

I often discuss with people the concept of "scary" horror movies vs. movies that are just gross or trying to shock people. And a friend and I were considering whether PG-13 horrors might actually be more frightening because they have to rely more on atmosphere and implied violence rather than blood and gore. So we started making a list of "scary" PG-13 movies vs. R-rated movies. And that led to us listing movies that are great and fun, but not necessarily really scary. Anyway, this is far from an exhaustive list, but it's what we were thinking.


PG-13
The Ring—Still probably the scariest movie to me at the time I saw it. The original Japanese version didn't real…

Marathon Post

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About a week and a half ago was the Idaho Falls Marathon. I was pretty excited for my first one in four years, and the culmination of the most intense training I've done. As the race approached, I looked more at the information I would need for that day, like the details for getting my bib and more specifics on the course. 
I was generally familiar with the course, but there were a couple strange things about it. Most marathons (okay, the two I've done before) are big loops that are pretty simple to follow. This one started way up in the hills east of town and came into the city, as one would expect. But there were a few strange twists and turns once we got there. Here's one such area.
I knew this was a fairly small race, so I thought it might be good to familiarize myself with the course in detail so I knew where to turn if there weren't a lot of supporters. For the last few days beforehand I spent time on Google Maps going over the city portion of the course in stree…

A Little Summer Ketchup

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I've started a few posts lately but haven't felt strongly about publishing any of them. So here are a few random updates.

James turned three a couple weeks ago, and my parents came for a visit along with my sister and her family. It was nice. The kid's stinkin' cute.


Sam's been struggling a little bit with teenager-hood. We finally took him to a counselor, and they diagnosed with with some anxiety and OCD tendencies. So we're working to find the best way to treat it so school isn't so overwhelming for him. I think a lot of it has to do with his troubles sleeping, but we'll see how things go.

We're going to visit Utah in a couple weeks. My sister recently moved back from DC with her husband and little girl. They're staying with my parents while they look for a place, so we'll go down and spend some time doing family-type things. Last time we took Cinder, but he was just a kitten. Now he's kind of a giant cat, and still growing, so they ma…

A Vacation... from My Problems

Okay, that's a reference to What about Bob? Which is a movie that probably downplays the seriousness of mental illness, but nevertheless is a very fun watch.
Anyway, last week Samuel went to a young men's camp for three days. He's never been away from us more than just overnight before, and even then only a couple other times. So while he was gone, Allison was the oldest child, at 9 years old. It was interesting to sort of go back in time a few years so the problems you're dealing with as parents are different. Samuel deals with teenager issues now, so things that seem much more serious, particularly given his responsible personality. Allison, on the other hand, is still at the stage where it's about sharing her toys and eating dinner before dessert. So it was nice to have a bit of a break from the all-consuming existential crises of a teenager.
That being said, we were happy to have him back.

Pierced

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Well, this was a first.



Last week Allison got her ears pierced. This is a rite of passage for a lot of girls, and it's even more interesting in our family. My mother doesn't have pierced ears, and neither does Katie. So it's kind of a first. But she had been bugging us about it for weeks, because one of her friends just got her ears pierced.

Katie and I had discussed this before. I guess the reason she had never done it herself was more because of the pain rather than an objection to the practice itself. I've always admired that she had never done it (I'm honestly not a big fan of the ridiculous things women have to do for appearance, including makeup and even shaved legs), and I wasn't sure how Allison would fare. She is rather sensitive to pain. We can't even brush her hair without her screaming about it most of the time. So that she was willing to undergo this said something about her determination.

Anyway, she reported that it barely hurt, and so far sh…

Kitty School

For a while I've been wondering if it's possible to train cats. I mean, I knew it was possible, because they're in movies and whatnot. But I've never trained an animal and didn't know how to go about it. Then in my regular Internet wanderings I came across a book a couple years ago called The Trainable Cat. Then I finally picked up a copy shortly after we got Cinder. Training them younger is supposed to be better, so I thought I'd see what the book has to say.

It took me a few months to get around to it, and I still haven't finished the book all the way, but here's what I've learned in general. You're supposed to reward them for doing the thing you want, not negatively reinforce things you don't want them to do. The reward also has to immediately follow the action, because they associate whatever their mind is focused on at the moment with what is happening. You're also supposed to train them in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Tha…

Category 5 Cyclone

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It was Clara's birthday this week.

The last year has been interesting for her, and she's definitely had her ups and downs. Clara's favorite thing to do is to draw, and it's been really fun to see her unique artistic style develop.







In reverse chronological order, for some reason.

When not drawing, she has a very mischievous personality, particularly where Cinder the kitten is concerned. One moment she's covering him with a blanket as he naps, and the next she's yelling in his ear or pushing him off the chair. But overall we have seen an improvement in her behavior over the last 12 months. And sometimes she is actually more obedient and helpful than James or Allison, so that's interesting.

Clara's relationship with Allison is a constant source of frustration. Allison wants to play with all her toys by herself, and Clara will take one of them and run, making Allison mad. No matter how we try, we can't convince her to share with Clara, and invite her to…

It's (Almost) Go Time

All right, time for another boring running post. As I'm sure you remember, I had knee surgery last fall. After a couple months I was slowly able to get running again, with good results. The swelling was gone, and the scar cartilage seemed to be coming along nicely. In March I ran my first half marathon post-procedure.

Meanwhile, at work we learned that the company would reimburse anyone who wanted to enter the Idaho Falls Marathon in July. So I decided to give it a shot. I still haven't registered, but I started training last month. I'm also training a little differently than I ever have before.

I'll try to keep the details minimal, but in the past I've always run a consistent 3 to 5 miles a couple times a week, then increased my long runs on Saturdays until I got to the marathon distance. This time I am following a specific training plan I've been eyeing for years. It involves just three runs per week (most plans have you run 4 to 6 days a week), which has alw…

Taking Care of Businesses

This is kind of a weird thing to think about, but sometimes I get as sad about a company going under as I do a person having struggles.

October 2013: I purchased a Pebble watch. As far as I know, it was the first smartwatch on the market. I loved getting notifications on my wrist, and being able to send canned responses without getting my phone out. I could control my music, customize the watch face, track running stats, and do a few other things from it. It was just black and white, but it lasted several days between charges. Later they developed a color display, which I also got, and loved it. Then other companies started releasing them with touchscreens and other bells and whistles.

Eventually Pebble went out of business and was acquired by Fitbit, which would supposedly incorporate some elements from the Pebble operating system to their products moving forward. I now use a Garmin smartwatch that is heavy on the running data and GPS but doesn't have quite as many everyday funct…

AllisoNine

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This little lady just turned 9.

Allison has always been the most unique one of our kids, beginning with her entry into this world too quickly for Katie to get any anesthetic during her birth (we were barely in the hospital). She is the one with red hair when the rest have the sandy blond color, and is much more average in size instead of being tall and lanky like the other kids. I picture her being the feminine, elegant one when she's grown up with Clara being more athletic and tomboyish. But we'll see.

Allison is very much into the things we typically associate with femininity, like clothing and jewelry. She likes to carefully match her clothes, including her socks. She's currently petitioning us to be able to get her ears pierced, which will probably happen sometime soon. (It's a new experience for us, since even Katie doesn't have pierced ears.) She's really sensitive to sounds, from the cats fighting to the fire alarm at school, and is currently challenging…

Dream Log: April 5

I remember this brief glimpse of a dream last night. It's sort of a little video I was watching. A couple with a young teenage son was in a car similar to a newer VW Beetle. The husband had been driving but gunned the engine to sort of crest this hill on momentum (but it was airborne) while he got out and walked (somehow) ahead of the car, allowing it to come to a stop at the top. He was making some kind of joke to the "camera" that I can't quite recall. The mother was in the passenger seat drinking apple juice from a sippy cup, and the son was in the back.

The really weird part, however, was their hair. The wife had her long, curly blond hair piled on the top of her head with the sides cut really short. The dad had long darker hair that was swept up and forward and really looked ridiculous. But the worst was the son. He also had blond hair, but it consisted of bangs and two pony tails in back, and the rest was buzzed. It was absolutely bizarre.

Handy Cap

I've probably mentioned this many times, but I'm not super handy. I enjoy trying to fix things when I can, but overall it's not a skill I have. Still, I occasionally make a minor repair to the car, glue broken toys back together, or sometimes just take things apart and put them back together to see if they are fixed (this has actually worked a few times).

A few weeks ago Katie noticed that our washing machine was leaking a little water on the floor. It's an old unit, but we had been told before that this model lasts forever, so we've never been inclined to replace it. I opened it up and as far as I could figure it was just a hose that was leaking. I ordered a news hose and put it on. But it was still leaking that little bit. I did more investigating and found that it's the "siphon break" which is a piece that attached the drain hose inside the washer to the one on the outside. So I ordered that as well.

The next day the new hose slipped off the pump b…

Kitchen Confessions

I don't know if I would categorize myself as a great cook, but as the primary meal prepper for our family for 15 years I feel reasonably confident in my abilities. But there are some corners I cut. So here are my kitchen confessions.

I often use regular vegetable oil instead of olive oil.

I use paper towels for pretty much everything, including plates sometimes.

I haven't purchased ground beef in... 8 or 9 years? We exclusively use ground turkey. It started as a cost-savings thing, but now we just like it and I feel it's healthier.

My chicken parmesan recipe is super simple. I just bread it with a mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan. I don't even pound the chicken flat.

I use Prego spaghetti sauce, but I add shredded cheddar and ground turkey. And parmesan, of course. It's really good.

One of my favorite lunches is just plain spaghetti noodles with butter and parmesan.

That's three parmesan items in a row. But can you ever really have enough parmesan?

Steamabl…

Teenage Mutant Parent Hurdles

Full disclosure: I stole that title from an episode of Futurama.

We've had a teenager now for about four months. That still feels surreal to me. In some ways it's what I expected, and in others it's not.

Samuel is the same good person he has always been. He cares deeply about things, has a keen sense of justice, and makes intelligent observations about the world around him. But it does seem like puberty hit hime like a truck. He's already 5' 6", which I think is about 6 inches taller than I was at his age. He's struggling with terrible acne, as both his parents did, and we're in the process of getting him the industrial-grade meds to deal with it.

His biggest challenge right now is that he takes FOREVER to do ANYTHING. When I was his age I was going like a maniac. I was still smart enough to get my homework done without too much work, or I at least did a half-hearted job at everything. But I got it done. Every night he seems to take hours to even get s…

Set-Up Sister

I love discovering new facets of my kids' personalities. That recently happened with Allison.

She enjoys writing notes for people, and recently Katie's brother had sent the kids a bunch of Hot Wheels cars. So when she asked Katie to mail a letter she had written to him, it didn't seem that unusual. The odd thing was that she asked us not to read it.

Naturally, Katie read it. It was a note telling her (single) uncle how much he has in common with her teacher, suggesting he should take her on a date. We decided to go ahead and let her mail the letter, although we don't think the match would work for a number of reasons. The next day Allison's teacher texted Katie a photo of a hand-written note she had received from Allison with a similar message.

This is pretty adorable. Allison can be incredibly perceptive and wants everyone to be happy (unless it involves sharing her toys with Clara sometimes). She is focused on wanting to be a mom someday, and also currently aspir…

The $1,000 Brownie

The other night I woke up around 1:30 with chest pain. I was mostly annoyed that it was keeping me from sleeping, and eventually I got up to take some ibuprofen. I kept tossing and turning, however, and a couple hours later when James woke up and came in I decided I better take it more seriously. I ended up going to the emergency room, which (as Brian Regan pointed out) is a nice, relaxing drive. Someone else was checking in right in front of me with chest pain, so I guess it's all the rage right now.

I went back to the triage room and they got me hooked up to an EKG machine right away. It was normal. They took some blood to check for the marker the heart releases when it's distressed. That was normal. They took a chest X-ray, which was also normal. They repeated the EKG and blood tests a couple hours later, and they were normal again. After talking with me for a while, the doctor decided to have me get a CT scan to eliminate a problem with the aorta. That came back clean as w…

Undead Earworm

I normally eschew this kind of post because they don't seem very original, but it's been on my mind and it's my blog and I'll review a movie if I want to.

First, check out the trailer  for Anna and the Apocalypsehere.

You guys, it's a British Christmas zombie high school musical. Of course I had to see this. I was waiting for it for months.

Now, I've mentioned before more that once that musicals aren't really my thing. And, oddly, this is a combination of things I'm not that excited about. Musicals, specifically of the Glee or High School Musical variety, are very much not meant for me. And I'm pretty done with zombie stuff. And while some Christmas movies are awesome I've never particularly gravitated toward them as a whole. So I don't know why, but I wanted to see this because the combination of genres was so weird.

And it was fantastic. The music was really catchy, it made me actually care about the characters, and it was just fun and dif…

Stupidity: Part One Million

People are stupid. Everyone knows that.

But here's the thing. We're all people.

We all try to deny it and think we're the exception, but we all do dumb things. How many times have you criticized a driver for something that you did five minutes earlier? "Well, yeah. But I was in a hurry! It's totally different!"

"You don't know that we had two different Roosevelts as president? Your so stupid! What's that? It's 'you're'? Whatever."

I know I've talked about this before, but it's good to periodically remind myself that we all have holes in our knowledge that would seem silly to others. So we should try to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Dream Log: Jealousy

This was a really strange one. Katie had been out running some errands or something and met this kid in his 20s who asked her out on a date. She had decided to accept, and told me about it. I was really upset about it, of course. But I didn't try to stop her because 1) I decided it was a mid-life crisis thing and would boost her self-esteem, and 2) I knew she would realize I'm way better for her than anyone else could ever be.

So this kid shows up to my house (which was some really weird building in the dream). He had long hair. And he was in pretty good shape but was 6 inches shorter than me. There were a couple other people there I can't quite identify, but it seems like they were friends of ours. So he was introducing himself, and asked me if I was Katie's brother. I said, "No, I'm her HUSBAND." He was kind of taken aback by that, so I guess she hadn't mentioned being married. But they went out anyway. He picked her up in some fancy car/plane hybri…

Star Warts

l like movies. In fact, I like most of the movies that I see. Some people could say I’m not discriminating enough, and that’s fair. I think that I like to see the good in things, because enjoying things is more fun to me than just looking for flaws for the sake of doing it. Here are a couple examples.

Star WarsI have always loved the original Star Wars trilogy. The prequels aren’t very good, although the story itself is pretty interesting and there are a few cool moments. When it comes to the latest trilogy, I really like them. In fact, The Last Jedi is one of my favorites, despite how controversial it is. It’s very different from other Star Wars movies, particularly Luke’s story.

Star TrekIf you watch the original series, or The Next Generation, Star Trek is about peace and the evolution of mankind. If you watch the current movies, or Star Trek Discovery, it’s very different. It’s become far more action-oriented, and most people would probably say it’s not being true to the original vi…

Instant Not

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas from Katie, which was great. I've heard a lot about how versatile and great these appliances are, and I was really looking forward to trying it out. I mean, you can cook a tender roast in less than an hour, cook easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, and supposedly make a million other one-pot meals.

So I unboxed it immediately and started looking at the instructions. With all the controls and settings it seemed a little intimidating, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

The first thing I saw was four pages of safety warnings. Okay, that's a little weird. But I guess it cooks things under high pressure, so it's good to be safe. Then after giving it a wash, the first thing I was supposed to do is put some water in it and let it get up to pressure. Okay, it's a good idea to make sure it works properly.

So I put water in, and carefully followed the instructions to boil some water. And it worked. But I quickly realized that this pot is anything b…