Fair warning: If you're not LDS, this post may not make any sense to you at all. Find a member of the church to interpret for you.

A couple weeks ago in sacrament meeting our stake high council representative read a letter telling us that our stake was realigning boundaries and creating two new wards. A meeting the next Sunday evening would give us the details.

That made me sad, because our ward was essentially the combination of two different neighborhoods, and the odds were they would be split up. Most of the friends we had made were in the other area. Later the rumor was that one of the new wards would be named after our neighborhood, so I figured we were in for a big change.

The rumor mill was right, and we are now in a brand new ward. It's now our neighborhood and a second subdivision again, this time in the other direction. We were moved to a different building (fortunately, much closer to our house), and our meeting time was changed to 8:00 a.m.

That's right, 8:00 church. With four kids.

Four wards have to meet in this building, until the completion of a new building in July. I know the stake presidency felt the wards were becoming too large, but I can't help but feel that waiting a few months wouldn't be that bad. I'd rather have crowded classes than 8:00 church.

Anyway, we were given leave to just have sacrament meeting the first week since it takes a while to get organizations staffed and ready for classes. So I was curious to see when we might get phone calls and receive callings.

Katie got a phone call Thursday night and was called as the ward organist. So now we had to plan to be there at 7:45 on Sunday. ARE YOU ASKING FOR A ChALLENGE?!

We prepared as much as we could on Saturday. Finally that primary song made sense. "Saturday is a special day. It's the day we get ready for Sunday..." And we did well, getting there early and everything. It was a little weird to recognize half the ward and have the other half be total strangers. People seemed nice, of course. I'm just hoping we can get to know each other so we don't end up with an "us" vs "them" mentality. And I'm curious to see what I end up doing. Come on, hymn book coordinator...

2017 Whatever

I guess I usually do a year-end post of some kind, but it's been a little hard to figure out what kind of year 2017 was. And yet for some reason I don't feel like I should post anything else until 2017 is put to rest. So what you get is stream of consciousness!

Recency bias means things toward the end of the year are on my mind. I had a bit of an unusual health situation happen, and as a result I learned that I can give myself shots, at least when it's a pen-style syringe. Depending on what happens over the next few months I may post more about this, but for now this will do. But it has altered my perspective on things a bit.

I traveled to Dallas and Las Vegas for work conventions. I dislike being away from the family for five days at a time, but the change in schedule can be fun. I work with good people, and they make things run smoothly.

As far as running, the year was okay. I got in 800 miles (the goal was 1,000). I got a lot better at running up hills, and did climb over 1,000 feet during one 15-mile run. So I was proud of that. I had the goal of training for a marathon with a real training plan (I just made up my own plans in the past), but I injured myself the first time I tried the speed work because I wasn't used to it. So that didn't happen.

Samuel turned 12 in October, which is a big milestone in the LDS church. He's now considered a "young man" instead of just a child, and it's an interesting feeling as a parent to have a child on the edge of adolescence. He's a super kid, and I'm proud of who he is. Oh, he also got braces, which is sort of another rite of passage. He also started learning the trumpet in band at school.

There weren't any huge changes to us as a family. It felt largely like a year of treading water, managing four kids and various responsibilities with church, work, and so on. I wouldn't call it an easy year, and I think I'm glad to move forward.

In 2018 I expect more incremental growth rather than large changes. Allison will turn 8 in April, another LDS milestone because she'll be baptized. James will enter the terrible twos, and Sam will become a teenager and enter middle school. And that's all I can think of right now.

*end brain dump*

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 there for someone else who needs some help, even if my skills aren't particularly applicable to real-world situations. But I can help anyone determine correct comma placement or choose the correct word between "who" and "whom." So that's something, I suppose.

Where are you, Christmas?

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 excited about it.

Merry Sithmas.

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 before your procedure you take the first dose of the prep. In the package is a 16-oz tumbler. You empty one bottle of the prep stuff in the cup, then add water until is gets to the 16-0z line. Then you drink it. This is the worst part of the whole thing, because it's this horrible sort of super sweet flavor, maybe cherry or something. It's hard to describe, but it's awful. Then over the next hour you have to drink two more 16-oz cups of water.

Sometime between 20 minutes and a couple hours later, you feel the need to use the bathroom. You'll go several times over the next few hours. This is where the Suprep is better than the other brands, because it doesn't make your stomach hurt or anything. You just use the bathroom as normal.

The next part varies according to your doctor and the time of your procedure. For me, checking into the hospital at 7:30 a.m., I had to get up at 3:30 and take the second dose of the prep, the same way as the first. This is especially hard because you remember the horrible taste of the stuff the first time.

Again, over the next few hours you will go to the bathroom a bunch of times. Eventually there's nothing solid left in you, and you're passing liquid, which is a strange feeling but doesn't hurt or anything.

You go check into the hospital as directed, and you change into a hospital gown with nothing else on. your clothes are stored in a bag with your name on it (they tell you to wear loose clothes and not bring any valuables). You sit on the bed and they cover you with a blanket, then start an IV. You'll probably need to go to the bathroom again as the prep continues moving through your body.

When the doctor is ready, they wheel your bed into the room for the procedure. You meet the people who will soon become intimately acquainted with your nether regions, and they position you on your left side. Then they give you the sedation and you drift peacefully off to sleep.

Some people may remember voices or something of the procedure itself, but I never have. I've always awakened after it's over, and they wheel you back to your room. It takes maybe half an hour before you feel fully awake. The doc may come in and give you a brief overview of any buried treasure or anything interesting they found, the nurse removes your IV, and you change back into your clothes. You'll use the bathroom a couple times, but it's mostly air that needs to come out. You'll probably have a bit of blood too, since they tend to take biopsies while they are in there.

You're not allowed to drive for the rest of the day, so someone either has to come with you or pick you up. I drive myself there and have Katie come get me, and then we just go get the car the next day. The best way to clear the anesthesia is to go home and nap for a couple hours, and then you are starving and really want food. The first bite of whatever you eat tastes amazing. You feel a little weird and bloated as food begins moving through your digestive tract again, but it's temporary.

Anyway, that's about it. If you actually read this far, congratulations! You're ready to get probed.

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 thoughts. But what do YOU think?


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, so I went over and got it, and he was able to get it fixed right away.

Apparently several of the houses in our neighborhood have had the same problem, and our neighbor had even had to replace the part in his own house. So it's just a bad batch, I guess. Apparently you can call the company (Moen) and they will send you a new one, so I could theoretically replace it in the package and return it to the store. Anyway, I'm thankful for good neighbors.