Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe

I really can't say enough about how much I love Lake Tahoe. It's just so magical to me to be able to swim in that lake. My family used to take trips there in the winter and we'd go skiing, but I had no idea how wonderful it is to go in the summer until Amy's brother moved out there. Here's to hoping we can make a trip there next summer. Below is our video of a trip we took out there in June of 2014 when we stopped in for several days to visit Dan and Sarah and then on up to Vancouver afterward.

Also, this is one my favorite videos. Maybe because it features me so much. I don't know. I just love the song and seeing that lake.

Detroit Rock City

Video of our summer out in Detroit in 2013.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wedding in Arizona - Lesson in Parenting

We had a really great time with Amy's family in Arizona back in March. Mike and Carly got married. The weather was just right as we were leaving Indy at 15 degrees and getting into Arizona at 70 degrees. And we all stayed together in a big rented house. It was a good setup, but travel lately has proven to be really exhausting.

The Wedding

Weddings are fun. They just are. It is such a happy occasion with a couple being celebrated. People come from long distances, take time off, spend money and vacation days to show their support, and it's a big planned party.

What made this one more fun was the fact that this was Mike. Of all the single people we know, I don't know that we pulled harder for anyone to reach this stage than for Mike. I think every day since we have been married we have prayed for him to meet, fall in love with, and have a relationship work out for him. You pull so hard for somebody and after years of wanting it, when it finally happens it's just so great. That's what we have felt for Mike.

I won't get into all of the details about the wedding, because that's not really what I care about.

The celebrating events were really fun. There was a wedding party dinner the night before the sealing ceremony that was really nice. The reception was at a perfect venue to host families with kids and it was a really fun atmosphere.

The actual sealing ceremony was beautiful. It's such a special feeling to be in the temple and with so much of your family and loved ones around. The Waltons are a wonderful bunch. I can't say enough about how great they all are.


Traveling west with our kiddos has been hard. The flights are long and it's a constant battle with Peter in particular to try and keep him entertained and still. He doesn't care about electronics so that aid that can put Jane into a hypnotic trance has no pacifying effect on him. The kid just likes to move and in the last couple of months has taken to more yelling and screaming when he cries. Not great, but he did okay when it came to the actual travel. About as well as we could have expected.

The worst part was that he just wouldn't sleep soundly at night. We had him in a nearby walk-in closet, which was a decent enough setup, but he would moan through the night and never get good sleep. With Jane our solution is just usually bring her into bed and she cuddles right up next to you and sleeps perfectly. We tried that with Peter and he will lay down to start, then two seconds later he sits straight up, turns himself around, and just flops down, seemingly trying to find a comfortable spot. He ends up kicking both of us in the face at some point and almost like he's doing it deliberately, turns himself perfectly horizontal to how everyone else is lying down. It's almost comical the way he does it, but the fact that he's only 14-15 months old makes me think that he's not quite looking for laughs.

The weekend was just exhausting for us. He never slept well, which meant we never slept well, and with the busyness of a wedding and being in a new place, he never really got much opportunity to nap either. He would fall asleep here and there, but it just seemed like he was all emotions all weekend long because he's just not able to cope as well.

I think this is where our inexperience as parents starts showing up. For Amy and I, we wanted more predictability for our kids. We wanted them to get some opportunity to sleep at a regular hour, take naps, adhere to some kind of schedule. We have two kids, but we've only been parenting for about two and a half years. Truth is, our kids, even when pushed to their limits, still behave pretty well. Jane is an amazing traveler (if she's not actually sick, which is rare anyway), and while Peter gets out of sorts, he's getting better.

Watching Amy's siblings and their families helps us to realize sometimes what kids can do. Even in our most recent jaunt down to Nashville last weekend, we tried to get back into the hotel at a regular hour and put the kids down in our room like it wouldn't be any problem to just tell a 15 month old that it was bed time, and even though we were in a bed five feet away, just lay down and go to bed because you really are tired.

That just doesn't work. Amy's brother Dan has said this and the longer we do this, the more I realize how true it is, but vacations are really for parents. They might be for kids of a certain age, teenagers, but they definitely aren't for babies and little toddlers. You know what those kids need? Stability. Regularity. Routines. You know what vacations are? None of those things. That's kind of the whole point to vacations, right? They're meant to break routines and get you out of the doldrums.

So flying out somewhere, visiting with people you don't really see, having things to do and one event after another, there really isn't going to be an opportunity for routine. Granted, you can't be extreme, with them, but they can usually do more than I think they can. And then they wear themselves out and fall asleep in the car while you're getting to the next place, and then you do it again. It's just kind of how it goes.

The Best Part

For me, it ended up being Sunday after everyone left. Normally I hate being the last person to leave the trip. Everything has wrapped up, there's not a lot left to do, and you're just wanting to get back home and get back to your regularly scheduled programming.

But it turns out that I really like my wife and with arrangements as they were, I never really just got to talk to just her the whole trip. We went to In-N-Out and got to recap the wedding and the weekend, different thoughts that we had, and talked about our kids and I just really love those times with her.

Afterwards we went to the Mesa Temple and walked the grounds and it was just the thing that our kids like to do these days. They love being outside and being in new places. They to wander. Peter likes walking over uneven surfaces (yes, really, he does) and Jane can always spot wildlife and loves to point that stuff out.

While on the grounds we stepped into the visitors center and watched a video about families and both Amy and I really got wrapped up in the spirit that we felt there. The senior missionary asked us if we had anyone pass away recently, and we remarked that her grandfather actually just passed away a few months ago, and that we were in town for a sealing for her brother. We talked about the circle of life, all in one ten minute conversation.

I'm just so grateful for my little family, as well as the bigger one that connects us to the Waltons. It's an amazing thing to be a member of this church and to be seeking after a Christ-like life, receiving the blessings of peace and unity that is available to us.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

A friend of mine wrote one that I enjoyed and I thought that this would be a great way to launch back into the blog. My entry will probably be too long and drawn out as I am wont to do, but here goes.

Highlights from our year:

  • Peter, of course. Born on January 14 just before 7am. I already have an account of it, but in brief he came just under two weeks early and he's been just so great. More on him later. 
  • Graduating from the MBA program: This, obviously, is very big for me. It marks the end of my scholastic career at BYU. I'm sure that I'm done shooting for degrees from BYU, but less sure that I'm actually done with school, period. The end of the program also marked the beginning of a nice stretch of about 2 months where I just hung out full time with my little. This period of time was a lot of road tripping, first on our first camping adventure down for a little over nighter to Page, AZ, seeing Horseshoe Canyon and the Bryce National Park. Then we spent several days visiting Dan and Sarah and the kids out in Reno, and from there we went up to Vancouver and spent a week or so with Amy's parents and Lisa who brought Megan and Emily with her. Then we went down to California for our last hurrah out West before moving out to Indiana. 
  • Hawaii: This one was higher on my list than it was for Hawaii, but that trip was a ton of fun for all of us. We got to spend some good time with Dave and Caitlin and we explored all of Oahu. 
  • Moving out to Indiana: Right? More on that. 
Toughest parts of the year: 
  • Moving out to Indiana: It's been great being here, but it's also been tough. It has been really tough being so far away from all of our people for one. There are things about Indiana that leave us a little unsettled - the distance, of course, but the midwesterness of everything, trying to find our place socially, and adjusting financially. 
  • The Reality of our financial situation: I capitalize that because I don't think I really knew what things were going to be like financially once we were out of the La-La-land of living off of student loans, living within our means, and knowing that we were going to be able to make ends meet. It took me a few months of looking at our finances, tracking expenses, semi-budgeting to realize that we actually were doing just fine. We aren't killing it, but we are making ends meet and I have a good career trajectory and that's been comforting to figure out. But before some time passed and being able to see some of those things come to fruition, I wasn't seeing it. 
  • The Wilderness: I'll explain. I took a survey after I got out of school for recent graduates. It asked some questions that focused on how likely you'd do a few things, which included the following - change careers in your mid-30s, move across the country away from family and friends, among other things. I guess I knew I was taking a chance once I started the MBA program, but I was sure that it would be a good move, but looking back now I realize how scary those things are. With the survey I answered that I was completely willing to do those things because I don't know if I ever really thought of the import of that kind decision. Six months into this adventure, and even before now, I'm sure that this has been the right move, but it's kind of scary to see those kinds of things play out. You just don't know when you go into it. We have had to rely on the kindness of strangers, on each other, and just take things one day at a time. It's been an experience and I think we are figuring it out. So this is the wilderness. We saw the forest, not the trees, and now after having gotten into the wilderness a little ways, we know the trees a little better and it's a little daunting. You know how it is when you go into things that are unfamiliar. People are intimidating. You don't know how you're measuring up. You just try and make a comfortable place for yourself and eventually, you do. (I don't know that I've really thought about this aspect in so much detail until just now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you write these kinds of things out.) 
  • My boss quitting: This kind of rocked my world for a couple weeks. I signed up with UTC for a few different reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was the lady I was going to work for. And then one day she put in her two weeks and all of this uncertainty sprang up - did I make the right choice? should I look for a new job too? what is her departure going to mean for what my workload would be like? Turns out, everything is fine. 
Biggest surprises of 2014:
  • Moving to Indiana. For all of the above. 
  • Loving life on 2nd shift: Our biggest hesitation about this job was me having to work on 2nd shift. Everything else we were comfortable with, but working those hours from 2-11pm made us uneasy. Then I started just working from 1-10pm instead, and it turns out, we couldn't love the schedule more. It's now one of the things that we love most. I get to spend mornings with the kids. We can go do things as a family while the kids are still with energy, and I can come home for dinner, have a check-in with my family, and I can come home with enough time to unwind and watch a show or two with Amy. It's wonderful. Also, I have regular hours on Fridays so we get a normal weekend. Wonderful. 
  • Thanksgiving: We were able to surprise my family and friends, but then we were surprised with a nasty bit of flu or something that swept through Jane, Peter, and me. Later we found out that it went through all of the Reids, my mom, my dad's wife, her daughter and probably the rest of Southern California. It was awful. And then the trip home through Colorado. Let's end that conversation there. 
My take: I can't believe any of this. I can't believe I live in Indiana, that I live on EST when, after our experience in Michigan, I promised myself that I didn't want to live in that many time zones away again. And here I am, doing it again. I still hate it, but you figure it out. I don't get to talk to my best friend as easily as I could before. It feels like it's hard to get a Sunday night skype with our family because when they are ready to skype, we are ready for bed, and when we are ready, they are in the middle of dinner. It's annoying.

But the big redeeming factor, for me at least, is that I really do enjoy my job. Let me describe just a few things that happened last week in my work: I had suspended an employee for being insubordinate and then negotiated with the union president a discipline that wouldn't draw a grievance; I had to terminate three employees, which isn't fun for me, but it's crazy that I can play such a pivotal role in a person's life because who forgets when they got fired from a job and the person that fired them? But for me, it's just another guy that wasn't abiding by our company policies. I have to remind myself, "I am not the reason you are getting terminated, you are. Something brought you to my attention and now I have to resolve it." Kind of makes me sound hard core; I got an awesome performance review for my year-end evaluation. My boss really appreciates what I'm doing and I feel like I'm really starting to kill it at work and add some real value to the team' I arranged a retirement party for an employee who worked at our plant for 48 years. 48! And all of his buddies that have worked alongside him that whole time were there with him to celebrate; I helped another lady decide on her retirement date, which ended up being two days later, when she came in to my office and didn't even realize that she was going to be doing so when she came in; I interviewed candidates for other positions that will either launch a new career path, redirect a career path, or enable someone to develop new skill sets. Some of the things I do are hard, but what's really neat about my work is that my work touches on really pivotal moments in a person's life and I think that's really neat to be a part of. Just about every day at work is a memorable day  and I think that's what I really appreciate about what I do.

The Kids

Jane: She is developing into her own little person. By the end of 2014 she was really starting to talk and be able to express herself. Jane is a timid little girl. She doesn't reveal her personality to adults or when she is new settings, but she has a ton of personality. She loves her electronics. Lately she asks all the time to show her pictures of monkees, elephants, and orcas. From very little her favorite game was always to be chased or to be chasing. She's a wonderful mix of girly girl while also liking boy stuff. She loves dresses that twirl and loves her pink skirt where she can pretend to be a ballerina. But she also loves her construction books and loves trucks. Just loves them. Her favorite song to sing is Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. She's still a huge cuddle bug. She likes nothing more than to just sit on your lap and watch Bubble Guppies or Paw Patrol.

Peter: I was sure that Peter was going to be walking at 10 months because of how active he was and how advanced he seemed with all of his large motor skills, but his problem is that he's just too impatient. Every time we try and walk with him, or most of the time at least, it seems like he already knows exactly where he wants to go and what he wants to do and just wants to crawl there and do it. He's only just been starting to take steps on his own the last week or so. He's a very passionate child. He throws tantrums and for now at least, I think it's so funny - when he's laying on his back and kicks his legs up in the air, or when he's just so mad and starts crawling away not looking where he's going and crawls right into a wall or something. He also laughs really hard. He's just more extreme in his emotional expression than Jane was. He's also just all boy. He's rambunctious and not afraid to fall. Having all wood floors downstairs doesn't do the slightest in deterring him from crawling around to get where he wants to go. He loves to climb things and now has enough core strength to just slide down the slide on his own. He cares much less about electronics than Jane did at this age. Also, if he gets off schedule he gets really irritable. And he's not a great eater.

Looking forward to in 2015

  • Mike getting married on March 7th - It's neat to pray for someone for so long and see wonderful things come to fruition. We are greatly looking forward to meeting up with Amy's family, celebrating that wonderful occasion, and being in Arizona in the spring time (spring training!).
  • Trips! Aside from the trips home we'll be doing - the Walton Utah Vacation, going back to California - we are looking forward to warmer weather and going to Chicago for our anniversary, getting out to Nashville, St. Louis, and Lake Michigan (at least).
  • Purchasing a van? I hope it happens this year. We are ready for it. 
So here goes. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jane at 2 years and change

It's so crazy that we have a 2 year old now. We had a pretty quiet birthday part for Jane, seeing as how we still don't really know anyone out here. I guess it was that way for her first birthday too. Maybe we're just not big partyers. I don't know.

Our little two year old talks, runs, and loves anything to do with animals. She is incredibly shy around adults still, but is really embracing other kids now. She has no problem initiating play with other kids. Nursery was initially a bit of a struggle for her, but she loves it now. We actually pulled her out early yesterday to attend a coworker's wedding and she started crying. It's really fun to see her start actually playing with other kids and really seeking that out.

Jane talks a lot. I don't know what it's like in comparison to other toddlers her age, but she can say a lot. She sings a lot of songs to herself. It's always surprising how much she actually knows. This morning she's been singing temple, house, family, and Amy figured out that she was singing I Love To See The Temple. I'm so grateful that we have a church with a nursery where she can have those additional interactions with other kids and adults and learn things from people besides her parents. It's all so reinforcing.

She knows numbers, but I don't know if she really gets counting. She knows the context of when to count, but I'm not sure that she really understands the meaning of numbers. Colors are pretty good. She can sing the Alphabet song and can pick out certain letters. I think she's probably right in the middle of those developmental levels.

Jane loves movies and TV. I mean, just loves the visual arts. At the wedding yesterday she was the one on the dance floor the entire time.

And when I grabbed her this morning and we did our routine of daddy is still waking up so let's just watch some Curious George and Dinosaur train. she just cuddles right in and lays down with me. She's just the sweetest.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pittsburgh Video Redux

I had to redo this video because the licensing on the original version wouldn't allow me to use it. I ended up using music from The Boss because he's so blue collar to me. The funny thing about this song is that I'm really proud of it because I cut about a minute and a half out of the song because the length wasn't quite right for how long the video is and I think no one could ever tell where I made the cut unless you knew exactly how the song goes. There you go.