Saturday, August 16, 2014

Snapshot: Jane (23 mos) and Peter (7 mos)

(Consecutive weeks. I'm making a comeback, baby.)

Oh man. My kiddos are the cutest, I'm pretty sure. They are so much fun right now.

I think they're adjusting to life pretty well here. It's crazy to think that this is Jane's 4th residence since she's been born. Hopefully we don't move in the next year, but you never know.

Jane first, I suppose. She is just the sweetest little girl, and when I say sweetest, I really mean it. Not too long ago, Amy was about to breastfeed Peter so Amy went to sit on the couch, and as she did so Jane brought her a pillow (because Amy always grabs one when she's doing that), and then followed that up by pushing up the ottoman for Amy to rest her feet. She just does that kind of thing all of the time.

When Jane watches TV, she loves to come over and sit in my lap or at least right next to me. She's just a cuddly little girl. I love it so much. If I'm just holding her and her attention is on something specific, she'll unwittingly just be rubbing my hair on the back of my head or my back.

Jane is very naturally obedient. She understands direction and takes it really well, at least for the time being.

She always goes to sleep really easily, whether it's naps or for the night. She's been a great sleeper for so long, I probably take it for granted. (Although I can thank Peter for not letting me go too long in not recognizing that mercy.) She still eats mostly pretty well, but she' more distrusting of things that are unfamiliar. It seems mostly to be appearances because pretty much when she actually tries anything, she almost always likes it. Jane is just easy as can be, so naturally affectionate and sweet, and she's the apple of my eye. I can't imagine that I'll not ever swoon over her.

She's talking up a storm, although she does get shy around strangers. I'm always surprised at how many words she knows and even the way she's starting to pick up on concepts and story lines. It's the craziest thing to be watching a show with her and she gets the drama behind the story, when people are distressed, that sort of thing. That's probably normal for a toddler her age, but it still surprises me. She's able to pick up so much nuance. It's neat.

Peter is so mobile now. It's great because for most of his life, he's just not been very good when being left alone (not like we are leaving our less than 6 month old babies alone a whole lot, but you get what I mean). I feel like Jane was pretty good in this area, but Peter just has not been. With being able to get around now, he's able to busy himself so much more and be content with it. He has favorite spots - the fireplace grating, wires plugged into the wall, the peddle that opens the lid on our garbage, and more recently, the door stop that makes that twang over in the kitchen. I remember last summer in Michigan when Jane was all about that. (I can't believe I have babies that close in age that I say last summer and it's talking about a different baby.) He very much does the wounded soldier crawl, but he's getting up on his knees a lot more and doing the rocking. The hardwood and linoleum doesn't slow him down at all, which is great, because there is more of that flooring in our place than we'd probably like.

His noises have a few more consonants now. He imitates a lot more. Not like he's following dance steps or anything like that, but you just can interact more with him and there is more cognizance there now.

And probably the best part about him is just how much he lights up with people. Every time he sees someone, he freely gives the biggest grins. Everyone's first comment is something along the lines of "he just loves people," "he's such a happy baby," or "does he ever get sad?" I tell people all the time that he's just very validating and will make you feel like a million bucks. All you have to do is engage with him and he'll light up. It's amazing how a child like that can just disarm people, even ones that you wouldn't think be so easy to crack. It's the sweetest thing.

He's been going through a bit of a rough patch lately and has not been great with his sleeping patterns, not to say he's really bad, but when you're being compared to Jane when it comes to sleeping, it's hard to be good. He's a little trickier than Jane, but I think we're mostly realizing that Jane was just about as low maintenance as they come. She can be really sensitive when it comes to her emotions, but I think she's actually pretty physically tough. She rarely cries long or much when things happen to her and that's really nice.

She's come to enjoy the water a lot more. It took a summer of beaches, pools, and waterparks, but I think she's there. Peter takes to water like a fish, it seems.

I love my kids more than anything. They have changed my life completely and I'm grateful for it, although I will say that just getting out to see a movie sounds like the most exciting thing in the whole world.

They're great. They bring us much joy and I'm so happy to be a dad and feel so lucky that these ones are mine. I think that day and night.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Sweeping the Nation

I've been thinking about this for the last few months, but I have decided to take the plunge and start my new hobby - sweeping - as in, entering in lots of contests and sweepstakes.

Is it totally off the wall? Of course.

But is it possible? I don't know. I've been reading articles about it for a little while and truth be told, I think it sounds kind of fun and I'm interested to see what happens. It doesn't seem like it'll take too much time and with being able to enter online and use automatic fill forms to do the entries, I think it can move pretty quickly.

So starting today, I'm going for it. I've got my alternate email setup for it. I've got my spreadsheet to track what I'm entering. Then the winnings start piling up after that.

That's how it works, right? Anyway, I'm just kinda curious about it. So I'll be tracking what I'm doing and periodically I'll check in here to update what kind of progress, if any, is being made.

Here goes!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Since Amy and I have been married, every place that we have moved into has felt like it had some amount of serendipity to it. With our first place in Pleasant Grove we felt like we had made a decision and were about to move forward with it. I had left town to go to a bachelor party for Mike Reid and Amy was going the day I left to go sign the papers for it. We didn't feel 100% about it, but it felt close enough and we felt like it was time to commit to something. She decided to check one more time that morning, found a place that was cheaper and bigger and had a deck (which we obviously wanted) and saw it on her lunch break. I remember taking the call from her while at the Smith's Gas in Mesquite, NV as she told me that she thought we should take it. Not everything was ideal about the place, but it felt like the exact place we should have been and we loved it.

Last year, coming back from internship, we were looking for places coming out of Michigan. We had about a week window to look at stuff and commit to something for the following school year. We ended up finding one after the one we had originally called on had fallen through. The place was huge compared to everything we were looking at, was really close to campus, and was a good deal to boot. That place wasn't perfect either, but we just loved it and were so happy to call that place our home this past year.

So when we come out to Indiana to find a place to call home for the next however long we would call it that, I think we both had a feeling of wanting to capture some of that previous magic in our new house. We had been looking online for weeks, but nothing was really working out and we figured we'd arrive in Indy and then find and sign on a place once we got into town.

After visiting at least two dozen places, nothing felt right. We had been neglecting to look at Craig's list much because we felt like between HotPads and PadMapper, we were seeing everything that was out there, but on Friday night in our hotel room we decided to look again. All of a sudden we were finding a lot of new places that felt like really good options. We hoped to see and maybe even apply for at least one or two places by Saturday so that we could hopefully be moving into our place either by Sunday or early in the week. We obviously didn't want to be in a hotel much longer and I was about to start work soon so time was running out, but we just weren't hearing back fast enough.

We started to settle on one place, but it didn't feel optimal to either of us, but we were ready to apply and get the ball rolling. We took a second look at the place, but then decided that we should just drive past one that we had found that looked great, but only had an email contact. I was thinking that maybe we could find a "for rent" sign out front at least and maybe get a phone number that way.

We drove down and saw the front of the house and we knew that it was vacant. We inched along in our car, even passing the house, about to take off when we decided that we could ask the neighbors next door that we had seen a few questions. They told us a little about the house was supposed to have been sold, but the buyer dropped out, and now it was for rent and how the owner would probably love a lead. She had a phone number we could call, and that was when we were told the neighbors on the other side of the house were actually showing the place. Within a few minutes we were able to get inside, look around, meet our neighbors who just really felt like great people, and we were about decided to rent the place. Amy was on the phone with the owner and casually asked if he would go lower on the rent price, which he agreed to without hesitation, and then we had decided for sure that we wanted it.

The next day, Sunday, we went to the ward we would be attending and were thoroughly unimpressed. It just felt like it wasn't the right mix of people for us and that was something very high on our list. I had talked to a few different bishops of wards where it at least seemed to feel like we would be great fits for. We raced over to attend the other ward for the other home we were looking at in the ward that sounded like the best match for us, but that one didn't feel right either. We decided then that whatever hesitations we had on the church front, this still felt like the right place for us.

It may not sound like a big deal to anybody else, but all of that really led to us feeling like this was the place we were supposed to be. I'm not one to really feel like I lead a charmed life and know that a higher power is guiding me in all that I do, but in this particular area, my only conclusion is that I feel like the Lord is watching over us. It's been a few weeks now and we have loved the area, have amazing neighbors, and love the proximity to my work. The place has required some work to make it feel like our own, but I think it's working out great and it's just a really nice to feel like you are where you're supposed to be. We had submitted at least hundreds of petitions that we would find the right place and it feels like we found it. Thank heaven for that.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Found On My GoPro

On our most recent trip out to Reno and then to Vancouver, I finally started to really take advantage of the photography features found within the GoPro camera. I used the burst feature just a little bit in Hawaii, but while talking to my brother-in-law, Dan, I learned about the wifi capabilities of the camera, the ease of downloading pictures straight from the camera to my phone, and that just made everything that much easier. It's unbelievable. I feel like I have an entirely new toy to play with.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite images from the Reno trip. I posted a few to my Instagram, but didn't want to overload people's feeds. On my blog, however, I have absolutely no qualms about doing it. So here goes!















Can you see why I am so in love with Lake Tahoe? It is the most blue, beautiful water I've ever seen. It touches your lips and you feel like you should be drinking it, it's just so pure. And it's not like I haven't experienced some pretty rad waters in my time.

I just thought those were some fun shots. I'm really looking forward to California and what kinds of things I'll be able to capture there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Esteem As Of Great Worth

Some time ago I read these verses in 2 Nephi 33:
1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
 2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.
 3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.
I started to think a lot about what kinds of things I might include in my plates of brass that I would be passing down to future generations. What are the permanent and enduring lessons that I would take the time to etch into metal plates so that they would be preserved for all of my posterity to read? Am I learning the necessary lessons that I should be gleaning that will be of great worth not only to myself, but to my posterity? What are those lessons?

When you start asking those kinds of questions, I can appreciate a lot more why Nephi and other writers in the Book of Mormon apologize and almost timidly offer up their words for our reading. Knowing the gravity of your assignment adds a lot of pressure and would make anybody at least a little worried about how those messages are being received. On one hand, it is usually easy to know of the impact that lessons learned have on your own life, but how can you be sure that the message remains impactful to the person receiving it in written form only. Thank goodness for the Spirit, right?

This blog for a long time was a vehicle of expression for me about so many things - sometimes silly things, sports, politics, religious things, thoughts on dating, a travelogue, and more politics.

Going forward I hope that this can be a place for me to express some of my own thoughts and help me to clarify and crystallize my own feelings about things. Some of it will still touch on some of those different areas, but I'd like to stay closer to those things that I esteem to be of great worth, as Nephi says.

For anyone who's still out there, stay tuned.

Three Word Answers

As I ease back into this blogging thing, let me start off with something easy. This is an FHE that Amy's sister, Lisa, does with her family and has all of her kids do. We have been meaning to do it for awhile and we finally got around to it about a month or so ago in one of our own FHE's and I think it's a pretty fun thing to do, and something worth revisiting as some time passes and answers change.

There are a few things on here that would already change in just the short time that has passed since we did this, but I'll get to that in a different post.

What I’m proud of today: Scripture study plan
What I’m thinking about: Ear is clogged
Who is home: My little family
Plans tonight: TV, shower, skype
Feelings about love: It’s always present
Feelings about life: I can’t complain
What I need: Full time employment
What I want: Start in August
What I have: Plenty of time
My pet peeve: Being treated indifferently
My Guilty pleasure: Sugary carbonated drinks
What you don’t know about me: Loved Paula Abdul
What I can hear: AC and typing
What I can smell: Can’t, all congested
My Style: T-shirt and sandals
My hairdo: Simple, no fuss
My outfit: See “style” above
My mood: I’m feeling lazy
The weather today: Like starting summer
Thoughts on family: My constant happiness
Thoughts on marriage: Keeps me grounded
Thoughts on beauty: All around me
Thoughts on sleep: It’s always fleeting
Thoughts on writing: Crystallizes my thoughts
My favorite thing: Besides family? Activity.
My favorite food: Still say pizza
My favorite splurge: GoPro or vacation
My favorite treat: Texas sheet cake
Ten years ago: BYU senior, clueless
Five years ago: Getting Provo bearings
One year ago: Pregnant, nobody knows
One year from now: Back from France
Five years from now: Pregnant with 5th
Ten years from now: Living happily abroad
I’m famous for: Going to school
I’ll never be famous for: Loving telephone charades
Who I am: Highly educated unemployed
Who I hope to be: Highly educated employed
What I’m thankful for: Family, free time

One of the main reasons I want to get back to blogging is for the "Thoughts on Writing" question and answer that I have posted. Writing, for me, is such a great conduit for crystallizing my thoughts and feelings on different topics. Blogging is becoming irrelevant these days, but I love it as a form of journal writing that I can be/used to be really good at. I hope to get back to it with some more regularity.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Western Michigan!

Here's another video. We did this trip with Mike and Lauren and got to see Lake Michigan, Holland, and Grand Rapids. Holland was a bit of a letdown, but we had a fun time because our company was so great.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Trip Out to Cleveland and Kirtland

Our latest video. This was a really fun trip last summer when we got to meet up with some of our dearest friends, Andrew and Jessica Mitchell. We were all kinds of excited to share with them our news about being pregnant, but little did we know that she was also expecting herself and only weeks behind us. 

I don't love this video as much as some of my others, but it'll do. Here it is!