Archive for August 2007

End of Summer Play Day

The kids are off track for another week so I decided to do something fun this week so they don’t get too bored with me at home. We packed up a picnic lunch and headed downtown to temple square. The kids love to see all the brides getting their picture taken and they love to go up the elevator to the top of the Joseph Smith Building so they can see the view from up their. The kids love the elevator because it goes pretty fast. I remember when I was a kid, our family visited a relative who worked in the church office building and I thought those elevators were pretty speedy, I think my kids would love going on them. Sam got mad at me when we were at the visitors center because I wouldn’t let him go on the escalators. I am sure he would have loved it if I let him go up and down them to his heart’s content, but I don’t think the missionaries would have allowed it. We had our picnic lunch outside at the plaza just outside of temple square. They have nice tables and chairs there, except a business man beat us to a table in the shade so we had to get one in the sun. Luckily after a while a table in the shade was available so we switched places. After lunch we went over to the temple and I took the kids’ picture. By this time I was hot and tired so we headed headed home. Now I have one more week to keep them busy so they don’t get bored.

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Diana’s first day of preschool

It was momentous when my last child was finally potty trained and I could finally say goodbye forever to diapers. It is even more momentous when she finally gets to go to preschool just like her older siblings did. On the first day of class I decided to walk her in so I could get a couple of pictures, Diana loves to pose for pictures. When we finally got to class she just went right in and didn’t even look back. I got to peek in the class before I left and noticed a couple of kids who didn’t like preschool quite as much.
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When I came to pick Diana up she wasn’t quite as happy. The teacher told me that when they got the kids together to get ready for their parent’s to pick them up Diana decided to wander off to a different classroom and got a little upset. I guess I need to pick her up a little earlier so that doesn’t happen again.

To new car or not to new car – that is the question

Several days ago my car, a 1996 Saturn – 11 years old with 101000 miles, started exhibiting funny symptoms on the way home from work. First, the battery light came on and then the speedometer started fluctating widly from 60 MPH, the speed at which I was driving, to 0 MPH and then back up to 60 MPH. It seemed especially bad when I turned on the air conditioner so I left the AC off and proceeded to drive home with a semi-functioning speedometer. It got hot in the car so I rolled down the windows and noticed that they went down but went very slowly. I then discovered that when I used the turn signal the radio made wierd noises – obviously something was seriously wrong with the electrical system of the car. I finally made it home, called the Saturn dealer, and made an appointment to take my car in the next day at noon (I had a meeting at 10:00 a.m. that I couldn’t miss).

The next morning Nancy was on high alert in case the car died on the way to the office and I needed an emergency bailout. As I stared up the Bangerter highway, the symptoms were worse than during the previous night. I came up to a traffic light on 45th south and Bangerter Highway and the engine just shut off. The car was dead – kaput. There I was, stuck on the Bangerter Highway with the light about to turn green and cars coming up behind me at 50 MPH. Fortunately, I was in the right hand lane and was also on a bit of a downhill slope so I was able to get out of the car and push it off to the right side of the road. I called Nancy on her cell phone and asked her to come pick me up and take me to the office because I simply couldn’t miss my 10:00 meeting. I then called Saturn and asked if they could send a tow truck to take the car to the dealership. They gave me the number of a tow company and I called and gave them the location and told them the keys would be in the glove compartment. Nancy arrived in time to whisk me away to my meeting.

After the meeting was over I called Saturn and was relieved to learn that they had the car safe and sound and were working on it. It turned out that the alternator had failed. With a new alternator in place the car fired right up. There have been several other problems with the car such as the clutch wearing thin, steering problems with the front end, and a possible oil leak, so I decided to leave it overnight at Saturn. The promised to investigate further and determine if additional repairs were needed. I hitched a ride home from the office with my boss who always leaves a few hours early. Because I got home so early Nancy and I decided to go check out some new cars. If the dealer came back with a several thousand dollar repair estimate, we would have to make a decision about whether to sink money into the Saturn or bite the bullet and buy a new car. We really can’t afford a new car but we also can’t ignore the fact that the Saturn is nearing the end of its useful life.

I’ve been researching new cars off and on over the past year or so and have determined that the two most popular foreign sedans, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, would best meet my needs. They have the best gas mileage, the best long term satisfaction, the best long term resale values, and the best long term maintenance profiles. First we set off to Toyota to test drive the Camry. I liked the V6 Camry – a nice smooth ride and good gas mileage (not as good as the 4 cylinder but the best for a V6 in its class). I also liked all the bells and whistles such as leather seats and the cool Bluetooth interface to cell phones so that you can talk on the phone through the car’s audio system hands free (a feature that works very well on my boss’ BMW). We then went to the Honda dealership and drove the equivalent version of the Honda Accord. The Accord seemed much more workmanlike and had a stiffer ride than the Camry (the salesman stated that the Honda’s suspension was more “sporty” than the Camry). The Accord is also significantly cheaper.

After 15 minutes of test drives in each car (with 30 minutes afterwards to extricate ourselves from the vultures at the dealership) we proceeded to head home and fret about whether or not we should buy a new car. Sitting in the brand new car, playing with all the bells and whistles, experiencing the comfy ride – compared to driving my old beat up Saturn for another 5 years it made things easy from an emotional standpoint: buy the new car and junk the Saturn. Looking at our budget, researching interest rates, figuring out monthly payments – compared to having no payment for the last 6 years it made things easy from a financial standpoint: skip the car and continue to drive the Saturn. I waffled back and forth all night thinking “let’s buy the car”, “let’s wait”, “no, let’s buy the car”, “no, lets wait”.

In the end, the Saturn dealer called back and stated that they didn’t think the clutch or the front end steering needed to be replaced just yet and that the car was ready to pick up. That clinched the deal for me and I hustled back over to the dealer and picked up my trusty old steed before my emotions won out over my pocketbook. I’ve now resigned myself to driving the old Saturn for several more years – or at least until the next major breakdown. The problem is that every time I see a new Camry zipping down the road I get a wistful feeling and have to keep convincing myself that the Saturn will last a few more years, that we can’t afford a new car, that it’s a want and not a need, etc. Don’t be surprised to see me driving good old faithful for a few more years – the financial concerns are winning for the moment. Don’t be surprised to see me driving a new Camry either because Mr. Hyde will eventually win out over Dr. Jekyll in the end.

Where the sidewalk ends

BYUFan and I have started walking every morning so we can start getting into shape. On our way home today we walked past this sign which made me chuckle. I wondered why anyone would need a sign when they had their eyes to see the obvious. Then I realized that this sign was there because of the wonderful work lawyers do in our society today. I didn’t have my camera with so I had to wait until later. Anne and Caroline came with me to take the picture, but Anne was too embarassed to take her picture in front of it because of all the cars passing by so Caroline got to pose all by herself.

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Buddy’s haircut

At the beginning of last week BYUFan told Samuel that he would give him a haircut. Those of you who know BYUFan, you know that he didn’t do it right away because of his busy schedule. Day after day Samuel asked him if he would do it. Finally on Friday night BYUFan got the clippers out and gave Samuel a nice short haircut. Even though Samuel has had quite a few haircuts in his life, he is still very wiggly, especially when you get too close to his ears. I think BYUFan did a great job even though his little charge was a wiggly little guy.

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Bon Voyage Cousins

The plan for Saturday was to spend all day doing yard work. I started out well and got a lot done but by noon it was so hot that I decided to pack it in and quit early. Fortunately, the second half of the day was much more fun than the first because Kelly called up and said she had a few hours to kill before going to the airport and wanted to see our house. We were only too happy to have some company on a hot Saturday afternoon and said “come on over!”. After a tour of the house and a few minutes on the XBox we decided to head over to the pool for an hour for one last summer vacation swim before leaving for the airport.

I didn’t see much of Quincy because she hung out in the kiddie pool the whole time but the older boys and my kids all had fun swimming together in the main pool.

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Preparing for a chicken fight

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Caroline and Quincy in the kiddie pool

Everyone was having so much fun that the time to leave for the airport came all too soon. Actually, I’m glad that the airport time came soon because any longer and I would have been fried to a nice lobster red color had we stayed any longer.

Grandma Connie’s Birthday

Kelly’s been in town the past week on vacation. For her final hurrah she planned a big birthday dinner for Grandma Connie for all the available children and grandchildren in SLC. We had reservations at 6:30 for 17 people but unfortunately the restaurant didn’t quite understand the concept of a reservation (Sienfeld allusion) so we ended up waiting for about a half hour before we were seated.

I sat next to Wells, Eli, and Jack. I’m not sure how it worked out that way but the boys were fairly well behaved if a little over-talkative. Wells ordered pizza, ate one slice and announced he was full. Eli ordered macaroni and cheese, ate three bites and announced he was full. I guess the excitement of eating out with all your cousins tends to dampen ones appetite. Interestingly, one’s appetite comes back amazingly fast when the waitress comes by to take dessert orders.

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Thanks to Kelly for planning the event and happy birthday to Grandma Connie.

A Jaunt to Jacksonville

I got home from Orlando late last night and was glad to be home. The trip went fairly well but I still prefer staying home to business travel. The best part of the trip was visiting with Melissa and her family. On Monday the exhibit hall closed at 4:00 p.m. so I hopped in the rental and drove the two hours up to Jacksonville.

When I pulled into Melissa’s driveway I was amazed to find that they live right on the edge of the woods. I can just imagine the fun that Melissa’s boys will have in the woods once they get a bit older. They had made a cute “Welcome to Jacksonville” sign for me. The boys were a bit tentative at first to see me but after reading a couple of “Cars” books to Mitchell they seemed to warm right up to me. Melissa’s new house is beautiful and their master bathroom is a masterpiece. I thought I had a big bathroom until I saw Melissa’s. Hers is unreal.

After a few minutes of chatting and touring the house we all piled into the car and went out for dinner. The funnest part for me was watching M’s and W’s antics and watching Aunt M fret over them. I liked to observe the various strategies they employed with sippy cups and making sure to order the right kinds of things to keep the kids happy. I chuckled thinking about how Nancy and I used to employ the same techniques when we had two kids that age. Of course, now that our kids are old enough to stay home by themselves, Nancy and I just leave them home when we want to go out for a nice dinner. Don’t worry Melissa, soon enough your boys will be ordering off the adult menu and then you’ll be leaving them home while you and Kyle go out and enjoy a nice dinner by yourselves.

M and W are complete opposites when it comes to eating. Mitchell just sits there with a grin on his face and eats whatever you happen to set in front of him. W nibbles like a bird and is generally opposed to eating whatever you happen to set in front of him. Of course, W perked up quite a bit and didn’t seem to find fault with the Cold Stone Creamery ice cream that we had for dessert. After dessert we headed back to Melissa’s house for a few more minutes of chatting. W surprised me by looking at my rental car and naming the make and model. I didn’t even know what make and model it was until W pointed it out. I knew he liked cars but I didn’t realize he was an automotive genius. I then said goodbye to the boys and made the drive back to Orlando.

Thanks Melissa for letting me come and see your family. I had a great time. Nothing like a little trip to see relatives to brighten up an otherwise boring workweek in Orlando.

Greetings from Orlando

I’m here on a business trip through Wednesday. We’re doing an exhibit at a convention for various government agencies. I’m personally a bit skeptical about how much business we’ll actually generate by coming to this convention. Government agencies are notoriously slow and are usually underfunded. In addition, the purchasing process in many states is a politicized landmine of red tape. That being said, the bulk of the trip is being paid for by one of our vendors and we just completed a huge project for an agency in Utah that we are presenting as a case study so it makes sense from an overall business prospective. I guess that’s why I’m not a salesmen – I tend to view these conferences and conventions skeptically. I’ve never bought something based upon what I saw at a conference/convention and I’ve never really gained much technical knowledge by attending a conference/convention so I just assume that nobody else does either.

A big drawback of this convention is that it’s being held in Orlando in August. It is hot and humid. I mean really humid. Southeast Asia-like humidity. Did I mention it is humid? I’m guess that the convention center here in Orlando must give big discounts to land conventions here in August because anyone that pays full price for weather like this is crazy.

On the other hand, this convention location has a positive: I get to drive up to Jacksonville tomorrow afternoon and take Melissa and her family to dinner. I brought my camera with me so I could get some pictures of our exhibit booth and I hoped to get a few pictures of Melissa’s boys; unfortunately, when I tried to turn on the camera this morning it wouldn’t come on. I’m hoping it’s just a battery that needs recharging (of course I forgot to bring the charger) as opposed to something wrong with the camera. We really like this HP camera that is also Grandma Connie’s favorite. I personally didn’t believe Grandma Connie knew much about selecting cameras but after using this HP for a while I have now changed my opinion and have a newfound respect for Grandma Connie’s camera-chosing abilities.

First day of kindergarten

Today was the fourth time I have taken someone for their first day of kindergarten. Samuel was so excited for school to start today he got all ready two hours before he was to go and after that he kept bugging me asking, “can we go yet?” It was a relief when it was time to go. He will be taking the bus to school, but today I decided to drive him because I wanted to get some nice pictures of him at school with his new backpack on. He is now like his big sisters and when he came walking down the street after getting off the bus he had a great big smile on his face and was excited to tell how well his first day at kindergarten.

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