Rob’s New Office!

Last November Rob called me with some great news. Someone at work had moved, leaving an office open and available for the taking. Rob jumped on the chance and started working in it right away, staking his claim before clearing it with anyone. After a couple of days of camping out in it he got approval and now he has four walls and a closing door. How exciting!

One of the first things that popped in my head when I heard the news was, “Ooh, can we decorate it?!”

Rob initially didn’t think decorating was necessary even though he is working in that box all day, every day. He should feel good and comfortable and confident, right? And how could you possibly feel those things when you’re trapped somewhere that looks like this?

I mean, it’s not Aleppo or anything so I suppose it could be worse…but it could also be a whole lot better.

Ideas swirled. Initially I was thinking of a midcentury engineering office look (slide rules, perpetual desktop calendar, wire basket full of rolled-up plans) as ode to Rob’s grandfather. Max Williams was a water engineer back in the heyday when engineers ruled the world and every mother wanted her son to grow up to be one. He travelled the world getting pipes and damns up and running in places that had never before had them (Iran, Indonesia, etc.). Grandpa Williams inspired Rob to become an engineer himself so Rob keeps grandpa’s name plate, engineering stamps, and his vintage survey level on display as an ode to his legacy.

IMG_3948 (1)

Anyway, as much as Rob loves his grandfather he wasn’t feeling the midcentury vibe. It just isn’t him enough and that’s fair. My next idea was one that he got excited about. SPACE! Since Rob’s a space and sci-fi nut (with a dash of fantasy) we decided to head that route.

Now, only a few of the offices in his building are “decorated” and the ones that are simply have one wall painted and that’s about it. We pushed the envelope and painted two walls. Rob chose the daring color. Since these pics were taken on two different phones on different days, the paint color doesn’t match. In person the color is more mid-dark blue with a hint of gray. Also, the furniture isn’t so glaringly orange. Dumb phone camera pics that are hard to edit properly…

try1

The lamp was left in the office from its last inhabitant and Rob decided he really like its warm, homey glow so it stayed. We both loved the modern, spacey look of his new clock. The globe was mine when I was a kid and works perfectly here. I helped him arrange the stuff on his bookshelf, including the vintage brass train/boat lights and a concrete core and a basalt core among other random things. He keeps drumstick pencils on his desk. Someone shamefully swapped his large tree for a small plant on the floor by the window.

3

To add his personality into the decor, I suggested we scatter memorabilia from his favorite movies around the place. He’s got:

  • Sirius Black wand
  • R2D2 mug
  • Interstellar poster
  • Quote from Gimli (Lord of the Rings)
  • Star Trek Engineering insignia magnet

He rounded out the casual, “not-too-decorated” wall decor with two of his favorite space pictures. The eclipse as seen from his camp location in Idaho and The Hubble Ultra-Deep Fields photo. The image shows almost 3,000 galaxies in a region 5-10 billion light-years away from us…all in the equivalent area of looking through a straw at one spot in our night sky. Absolutely blows the mind to think about it. He loves that. He says it reminds him that “I’m not the center of the universe.”

5

Oh! I almost forgot about his fourth wall. There is a white board on it and Rob insisted on hanging a large map of the Mullerthal area we hiked in Luxembourg (even though it doesn’t match the “theme”. I conceded haha).

When it was all finished, he realized how much better it will be to work in his new “space”.  People walk by and give complements and when they enter they always notice something fun to talk about. It’s a warm, comfortable, inviting office that can be a haven from stressful working situations. Congrats on the new orifice (oops, typo…) office, babe!

Emotional Vomit (or Purge on a Page)

Gosh, I could talk for months about emotions. In fact, Rob and I have been doing just that. I usually have a pretty well-thought-out idea of what I want to say when I start writing, but when it comes to this subject my mind goes all over the place and I can’t nail down what it is that I actually want to say. So this time I’m rambling.

One thing I’ve been working on recently might seem small and petty, but that has helped me tremendously. It’s this:

I’ve riddled myself …my entire life…with substantially overusing the phrases I SHOULD do this. I SHOULD be like this. WE SHOULD. THEY SHOULD. IT SHOULD be this way. Also, I NEED to do this. I NEED to be like this. WE NEED. THEY NEED. IT NEEDS to be this way.

You get the picture.

I’ve come to realize how damaging this has been to my psyche/spirit, because when I say those things I’m not giving myself (or others) any wiggle room, any acceptance, any consideration, any way to ever be anything but an impossible, optimized version of what I deem to be “perfect”. 
I used to tell myself I was just an optimizer and if I wasn’t doing my best ALL the time then I wasn’t good enough. The problem is…not only is no one perfect (which I did already knew), but it’s not even possible to try my hardest to be as perfect as possible all the time (which I didn’t already know). In other words, I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I had to try SO HARD to be as perfect as I could be all of the time.

Trying so hard…because I SHOULD be and I NEED to…is exhausting. And painful.

One day I just woke up to what I was saying and realized how unnecessary, how untrue, and how damaging saying those seemingly little phrases over and over again have been to myself and others. I started changing those two tiny little awful words to I COULD do this. They COULD. It COULD be this way. Also, I WANT to do this. I WOULD LIKE it to be this way. It WOULD be nice if.

Doing that slight little shift has opened my eyes and heart to other possible answers and solutions. It has taken so much pressure off of me to always do the perfect thing or to be the perfect way. 

What am I getting at? I don’t know, honestly. There are a thousand other things I could type about.

Honestly, this last year of emotional growth has been an amazingly eye-opening experience for me and Rob, one that has brought so many answers to so many questions regarding:

  • Who we have been
  • Why we have been who we have been
  • Who we really are
  • How to be who we really are 

After all the emotional turmoil Rob and I have both been working through together we’ve learned so much more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. I mean, it was freakishly crazy when one moment we thought we really, deeply knew ourselves and each other…and then suddenly realize that we have to start all over from scratch. We abruptly came to find out that a lot of who we thought we as individuals were, is not really who we are, but a “part” or a “character” we’ve been playing to help us get through life.

We used to think to ourselves, “This is my just my personality.” Or, “This is just who I am.” As it turns out, there are reasons we have certain personality traits and they have more to do with coping mechanisms rather than the true person we actually are at the core.

Sure, maybe we’ve gone our whole lives thinking we are “like this” but what if we don’t want to be “like this” anymore? Guess what? We can figure out why we are the way we are and be honest to ourselves about how our life circumstances have affected us. Once we clear out those closets, we can hit reset. And breathe.

It’s been a miracle to finally realize that just because “I’ve always been…” doesn’t mean “I always have to be…” There’s a surprising amount of freedom we have found in finding out about, and learning how to let go of, the parts of ourselves that don’t accurately reflect who we are and who we want to be. 

Admittedly, it’s been an awkward and even a downright hard transition at times. Fortunately, we’ve both been entirely committed to working through it together. Two or our true personality traits are commitment and hard work. Thankfully we’ve both still got those pieces firmly in place. 
I’m fairly certain that every single marriage goes through a period of tear down and regrowth. If not, then there are probably some serious issues that haven’t been admitted or allowed to surface. Because…when you marry (especially when you’re both so young when it happens) how can you possibly expect either one of you to remain the same person throughout decades of life? If you do expect that, then there is obviously some emotional maturation that needs to take place. 
Emotional maturity. Gosh. I thought I had it. Rob thought he had it. Turns out, neither of us had a clue. But…now we do have a few clues along with a few tools that we are learning how to use. And you know what? It feels right. It feels real. It feels like we are finally learning how to really care about ourselves and each other in healthy, genuine ways. 
Yes, these last 9 months have been growing months for sure. Uncomfortable. Scary. Selfish. Maddening. Sorrowful. 
These last 9 months have also been incredible. Tender. Honest. Loving. Selfless. Healing. Forgiving.
Over my lifetime I’ve heard, thousands of times, people saying they’re grateful for and stronger from their trials and that they’d never trade them for anything. When I’d hear that, I’d always want to raise my hand high and shout, “I don’t believe you! I’m JUST fine just the way I am. I’ll grow on my own without needing any prodding from trials. I can make that growth happen all by myself and save myself from hard things, so I’d rather not test out that theory, thank-you-very-much!”
Well. Now I finally understand what everyone is talking about. My eyes have been opened to how God uses our own failures and shortcomings as opportunities to bestow bounteous blessings upon us. The stuff people say about being grateful for the lessons learned from trials is all true. At least, it can be if you’re committed, hard working, and humble. (I can also see how easily it would all go awry, depending on specific situations.) 
I’m not trying to get at anything here. I’m not necessarily trying to make a point and wrap this up all pretty. I don’t have any final words of advice or motivational quotes or helpful tidbits. Just rambling…for my own sake. Just getting these chaotic thoughts out so I can think and feel more clearly.
This is my emotional vomit, my purge on a page…because sometimes we’ve just got to let it out.

Remember Gratitude, Charity, and the Hand of God in our Lives.

Here is Rob’s talk from a couple of weeks ago. It’s really excellent. Drumroll, please…….

Julie so aptly and thoughtfully captured how gratitude can be experienced in life both in times of happiness and ease and times of difficulty. It doesn’t mean we deny the feelings of difficulty, sadness, loneliness, and pain. We feel them, understand them as the school teachers that they are and move forward by connecting with ourselves, loved ones, and the Lord.

I like to think of and teach the gospel in simple terms. In terms and through feelings that my children can understand and that I can internalize in a deep and emotional way. Living the gospel should ultimately help us feel good and whole. If I don’t achieve that in my efforts to live the gospel I ask myself why and see what comes up.

I’m not going to tell you or imply that you should feel guilty for not feeling enough gratitude. I don’t want to cheat you from the potential to feel gentle and uplifting feelings from the Holy Ghost. Today I hope to share my thoughts in terms which engender, faith, hope and charity.

The English author Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” I find myself all too prone to this tendency of ingratitude. There seem to be so many reasons to be detached from our blessings.

President Faust said that, one of the evils of our time is taking for granted so many of the things we enjoy. This was spoken of by the Lord: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” (D&C 88:33.) I’d never really thought about how taking for granted the things I enjoy was rejecting the heavenly gift. But it is!

The Apostle Paul described our day to Timothy when he wrote that in the last days “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Tim. 3:2.) These sins are fellow travelers, and ingratitude makes one susceptible to all of them.

President Faust also taught that gratitude is an expression of faith and a saving principle.

He said, a grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

Elder James E. Talmage said, “Gratitude is twin sister to humility; pride is a foe to both.” Humility is tied in with being teachable and being teachable opens us up to the blessing of further divine attributes.

Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”8

President Joseph F. Smith has instructed us that “the spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 262).

Gratitude seems to tie in with Faith, Hope, and Charity pretty seamlessly. I find this fascinating. So having a general attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving can lead us to the divine gift of Charity.

So how do we develop gratitude and recognize the hand of god in our lives when we live in such a fallen world and there is so much around us to drag us down?

Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? While we should be grateful and happy for the things we possess they will not be the things to connect us to others or to instill a deep sense of gratitude for the Lord.

Does social media make us happy and grateful? Really think about that for a minute. To me the answer is no, most of the time at least. I find it helpful and interesting in small doses. I’m very grateful that I can choose not to open the firehose of twitter when I need more calm in my life and I don’t want to disrupt my sense of gratitude.

President Faust said (in the 80’s), without question, we need to be informed of the happenings of the world. But modern communication brings into our homes a drowning cascade of the violence and misery of the worldwide human race. There comes a time when we need to find some peaceful spiritual renewal.

Those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy and social media cannot deliver: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, and the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted.

So how do we develop gratitude and recognize the hand of god in our lives? President Joseph F. Smith, provided an answer. Said he: “The grateful man / woman sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him / her the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his / her  life.” He continued: “Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!”9

President Smith is telling us that a thoughtful and prayerful life is the key to possessing gratitude and to allowing the good to outweigh the evil.

Bonnie Parkin (Past RS President) said that gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it. She said that gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.

President Thomas S. Monson stated: My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.

I feel prompted to share some things, attributes, and people that help me feel grateful as I close. This list not exhaustive; however, these things help me keep a balance in my life as I recognize that these good things are greater than the evil that surrounds me.

  • I’m grateful for music as a medium to express and feel so much emotion. There is music for every mood, for every experience. Despite my love of music I’m also learning that sometimes silence is needed to hear myself.

  • I’m grateful for mountains and for nature. I’m grateful to know that the Lord cares enough about natural beauty to create wonderful places for to enjoy. I’m grateful to live in a place so close to nature.

  • I’m grateful for long-form writing for its power to develop ideas and convey thoughts

  • I’m grateful for the art of listening. It is not a skill that I was blessed with but with great effort I’m making improvements. I’m regularly surprised by the insights and blessings that come from listening to people.

  • I’m grateful to possess a deep relationship with Julie. I’m grateful for her forgiving nature, her strong opinions, and her confident intuition. It is so great to know and hear her and also to be known and heard in return. I’m grateful that we get to grow together.

  • I’m grateful that heavenly father has blessed me with three children and I’m so grateful they start as babies and grow from there. I’ve needed time to mature and grow to be anywhere close to as good of a father as they deserve.

  • I’m grateful that the Lord uses our weakness as well us the perils of mortality to keep us humble, to refine us, and to teach us divine attributes. He doesn’t cause these things in our lives but I’m glad he uses them. It would be so much worse if we just had to suffer through them for no benefit.

I’m so grateful to understand that I don’t need to be perfect to be acceptable to the Lord. I’m grateful to know that by staying teachable, through open communication with the Lord and my loved ones, and daily practical repentance, I can be found acceptable to the Lord today, despite my weaknesses.

Fishing & Camping

A couple of weeks ago Nate and I went camping and hiking with the scouts in American Fork Canyon. We had a great time and Nate even caught his first fish! Here are a couple other photos from that breezy night at the lake. I shot all these in JPEG format so no raw processing was performed.

Nate was so proud of catching his first fish!
Nate was so proud of catching his first fish!
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 26.5mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 26.5mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 39mm 1/250s f/5.6, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Silver Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 39mm 1/250s f/5.6, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Ripples on the Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 18mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Ripples on the Lake taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 18mm 1/250s f/6.4, ISO 1600 and edited in Lightroom
Light Rays taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18-55mm Lens at 34.3mm 1/125s f/10, ISO 800 and edited in Lightroom
Light Rays taken on June 23rd with Fuji X-T10 and 18–55mm Lens at 34.3mm 1/125s f/10, ISO 800 and edited in Lightroom

Rob’s Talk: Emotional/Physical Health and Well Being (and Addiction)

Rob spoke in Sacrament Meeting last Sunday and I like to document our talks. This isn’t a full transcript, just notes, but you’ll get a good grasp of his thoughts.



“Dad, it feels good to really see right.” 


My youngest got a new pair of glasses yesterday after we learned that her vision had deteriorated a little over the last couple years. How pleased she is to correctly resolve the world around her!


A few years ago I injured my back and had quite a bit of pain in it and going down my leg. During that time I experienced much more difficulty being my usual pleasant self. I was edgy, short-tempered, and found that the pain cast a negative shadow on my experiences. 

Prolonged periods of highly demanding projects at work can at times induce enough stress to cast a pale attitude on other aspects of my physical health (lack of exercise and even feeling the stress physically at times).

I share these short experiences to illustrate a point. I’ve enjoyed a life relatively free of pain and stress. However, I find that even short-lived episodes of pain and stress affect my outlook, relationships, and spirituality. I can only imagine how much chronic pain would affect me. 

The For the Strength of Youth booklet states that we should seek healthy solutions to problems in all aspects of your life. I think healthy solutions include actions that tend to bring balance to our life rather than those that promote drastic actions. Why introduce a new stress as a means to resolve prior stress?

When I have back pain, I could be unwilling to accept my new limitations by taking on a new (intense) exercise and diet program, fester, continue getting annoyed because I can’t contribute in the same ways I used to, build up emotional barriers, whine, and re-injure myself due to lack of patience. Or, I could follow the advice of medical professionals, give adequate time for healing, do yoga to strengthen my core and back, and undertake another appropriate exercise program when the time is right. 

When suffering from work-related stress I could micro-manage, refuse to accept help, think that my spouse just doesn’t understand, build up emotional barriers, start an extreme organization system, quit my job, stop exercising, gain weight, spend less time with my kids, get less sleep, get sick, etc. Or, I could allow more people to get involved, maintain family, exercise, and sleep needs, take on fewer obligations, learn to say no, confide with Julie, and communicate with others. 

*Do all you can to safeguard your physical and emotional health so that you can fulfill your divine potential as a son or daughter of God.* 

This may include professional medical help and and mental health specialists. 

Addictions harm your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They damage relationships with family and friends and diminish your feelings of self-worth. They limit your ability to make choices for yourself. In the lightest sense, addictions redirect our time and attention from the most important parts of life. 

Watching sports, gaming, using social media, viewing pornography, abusing prescription drugs, drinking alcohol, or having a Twinkie or Nutella obsession seems pretty innocuous; however, all can be taken to selfish extremes, distorting our view of reality and what is important. 

 


Just like uncorrected vision in the case of Cara’s glasses, the affects of addiction take us from reality. It introduces secrecy, distrust, and dishonesty into our most sacred relationships.

Quote from Elder Holland, “If in the days ahead you not only see limitations in those around you, but also find elements in your own life that don’t yet measure up to the messages you have heard this weekend, please don’t be cast down in spirit and don’t give up. 

The gospel, the Church, and these wonderful semiannual gatherings (and Sunday meetings) are intended to give hope and inspiration. They are not intended to discourage you. 

Only the adversary, the enemy of us all, would try to convince us that the ideals outlined in general conference (and Sacrament Meeting) are depressing and unrealistic…that people don’t really improve, that no one really progresses. And why does Lucifer give that speech? Because he knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright future. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that. 

With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we CAN improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed. 

Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. 

Heaven is cheering you on today and forever.”

Alma 53:20-21
“And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all–they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yay, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.”

Testimony – gain and maintain physical and emotional health can improve our well- being and spirituality. We can use simple actions, family and friends, professional help, and the atonement to overcome imbalance, addiction, and stress. We get credit for trying.

If you are struggling with any type of addiction, seek help.

Mountain Biking

rob
rob

Last March on my 35th birthday I took the afternoon off work and took my really old mongoose mountain bike to corner canyon (one of the most commonly made bikes under multiple brands and it also happens to be the worst bike ever). I’d been interested in mountain biking for a while and wanted to give it a try.

Before investing in a new bike I wanted to take that old bike around the block a few times to prove to myself that I’d stick with it in the long term. After that fateful first ride I enjoyed myself immensely and also learned that a pair of good gloves is a necessity. Here is a photo of that old bike. Does it look familiar to anyone? I think almost everyone had one. Problem is that I rode one when I was 35…..

my old junk bike
my old junk bike

That day kicked off a great new hobby. I was very interested in pursuing this new hobby but stuck with that bike for about until December of 2015 when I upgraded to a Kona Hardtail Mountain Bike and started using Strava to keep track of my rides. See photo below.

My Kona on the Trail
My Kona on the Trail

Since that time I’ve been out to ride 67 times and logged 406 miles. Also during this time Nate got a mountain bike and joins me frequently on Saturday morning rides. He is actually quite good! He had a knack for choosing good lines and can really ride that trail. Sometimes we bring along one of his good friends to join the fun. It also helps keep them motivated.

I can’t complain about a hobby that has become excellent father son bonding time, is a blast, is great exercise, makes me feel alive, and I can do with many friends living nearby. Nate and I frequently grab a doughnut on the way home! Here are a few photos from our numerous rides together.

Nate and Me at Solitude
Nate and Me at Solitude
Lambert
Lambert
Bearclaw Poppy
Bearclaw Poppy
near santa clara
near santa clara
lambert
lambert
doughnut time
doughnut time
Nate & Easton
Nate & Easton
poppy
poppy

Those who know me understand that I love the outdoors. I feel the call of nature and want to protect it. I’m not a fan of motorized vehicles and the resulting noise. Hiking and biking are my methods of choice to enjoy the great outdoors.

There is something invigorating about climbing a hill or a mountain. Rising above the noise and commotion of the valley. I love it and look forward to many more years of riding with Nate and hopefully one or both of my girls when they are ready. Now I need to figure out how to stay fit in the winter.

crest trail 1
crest trail 1
crest 2
crest 2
crest 3
crest 3
crest 4
crest 4
kip
kip
lake
lake
todd on spine
todd on spine

14 Years Down…

Here is one picture of Rob and I for each year we’ve been together.

2002
Mt. Timpanogos temple in December. I was freezing but could hardly feel it because I was so happy!

 

2003
For our first vacation together (other than our honeymoon) we went to San Diego but first stopped in Tehachapi to visit my grandparents.

 
2004
I had some work training and testing in D.C. for a week so Rob tagged along. 
 

2005
Ahh, Paris. It was much more fun for me this time around because I wasn’t alone and I had my own personal translator with me!

 

2006
This is right after the blessing of our new son. My how our life changed that year!

 

2007
I was a couple of months along with Madeleine when I graduated with my business degree. Phew! I was so glad to be finished!

 

2008
We enjoyed a “babymoon” in San Francisco. And no, I’m not full term here. I still had 6 weeks to go!

 


2009
Portrait time.

2010
We took a weekend getaway to explore Capitol Reef, Boulder, Devil’s Garden, Kodachrome Basin, and Bryce Canyon.

2011
Another portrait.

 

2012
We took these serious-faced self portraits in our living room.

2013
This was our digital Christmas card.

 

2014
We get silly every now and then.

2015
Here we are just hanging out while the kids feed ducks.



2016
We loved exploring the Mexican ruins together!

Onward and upward to another great year together (and decades more) as best friends! 

Monthly Spotlight: October

Here we are the week before Christmas. Do you know what that means? It’s time to post about October!

First up, Caroline’s 6th birthday!

Since she is such a candy lover we did an All Candy All the Time party for her. We played candy-themed music in the background, played candy games, and decorated cupcakes with the candy that we won. The highlight was when I dressed Rob up as a “Human Piñata” and let the kids loose to chase him around the yard. It was hilarious and well worth the hour it took to hot glue 200 pieces of candy on his shirt. Unfortunately I lost the video 😦

We sent all the kids home on a serious sugar high! You’re welcome, parents.

My sister asked me what gift she could get Cara and I said bath toys… which I guess meant bath paint and crayons. I was seriously startled when I turned around one evening to find this! Geez! I guess we will call it even for when I got her daughter a big container of beads. Haha!

This is one of our favorite playgrounds and it’s even more fun when you’re there with cousins. It’s in Saratoga Springs if you’re interested in climbing the super tall pyramid or swinging on the best swings ever.

I love this picture of Madeleine in her braids.
Next up, Halloween! 

Madeleine received bins and bins of sewing fabric and notions from her grandma and has been very busy with her creations. She designed and sewed her own genie costume for her school Halloween parade! I’m in awe of her creativity!

Cara and I were at the store one day and she had a lot of fun dressing up as different food items!

I don’t have a picture of Nate in his costume. He decided to be a basketball player and just wear a jersey he already had from a couple of years ago. When I asked him why he decided on that he said, “Because I wanted a new basketball but I didn’t want to earn money to buy one myself. I knew if it was part of my costume you’d just buy it for me.” Sly kid…

When the girls were gifted some beautiful hand-me-down dresses from their aunt’s growing up years, they fell in LOVE immediately! They just don’t make dresses like this anymore, you know? So pretty and twirly! They started calling themselves “Old-Fashioned Girls” and two months later they are still wearing the dresses to church almost every Sunday.

Here they decided they wanted to look like “Creepy Dolls” slowly rocking in their chairs. Haha!

Rob bought a Sirius Black magic wand at Comic Con and really likes dressing up for occasions. As usual, he was too busy to put together a costume so Madeleine and I took it upon ourselves to help a wizard out.

I bought a long, black “Diva Wig” and cut it to the right length. Then Madeleine and I sewed some fabric together for prison garb. It was pretty easy since it was supposed to look all raggedy. Perfection not needed! Rob had time to spray paint the stripes. Looks pretty convincing, I’d say and he even won best costume at work (a spooky skull candlestick)!

Except someone did mistake him for Jesus…

The most hilarious moment of the evening was when our bro-in-law walked in dressed up as Rob himself!! He painted his hair and beard dark (he is normally blonde), put on glasses, found his best Rob Clothes, and brought some “Dirt Blueprints” to carry around. I’d say he really hit the mark!

Here’s Cara’s super creepy picture!

And finally?
Just waitin’ at the doc’s office… Your kid does this too, right?

That’s it for October! It was a great month!

The Arduous Story of My Sight (and Rob’s Miraculously Healing Eyes)

Warning: This is a very long and boring story. Proceed at your own risk.

-1989-

I failed an eye exam and got my first pair of glasses. Mind you, geeks weren’t cool back then like they are now. Nope, I was just a lowly, uncool geek. Still am, though.

(Ummm. Can we just focus on the silkiness of my hair and not on my
ridiculous glasses, lone fang, and double-decker bangs? Please?)

-1993-

I switched to contact lenses since I was entering junior high and had to Cool Up, for my own sake. Although, I don’t think it worked. Actually, I do know…it didn’t.


-1999-

I started wearing small glasses because they suddenly became cool. Soon after this I went back to contacts almost exclusively because my eyes get tired when wearing glasses.

(Ummm. Could this picture be any more pink? This was during my gothic-leaning days. 
Please excuse the weird hair. Strike that…the very weird hair.)

-Spring of 2016-

I started seeing double or “ghosting” when watching tv or reading. My night vision was suddenly reduced and I couldn’t read any road signs until they were right next to me. Even then, they were blurry.

(This is my thinking face while, or instead of, working.)

-June of 2016-

I went to the eye doctor with my complaints. He told me that what I was experiencing is normal as I age. Along with a slight prescription change in my right eye only, he diagnosed me with astigmatism in both eyes.

After fitting me with new contacts, I told him I still couldn’t see that well. He told me to take a week or two for adjustment and then he’d change the brand or strength, if needed.

-July-

I still couldn’t see very well so I went back to the dr. and tried different contacts and waited for adjustment.

-August-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and had him check my eyes again. He confirmed my astigmatism but gave me a slightly different prescription and I waited for adjustment.

-September-

I still couldn’t see well so I went back to the dr. and again, tried different contacts, and waited for adjustment.

-October-

I STILL couldn’t see!

I finally took the time (and expense) to get a second opinion from a different doctor. He and his optometrist both checked my eyes and not only gave me a different prescription than what I’d been given, but (here’s the kicker) told me that I do NOT have an astigmatism in either eye. At all!

I was given new contacts and I CAN SEE!!

This was after I had ordered a bunch of contacts from the old doctor (at the time, thinking my prescription was correct). When I tried to return them, the doc never took the time to see me or apologize for giving me bad vision for almost 5 months! I also didn’t get a refund for my appointment cost but he DID give me a year’s worth of lenses in the corrected prescription for free…most assuredly as a bribe to keep me from blasting a bad review all over online.

I’m still annoyed.

…………………………………………………………………………

Now, this isn’t the end of this dull story, oh no. This next part took place at the same time that I was having my contact lens issues, making for even MORE frustration:


-August of 2016-

Since my prescription changed slightly in June, I finally decided it was time to upgrade my glasses.

Buying lenses for me is really expensive due to the high prescription (-7.0 and -7.25). I hate buying glasses because I have a hard time finding frames that:

a) work with very thick high-index prescription lenses

b) fit my tween-sized face without boasting tween-themed colors such as hot pink and adornments such as kitty cats and peace signs

c) are stylish but not too stylish since I don’t want to go through the whole rigamarole all over again as soon as a trend passes on by

So, even though I like wearing glasses, it took a long time to find any that actually fit the criteria.

I finally found a pair in Murray. I paid the almost $400 it cost to get mediocre frames with expensive lenses. Then I waited two weeks for them to come in.

When I went to pick them up, I made the mistake of not taking out my contacts when trying them on. I just trusted that they would be great. Wrong move.

That night, I tried them on properly and noticed immediately that there was something wrong with the lenses. I could only see through a dime-sized hole! If I moved my head or eyes up or down or even just looked off center, I became very dizzy.

Back to the store they went to be fixed. On top of them being made wrong, they decided it was probably best for my prescription if we went to the second thinnest lens rather than the most high-index one.


-September-

I picked up my fixed glasses and tried them on in the store without my contacts in. The lenses were fine. I did a quick glance in the mirror and left the store.

When I got in the car I did a selfie to send to Rob but when I looked at the picture of myself I thought the glasses looked horrible! I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong but I knew I didn’t like them (after spending the $400 and waiting over a month for them).

When I got home I continued to study myself in the mirror, trying to figure out why I hated them so much after I loved them in the store. Finally, I noticed two things:

1- The frames weren’t the same color I tried on. The variation in the tortoise pattern was so different that they ended up being much darker than the sample pair.

2- Due to the thick lenses (even though they were the thinnest I could get) in the bigger frame, they really morphed the sides of my face. So when looking through my lenses at my eyes, the sides of my face looked way narrower, making the frames look way too big for my face.

This is where my breakdown happened. After looking, waiting, and forking up hundreds of dollars, I still hated them! Time to start ALL over again. Sigh.


-October-

I didn’t want to go back to Murray for the 3rd time to return my glasses so I found a closer location, told them my issues, and hunted for a new, smaller, and narrower frame that wouldn’t cause such extreme face morphing.  I didn’t really find any that worked so they ordered in a couple of pairs from a different store for me to try on. This meant more waiting.

When the frames came in I went and tried them on but one of them was too big and the other one was ugly. After more looking, I finally found a pair of child-sized glasses that actually fit, would work pretty well with my thick lenses, and weren’t too ugly. I ordered them and waited.

FINALLY it was time to pick them up. I took out my contacts, put on the glasses, and left the store. It wasn’t until I started driving in the daylight that I noticed a very large streak running top to bottom on the right lens. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

BACK to the store. It was determined that the coating wasn’t applied correctly at the lab, requiring me to send back the lenses to be redone. AGAIN.

{REMEMBER, all this was happening at the same time that my contact prescription was corrected so my glasses were ordered with the slightly wrong prescription. I couldn’t stomach calling and getting them corrected AGAIN so I just went with it. Luckily, they work just fine. Phew.}


-November 2016-

My new glasses arrive. They fit. The frames aren’t exactly what I wanted but they’re as good as I can get. The lenses are quite thick and cause some morphing. But again, it is as good as I can get.

That’s THE END end of my sight story. Super long. Frustrating. Maddening. Annoying. Expensive.

Worth it in the end? Eh. Not really. Whatever. I’m just glad it’s over. I’m hoping to wait a good long while before having to go through all this again.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I’ve thought about getting corrective eye surgery but no, it’s probably not for me.

MEANWHILE…

Rob required glasses before his mission and through the first 10 years of our marriage. Then, suddenly, his extraordinary eyes magically healed themselves to perfect 20/20 vision.

Yet, he isn’t satisfied with being perfect so he takes it a step further and wears glasses to get him up to 20/15 vision. To get said glasses, he just makes a request to an online store, they send him five pairs to try on, he chooses one, and he is out the door for a hundred bucks and no hassle (and, really, not even a need).

This doesn’t bother me at all
Nate now needs glasses to see the board at school. 
Caroline has needed a slight prescription since she was three but still doesn’t wear them often. Madeleine, so far, has vision perfection just like her dad and will probably never need glasses. 

Redman Camping Trip 2016

In early July I took the kids on a quick camping trip. If I don’t go camping at least one or two times per year I’m likely to get pretty grumpy!

It is sometimes difficult to get a reserved campground on a Friday night in a local canyon so I decided to shoot for the Redman Campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon which is first come first serve. The campground is located near the top of the canyon between Solitude and Brighton Ski Resorts (the best campground are always at the top of the mountains).

We arrived at the campground around 11 am to find that only one campground remained available; however, the campsite was still occupied and would be for a couple more hours. We parked our car next to the campground and started wandering around the environs. We had a good time just goofing off in Nature while waiting a little while for our campsite. Here are a few photos we made during that time.

After getting the tent setup we played games and explored the area.

Julie came up that afternoon (she is not much into sleeping on the ground these days) to do an activity with the girls while Nate and I went mountain biking at Solitude. We had a great time.

We cheated a little on this camping trip at went to get pizza at solitude because our dinner plans for cooking over the fire didn’t quite work out. The pizza was really quite good.

That evening and night we had a blast doing all of our traditional camping activities; roaming the woods, cutting wood, roasting marshmallows, star gazing, and telling stories around the campfire until we are too tired to stay awake.

The next morning we lit an awesome fire to warm us up, ate breakfast, played in the woods a little more, and then cleaned up camp.

We headed up to the Brighton store to get a little more food before heading to Doughnut Falls for a good Saturday hike.

We made it too the falls in record time and even conquered the upper rock scrambling portion of the trail. Way to go kids!

We had a great outing and look foreward to the next time.