Monday, December 21, 2009

what we wake up to

This is the view out our bedroom window. I think it will be even more stunning in about four months when we will see more than just white and gray.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

it all started with a right-leaning water flow

This morning I learned all about water faucets. It was a self-education. It started with our bathroom faucet, which has a right-leaning water flow. I was sure if I just un-did the aerator and cleaned it up a bit with Lime-Away, I would be good to go. So, how did a 15-minute project turn into a two-hour one?

First, the aerator was TERRIBLY caked with sediment and mineral deposits. It took time to soak in Lime-Away, scrub with a toothbrush, rinse, and then soak again. (Repeat about 15 times.) And I didn't pay close enough attention when taking the parts off to see in which order they needed to go back.

A clean aerator.

Second, I decided I might as well do the other two bathroom faucets, which meant trudging up and down stairs. Not much of a problem, but I kept leaving important tools in other bathrooms.

Some of the supplies.

Third, I decided that I might as well do a VERY thorough cleaning job and take off the handle to clean it and around it. That required a new sequence of tools and more juggling of supplies between bathrooms. Oh, and without the handle, you can't turn the water on. Unless you have a wrench (which you remembered to bring with you).

Yucky, dirty.

Oh so clean.

Finally, since I hadn't paid attention to the order for replacing the aerator, I ended up needing to do a search online, which took me a good 20 minutes before finding an image that led me in the right direction.

And now the bathroom faucet's water flow has no leaning whatsoever--it shoots straight down the center. Mission accomplished.

turning a house into a home

Matt and I closed on our first house on November 7, 2009, two days before Matt had two solid weeks of business travel to Seattle and Europe. Here is what we fell in love with:

Yes, those are cabbages in front by the tree. Pretty cool, huh?

We moved in on Saturday, November 21, two days before my 29th birthday. What a whirlwind. Here is what it looked like the first day we moved in:

video

We hope to post more about how we are slowly turning our house into a home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

28 weeks

October 30 marked 28 weeks. (For those of you not used to referring to a pregnancy by weeks, I'll use other terms: six months.) I'm officially in the third trimester.

P.S. We will (eventually) put up pictures of the new home, so stay tuned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New home

We bought our first home today. We'll be moving to southwest Orem. I grew up in northeast Orem, and I never envisioned myself sticking around the valley so long, much less buying a home on the Mountain View side of town (I went to Orem High.) We had been looking off and on to buy a home for about a year now. We'd focused our search on Springville, where we currently live, since we really like this town for a number of reasons. However, we couldn't find a place that felt right.

We had been avoiding looking for homes in Orem/Provo, preferring to stay on the outskirts of Utah Valley. Actually, the home we ended up buying was the first home we even looked at in Orem. We saw it listed online one evening, phoned our realtor the next morning, saw the house two hours later, liked nearly everything about it, felt good, made an offer an hour later, and the sellers accepted our offer a few hours after that. It was amazing how quickly it went, after fruitlessly searching for months.

I wanted to make a few comments about the different people we interacted when we bought our home. We didn't know a thing about buying a home before we did it, so this is what I learned.

REALTOR: As a home buyer, it's hard to think of a reason to not use an agent. The seller pays the agent commission (the buyer's agent and the seller's agent split 6% of the price of the home), so you basically get the help of the buyer for free (as I understand it, if the buyer has no agent, the seller's agent gets the full 6% still). Additionally, you need an agent, as far as I can tell, to open up key boxes to look at houses. We used Donna Lee Henderson from Affiliated Realty Group. She is an old family friend that my parents and neighbors have used to buy and sell property. I appreciated her help and would recommend her. We felt bad because I think we must have looked at over 20 homes, but she was very patient with us, and there were a number of times that she was more excited to be looking at homes than we were, since we had started to doubt if we would ever find a house that we would want to move into at a price we would want to pay.

MORTGAGE BROKER: We initially worked with a traditional mortgage broker. However, I had heard ads for Box Home Loans on the radio and was intrigued by their tagline: "Your reward for great credit." We hoped we might qualify, so we checked out this company and realized that we would save about $3,000 in closing costs by going with them. That's really some incredible savings. I initially was a bit worried about using a company whose stated inspiration is In-n-Out Burgers--they want to be as efficient as possible and they only do "easy" loans. However, we found some good recommendations for them, so we went ahead. Honestly, Tricia and I didn't always feel like the loan officer assigned to us was always completely aware of everything, but he did a satisfactory job and it was evident that he always had a supervisor making sure he didn't mess up or forget something. (It seems that they recently made a rash of hires to meet the increased demand, and maybe we got a new guy). I would definitely recommend using Box Home Loans--that extra $3k that we saved will be mighty useful as we get ready to have our baby in January.

The weirdest part of the mortgage was trying to decide when to lock our rate. Box Home Loans lets you check the daily rate online, and it fluctuates every day, so we spent a week or two trying to get the pulse of the market so we could lock in on the very best day. We discovered that it's quite impossible to guess what the interest rate will change to each day (at least for us) so we finally just locked in a rate that we felt good about.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE: We discovered that we needed to get homeowners insurance before our loan could go through. Bear River Mutual turned out to have the best rates for us. It was really fun for me to discover as I tried to find an insurance agent that my friend TJ Bowen from college now works at LA Bowen insurance. We made him our insurance agent and it was nice to be able to reconnect with him. I'd always looked up to TJ in college and it was fun to be able to do business with him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

empathy

WARNING: This post will likely be ponderous--maybe even rambling. You have been warned.

Today on NPR, a scientist reported that studies of animals show many more instances of empathy than of greed. In fact, this scientist was proposing that today's animals have survived evolution because of their empathy, not their greed. Take, for instance, a mother monkey. When her child screams out for attention, she responds--mostly because her child might die if she doesn't.

As an expecting mother, I have thought long and hard about the kind of mother I want to be and the kind of environment I want to create for Henry (the baby's name--I sure hope he looks like a Henry when he comes out). As a human, I have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to responding to my baby's cry. Essentially, I have fewer predators to deal with.

But then again, do I? My main goal as a mother is to teach Henry TRUTH. And I know a lot of un-truth exists in the world. So maybe I won't have to deal with predators who will kill my child physically, but I will be dealing with a lot of predators who could kill my child spiritually (and emotionally). And I wonder what the warning signs will be? Certainly, I can be empathetic to a cry, but what are the signs of Henry latching on to un-truths? And will I see them in time? And how will I respond?

It turns out I don't have all the answers (sorry to disappoint), but I am comforted by the fact that I am armed with the SOURCE of truth. I plan to use that source as my first line of defense (or attack, as necessary) to envelop Henry in truth. Truth that will set him free.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday vacation

Trish and I had been talking all summer about a one-day vacation for just the two of us. We're lucky to live nearby lots of family, so usually when we come up with a fun idea, our next thought is to start calling some parents and siblings to drag along. However, we realized that our days of being able to run off by ourselves are numbered, since our baby boy will be born in January. So we designated this Friday as our vacation day.

We drove out of Springville Thursday afternoon and headed south to Manti, where we spent the night in the Temple View Lodge, right across the street from the temple.



The next morning, we had a neat, spiritually rejuvenating going through the Manti Temple.



For lunch, we enjoyed very tasty donuts and a delicious burger at Miller's Drive Thru. 15 years ago, I had played a tennis match in Manti, and our coach had brought us to this donut place afterwards. I had great memories of it, and I wasn't disappointed when I returned today. Best apple fritter and mushroom burger (on a freshly baked bun) that I've had in a while.



Afterwards, we drove north, meandering through the charming small towns, settled by Mormon pioneers, that dot Sanpete Valley. In Mount Pleasant we stopped for a chocolate shake and strolled along the historic main street. Then, in Fairview, we took a detour. Rather than heading straight home, we took a scenic route. The fall colors are just beginning to turn, so the aspen forests were a very pretty mix of green, red, and yellow. It snowed last night, so the white snow add to the pretty scene.





Our drive took us past Scofield reservoir. I had spent a week here at scout camp as a 12-year-old. One day, our troop paddled the large war canoe out to this island (pictured below) in the middle of the reservoir. A big windstorm came up and we got stranded on the island and had to find shelter. We were excited that we might need to spend the night, but within 30 minutes we were being shuttled back to camp by the camp staff on a powerboat.



What a great day! Thanks Tricia!

Monday, September 21, 2009

why I love my husband

He makes the bed every morning (unless I am still sleeping in it when he leaves for work). I didn't think he had time this morning, but after he left, I went upstairs and found the bed made. How delightful!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

fun project

Matt's nephew, Ike, turns five years old today! We sent off a (late) letter with a surprise game inside:
We made a memory card game with 20 two-by-two-inch cards on which we drew pictures, letters, and numbers relevant to Ike and his birthday. For instance, he loves cowboy boots. (See my attempt at matching cowboy boots above.) Matt helped include more "educational" cards with the number 5 (for how old Ike turned), the letters M and T (for Ike's siblings), and the number 17 (for Ike's birthday). 

Unfortunately, our markers bled through, so this morning I cut up some "Happy Birthday" paper and attached it to the back of the cards. (Ike is definitely smart enough to figure out how to game the system by noticing bleed-through marks.) I'm just hoping the paper is random enough that he doesn't start memorizing patterns that go together.

All in all, it was a very fun project--and made us more excited for the arrival of our own little boy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

growing grass

Thanks to Sandra, Matt's cousin, we got to grow some grass. As a table-top decoration. 

Here are the seeds,
here is the growing grass,
and here is the result.
We did give the grass a trim to keep things tidy. (Although I kind of like the modern-art statement of controlled chaos.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

second anniversary

Tuesday was our second anniversary (and my grandma's birthday, who celebrated her 85 years by starting a mission in the Family and Church History mission in Salt Lake). Matt bought me this GORGEOUS bouquet of long-stemmed roses to commemorate our two years. The piano was the most fitting furniture for this exquisite decoration.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to celebrate that day because I had my first-ever pinewood derby (in which I lost all my heats).

We did celebrate yesterday by going to the temple, eating out afterwards, and then watching an amazing set of tennis at the U.S. Open in which Soderling gave Federer a run for his money. And we continued the celebration today by finding out that our baby, due on January 22, is a healthy boy.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

transition

I haven't made the complete transition to the Mac yet--still working on logistics that may impact my teaching (since I teach my students how to use Word and PowerPoint). 

But I'm working on it. I hope that by the end of this week, I will only have one computer to deal with.

solitude

A few weeks back, we went on a hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon. I would have posted about the hike earlier, but we lost our camera. And then a few days ago, I found it. Hence, this post. The hike was DELIGHTFUL with cool temperatures and overcast skies. (I am a wimp in hot weather.) We found a little lake, but we also discovered a frisbee golf course. Matt played a few holes with my brother before heading down the mountain. I, on the other hand, took the tram down the mountain. (It was free.)



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

differences

I have lately been enjoying differences between Matt and me. Here are a few:
  • Matt starts writing an "s" by starting at the bottom. I start at the top.
  • Matt faces the water when taking a shower. I turn my back on it.
  • Matt swears by Macs. I prefer a PC. (Although, I admit that I am one day away from purchasing a Mac. My preferable PCs don't last past three years, while Matt's Mac is going on five. The cost savings are just too darn convincing.)
  • Matt likes to stretch before doing exercise. I always prefer stretching afterward.
  • Matt maintains order by throwing away (stuffing in the closet). I indulge in saving and organizing. (Okay, so I indulge in organizing--I do think I save too many things that just aren't that necessary.)
  • Matt actually likes the crawl space in our house. I pile up stuff outside of it for him to put in it, since I don't necessarily enjoy "crawling" around in our storage room.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer 2009

I graduated from high school 10 years ago! I actually really liked my high school cohort and was looking forward to going to my reunion last weekend, but ended up having to work all Saturday to get ready for a big presentation last week for work.

Yesterday, though, I swore off doing any T-Splines work for the first Saturday in memory and made a nice batch of cinnamon rolls, the kind that takes 5 hours to make, start to finish. This was very relaxing and they tasted divine.



Other things we've been up to lately:

Tricia bakes, too! Here she is making Rainbow Cake.



Before the Lavender Days 5K in Mona, UT, with my brother- and sister-in-law.



My grown-up baby sister's prom. We felt some satisfaction in seeing her dressed up for the date after spending days prom dress shopping with her. Pretty fun.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

5K

We ran the Springville UT Art City Days 5K this morning. I love road races--there's always so much positive energy. This was Tricia's first race ever and she did a great job of sticking to her training regimen to get ready for the race.

We had run the course last Saturday to get a feel for it, then today we stayed together during the race, along with Tricia's sister Christy. I was amazed at how well Trish stuck to pace she had targeted--at a few checkpoints I had observed, we were within 30 seconds of our pace from last week. Then Trish kicked it at the end and beat her targeted time by a minute!

Thanks to Mom Newman for coming down to cheer us on.



Saturday, May 30, 2009

Amish country

My cousin Sandra and her husband Justin were kind enough to take me to visit the Amish country in Pennsylvania over Memorial Day weekend. This is me enjoying how peaceful it was. Since this visit was in the middle of a busy business trip, the serenity of the simple Amish lifestyle was amplified. The unanswered emails in my inbox seemed less pressing, and it was a great place to "unstring the bow". I would love to go live in that community for a summer with Tricia.



Even the Amish country (we were in the city of Intercourse) isn't spared its own tourist trap drag on the main road. You don't have to be Amish to live in this area, though somehow going to an "Amish-style" restaurant that remains open on Sunday didn't strike us as very authentic. There were a few gift shops with typical gift-shop fare. Here was our favorite item: the "Faith Pig" with an apple springing out of its back. I wasn't aware of anyone in my life who needed a faith pig at the moment, so I didn't buy it, but if you have any ideas on the appropriate occasion to give such a gift, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

thinking half full

I have my problems, for sure, but they are small--so very, very small. And when I compare them against my opportunities, they are puny. Here are some glass-half-full notes:
  • I have time and opportunity to create. Cards, essays, poems, food, organized piles. Being able to create is a powerful tool.
  • I can read. I have books upon books upon books that I have read and piles upon piles that I have yet to read. Besides that, I can read maps, traffic signs, warnings, and care labels. And I can read God's word.
  • I have music. I can listen to music and create music (with guitar, piano, organ, or voice) to suit (or change) any mood.
  • I have dirt. I am a better person for having a spot of ground that is my responsibility to care for. The growth of plants is a miracle.
  • I have an interested mind. Yesterday I heard a new idea that has me thinking. The idea is that adults should be drawing as much as kids are encouraged to do in grade school. Just because you're not good doesn't mean you should stop. (Think adults playing basketball.) Wouldn't it be interesting to have a whole wall be painted in chalkboard paint so you could have an ever-changing mural, contributed to by family and guests alike? Lovely idea.

What are you own half-full notes?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

training

I've never been a runner, but running is the cheapest way to do consistent exercise without needing a group, a ball, and a court. So I run. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

But I've now decided to train. I'm going to run a 5K (I know, I know--it's only 3.1 miles) with the catch that I'll run the whole time. Now, for some of you marathoners, this is not a big deal. But for me, it is a good motivational goal.

You can check on my progress on the sidebar gadget named "Tricia's training." (As a note, a "cycle run" is a run where I alternate walking, jogging, and running.)

Here's to running 3.1 miles straight (and maybe losing some pounds in the process)!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bessie

Let me introduce you to Bessie. But first, let me explain a bit about my work situation. As an adjunct professor, I work in my home and my home is a split-level duplex. My office is on the bottom floor, with a big window that looks out over the carport and street (in the picture below).

During the winter months, our carport is empty after Matt leaves for work. And as the days get warmer, our duplex neighbor girls (ages 8, 6, and 4) start playing outside. And they seem to find our carport an especially interesting place for riding bikes, scooters, and such.

Bessie, the youngest (pictured below), rode her scooter in the carport today, and we had various 10-second conversations through the window about babysitters and rain and flowers and coats. Sometimes, when I'm especially busy, I don't welcome these conversations as much. But today I welcomed the child-like simplicity of our thoughts and ideas.

Nothing like being reminded of life's simplicity.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

bless BYU

You might have noticed that I have been missing in action for the last week (or so). I have a good reason: a computer virus. (I will try to not mention that I invited the virus onto my computer by clicking "OK" on a video-install button off a website that was supposed to be helping me understand the front differential of a car.)

Since I am currently working part-time for BYU (well, actually, I teach three classes, so I am working full time), the computer became a paramount problem. The information on my computer, aside from personal worth, was of great professional worth for me to finish off the semester! After the virus maintained signs it was not giving up without a good fight (i.e., its symptoms increased after I'd installed three anti-virus programs), I called BYU to see if their IT people could help me. I wasn't sure they'd be able to since I'm a part-time employee using a personal computer, but they agreed to help me. I left my laptop at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday in the Marriott School's IT Support office and got a call at 4:00 p.m. that said the virus was of the trojan horse variety and was unlike any virus that had been seen by the office: it mutated upon being found by anti-virus software! (Joy, oh joy.)

So, my computer was wiped clean and I was left in doubt as to whether my files would be saved. I will save you the suspense: my files were saved, but each step of the re-install of Windows ran into increasing problems, so I didn't have a computer until Monday afternoon.

I have learned a few lessons from this little experience:
  1. I like BYU, but now I'd like to hug and kiss BYU. Since "BYU" isn't a strictly tangible item that can be hugged and kissed, I will settle for unashamed praising of BYU (and its IT support!).
  2. I will not download stuff from the internet unless I'm ABSOLUTELY sure I trust the source.
  3. I will back up my files responsibly. (Responsibly = once every two weeks)

I hope this new-found wisdom will carry me through the end of the semester--a mere 12 days from today. Wish me luck...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

spring!

I have recently been enjoying a less-than-normal work load. My students are working hard on group projects and presentations, so I am mostly giving them class time to work. What all this means is two things: (1) less material to prepare for each class period and (2) almost no assignments to grade.

I have decided to turn this brief break into a personal spring break. Since I don't have the benefit of a full spring break, I couldn't celebrate by taking off to St. George for a few days. Instead, I celebrated by making spring decorations, of course. This morning I finished work on an idea that has moved through several phases throughout the last few weeks. You can see the necessary mess of the creative process below.

But the mess was worth it, because I really love the resulting pictures that are now representing the "seasonal" section of our living room.
And, lest the front door feel left out of the spring celebration, I made a wreath with small, colorful flowers and dried eucalyptus leaves ("so [our] apartment will smell mossy").
NOTE: Five points goes to the person who can name the movie from which the mossy quote was taken.

Friday, March 13, 2009

remembering chemistry

My sister-in-law pointed out (to my embarrassment) that in my last post, I made a small mistake. CO2 is, by current word and science standards, referred to as carbon dioxide. (You know, the "2" makes it "di.") No, our fire alarm does not have a CO2 monitor. I am sure our plants wouldn't mind a monitor to make sure they're getting enough CO2 to do their photosynthesis thing, but what I was actually referring to was CO, or carbon monoxide.

Ah, chemistry. I have, yet again, been reminded how one oxygen molecule can make such a difference.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

*beep*

I came in the door today at 2:26 p.m. and heard a small but piercing *beep.* I figured it was an indication that something was unplugged or plugged in for too long. So I went about normal coming-home business (using the bathroom, perusing the mail, getting papers situated), and the beep went off a few more times. So I decided to find it.

It is the fire/CO2 alarm. And it has constantly beeped every 30 seconds for the last two hours. I tried hitting the silence button to no avail. I can't decide if the steady beep is an indication that the monitoring controls are working or if it is an indication there's an overabundance of CO2 in the air. Does the steadiness trump the piercingness? Or the other way around?

Either way, I might just have to take this situation to extremes--and live without CO2 monitoring for a few hours. For the sake of my slowly growing headache.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

current thoughts


C.S. Lewis's description of a "humble man" has provided me with inspiration for how to interact with others:

"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Why Hello, Kitty!



Tonight a Taiwanese teacher uploaded a bunch of toy models his students made in T-Splines (the design software my company makes) onto our website forum.

I thought these were fun (click to see more images).

Storytime with Trish



Teaching the neighborhood kids about the virtuous life of St. Francis of Assissi at our ward choir "family home evening."


What a cute wife!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

writing instrument choice


For some reason, I cannot be content with a pen for very long. I fall in love with one and think it will last me a lifetime--until I find another one I just happen to like better. Take, for instance, the pens in the above picture, from left to right:

  • The red (a favorite color!) gel pen was great--until I didn't like its thick line.
  • The thinner red uniball pen seemed to be a better option--until I didn't like it bleeding through the pages.
  • The brown gel pen was fabulous for our wedding, and I still like to use it for various crafts. But it is too wide and "wet."
  • The TUL pen was something my friend Crystal introduced to me. I have loved it for the last two years, but recently, I don't think the ink line is substantial enough for some writing purposes.
  • The BYU Romney Institute pen on the far right is a current winner--but only on the big yellow notepad I use for making notes while preparing class lessons. I do NOT like using it to write on anything else.

Now, I may be picky about my pens (and a bit capricious), but I have always loved the wooden pencil. I used a mechanical pencil in high school for math problems, but I simply LOVE the feel and unique writing results of the wooden pencil.

the sun came out


first signs of spring


It took my sisters visiting me to point out that flowers were blooming in my front yard. (Yes, I've been a bit busy lately.) As northern travelers found themselves in daunting winter weather, these little yellow crocuses protected themselves by staying staunchly shut through the cold and gloom of yesterday.

What a wonderful surprise in the middle of February! The flowers' bright yellow and diligence in the cold have given me a bit of happy energy to move forward through the next month or so.

And I will be sure to post a shot of them open--when the sun comes out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

variety

Since January 5, I have been working between 30-50 hours per week to prepare for my students, respond to administrative matters, and teach. I try to start work at 8:00 a.m. and usually finish at about 7:00 or 8:00 at night. And I always have things I need to do on Saturday.

Yesterday I took some time in the afternoon to do more than simply prepare for teaching classes. I took care of other necessary items (e.g., renew car insurance, renew car registration, balance budget), but it helped me. I was a much happier person when Matt came home.

So here's a shout-out to creating variety in our life--and taking time to unwind and relax, even if that means crunching numbers instead of working on grammar.

But that doesn't mean you should procrastinate your work day (as I am doing right now)...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 in review

For Matt and me, 2008 was a year of growth. We grew intellectually (Matt finally finished reading Truman while I taught at BYU for the first time); spiritually (we re-memorized D&C 4 together); culturally (together we visited two continents, swam in four seas, and ascended 4,000 feet in a gondola); and, apparently, physically (after spending most of the year below the picture line, I am now in the full frame).

Here’s to more growth in 2009!