01 April 2012

P90X Day 90

Here are the 90 Day photos of P90X:

22 January 2012

Pedantic Fixation: Baby Pictures!

Pedantic Fixation: Baby Pictures!: A BIG thank you to my awesome cousin at Pink Daffodil Photography who took these pictures for us. Warning! This post has a lot of pictures!...

31 December 2011

Of Mice and Nate...

WARNING: Some images in this post may be considered graphic, offensive, or simply make you say, "gross."

Back in October, Vicki and I were forced to move for the second time in less than a year. We loved our little home in Millville, Utah, but the owners had decided to sell the house and the new owners opted to live upstairs, where we were, rather than downstairs where they originally told us they planned to.

Vicki and I were skeptical that they really would prefer to live downstairs so as soon as we knew they were interested in buying we started the search for a place to relocate. Over the last five years, we have developed a pretty efficient and accurate system for finding places to rent, but we had only two weeks or so to find a place that met our standards. On top of that Vicki was seven months pregnant and our housing needs were increasing by one.

After lots of searching, we settled (notice the emphasis) for a three-bedroom two-bath house in Hyrum. It was the only one of the options we both thought met our needs, even though it was well above what we felt we should pay for rent (we have never paid more than $600/month in rent and utilities 'til now).

We had a lot of help from friends and family (thanks) and moved in on October 15th. Two weeks later we realized we weren't alone.

I had left an unfinished cup of 7up or Sprite— don't remember exactly which one of the clear lemon-lime libations it was— out on the counter next to the fridge after a night of gaming (PS3). It was the next day that Vicki, whilst reaching for something in the cabinets above bumped the cup with her baby bump and knocked it over, spilling its contents to the floor and under the fridge.

It was one of those moments where a pregnant woman realizes just how pregnant they are and that their fifth appendage can be dangerous if not controlled. It also revealed how dirty and unkempt our new home was.

I moved the fridge to clean up the spill before it got sticky, but I remembered too late that you never move a major appliance unless you plan on spending the next 24+ hours cleaning your entire house. Upon moving the fridge, I instantly recognized the tiny brown pellets that should make any home owner/renter feel angry, scared, violated, and intruded upon.

We had mice.

It wasn't clear initially if the rodent roommates were still around or had merely once occupied a home that renters before us failed to be as concerned with cleanliness as much as Vicki and I.

I had my wife and our yet-to-be-born child leave the room, put on my mask and started cleaning. As I cleaned, I began to believe more and more that the nest behind the fridge had been vacated long before we had moved in. I thought my speculations were confirmed when I removed the back covering of the fridge and was instantly cast in an episode of CSI: Muridae.

Evidence that our rodent friend had quite literally moved on was comforting to Vicki and myself. From what I could tell, cause of death was hyperthermia due to the mouse getting a bit to close to the motor of the refrigerator.

Time of death was unknown and was difficult to determine due to the amount of dust and lint collected around the motor fan making it appear like years had passed.

As I used a close hangar to peel the coagulated corpse from the frame of the fridge to dispose of it, I remembered what I thought was a vision I had the night before the spill.

While playing Playstation 3 the night before the said beverage spill, I had thought I saw the shadow of a mouse run underneath the fridge.

04 December 2011

A great week that included Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and probably is my favorite just above Independence Day, so it is no surprise that this past week that happened to include the fourth Thursday of November was one of the best weeks I have experienced in a while.

The span of seven days was a memorable one that started on Monday Nov. 21 and culminated in a great Sabbath day on the 27th. The week included me crossing an item off of my 30 by 30 list, reconnecting with my childhood, experiencing my first and likely last Black Friday moment, and a spiritual moment that reminded me how influential and special the women in our lives can be.

Here is how it all went down:

Monday November 21st, 2011

After a day of work, Vicki and I spent the waning hours of the day relaxing. She sat on the couch rooting me on while I spent some time with the Sony Playstation 3 (PS3).

It has been less than a year that I finally came out of the gaming closet and purchased the gaming system that "only does everything." After years spent watching my friend Dave Brown play his gaming systems in the basement of his parent's house—always enthralled with the storyline of the games and only occasionally picking up a Sixaxis Wireless Controller—I finally, with his encouragement pulled the trigger and purchased my own system March 2011.

One of the first games I purchased was a used version of EA Sports' NCAA Football 2011 off of eBay. The Sony Playstation network, like most gaming systems, has a built-in trophy system that awards and keeps track of users achievements to give you the false sense of accomplishment for the hours of time you could have been doing something much more productive.

Dave has an impressive amount of Playstation trophies he has accumulated over the years including an admirable 12 platinum trophies--the highest level of award indicating all achievements in a game have been acquired. Dave explained to me that he hasn't been much of a sports game player in recent years but that they tend to be difficult games to earn a prestigious "plati" on.

It was likely on this basis that Dave—always considered my gaming mentor—wagered $1 million if I were to obtain a platinum trophy on NCAA Football 2011. Naturally the instinctive yearning for the student to beat his sensei kicked in; challenge accepted.

As motivation, I added the NCAA 11 platinum trophy award to my list of things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 30 years old. It also just helped me fill in an empty slot on the list.

My first NCAA 11 trophy was earned at 1:55 p.m. on March 22, 2011 and the final trophy was earned Nov. 21, 2011 at 9:27 p.m. which resulted in my first platinum trophy and another item being crossed off my 30 by 30 list.

There is something special about hearing that little chime indicating a trophy has been earned. In fact Vicki has become accustomed to giving an "Alright! Trophy" cheer from down the hall when she hears it. She has actually become quite the trophy hunter herself in the games she plays (Yep. You heard me right, she plays. My wife is awesome).

I gave a Facebook shout-out to Dave for helping me with the accomplishment as well as my other friends Mike and Tim who participated in an online dynasty with me in the game.

Monday night ended with my favorite NHL player, Sidney Crosbie, returning to the ice for my favorite NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins (yes, I occasionally watch hockey and no I have no Canadian roots). Sid the Kid had a great game after a 10-month hiatus from a concussion scoring two goals and assisting on two others.

Really the only down side to Monday Nov. 21 was the fact that the Miami Hurricanes football team had it's 149-game streak of a former player scoring a touchdown in a NFL game end.

Tuesday November 22nd, 2011

The excitement continued on Tuesday when the UPS man knocked on my door (always a good thing). I opened the door to find that all too familiar Amazon cardboard box smiling up at me.

The box contained a novel I had purchased exactly five months earlier. The novel was Micro, the latest, and likely the last, novel penned by my favorite writer Michael Crichton. Though Crichton passed away more than three years ago after a private battle with cancer, he continues to challenge our preconceived notions of the world around us in a an entertaining and dramatic way that I have enjoyed since I first picked up his novels as a sixth grader.

Micro is the second book released since Crichton's death in 2008, and was worked on while he was going through cancer treatments. Never finished, author Richard Preston was selected by Crichton's agent to complete the book. The book is dedicated simply to "Jr." the son Crichton's wife was pregnant with at the time of his passing who born four months after his death.

I have been collecting the first-print hardback versions of Crichton's books ever since I had enough money to buy books. The first one I purchased at time of release was Timeline in 1999. I own most of his novels and have some of his non-fiction books in my cross-hairs.

In fact, while writing this, I have decided to add completing the collection of his books to my 30 by 30 list as well.

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 

The day before Thanksgiving was a trip to see the heroes of my childhood that have been entertaining me throughout the years.

Vicki and I went to see The Muppets on opening day.

I don't remember which movie it was that I first saw the trailer that portrayed two of my current favorite Hollywood stars, Jason Segel (How I met Your Mother) and Amy Adams (Enchanted) in what appears to be a romantic comedy, but I nearly stood up and cheered when it was revealed that Jim Henson's Muppets would be on the big screen again.

As a life-long fan of Jim Henson's imagination and creativity, I have always loved the Muppets, the Fraggles, and even own the dual pack VHS cassettes of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth (still covered in shrink wrap to preserve), but I have never had the chance to see Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and the gang in a theater atmosphere.

I was anxious all day in anticipation of going to see the movie, but at the same time a little nervous that I might walk away disappointed that the group of loveable puppets I have been in love with for so long might have their image and brand tarnished.

I was far, far, far from disappointed.

Segel and the group of writers, directors and producers that made the film did a wonderful job. I was laughing, crying, reminiscing, and falling in love with the Muppets even more from the second I looked into those familiar ping-pong ball eyeballs.

Overwhelmed with nostalgia and wearing my Electric Mayhem t-shirt, I found myself welling up with emotion frequently throughout the movie. I even caught Vicki tearing up a few times.

I have seen the return of a lot of my favorite childhood characters and I must admit that this one was one of the best for me. Those that know me well know that I don't go to movies at the theater very often unless I expect it will be worth it. When I went to see Transformers in theaters nearly four years ago I found myself crying every time Optimus Prime and his crew members made an entrance. It continues to happen in the subsequent movies of the trilogy as well. The Muppets was a similar yet different feeling that felt closer to my heart.

Unlike the Transformers, the Muppets never really left us for a long period of time. They have lingered and continued to show up on board games, holiday specials, and have been apart of an occasional movie every few years.

Their 2005, television film The Muppets' Wizard of Oz came out while I was still on my mission and unfortunately was somewhat tarnished by forced celebrity cameos that interrupt what would have been an otherwise charming and clever movie.

The Muppets of 2011, return Kermit and the gang back towards the characters Henson first introduced us to and in fact felt like the moving paid long-overdue homage to the puppets that make us believe in imagination and the human spirit.

If you haven't seen it yet, or weren't planning on it, I suggest you do, especially if you are already a long-time lover of the Muppets.

Thursday November 24th, 2011- Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was good. After watching the first football game at our house, Vicki and I made the exhaustive 11 minute six mile trip trip to my parents house. We had a good meal and enjoyed each others company.

Some of us played some games together, but the atmosphere was different than years past. I am not sure if it is because we are getting older or what.

My younger brother Trevor and his new wife Kristen weren't able to attend so that may have been some of it. I think I just really miss having the whole family together. Thanksgiving use to be represented by the usual signs of a delicious meal, football games, and time with family, but the thing that has recently gone missing from Thanksgiving is Star Wars.

When me, my two brothers, and our cousin counterparts were younger and didn't have our own families Thanksgiving use to mean watching the original Star Wars trilogy after the meal. As my mom's and aunt's families have blossomed exponentially I have noticed that family traditions have begun to vanish with each addition to the family.

This entropy of family traditions is understandable to some degree, but I miss having traditions like that. I look forward to developing those traditions with Vicki and our kids. We have already started with some simple ones like buying a single new ornament for the tree each year that represents the year. Maybe the Indiana Jones movies will have to be brought off the shelf every fourth Thursday in November.

One of the new traditions Vicki and I tried this year was Thanksgiving night/Black Friday shopping, and I'm not sure that one will be adopted anytime soon.

We decided to give it a shot when we went to Walmart at around 9:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. We didn't really have a plan of what to get we mostly just wanted to experience it for the first time. The most interesting part of it was that Vicki and I don't like being surrounded by tons of people in those types of situations, hence my hatred of seeing movies in the theater, especially on opening days.

We actually enjoyed the experience a little bit. We came away with a new office chair for myself for under $40 and one other gift item for some friends of ours who will be getting married in December. We failed to buy any Christmas presents though.

We came home just before midnight after watching the ridiculous chaos, and I actually found many of the same deals people were disgracing themselves and the human race by fighting each other for online. I bought myself a few video games and accessories on good deals I couldn't pass up, but again failed to find anything for anyone else despite quite a bit of effort. I just kept stumbling onto things I knew Vicki or I would like.

Friday November 25th, 2011

I had done a little bit of research while we sat around after our big meal Thursday, and Vicki and I decided that we would drive to Walmart again at 8 a.m. on Black Friday to try and get a set of tires that was on sale for $79 a tire. Our car needed all four tires replaced so we figured we would give it a shot.

Surprisingly, there was a bit of a line at the tire counter when we arrived around 7:30 a.m. for the tires to be sold at 8 a.m. We didn't expect a whole lot of demand for tires that late on Black Friday. After waiting about an hour, we made it nearly to the front of the line just in time to hear them tell us that they only had two tires left of the size we needed for our 2008 Hyundai Elantra.

We ended up consciously taking the bait and switch and ordered four of their "rollback priced" tires that actually had a warranty compared to the discounted ones we intended to get. While they put the tires on we ran some errands by walking to some close stores. I got a haircut, but again we failed to find anything worthy of a gift for someone else.

Needless to say, Black Friday wasn't very productive, but was fun to take part in for the first time.
Saturday November 26th, 2011

Saturday involved some sleeping in to recover from the failed shopping excursions just to replenish before we went back at it again. Vicki wanted to head further south out of the confines of Cache Valley to the much more booming metropolis of Ogden and Target.

The most unexpected event of the week occurred while Vicki and I were in the Carter's baby retail store in Ogden. While we were looking around, a familiar face from my past walked in.

Sarah Montes was the last person I taught and baptized while serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the California Anaheim Mission. I met Sarah in the extended weeks of my mission and participated in her baptism just three days before I returned home.

Sarah has since married Ben Reinhart and had a beautiful baby boy, Lucas. It was Ben who I first recognized when they walked in, but I walked up to Sarah and gave her a hug before she could even recognize who I was.

It was a great experience to see them and helped me remember those wonderful experiences I had in California.

While we were down in Ogden not finding anything for anyone other than our soon-to-be-born new addition, the Utah State University football team was pulling off yet another thrilling game to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1997.

We returned home in time to watch the USU men's basketball team play at Idaho State University and get a much-needed impressive victory. I wrote a recap for the game and then began working to finish my talk that I was scheduled to give in church the next day.

Sunday November 26th, 2011

Vicki and I were asked to speak in church for Nov. 27th's Sacrament meeting and were encouraged to base our 10-minute speeches on one of our favorite addresses given in the latest General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

I selected the message given by Elder M. Russell Ballard on the importance of a name.

Vicki appropriately spoke on the message given by Elder Neil L. Andersen about children.

I was really impressed with my wife's talk. I was filled with emotion and love for her as she stood nearly nine months pregnant and spoke of parenthood. I know she doesn't enjoy public speaking at all, especially on spiritual things to a group of people she only has recently met less than a handful of, but her words and testimony were powerful.

Before Vicki and I spoke, two youth speakers gave short talks. It was the first time the young woman who spoke before us had ever spoke in church and naturally some nervousness and fear crept in as she sat on the stand waiting for her turn.

I hadn't notice that the young woman had become overwhelmed prior to her going up to speak, until her loving mother in the congregation stood up and made her way to sit next to her daughter to provide comfort.

My heart swelled at the loving display of affection and support this mother gave to her daughter. The presence of her mother gave courage to the young woman who stood and delivered a powerful and moving message. She spoke of her experiences in seminary and the other youth programs available to the youth of the church, and was a strong witness of the divine nature and potential each of us have.

I was witness to three wonderful acts of womanhood in their different stages and was grateful for it. I was reminded of the power and influence that the woman in our lives have and was grateful for those women in my life.

It was a great capstone to a memorable week.

I guess the coolest thing about it all was the prophetic status update I for some reason felt necessary to post to my Facebook wall at 12:28 a.m. the day it all began.

Social media and similar technologies sure do get a bad wrap sometimes for the negative things they are doing to the "Z generation," but the benefits of these technologies definitely make it easier to create a digital journal that you don't have to worry about the type of paper or ink you use to  record them as they ensure the memories make it through the epochs of time.