Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going the wrong way on a one-way...


Lena: "Hi gwampa, it's Lena. How doeeeng? I big twouble. I pay wiff Owiber. I not seeping. I big twouble. Daddy sad. I dunno where blanket stars. I dunno where blacelet. Daddy sad, Mummy sad, Kitty. I wuv my family. I be good. Ok gamma, I go seep now."

Monday, November 16, 2009

As Promised...

It's already the middle of November, and two weeks since Halloween?? What happened to the time?

Halloween was rather anticlimactic for us. We had, as you may or may not recall, been planning to take the kids out in the late afternoon to go trick-or-treating, before it got too dark and cold. As it turns out, the kids slept like logs from about 4pm to about 9pm. That obviously put a wrench in a bunch of things... like an early, insulin-induced bedtime. Nevertheless, since the kids had costumes, and our neighbors conveniently were hosting a Halloween costume party, we decided to get them dressed up. Oliver was a charm, as always, and wooed the crowd with his smile and clumsy antics. And Lena was in a haze of noncooperation, and toddler obstinacy, and resolutely rejected the notion of having her photo taken, or of even being remotely pleasant. As always.

So here are Cookie-Beard the One-Legged Pirate, and The Monkey Princess.

The Monkey Princess and the hostess.

Twirling with the royal tutu.

Cookie- Beard (and his beard), with his sword (a.k.a. a plastic knife, less likely to impale you even than, say, a bouncy ball)...

... And who hated his hat. (And who also has dried cupcake frosting around his left ear.)

At least I got more pictures than last year (I only took one last year, and that was of Oliver sleeping in his cow costume... I didn't even get one of Lena). Maybe next year I will get with the programme.

Friday, November 13, 2009


It must be a part of human nature to take things for granted. I mean, it's programmed into our brains to get used to things, whether that be something looking a certain way or tasting a certain way or feeling a certain way. All too often, I think this tendency shows up in expectations people have regarding things they "deserve".

The argument against government benefits on the grounds that it engenders a dependency in its recipients is a classic example of this... (If you've got the time, check out this blog for a great graph showing how government payments basically give people the incentive to continue receiving them) With government benefits, though, you've got a double whammy.

For starters, there are people out there who genuinely need help. Whether or not they deserve the help is a philosophical debate for another time and place. However, once some sort of benefits are in place, more and more people end up feeling they have a right to those payments or help. As time progresses, not only do new people come out of the woodwork wanting help, but the people currently receiving benefits want more. Anytime something gets taken away, you end up with an outcry about the fact that someone, somewhere, was entitled to that.

Along these lines, I have a bad habit of being nice. I'm a serious softy. Ask for help, and I'll usually go out of my way to do it. Need a favor? Give me a call, and I'll (literally) break down walls to get things done. But, in light of recent events over the past few months, I have decided that it is a habit whose time has come. I am done being nice.

More than anything, my feelings have to do with being taken for granted. In the same way that some get accustomed to the government taking care of their every need, people get used to having favors done for them. Curiously, I am in a position where I have the chance to do big favors for people on a fairly regular basis. One of the ways I am trying to provide for my little family is by managing a 12-plex of apartments. Without fail, a month doesn't go by that someone ends up getting their rent in late, and I make a practice of being fairly lenient and not charging a late fee. I'm on a tight budget myself and I understand how tough it can be to come up with rent. I can't remember the last time that someone thanked me for not charging a late fee, even though it saved them at least $50.00. Not to mention some tenants whose rents we've deliberately chosen not to raise due to financial straights they might be in... (easily saving each of them a couple thousand dollars.) But that's alright. It's a business, and there has to be a little bit of give for all the take.

There have also been a couple of times when we've rented to someone we might not have otherwise chosen, whether it be for credit history, or income, or pets, or other things. Again, the month wasn't out before I somehow "owed" more to tenants than what they signed on for. We've helped people get in touch with neighbors when trees fell on their cars. We've paid for other people's cars to be fixed when it wasn't our fault at all, and when it was definitely a favor. Other times, whether it was forgetting to switch utilities into their names, or wanting to switch parking spaces, or complaining that someone has taken their parking space, or complaining about how bad the neighborhood is, or complaining about any myriad number of things, the fact that someone might have been on the receiving end of a favor quickly fades from memory. Tenants trash their apartments, break things, and, generally, suck.

Sometimes I've kindly looked the other way when people's kids misbehave. Still other times we've gone and bought groceries for some of our tenants because I can't stand the thought of someone going hungry. Always, these favors are quickly forgotten or overlooked, because people come to expect a certain level of free stuff.

The worst part, though, is the lack of reciprocation. I know that tenants aren't in the same position I am, and don't expect them to give me a break on my rent or fix things for me. (In fact, I'd rather tenants didn't try to fix stuff, although that's another story...) But it would be kind of nice if someone ever recognized that I *might* have a lot on my plate, and am prone to forgetting things.

Before you know it, something breaks, and tenants want things fixed right away. That's fine. They're paying for it, and they should get what they're paying for. But I often forget. You'd think it would be pretty easy to remind me, since I live in the same building. Apparently it's not. Tenants need to be persistent. I do not avoid people on purpose. I gain nothing by not fixing someone's broken toilet, or heater, or window, or blind, or outlet, or stair rail, or toilet paper holder, or door, or floor, or dishwasher... (I'm sure you all get the picture). I generally put in about 100-110 hours a week across Job#1, Job #2, classes, and homework. Things just fall through the cracks sometimes. If people want something done, what's wrong with reminding me in a non-passive-aggressive manner? I won't take it personally; it's my job.

The worst part of it all is knowing that for all the bad-mouthing, for all the complaints about how "dumpy" their apartment is, for all the whining about something not being up to the modern standards they expect it to be, tenants are going to show up at our door with a smile, needing a favor. "Please, can we just be a week late with rent?" or "Please can you waive the pet fee?" or "I know my kids broke _____, but do you think you could fix it without charging us for it?" or "I know we still have X months left on our contract, but..." or...

As of today, the answer is no.

At least it's more likely to be no than it was yesterday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cookie-Beard the Pirate and the Monkey Princess

I have a confession: I hate Halloween. I think it is ridiculous. I don't like dressing up, I don't like orange (it clashes with my complexion), I don't like pumpkin, I don't like blood (real or fake), I don't like scary movies (seriously people, you pay to have nightmares??) and I don't like crappy chocolate and candy. I hate Halloween.

I am very aware that my dislike of Halloween, especially around here, makes me somewhat of a minority, and yet I am unapologetic. I think it is a blatant exploitation of an otherwise obscure day of pagan celebration (and I use the word 'celebration' in the loosest sense) for the profit and gain of candy companies, alcoholic beverage companies, and purveyors of cheap clothing.

There is, however, one good thing about Halloween: Lena is currently fascinated with dress-up and pretend play, and, with cheap costumes abounding, I am able to flesh out her dress-up box, without having to make things myself or spend a lot of money. That is win-win in my book.

This is Oliver a few days ago. Yes, he is wearing a mostly white shirt, and yes he is eating Oreo cookies. His masterful skills in body art earned him the name of 'Cookie-Beard the Pirate'.

Here is Cookie-Beard minus the cookie-beard.

He even learnt what pirates say (argggggggggghh!), which is heart-melting-ly cute.

As most of you know, Lena has been rather attached to Mr. Monkey (well, all three of them, actually), so we decided it was high time that she joined the ranks and became a mischievous monkey herself.

She even has her own Monkey Dance.

Lena was rather keen on the idea initially, but decided that she actually wanted to be a princess, and promptly informed everyone, including our dentist, of that fact. However, we reached a compromise... There was a Halloween party at Evan's work this morning, and Lena went in her monkey costume with a tutu over the top. She was the Monkey Princess. Oliver's outfit was completed with an eyeliner French moustache and beard (think Dustin Hoffman in Hook), and by a stroke of luck, he lost his shoe at the party and wandered around thudding with alternating steps... Cookie-Beard the Pirate earned himself the name Cookie-Beard the One-Legged Pirate.

More pictures to come after the obligatory round of trick-or-treating tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Do You Do With A Broken Hanger?

Why, you put Cheerios on it of course!

Isn't that what everyone does?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I love (and why I picked) Economics

I love Economics. Hannah consistently teases me about the way that it has affected my ability to think clearly (take that as you will) but I thoroughly enjoy my classes and the subject matter.

It helps that my teachers spend the first few minutes of every class showing Youtube clips like this one that they’ve received from their students or fellow professors. (It also really helps that BYU finally un-blocked traffic to the Youtube site from their on campus servers…) But, Youtube entertainment aside, this semester has been particularly enjoyable – I’m finally getting past the core classes and into the elective ones where we basically read an article or a paper and discuss it in class.

Today, in lieu of a Youtube clip, my professor started off my Healthcare Economics class by sharing the way he now introduces Monopolies in his Econ 110 class (Introductory Economics for you non-BYU-ites). I will attempt to recreate that all for you here.

He starts by saying that one example of a monopoly is the BYU Bookstore. For starters, it’s a great tie because it is so close to home and pocketbook for anybody in his student audience. Furthermore, BYU, unlike other bookstores at other local universities, has a return policy that is linked to the campus’ honor code. They will only accept returns for your books if you have dropped the class the books are for, and not if you have found them cheaper from somewhere else. Easily skirted, if you just bend the truth a bit, but every student signs away their right to lie when they enroll for classes at BYU.

In January of this year, a girl who goes to BYU wrote an excellent article about this conundrum, and cited my professor… you can read the full text here if you like. In the article, she quoted the following from my professor regarding the bookstore’s policy:
"The policy acts as a tax on honesty. If a student is honest and purchases a replacement product elsewhere, no refund is available. However, if the student fudges the truth a bit, the student can get a refund. Honesty is punished.

"Most stores compete for consumers not just by the prices they charge, but by the service they give, with a refund policy being an important aspect of service. A more typical policy is to match a competitor's price, or to offer a money-back guarantee if a consumer finds a similar product for a cheaper price. But the Bookstore has a lot of market power given their location; they can act like a monopoly so perhaps they don't need to compete as hard as the typical retailer."
… All of which is absolutely true.

The part that gets funny is the way that the managers of the bookstore responded to the truth. (Admittedly, everything else I’ve got to say is opinion or anecdotal… but as they say in Russian, “In every joke, there is a slice of truth”, I choose to believe there are more than a few slices of truth in this…)

Reaction #1: Following the campus newspaper’s publication of the story I linked to above, the bookstore retaliated by pulling all of their advertising from the Daily Universe’s pages for more than a month.

Reaction #2: The managers of the campus bookstore got in touch with my Econ professor, on the pretense that they wanted to make sure that they were “on the same page”. These geniuses showed up in his office armed with a statistical comparison they had compiled, ready to lay down the law. They set out to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was cheaper for students to buy any of the textbook materials used in the Economics Department from the bookstore than it was to buy them online. They did a great job – using the used book prices at the bookstore against new prices from online retailers like My teacher pointed out the apples-to-oranges comparison for them, and they quickly changed tack.

Reaction #3: “But the bookstore can’t be a monopoly, because we employ people who are bishops and stake presidents (LDS ecclesiastical leaders)…” I’m not quite sure which angle to attack this one from because it is so vulnerable. Another one of my Econ professors has created what he calls the “Ad Hominem Index”. It is used to judge the logical and rational strength of one’s argument based on the number of personal attacks in it. In a nutshell, it is an inverse relationship… if all you’ve got is “You’re wrong because you suck,” your argument isn’t going to go very well. I think what the bookstore employees had to say is pretty much the opposite of that style of arguing, but no stronger. They’re saying, “we can’t be an evil monopoly, because we’re good people!” Obviously, my professor didn’t have much trouble seeing through their crap, and the managers left, angry and defeated.

But they weren’t done yet.

Reaction #4: To get back at my professor, the bookstore pulled all of the materials he had ordered for his classes from their shelves, replacing them instead with a sign that said “See Professor”.

Today my professor structures his courses so that students don’t have to buy books from the bookstore. In particular, he and the other professors who teach Econ 110 have set the course up so that it can be taken without purchasing anything from the bookstore. All of the reading and coursework can be found on, for a small fee that goes into Aplia’s pocket. Considering the fact that Econ 110 is a part of the general education core classes for BYU students, and not just Economics majors, the turnover is immense. Easily 400-500 students take Econ 110 every semester, and the bookstore doesn’t get a dime. If the students do want to buy a physical copy of the book, the professors all encourage them to buy it online through Aplia, who sells it for a price less than 50% of what the bookstore charges (even for a used copy.)

I picked Economics because I wanted to be something other than the average “Business-Finance” undergraduate. I stuck with Economics because I thought it was a really effective way of explaining the things that people do and why they do them. I LOVE Economics because in moments like these, it gives you the skill set to intelligently present an impersonal, yet irrefutable argument.

Amazing how a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

Monday, October 19, 2009

They say the darndest things...

From time to time, we are amazed by the budding intelligence and wit of our kids. Everyone else is, of course, convinced that their kids are perfect as well, so let me elaborate before you dismiss this for yet another parent's superlative rant about how great their kid is.

Alena gets a story before bedtime. Last night, we were all snuggled up to read the Little Golden Book called "Another Monster at the End of This Book! (Starring Grover and Elmo)". Because it was late, and because she's two, and because the world is never fair, but mostly because her brother wanted to climb in bed with us since it looked like we were having so much fun, Lena threw a fit. She pushed Oliver off the bed, (which he took as par for the course,) and proceeded to inform me that, "I doh want it anymore. I doh like monster book."

So storytime was over, we packed up, she got tucked in, and it was time for bed. A few minutes later, after the wailing subsided, I went back and explained to her that because she said she didn't like and didn't want the story anymore, she wasn't going to get the story anymore. It sounded like the logic stuck because she said ok, apologized to Oliver, and cuddled back into her blankets.

A couple minutes after that, she started calling for Daddy, and so I went into her room to see what was up. She proceeded to inform me that she didn't like her bed, and didn't want to go to sleep anymore, so could she come out now?


Like I said earlier though, the world is never fair (or logical, for that matter) when you're two.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hiking with Toddlers

This year, since I wasn't pregnant, and since Lena was old enough to walk relatively long distances unaided, we decided to give hiking a try. Evan, of course, if given the choice would live outside and become a self-sufficient wild man. They say opposites attract, and, needless to say, the fact that I will even entertain the notion of hiking (or camping) says a lot for the progress I have made, as Evan would put it. We even bought a Kelty backpack this summer. (As a side note, we love it. And I love it even more since Evan carries it.)

We have done various hikes over the past few months, and we have learnt a few things in the process. Here are some tips:

1. Every parent knows to pack for every eventuality. When hiking with kids you really need to pack for every eventuality. Extra snacks (in case fussy toddler #1 turns her nose up at ham and cheese sandwiches..."No! I don't want it!"), extra drinks, extra blankets, extra sweaters (yes, even in the dead of summer: we learnt that the hard way... "Mummy, I'm cold"), extra coats, extra socks, sunscreen... The list goes on an on.
2. No matter how far or how short, you can count on your toddler pooping out well before the halfway point. Guarantee it.
3. Toddler have little legs. Like, really little legs. Really, really. Evan and I always make a point of factoring in 'toddler walking time' and are constantly amazed at just how slow they are.
4. Don't go hiking after 4pm. Any parent knows how long it takes to get things set up in order to get out the door. The same principle applies for getting out of the car to go hiking. Going on a hike with already hungry and tired toddlers after spending 20 minutes fitting the baby carrier and doing potty duty is just asking for trouble. Trust me.
5. Don't forget to have fun. Your toddler doesn't care if you don't make it to mile 6, or the lake at the top of the mountain. Most of the time she will spend her time occupied with which blade of grass looks like the best one to pick and carry as a trophy, or searching for leaves that are shaped like squares. Yes, it is frustrating, but at least they are having fun. Enjoy it.

A few weeks back, Evan got the hiking bug again. He eagerly planned it all out in his down time at work, and told me his magnificent plans (I heart Gmail chats). He decided on Squaw Peak Trail, which is more of an unpaved road, but it was good enough for us. We would be catching the tail end of the fall colours, and we were both excited.

E: "So... can you have the kids ready by the time I get home?"
H: "That depends on when you are getting home."
E: "Four-ish"
H: "So we won't leave until 5, and dusk is at 6:45. Are you sure that is a good idea, considering we are going to be doing 5 miles at Lena pace?"
E: "Yeah it will be a piece of cake. How slow can she possibly be? It will only take an hour and a half."

Needless to say I made a rather convincing argument that nixed that idea, and we went the following morning... to better appreciate the colours.

And appreciate them we did, more so since the kids had slept well and were rather amiable. Even though we missed the really vibrant colours by about a week, there was as spectacular show. I, naturally, took my camera, but the overcast day (and the fact that I don't really know how to use my camera properly yet) meant that, as always, my pictures did not do the scenery justice.

We drove a short way on the trail, and then parked the car and walked as far as the kids would allow... perhaps two miles out. (The trail goes around the back side of Squaw Peak, and eventually meets up with trails in Rock Canyon. From the maps I think it goes even further than that along the bench, but seeing as there was no way we would make it 9 miles on foot, I didn't search further.) The trees were spectacular, even though a lot of them were well past shedding their leaves. We discovered that there are campsites dotting the trail (which we are going to make use of next summer), and there are also a few meadow areas, which we are rather excited to see in full bloom next May.

But I digress. Lena behaved like the two year that she is: not content to hold hands, and rather convinced that her brother's blade of grass was far superior to her own. She spent most of her time like this:

She found a purple flower to match her purple jacket

And a rather enticing area full of crunchy red leaves

Oliver was a good sport. He rather enjoys his Kelty backpack. I would too come to think of it. I wish Evan could carry me around on his back too... that would make hiking a heck of a lot easier. (P.S. can anyone say 'Blue Steel'?!) (P.P.S. I think it is time to cut his hair again.)

The only part Oliver didn't like was after this next photo. Evan set down the pack for a moment, on a well-picked, level surface I might add, only to find it toppling over (with Oliver firmly strapped inside) from a freak gust of wind, or else Oliver's behemoth mass throwing off the center of gravity as he tried to catch a butterfly. Or something like that. Note to self (or to Evan, I guess): Children need watching if only because they attract freak accidents.

Needless to say, Oliver was not impressed. However, it was nothing that a few fruit snacks couldn't fix, so off we went. I guess I should add that to the list:

6. Always bring treats of some description. Everyone knows toddler have short attention spans. A well placed candy can end tears, and even coax your toddler up that mountain. Bribery. It works every time.
6a. Bring extra snacks.

Evan did try to get us to go 'bush-whacking' in the meadows. It would have been fine except I was wearing cropped leggings, and Lena was barely taller than the grass. I think that tipped Lena's patience scale, so we stopped for lunch, and headed back.

And I don't have a caption for this one. I just like it.

We headed back not a moment too soon. The weather was turning, and by the time we got to the car it was starting to spit, and the temperature had dropped at least 10F. As we hadn't made it as far as we had hoped on foot we took the car up the rest of the trail as far as we could go, which was well into Rock Canyon. I very much enjoyed the hike, and you certainly take in more scenery when you go at a slower pace, but it was a hell of a lot easier to do it in the car. That's for sure.

So, for the last pictures. I would label them, but I think most of them would be along the lines of "some trees, 'round the back of that one place, with that one mountain.. you know...".

Some trees, 'round the back of that one place, with that one mountain.. you know...

Some trees, 'round the back of that one place, with that one mountain.. you know...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Honey Bunches of Oats

Lena: Mummy, I want cereal.
Me: Please.
Lena: Please. I want honeys. I want honeys.
Me: Honeys?
Lena: Honeys! I want HONEYS.
Me: Oh, Honey Bunches of Oats...?
Lena: Honey munches a boat.
Me: No, Ho-ney bun-ches of oats.
Lena: (indignantly) Yes. Honey munches a boat. Right.

Friday, July 31, 2009

As It Is The Last Day In July...

... And since I have been terrible about doing this so far, I thought I would post some updates from the last few months.

1. Got my green card though, finally. It is a 10 year card, but I can apply for citizenship next year. Not totally convinced by it yet (partly because of the ridiculous hoop-jumping required... but that is another post), but we will see.
2. Oliver is walking. This one is rather behind the times... Oliver has been walking for about the last two months, but refused to use it as his preferred mode of transportation until we went to San Diego at the end of June. There he had plenty of room to practice, and the furniture at Grandma's house was spaced sufficiently far enough apart that he was forced to let go of things. Now he is running.

3. We went to San Diego for 10 days. And it was great. Evan built a retaining wall with his Dad (and some other people), and the kids and I had a much needed break. We stayed long enough to celebrate July 4th, and watch the fireworks. And, by the way, perching on top of a 10 ft wall, and craning your neck to take pictures of fireworks with no tripod is not a walk in the park... More photos to come.

4. Lena started and completed swimming lessons. She loves the water. She hasn't figured out everything completely yet, but she can float, and propel herself around underwater. We are working on staying afloat whilst taking a breath... so trivial, and yet so essential... Grandpa P, if you could figure out how to get Hayley swimming for the next 11/12 years you can have your kick-@$$ relay team you have always dreamed about :D
5. Oliver is talking. Yes, talking. Words currently in his repertoire are (in order of length of time in use): "Dada", "Mama", "Nenen" (Lena), "KKKKKKKKK" (and increasingly now "kkkkkk-a" for cat), "hess", which serves the dual purpose of meaning both 'yes' and 'this'. Lena on the other hand has discovered the full mileage that can be gleaned from using the word "No", and has fully implemented it in her day-to-day life. Oliver, in true younger brother form, also likes to annoy his sister. This was an exchange I heard between the two of them the other day while Lena was eating her lunch.
Lena: (seeing that Oliver was eyeing her food) "No"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "No!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "NO!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Lena: "NOOO!"
Oliver: "Hess"
Oliver: " . . . . . Hess"

I almost died from silent laughter.
6. Evan finished school. Winter semester went really well, and Spring semester went even better: He got a 4.0, and he got the highest score in the final exam. Evan is now confident that he made the right decision with Economics, and I couldn't agree with him more.
7. With no school during the summer term, Evan and I have been able to spend more time together, doing things like hiking and devoting time to postponed projects. Like our apartment. I am happy to announce that our apartment should (finally) be finished by the end of the summer!
8. Evan got a new road bike to replace his mountain bike that got stolen while we were away in San Diego (darn those Mexican gangs that hang around our neighborhood!), and he loves it. Now for me to learn how to ride one and we will be set!
9. Not really from our family, but from my family... My sister Hayley just competed in the World Swimming Championships in Rome in the 100m Freestyle. She smahed her NZ record for the event with a 53.91, and for those of you who know anything about swimming, on the first 50m of her heats swim, she was 0.01 seconds off of the NZ record for the 50m, which is phenomenal when you realize that her time included a flip turn, and was the first part of a longer race. (Don't expect Toni Jeff's record to be on the books for too much longer!) She made the semi finals, and placed 11th overall, which is great because that meant I got to see her race (they have only been showing the finals sessions here...), and she gets funding for the next year. On top of that though, in her semi final, she was the fastest split at the 50m and 0.01 off the world record split for the 100m (which incidentally was slower than her heats split), and was leading up to about 75m. That in itself may not seem like cause for celebration, but, in fact, is since even though she dropped a full second off of her previous PB (and NZ record), it was not a perfect swim, and there is definitely still room for improvement.

Congrats, Hayley! We are very proud of you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Last Relic of Baby-ness

When I was growing up my Mum decided to trim my younger sister's fringe [bangs] at home. It started out OK, but Mum insisted it didn't look quite right, and kept pulling hair forward to trim to try and correct it. By the end, poor Hayley, who had a lot of very thick hair, had a fringe about an inch and a half thick framing her eyebrows, that started almost from her crown, and incorporated most of the hair on the front half of her head. All that could be done was to let Hayley's hair grow out, and laugh about it (which we did... a lot). Fortunately, I think she was young enough that her peers at school didn't really notice, and thick skinned enough that those who did would never have been able to bully her about it. I just wish I had a picture of it, but I suspect my mother has destroyed all the evidence. So for this blog posts purposes it looked like this. Only... bigger. Just waaaaaaaay bigger... everywhere.

Having never cut hair before I was terrified that I was going to scar my son for life with a haircut like Hayley's that was beyond fixing. Added to that, I loved Oliver's hair. I loved that it had waves and curls, and I loved that it was wispy, baby hair. And with as abnormally large as Oliver is, it was pretty much the only thing that kept him looking like the baby he is supposed to be.

But, after months of chickening out and procrastinating, I finally had to face up to the fact that since his hair was now in his eyes, Oliver's haircut was long overdue (ha). So, we soaked his hair, sat him in front of the TV watching 'Dive Olly Dive', and gave him all the bananas he wanted. He was as happy as a clam, and fortunately Evan was great with the distraction techniques.

Here are some before pictures:

The curls above his ears were my favorite.

... When your son's hair starts getting long enough to tie
into a pony tail, you know it is time to cut it.

And, despite Oliver's face in the next picture, I think it turned out fairly well. I tried to keep it a little on the longer side (even though Evan spent the entire time rolling his eyes as I refused to cut his hair any shorter), because I prefer it that way, and I figured I could always come back and trim more off.

(Yes, it looks like there is a bald spot, but I assure you there isn't. It is just the way his hair waves, the fact that he was playing with it right before I took the picture, and the fact that his hair is growing in blond for some reason.)

And now I can relax, and stop having hairy nightmares. At least until next month, that is...

Three Years Already?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Family Home Evening

Evan and I went out to dinner early this evening. We went to Spark Restaurant Lounge, and spent far more than we should, but it was marvelous. I love the food there. It also helped that we had a 40% off coupon (yay!).

When we got home we spent some time playing with the kids on the floor... mainly because sitting in chairs was painful on our stomachs. Oliver exhibited his rugby scrum moves, and toddled around cackling. Lena giggled and told us how much she missed us while we were gone. Then this happened:

Evan: Hey, Lena. Shhhhhhhhhh....

[farts really loudly]

Lena: Hahahahahahaha!

[Oliver laughs because everyone else is laughing]

Lena: Hey, Daddy. Shhhhhhhhhh.....


At which point Evan and I rolled on the floor laughing. Laughing so hard that I thought I was going to puke up those 4 courses I just ate at the fancy restaurant. Laughing so hard that Lena started laughing hysterically at us. Laughing so hard that Oliver wandered over and sycophantically upped the volume of his laughter.

"Pooooooop! Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Poooooooooooop!"

So much for the spiritual message...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Battle Creek Falls

Note to self: Be better about blogging.

Second note to self: Don't go hiking with a two year old after 8pm.

That being said, though, it was a good 'hike'. More like a walk, really, but we were rewarded with some fairly impressive waterfalls at the end of it. Even more impressive was the amount of water that was cascading over them. In some of the pictures I looked at of the falls before we left, it looked more like a dribble over a cliff. This evening the water was roaring over it. I heart Utah when there is lots of rain.

Oliver got packed in his hiking backpack (Craigslist, Kelty backpack, half retail price... score) and was a gem the entire time. Lena was a pill, and really the only success we had with getting her to walk up the hill was having her march her way up. "Come on, Lena... March, March, March, March". We felt like drill sergeants. I guess we should have expected nothing less with as late as it was...

One cool thing about going at sunset was that there were swarms of dragonflies around the trail from the creek that ran along side it. I tried to get some pictures of it, but with the low light, and with them buzzing around my poor camera had no idea what to focus on. And this pictures doesn't really show the extent of the swarm: there were literally hundreds along the entire length of the trail. (If you click on the photo it is easier to see the dragonflies.)

The low light and lack of tripod also meant that most of my pictures of moving things (read people, and pretty much anything but the mountains) turned out mostly blurry. But I did manage to take some acceptable enough ones.

And, yes, in this next one there is snow on Mt. Timpanogos... In mid-July... after a week (at least) of high-90's/100's F...

And some nice lady took a picture of our family.

Evan exhibiting his 'exasperated gesture'.

And finally, the 40-50ft high waterfalls at the end of our hike. (I heart the live view function on my camera...)

All in all, it was worth it. And we are planning on going back again sometime soon - next time with more sunlight, and happier toddlers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wise Words from a Wise Guy

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Most People In Utah Have No Idea How Lucky They Are

(Disclaimer: This post is LONG. I fully expect you to skim read, or to just look at pictures. No offense taken.)

Not the kind of blog post title you expected from me, huh?

On Friday, we had a reprieve from the daily thunderstorms we have been having for the last couple of weeks. The whole day was actually beautiful: warm bordering on hot, crystal clear skies, and (since there has been so much rain lately) everything was green. So, after Evan got home from work we decided to take a family hike to Stewart Falls, around the Sundance area.

We left at about 5pm, which ended up being perfect for us - not too hot or cold, enough sunlight to easily see where we were walking at the end - and it was beautiful! Now that most of the snow has melted, and with all of the rain we have had, the wildflowers were just starting to come in. In about a week the whole place will be multicoloured, and we can't wait to go back again.

Now, there are a lot of things about Utah that I loathe, but Evan and I remarked several times that when you are down in the valleys it is very easy to forget that Utah can actually be a very beautiful place. In fact, 'very beautiful' doesn't even cut it: 'Spectacular' would be more appropriate. Utah has 5 national parks, two of which are consistently considered to be in the top 10 national parks in the country. The fact that Evan and I have beautiful mountains, waterfalls, lakes, scenery, and wildlife less than 20 minutes drive from our apartment is an incredible thing. As beautiful as England is, if I had have wanted to see a waterfall on an even remotely comparable scale to Stewart Falls (or even Bridal Veil Falls for that matter) I would have had to travel to either Wales, Northern England, or Scotland: that's a 3 hour drive minimum for those who don't know, and for England that's a long drive. Sometimes I feel that, just as youth is wasted on the young, Utah is wasted on the Utahns (broadly speaking here). Not only are Utahns notorious for not taking care of the land in which they live, but they take for granted the fact that they actually live in a gorgeous part of the world, and have backdoor access to some phenomenal beauties of nature.

OK. Off my soapbox. Our hike to Stewart Falls, as I said, was beautiful. Lena did most of the walking herself, and apart from a snack break about an hour in, Oliver was really great too.
And, you look closely on the picture above you can see Lena's little builder bum. So cute!

As always, my photos never seem to do the adequate justice to how beautiful everything was, but I just have to share...
We also ran into a beautiful clearing somewhere in the Aspens that was full of little blue flowers (Forget-Me-Nots?).
Unfortunately, (as Evan found out, since I made him go an take pictures from the middle of the field) the whole thing was filled with stinging nettles.

It was also really cool to walk through old rock slide areas, and see trees that had been flattened by avalanches. There were also Aspens that had been (recently) bent double, which we suspect was probably from the heavy snow we got during May once the trees had become supple for growing season.
The falls were spectacular. Lena was very impressed: "Wow! Look! It's a waterfall! Oh no! It's so beautiful!"
The pictures kid of make the falls look pathetic and piddly. But they actually weren't. It has two tiers, and I guess it must be at least over 200ft tall. I believe that over the top of the main ridge there is another smaller part to the waterfall too. The roar of the water was incredible, and it was moving so fast that it was really windy.
This was about as close as we dared get. To get any closer we would have had to clamber over rocks, and between Lena, and Oliver throwing off my balance, we decided that maybe next time would be better.
And just because, here are some wildflower pictures. We can't wait until they are in full bloom, it is going to be amazing!
And if you click on that last image, you can see a bumblebee. And the flowers really were that blue.