Thursday, July 26, 2012

Off Again!

I have felt a bit odd recently. I've had the opportunity to take paid vacation. That is something I haven't had before this position. With that being said, I've applied for another one.

The university I graduated from is looking for a technical writer to work for the Office of Information Technology. There are many things about the position that interest me, including project work, creating instructional videos, offering staff training, and blogging. WHOO HOO!

I always have mixed feelings about leaving a position. On the one hand, I tend to grow attached to the people I spend time with at work. After all, I spend about 8 hours a day with these people. I come to know their lives, struggles, and idiosyncrasies. I can even tell you what some of them are thinking when an idea is presented, or how they might react.

In the same vein, I also love myself a new beginning. A new beginning means a new adventure. New adventure means learning and stretching. Learning and stretching means getting to know myself better. It is a bittersweet experience to leave others behind, but know that I get to have a whole new adventure.

This new position closes tomorrow. I've submitted my resume, cover letter, and professional references. I've received an email stating that my resume was received successfully. It is out of my hands.

And to celebrate, I am heading out for another adventure with Wifey's family. Munchkin is excited, and keeps telling us that we are going to see the big, big, big zoo like we did on our last adventure. If you try to explain that we are going on a different adventure, she still brings up the big, big, big zoo. Maybe I'll break it to her when she turns three that not every adventure involves the Portland Zoo.

This will be a nice distraction from the doldrums of my current position. There are parts of it that I enjoy, but there are also parts of it that I loathe. I feel constricted. I am implicitly trusted by some, and seen as an insolent meddler by others. Depending on who I am working with, I either have all the freedom I want, or absolutely none. The common denominator is me, so I'm just as confused as you are.

It will be nice to get away from it all, to try to avoid thinking of everything that makes me glad for sluggish rush hour traffic during my commute home to decompress. The trip will be fast and furious (down to Bear Lake tomorrow, then to Logan during the morning on Saturday, and back home Saturday night), but it will be a welcome relief.

Hopefully more relief will be on the way with a new job.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Personal Family Reunion

You may think that family reunions are these big, elaborately orchestrated events. This is especially true as families grow into their own families and start to spread. While this may be true, I have decided to try a new version of the family reunion this year that I like to call the personal family reunion.

In my family, there are five kids. We all now live in different states throughout the West (Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho). Because we are so spread out, getting everyone and their families together generally occurs every two years or so, and these events are always great fun.

This year we couldn't all get together, but since my Nephew got married this past weekend, I was able to go visit his mother. While I was there, my other sister flew in and I got to see her. We returned to Idaho, and one of my brothers happened to be up visiting his in-laws. He left today, and my other brother came up to visit my parents to drop their oldest daughter off for college on the other side of the state.

As you can see, I've not been able to get everyone together, but I was able to see all my brothers and sisters within a week (assuming that I can see my brother tomorrow or Friday). This makes the family reunion personal, as none of my other siblings can claim this feat this year. I wish that the stars had aligned a bit better, but I am just happy that I get to see everyone. It can sometimes seem that the distance makes barriers thicker. In today's world of technology, I don't think that it is true, but there is something refreshingly invigorating for a relationship to be able to share a comfortable couch.

 In the mean time, I will just have to get plotting to see my last brother so I can make this personal family reunion come to fruition. Wish me luck (although I don't think I'll need that much).

Monday, July 16, 2012


While we were on our recent trip to Portland, we stopped in some random town to get some fuel, both for the car and for ourselves. Knowing that our check-in time for the hotel was not until 4:00 pm, we decided to kill some time in the local Dairy Queen.

When I say the local Dairy Queen, don't be fooled. This was a deluxe Dairy Queen, complete with newish furniture, free Wi-Fi, and an indoor play place.

Both Munchkin and Munchkenna were excited to go explore the play area after smarting down a grilled cheese sandwich. There was another occupant already climbing up and down the play padded path—a cute toe-headed boy with a shaggy haircut. His mom sat texting/checking Facebook at a nearby table, not paying him much attention.

I felt sorry for the little tyke. Mom didn't seem interested in the kid, and he clearly wanted some interaction. He started playing with our little girls and tried to keep up with Munchkin, who ended up being about 6 months older than him. He started to follow me around, indicating with mostly points, grunts, and smiles (and a few words) that he wanted to show me something or follow Munchkin.

After following us down the slide meant only for children (as in I had a really hard time getting out of the tube at the bottom because the height was equal to the length of my torso. If I could have lopped off my head, it would have been cake to get out of this slide), he said something that made my heart sink a bit: daddy.

His mom flashed a nervous smile at us, half-hoping we didn't notice. He repeated himself, and cheesed at me as only a two-year-old can cheese. He continued to follow us around, and we included him in our play.

Mom felt a bit awkward, as she didn't have a wedding ring on, and she seemed quite young. I got the impression that a young man had fooled her into thinking that he loved her and ran away when he found out she was pregnant. After about two more minutes, Mom grabbed the kid's shoes, fastened the Velcro, and headed out to the park where she would probably begin using her data plan on her phone instead of the free Wi-Fi.

I felt sorry that this little man was going to miss out on having a dad around. He seemed well adjusted, but knowing how much Munchkin and Munchkenna pine for me at times, I can only imagine how frustrating it might be to have that missing from your life, but not understanding enough to verbalize that frustration. He probably doesn't even know what he is missing out on.

I hope this little guy finds a daddy, and that his mom can find someone who cares enough about her to stick around, even when the going gets tough. Without some of the hard stuff, you don't get to know the great stuff.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's So Wonderful!

We are on a trip with my parents to go to my oldest nephew's wedding. Yes, I'm old enough to have a nephew getting married. We ended up staying at a fine establishment in Pendleton called the Rodeway Inn.

We rolled into town with two small girls who were eager to escape their car seats, and when we asked about a continental breakfast, we we're all eager to accept this spot as our home away from home for the evening.

We got our room keys quickly, since Munchkin was doing the potty dance after drinking approximately 16 ounces of water in the past two hours. We ran to the room, only to find our key didn't work. I ran back, got a new key, and got in the door after a few attempts. Munchkin made it.

After her bladder wasn't yelling at her anymore, she pronounced her verdict on the room: "It's wonderful!" the cheery yellow walls seemed recently painted, and the room seemed clean enough. The beds were quite firm, but I could cope. Munchkin proceeded to climb up on the beds and jump emphatically. Munchkenna squealed with delight and crawled like the ball in a pinball game—bouncing off everything while babbling and giggling. The experience was probably quite similar to what would happen should she go insane.

We closed the door to start getting jammies on, and Wifey noticed an earwig crawling on the door. If it was taking refuge in room 121, it had picked the wrong place. Or it underestimated the power behind Wifey's shoe.

By the time we got Munchkin's Cinderella nightgown on, Munchkenna was practically begging for a bed to call her own. Munchkin, on the other hand, had a strange gleam in her eye which was probably caused mainly by exhaustion. Knowing this dynamic would not work well for either of the girls, Munchkin went for a walk with Grandma, Grandpa, and myself.

Before walking out the door, I checked the locks, only to find that they had the latest technology in deadbolts. Is one was so advanced that it didn't even need any materials on the inside of the door to stop the deadbolt in the door jamb. Content with knowing I could get back in the room without too much trouble, we took off for our walk.

We started our walk by running down the outdoor carpet that lined the walkway to Grandma's and Grandpa's room. We needed to get as much energy drained from this little girl as possible, and Pendleton seemed quite sleepy at 8:30, so I let Munchkin run. She greeted my parents with a hug as if she hadn't just been in the car with them for the past four hours, and we started on our merry way.

Munchkin held my hand as we walked out and about for a few blocks. My parents groaned a bit when stepping off the curb, voicing the disgruntlement of their beleaguered joints. Munchkin was oblivious to their cries, and continued to want to run with a fervor and zeal akin to Hussain Bolt. My parents laughed as Munchkin and I ran to various points on the sidewalk, only to turn back and race back past them as they slowly coerced their joints to comply. I overheard my mother say something to the effect of, "Isn't it a good thing we have kids when we are young?"

We walked by a Circle K, where I declined Dad's offer to get Munchkin an ice cream cone. She didn't need any help energizing her small body this late in the evening.

Next, we spotted a clock tower that didn't seem to be working. My parents sat on a bench as Minchkin and I did variations on a lap around the pillars and searched for letters in the bricks. The mechanism of the clock didn't appear to be working, as the bell didn't chime (nor any of the parts move) as the hour reached 9:00.

By this time, Munchkin was mainly wanting to walk with only an occasional (read every two minutes instead of every two seconds) request of "Let's run, Daddy!" We cut across to a nearby neighborhood with some old looking homes. We were met by a house built in 1899 that was converted into a law firm. After meandering a few more blocks and realizing that darkness would soon overtake us, we started to head back past the empty general store and returned to our inn.

Munchkin was no longer acting like she had downed three Red Bulls in seven minutes, my parents weren't groaning nearly as much anymore, and we got to see some interesting architecture from two centuries ago. I would call that a successful walk.

By this time, my bladder was calling to me. As I entered the bathroom, I realized another classy amenity of this place—the shower curtain was neatly held back by a six foot, doubled-over strand of two ply toilet paper. I decided to remedy that situation in the morning when I took my shower, so I went to bed.

Munchkin fought sleep in her delirium, but we ended up winning and she slept. I was almost asleep when I heard a crinkling. Wifey decided that she needed a snack, so she broke in to the Wheat Thins. Never before has a plastic bag seemed so loud to me. Until the cheese stick opening incident about a half an hour after that.

I woke up and got ready to hop into the shower, only to have Wifey squeal and point to my pillow. An earwig must have bedded down with me for the evening, because it was cuddled up right where my neck was. I can't be certain that it was coming to visit his cousin who had moved into this spacious neighborhood, but I suspect that he didn't come to pierce my ear in the night. Nor did I request an ear piercing.

Needless to say, we were greatful to have a place to stay for the night, but we were more greatful to have a quick continental breakfast and leave after everything was packed up.By the way, I have good news. We didn't find any new earwigs in our stuff tonight when we unpacked. I consider myself lucky, and Wifey is much happier with our current accommodations.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Should Probably Be Sleeping...

I've not quite figured out why yet, but I find that I'm a sleep rebel. When I know I should be climbing into my bed, I instead find something else to do. Recently, that something has been reading, but it has also been YouTube videos, or blogs, or Adobe tutorials.

Wifey has finished watching her five minutes of Gilmore Girls (she doesn't last any longer than that even though the DVD plays on), Munchkin and Munchkenna have both been slumbering peacefully for hours, and the house is still. Darkness has overtaken this corner of the world, but occasionally the moon rebels and parades itself through a window onto a new portion of the wall or floor. Occasional sirens or motorcycle engines (or, more recently, the fireworks) remind me that civilization is still around. Rarely, various dogs enrage their owners by breaking the silence coming from the nearby open window. The world is still out there while I sit in the cocoon of my house.

The escapist in me finds solace in the young adult fiction novels that often formulaicly guide me through an adventure. I find myself drawn to those I'll never meet, even those who will never exist, unless it is within the confines of my skull. I dream of them sometimes, and find ways to help them, or just talk with them. Sometimes they help me out, but not in my dreams. Their written stories are generally enough for me.

I think the thing I dread most about going to sleep is knowing that the new day is coming. I know there will be another adversarial day at work coming in the morning. I know there will be more teething. I know there will be busy commutes. But I also know that there will be amazing sunrises, and that moment when I come home from work to see Munchkenna's eyes open wide while her wrists and ankles pivot while grunting for me to pick her up. I can never get there fast enough for her.

I think things seem to be moving quickly at the moment, and I'm struggling to keep up. Munchkin asks me grown-up questions like, "How was your day, Daddy?" She carries on conversations on just about anything. Munchkenna is walking and has reverted to only saying a couple variations of the same word (dada or dad with a very emphatic terminal d). It seems life is moving like a bullet train and my eyes cannot focus enough on the passing scenery to make sense of all of it.

So I continue to hold on to the night, hoping that, through the futile act of staying awake, time will slow down a bit. Maybe I can make sense enough to help out some of the people I glimpse as a blur as they pass me.

I'm making an effort at work to go out of my way to say hi to people (Don't freak out, Wifey). I have come to realize that when I work with some people, they come in, tell me what they want in as few words as possible, and quickly leave, acting as if they don't have time for anything else. I think part of this is because they don't understand that I am trying to help them. They see me as an enemy. I don't feel any enmity toward them, but I don't agree with the way I am treated.

So, to catch them off guard, and hopefully catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, I am making it a point to greet them when they come to see me. So far, it seems to annoy them more than anything, but I think it would be good if more than just me took the time to look at the scenery instead of just let it blur by until another week, then another month, then another year has completed and we all sit there and think where did my year go? Didn't we just have the 4th of July?

So now I'll go stew on this some more while fighting off the urge to sleep (if my sunburn will let me). Maybe my attempts are working, but I'm just not seeing the train slow down yet because my eyes can't detect the change, as it is too minor to notice at this point. If it does work, I'll let you know.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

An Ill Father's Day Omen

We didn't have anything planned this evening, and we knew that the city of Meridian, Idaho was planning on having the annual Dairy Days festival they do every year. There was a parade yesterday, various events showing off dairy animals (although, gratefully, I don't believe they have a dairy cat competition yet), and a small carnival with a couple of fun houses and carnival rides. Nothing too bit, but for Munchkin, we knew it would be a great time.

We drove over to Storey Park, right next to the speedway, where the carnival was all set up. The strange thing was, there were no lights on, and a very minimal throng loitering about. By very minimal, I mean that I am pretty sure I saw one adult and two children who were not working there walk through the carnival. Wondering if there was some strange set of rules regarding what hours the carnival could be open this year, we consulted the Internet.

And we found that the carnival was cancelled because they failed an electricity check.

Munchkin was slightly devastated that she would not be able to ride the merry-go-round that we had told her about. She loves the one at the zoo, but it is small, as merry-go-rounds go.

So, on to plan b—go and check out the animals in the Speedway. As we were walking there, we noticed another severe lack of a throng, so we consulted the trusty Internet again. This time, we found that the animals had all left by 3:00 in the afternoon today.

Once again, Munchkin's hopes were dashed to pieces. She really wanted to see the animals.

On the brink of tears, she conceded to go play on the slides at the park. And that was fun, as it was a park we don't frequent. The evening was slightly saved. And we were still planning on grabbing a sno cone later in the evening.

But before we claimed the snow cones, we decided to make a few stops, as the night was still young, and the outdoors were warm enough to make my children's Swedish heritage shine through their ruddy cheeks. Wifey can run for five minutes and have fiery red cheeks. Munchkin and Munchkenna follow suit.

Stop number one was at a used clothing store for kids. Munchkenna is growing out of anything and everything we have for her (as in she is wearing Munchkin's clothes from five months ago), so some new leggings were in order. Munchkin loves the fact that there is generally a Disney flick playing near a bunch of toys there, so she was eager to go.

She had a full-blown meltdown when she was not able to close a door that another child was opening. I escorted her from the store and stopped the tears and screaming. The night went back down a notch.

Our last stop before sno cones was a book store chain. We just went to browse, and as Wifey was showing me a book in the kid's section, Munchkin and Munchkenna meandered over to a rack of stuffed toys ten feet away. A creepy guy was looking directly at Munchkin and Munchkenna, and popped his head around the corner. He might have just been a concerned person seeing if the children's parents were around, but I got the heebie-jeebies, so I stuck in the kids books for the whole night. This man left shortly after I saw him, so I would like to think my instincts were right.

Night goes down another notch.

We put everything away that Munchkenna pulled from the shelves (her new favorite game, by the way), and left to claim our sno cones. We ordered three kiddie sizes, as this place puts them in a ten ounce cup, then heaps a snowball at least five inches around on top. I don't know how anyone would want to order more than a kiddie from this place, but they do.

The sno cones were quite tasty, and we figured that we would have a relatively good end to our evening, despite all the set backs and potential stained clothing from the messy Munchkin, and then our luck struck anew. Munchkenna was sitting peacefully in a chair that decided to tip over. She face planted into the grass, which was made exponentially worse by how tired she was. Large tears streamed down her face.

The one saving grace of tonight was the fact that Munchkin needed to go potty while we were eating sno cones. Missy had already brought her to the bathroom once before while we were at one of our stops, so it was my turn. We had to run across the parking lot to the nearby gas station to get to the nearest bathroom, so Munchkin was holding my hand as we ran. She started giggling up a storm, and looked up at me with a look of pure delight. Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks were no longer flush, but the grin on her face was possibly bigger than a smirk you would see on a billboard.

I never knew you could have so much fun on your way to use the restroom. Maybe that is why many girls choose to go in herds. But needless to say, no matter if our luck stays the same tomorrow, I know it will be a great Father's Day, because Munchkin is going to need to go to the bathroom.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grandma and Grandpa Day

Saturday was Grandma and Grandpa Day. If it wasn't a national holiday, it should have been. Munchkin and Munchkenna spent all day with their grandparents, and had a ball.

We first went over to my parent's house. I spent most of the morning helping my dad around the yard—mowing lawn, tearing out a dead grape vine, planting two posts to accommodate the existing grapevines, pruned two trees, and a few other things. While I was out with Dad, Munchkenna was taking a nap, and Munchkin was making sugar cookies with Mom. She especially loved frosting and sprinkling the cookies. I think she used about half a bottle of sprinkles on a couple dozen cookies using the one sprinkle for you, two sprinkles for me methodology. There was a healthy pile of sprinkles left on the cabinet that didn't stick to a cookie or find its way into Munchkin's mouth, but she had a ball. I think Mom had just as much fun as Munchkin.

Munchkin had to get her dose of playing in with Dad, so he and I spent turns turning the tricycle around so she could go back and forth in the living room on it. I wouldn't be surprised to find ruts in the carpet the next time we go there. I've never seen the Cherry Bomb go so fast.
We had cheese soup with them for lunch after all the work and play was done. Munchkin loves soup, and love cheese, so she especially loves this dish. After prying her away with a bribe of a banana (she always has to have one when she leaves their house), we headed home for naps.

After naps were over, we headed over to Wifey's parent's house. The routine started all over again. Play, followed by more playing, followed by a healthy dose of playtime. She went on a walk, she played with the train set, and rode the rocking horse. We had dinner with them, then I went to sing in a choir Wifey's dad was directing for a church meeting that night.

Perhaps the most entertaining portion of the night was the fact that I forgot my suit pants that evening for the meeting. I had my olive green jacket, but no pants. Being a bit taller than my father-in-law, I asked if he might have some pants I could borrow. He found me a pair that were a bit more brown than my suit, and I tried them on.

He wears a size 38. The pants he gave me were a size 44.

I wear a size 30.

I was grateful I remembered a belt, but even more grateful that I had a suit coat to cover up the folds of fabric in the back. And yet even more gratefuller that I got to sit for a majority of the time until we had to stand and sing. I strategically placed myself directly behind the organ so as to hide my lower half as much as possible.

And it worked. The only person who noticed was my sister-in-law, and I had to prompt her to notice them.

All in all, it was a great day, and we got to repeat parts of it again on Sunday when we spent most of the day with Wifey's family. And then we spent most of Monday evening with my parents.

In short, Munchkin and Munchkenna got whatever they wanted over the weekend. There is not much a parent can do when you're at Grandma and Grandpa's house...