Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Sisterhood

So during movie night this past week I was torn between two movies that I was dying to see.
Tay and Rylee were watching "A Barbie Christmas Carol" upstairs.
Jess was watching "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" downstairs.
Jayson was frantically vacuuming the house with his new vacuum from Santa (more on that later).
I went with the pants movie.
Great choice.
I got to spend time with my sweet wife....
and learn some valuable life lessons from a fictional girls club.

Jess and I never watched the first movie, so we were grateful the movie so quickly and conveniently caught us up on the most important bits of drama we had missed.
The four girls in the movie traveled to different locations for their college summer break, but shipped the magic hippie pants back and forth with a brief note so they could all wear them at some point during the summer.

The pants were so important that they all four traveled to Greece to find them once they heard they were lost by Lena's little sister Effey. (Really? Effey?) Well, three of them went to find the pants and make sure their friend once again connected with her "love of a lifetime" beau-married to another girl due to a before-the-show-started pre-marital pregnancy that turned out to be a lie (by his manipulative girlfriend/wife)-subsequently freeing him up to annul the marriage just in case Lena would have him back.

Very intense story line.
As it turns out, Lena leaves her new (better looking, I might add) boyfriend who is very nice and sweet to her, for her former boyfriend from Greece (who I might have liked better if I'd seen the first movie). They never did find the pants.

I could never really get into the show. I'm not sure if it was because I missed the first one, or if I couldn't get one thought out of my mind..."There is no way all four of those girls could fit into those 'magic' pants".
Coincidentally, Carmen never even tried to put them on (at least not that I remember). At least the show turned out in the end to be a little more realistic than first portrayed.
Biggest life lesson learned: When Jess watches the Traveling Pants 1...I'm going to be pretend-vacuuming with Jayson.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Donation to Clearfield City

Apparently Clearfield City expects drivers to make a complete stop at four way stops--even when nobody else is on the road and one of the four roads is merely a circle. Who knew?

Since when did "putting your foot over the brake and looking in all directions before proceeding" stop being good enough? And since when did being in a hurry for Larry Miller's Free Christmas sing-a-long at the Energy Solutions Arena not constitute an emergency?

Turns out it was a fairly expensive Christmas FHE for the Dunroes. And Merry Christmas to you Traffic Officer Durrant...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Train up a child in the way he should go...."

So tonight Jess showed me something alarming about Jayson. It got me thinking about a potential career path for my little Momma's Boy.

Yep. He just might be a "daisy maid" someday.

Tonight Jess showed me his new favorite thing.
She gets the clothes out of the washer (a few items at a time). She hands them to him.
He giggles with delight and puts them in the dryer. Then turns back to his mommy to get a new bunch of wet clothes. She said when he is around she can't put the clothes in herself or he grunts in disgust and then takes them out and puts them in by himself.

I would like to think he is just being a gentleman. But I know him too well.

His second favorite thing is to unload the dishwasher. He takes out the dishes one at a time and brings them over to me to put in the cupboard. Saturday I watched him wrestle a frying pan that was stuck in there too tight. After three or four minutes, he wrestled it free.

His third favorite thing to do is sweep the floor. He even knows how to use a dustpan.

His fourth favorite thing is to try to use the vacuum. Our vacuum is so heavy, yet he manages to move it across the floor (whenever we aren't around). He is obsessed with it.

He's a dream come true for mothers and future wives everywhere.

I need some more one on one time with him. We need to just sit down together, with our feet propped up on an ottoman, remote in hand, watching a football game or mindless sitcom. He needs to learn to tune out the sound of the washer buzzer (signaling another load for the dryer). I need to teach him not to hear the sound of the dishwasher open and the sound of dishes being put away. I need to teach him that all he needs to know about the vacuum is his responsibility to lift up his feet and let someone else vacuum under them. I need to teach him that you can sweep crumbs under the edge of the cabinet with your foot in a fraction of the time it takes to even get the broom out of the broom closet. I need to teach him that a "honey do" is some sort of fruit and not a mandatory list. That kid has so much to learn.

Most importantly, he needs to learn that when he hears his mom call him from the other room, it usually means.....
Ooops. I will have to finish this blog later, Jess is mumbling about the kitchen being a mess and laundry needing to be done...

I better go find Jayson.

P.S. According to Jess, Jayson said his first "non-Momma", "non-Dadda", word today.
The word...

He yelled that three times as he pointed towards the half wall where the TV remote was sitting.
I couldn't be more proud of that kid!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Flashback Friday--Jumpin' at the chance to Christmas Shop

Last night Jess and I had the opportunity to go Christmas shopping without the kids. It was nice to get out together. It's also fun to think about Christmas's past. I remember the joy I felt when I opened up my first package of superman underoos.
I remember how pumped I was to get them.
But that was last year.
This year it's all about the kids. And Jess.

I'm trying to get Jess a new house.
So the kids might be lucky to get anything.

After shopping we hit Quiznos for some sandwiches. They had put all the chairs up (a half hour before closing) so we took our sandwiches and ate in the car.

It was "wiggity-wiggity-wiggity-wack"!
Yep. Kriss Kross came on the radio.
If only we had hydraulics in the Yukon, we could have really Jump(ed) Jump(ed).

Hey, I'm not too proud to claim I liked that song. Still do. "act like you know and don't be claimin' that it's mental".

Some of the highlights:
"The Mack Dad'll make ya..
Daddy Mack'll make ya.
Kriss Kross'll make ya. Jump. Jump."

Oh Yeah!

"Some o' them try to rhyme, but they can't rhyme like this."
"'Cause I'm the Miggity-Miggity-Miggity-Miggity-Mack-Daddy"

Kinda makes me want to put on my Yankees shirt and low-rider jeans on backwards and strut home.

"Now the formalities are this and that...
For all y'all suckas that don't know....
Check it out...."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Commuter Musings

Well maybe the environmentalists were right. But maybe not.
I've noticed an awful lot of roadkill during my commutes along the Legacy Parkway. Yesterday, I counted four animal carcasses on my way into work--three were unidentifiable. One I could smell. Coming home, I saw three different raccoon corpses along the side of the road.

Perhaps the parkway really has messed up these poor creatures' homes.
Then again, maybe the highway really isn't disturbing the animals too badly.
Apparently these seven didn't even know there was a road there at all.

The good news for me is that my commute is now taking me back down memory lane to my mission days in Kentucky.
I had never seen so much roadkill in my nineteen-year life.
Although there, the roadkill was different. The carcasses left along the roadside had names like "Spot", "Mittens", or "Sprinkles".

I think everything of value was scooped off the road, thrown into a pot or placed on a skillet.
Kentucky Fried Possom,
Squirrel Kabobs,
We ate at Taco Bell...a lot.

Coincidently, I had also never seen pamper-trees in Utah. Yep, dirty diapers hanging from the lower tree branches in them thar' hills. I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I had the worst dream last night.

I dreamed the Cougars were in a tight game with the Utes but then Max Hall turned the ball over 6 times and the Cougs got blown out in the 4th quarter.
As the nightmare continued, I arrived home and Jess was acting, all of a sudden, like this huge Utah football fan who follows them all year long and never misses a game.
Well scoot over Jess, I might as well hop on the bandwagon and hope the Utes win their BCS game. After all, it's "good for the conference", right?

Next tradition. No more blue eggs, waffles and milk.
Maybe we'll try a blue breakfast burrito.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rivalry Week

This morning, in celebration of "the Holy War", the kids and I sat down for our first annual Cougar Blue Breakfast:
Blue Eggs and ham, and cheese (for Rylee).
Blue Milk.
Blue waffles (with blueberries for me).

We started by singing the end of the Cougar fight song... "Goooooooo Cougars!"

Jayson, not at all sure what was going on, still played along (probably wondering where his real breakfast was).

Last night I tried to convince Jess (who was horrified when she opened the fridge friday night to a gallon of brand new--blue--milk) to play along and join us for breakfast. I begged. I badgered. No go.
As she headed upstairs for bed, I could clearly hear her saying:

"I do not like blue eggs and ham, I do not like them Sean I Am.
I would not eat them with Max Hall, I do not like them, Not at All!
I would not eat them with Steve Young, I will not touch them with my tongue.
I would not eat them with Heisman Ty, Why would you make them, Why, Why, Why?
I would not eat them with John Beck, Why would you make them, Oh My Heck!
I do not like blue eggs and ham, I do not like them Sean I Am"

And as she headed out this morning, I swear I heard:

"I would not eat them here, nor there,
I would not eat them anywhere.
I would not eat them in the MUSS (the crazy, half-sober, U student section),
I would not eat them without a fuss.
I will not eat them in the kitchen,
So Sean I Am, Please quit your (it trailed off as she shut the garage door)."

Go Cougs!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Tayler has been trying to get me to make a leaf pile for years. We finally had enough leaves.
So while Jess was at work yesterday, her four kids (including me) played in the leaves.

As I was cleaning up the leaves, Tayler started collecting the best ones. "Daddy, for family home evening I want to teach you all how to rub leaves."
Sounded good to me.
She collected hundreds of leaves into two ziploc freezer bags and labeled one with her name and one with Rylees.
Tonight we made the art.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Please Bless THIS!

The Situation
Wednesday night Jess was gone with the Young Women.
That left Dad home with the kids.
Decided to make something quick and easy for dinner (and rotate something out of our food storage)...
Lasagna Hamburger Helper.

The Preparation
The girls were not the least bit excited about it.
They kept asking what it was while I was cooking it.
Tayler started to disclaim how hungry she really was and how she "probably didn't need much dinner tonight".

I slaved away for about 20 minutes (well, 14 minutes of that time was me watching TV, stirring the contents of the simmering pan "occasionally" as instructed on the box).

The Prayer
As we sat down to eat, Rylee wanted to say the prayer.
Rylee (halfway through the prayer): "please bless THIS!"
I could sense three-year-old sarcasm and had to open my eyes to see what she was talking about.
Rylee's face was filled with disgust and she was pointing down at her plate of lasagna Hamburger Helper.
Thanks Rylee. (Aren't the most sincere prayers answered first?)

The Meal
Tayler: "What is this dad??"
Dad: Lasagna Hamburger Helper
Tayler: It doesn't look like lasagna
Dad: The noodles are just smaller (I failed to add, and there's less cheese, it's not set up in layers, the sauce is way different, it might be a year old, and it's a good night to make it because your mom isn't here and she hates this stuff).
Tayler: I want cereal.
Tayler: When is mommy going to be home? She would let us eat cereal.
Dad: Eat it Tayler. I didn't even give you very much.
Tayler: Well, I guess I'll eat it this time...
Tayler (added for good measure): But I'm never eating this again.

The Post-Meal/Pre-Bedtime Snack
Tayer (with sidekick Rylee right behind her just before bedtime): Daddy, can Rylee and I have some peaches?
They ate the entire jar of peaches.

Remember the jingle? (Picture the living animated white glove with the little face) "Hamburger Helper, Helps the Hamburger, Help Her (or Him), Make a Great Meal!"

The Good News
Well, at least Jayson and I ate it.

Tayler's right. If Jessica were there, she and the girls would have eaten cereal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Haunted by Halloweens Past

Halloween got me thinking about a little trend of regrets from some of my costumes of the past...

I have a memory of an elementary school superman costume. I remember struggling in the bathroom stall to put on my blue tights properly. I also remember, at that very moment, wishing I had chosen a different costume.

I remember a halloween during high school, where one of my best friends Keith escorted me to a Halloween party/dance at the stake center. I say "escorted" because I was his date. He was a real gentleman. He even helped me in and out of the car. My mom helped me with my costume. It came complete with long-haired wig, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick. Cute little blouse. Short skirt. High heels and nylons or tights (not sure which one, not sure I really know the difference). I was very thin back then and frighteningly cute (at least on that night) if I must say so. It took quite a while before people realized who I really was.
The slow dancing was nice.
Keith only got a hug at the doorstep. After all, it was only our first date.
All-in-all....not sure that night was my finest moment.

Halloween 2005.
Worst costume decision to date.
We were invited to a costume party at a neighbor's house. I had refused to go the year before, since I couldn't decide on a costume, so I ended up baby sitting a bunch of neighbor kids. Jess went without me.
This time I told Jess I would go with her to the party if she found me a costume.
Momentary lapse in judgement.
I came home from work to a Kimono, flip flops, a parasol, wig, and face makeup.
Geisha girl.
Correction...Geisha girl that looks like a really bad imitation of Boy George.

I made quite an impression that night. Several of the neighbor guys pretended to flirt with me throughout the evening. I did win best costume.
And got a few phone numbers.

This is what I saw when I looked closely in the mirror. Kinda freaked me out. Must've freaked out a few others. A year later, several people brought this up in their testimonies during church one sunday. Nice.

The kids were creeped out--and scared. They got used to me enough to pose for our 2005 Family Halloween picture. Rylee was the cute little lamby. Tayler was a little Tiger (or "Tigger" in her mind), Jess was whatever it is that costume was, and I was a creepy-looking, anything-but-feminine, Geisha girl.

Coincidently, that was the last Halloween I have dressed up for. Next time I dress up--no lipstick, no tights, no skirts, no kimonos.

I might use the parasol though.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lucky Seven

I couldn't believe she would marry me....

Now I can't believe she has stayed with me for seven years.

I love you Jessica! You are the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary Baby!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

The Good
Last night Tay and I were looking through paint swatches. She was trying to convince me that Jess was crazy not to let her paint her room blue. As I was thumbing through the swatches, she was climbing all over me and kept putting her arms around my neck and squeezing a bit too hard. "Tay, why do you have to hang all over me?"

"Daddy, I haven't seen you all day".

The Bad
Waking up this morning when the alarm went off at 5am. My whole body was sore from working out. It was still dark outside. And cold. I just wanted to take a day off and spend the next few hours under the covers.

The Ugly
Everyone that knows Jess really well (namely, me, Tay, Rylee, and Jayson) knows how much she likes to pick at skin blemishes. She often makes small blemishes worse (and bigger, and sometimes bloody). Her favorite thing to do is to pop our zits. Especially mine. Especially the ones on my scalp that pop loudly. I tolerate it because it makes her happy---and sometimes it helps me out.

Last night I had one on the inside of one of my nostrils. It has been getting more and more painful for the past few days. It's the kind that makes your eyes water when you try to pop it. I couldn't get my fat fingers in there to pop it, so I turned to Jess. She made me let her search for face and scalp zits first (picture a monkey picking through the fur of it's branch-mate). She wasn't that excited to help me out because of the location. She made me clean the nostril thoroughly before she attempted.

She squeezed so hard, I thought my head was going to explode.
"Did you get it?" I said through watering eyes.
She squeezed again.
"Did you get it?" Tears were streaming down my face.
She tried one more time.
Then she got up and walked away.
"Did you get it?" My face felt like it was going to burst.
"Nope. I just threw up in my mouth."

Guess I'm on my own for the nostril zits in the future. And my nose hurts worse than ever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red over Blue

No, I haven't denounced the BYU Cougars after their beat-down at the hands of TCU. I still bleed blue. And I'm still cheering against Utah.

However, I am mighty proud of my red-ribbon chili. Took second at the Major Meadows Ward Soup and Chili cookoff. It doesn't matter to me that there weren't as many chili entries as in years past. And it doesn't matter to me that I didn't win the blue-ribbon (well, mostly doesn't matter). After all, I lost to Marlow Palmer--who has won the chili cookoff about four or five years running. He won again by a landslide. Come to think of it, that's why there were more soup entries this year. People are switch-hitting. Marlow's too tough.

Mine was a three bean, four meat chili. Mine looked and tasted more like chili than his. Although his tasted waaaaay better. Kind of like a savory meat soup. Yep--the judges were meat lovers.
The worst part is, by the time I got a chance to even taste his, I had to scrape the sides of the dutch oven. I ended up with only two spoonfuls of pure meat-lover heaven.

Next year I'm going for blue. I've got Marlow in my sites. We may not be living in the boundaries by then, but I still figure I could cook up a batch of something tasty and have someone submit it for me. One thing's for sure--it better be meat-based if I'm gonna beat Marlow and his trusty ol' dutch oven. I also may have to start basting and tenderizing on Monday for the Saturday contest. (I heard Marlow started on Tuesday).

I was feeling really good about my chili when we got home after the contest. Jess didn't even get to eat anything all night because she was too busy hosting the party as our Ward Activities Committee Chair Person. Shout out to Jess for a fabulous job!!! She said she hadn't eaten anything all day and was starving. Says she forgot to eat (wish I had her memory). So I offered her my award winning chili. There was enough left for one bowl.
She said it was "delicious". She made my night.

Later on I went to the kitchen to do the dishes and soak my crockpot. There was Jess' bowl of my red-ribbon chili.
Sitting in the sink.
Still full of chili.
Must've really been one "delicious" bite.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


So I have been on a little Blog-cation of sorts.
Not because I've been extraordinarily busy or anything.
Not because I don't have plenty of meaningless things to say (Jess, kids and coworkers can attest to that).
I guess I've kinda forgotten about my blog for the past ten days.
Remembered about it this morning.
I'm not planning on catching up. Just gonna pick things up from here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Spoiled by the Parkway

So Legacy Parkway has shortened by commute by half!

Until this morning. A wreck just before Kaysville blocked off three of four lanes. Fortunately nobody looked like they were injured.

I hate stop and go traffic. But it did allow me to enjoy a few signs I would have otherwise missed.

1) Fines double for speeding in construction zone.
Really? This sign has been completely useless for the past year or so--unless 12 mph can be considered speeding.

2) Electronic speed deterant mechanism:
Speed Limit 55
Your Speed:
Again--really good use of money in the construction zone in the Davis County corridor UDOT.

3) Ill-informed traffic lady on morning radio:
"traffic through Davis County Southbound slows down at 200 North in Kaysville and continues as stop and go through Farmington"
When she said that, I had been on the freeway for 45 minutes, moved about 2 miles, and still had a mile to go before 200 North in Kaysville.
Turns out, the crash was at 200 North. We were back up to freeway speeds from there through Farmington.

Her insight was very helpful. Just like the signs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Legacy House

On Tuesday night I went to the Legacy House to make sure my Grandma Dunroe ate her dinner. My dad is out of town and Jess filled in on Monday, my turn was Tuesday. Jess had a ball on Monday night. She sat down with Clara (my grandma) and four other ladies. She had the same conversation with them multiple times.
My experience was different.

I was about five minutes late. When I arrived, Clara was sitting at a table, alone, with her grilled cheese sandwich cut up in small squares, cup of hot cocoa already gone, and fritos scattered around her plate.
She looked up at me as I sat down.
She had no clue who I was.
I spoke to her for about thirty seconds. Then I realized that although I was talking loudly, she hadn't heard a word I had said.
She looked very worried about something and ate with her head down.
After about five minutes, she looked up at me and asked, "Do you know anyone from Denmark?"
"No". I shook my head so I wouldn't have to yell over the show tunes being played by a volunteer in the adjoining dining hall.
"My son was born here. My daughter too. My son is over in Denmark." (no, he's on a cruise in Alaska)
"He's been over there for two years" (more like two days)
"I don't know how to help from over here."
"I just don't know how to help."

Obviously I wasn't sure how to help. I wasn't exactly sure what she thought he was doing over there and how she was expected to help.

She ate quietly.
I told her several times, well--yelled at her several times--to "try not to worry about helping him. He's doing just fine."

After a while she asked me where my parents lived. Then she wanted to know where their parents lived.
"My Grandma Bodily lives in an apartment near here. Both my grandpas are dead. My other grandma lives in a place like this."
She nodded as though she understood how that must be.
Interesting. She knows exactly how that must be.

The nursing home aides came by several times to check on Clara. They also yelled so she could hear.
"Would you like some more cocoa Clara?"
She just shook her head, "I just don't know what to say".

After Clara had cleaned off most of her plate, I told her goodbye and headed on my way.
I'm not sure she even realized I was leaving. Nor did she care. She was still worried about how to help her son who has been over in Denmark for two years.

Jess came home laughing at all the enjoyable conversation she had at the nursing home on Monday night. My experience couldn't have been more different.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Other Mother

So on Monday night while I was working on my little project, I had to run into the garage to get a piece of pipe to fix a sprinkler. I must have left the gate open because when I came back around the house, Jayson was standing outside our fence, the gate of which was now closed, balling his eyes out. I wasn't sure if he was afraid because he found himself alone on the side of the house, or if it was because Ginger (the neighbors vicious German Shepard) was rabidly barking at him through the chain link fence gate that keeps her in the back yard of our neighbor's house.

Jess arrived at the scene at the same time I did and was asking Tayler why she didn't try to go help her brother. Apparently, Tayler was on the other side of our gate, screaming for someone to help Jayson, but too afraid of Ginger herself to go rescue him.

Fortunately, Jayson hadn't been bitten. When I hauled Jayson back into our yard I questioned Tayler.

Loving Father capitalizing on a "teaching moment": "Tayler, Ginger can't get out of the fence. Why didn't you go help your brother?"

Crickets. (20 seconds of silence....)

Tayler: "Dad, Maybe you should've closed the gate so Jayson wouldn't follow you out there."

Good point Tay.

The Foreman

On Monday night we played a little outside as a family and I tried to finish touching up the small paver pad I have had to completely re-do (and put off for almost two full summers). I haven't had huge chunks of time to work on it, so I do a little here and a little there.

Tayler was slightly annoyed that I was working on it again. She came over to supervise.

"Daddy, shouldn't this have been a one day job? Why didn't you just get up early one day and get it all done at once?"

Thanks Tay (who has never herself been awake to see the sun rise). I'll get up earlier next time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Man-Date One

To fully appreciate this story, you must know that Spencer thrives at times making his friends feel slightly uncomfortable.

On Wednesday night Spencer and I headed out to Downtown Disney for dinner. The concierge told us it was just across the street. We could wait for the shuttle or just take the short walk. Thirty minutes later we arrived (me somewhat damp from the humidity) at the House of Blues for dinner.

One of the four hostesses waiting anxiously to seat guests: How many in your party?
Me: Two please

I started at this point to realize that it kinda felt a little awkward being alone with Spencer all day long. In a “missionary companion” sorta way. Major differences from the mission: no ties, no companion study, no testimony-sharing and separate rooms—separated by four floors. Apparently, spending so much time together seemed funny to Spencer for a different reason.

The server at the House of Blues really seemed to like Spencer. And Spencer wasn’t even that charming. In fact, he was rather subdued. Until the check came.
Waiter: Would you like one check or two?
Me: Just one please.
Spencer: (grinning from ear to ear) We’re to-geth-er.

Thirty seconds later…
Spencer: Well, I didn’t want him to think he could flirt with you. I wanted to spare you from a potentially awkward situation.
Thank you Spencer. That wasn’t awkward at all.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Working with Graphic Designers is Fun

This picture has now made it's way around the office with the following caption:

Mancation II: A night at the Epcot

And punchline:
When it's no longer safe to take the kids to Disney World. . .

What you can't see is the bobbling heads and the little sparkles in our teeth because I don't know how to get the animation to be included.

The Perks of Bellhopping at the Buena Vista Palace--Orlando

After the conference, I went upstairs to change.
In the middle of my clothing change, the TV was too loud and I was on the phone with co-worker Tami. I didn’t hear someone yelling for me through the door. But I thought I heard a knock. Better go to the door to tell Spencer I’m not quite ready yet.
Me: “Tami, can you hold on a second?”
Me (thinking—and somewhat startled as I round the corner): ‘Oh. Hello there bell boy. Glad you’re a guy. Thank you so much for opening the door when you didn’t hear an answer and bringing in a logo’d shaving bag gift from a convention vendor.’
Bellboy: “Did I wake you? Sorry about that”
Me: “Nope”
Me (thinking): ‘just like to hang out in my underwear. Bet this wasn’t what you had in mind when the job posting read “base salary plus tips”’.

Might have been worth it though (at least for me). Just two nights ago I was complaining to Jess that I couldn’t find my shaving bag.

Conference People (Day 2 Recap Continued)

The only thing better than people-watching at any Walmart, or the Utah Arts Festival, is people-watching at a multi-day conference. At a conference you are often allowed to observe the evolution of people throughout the week. This can, however, ruin people watching. Sometimes you eventually meet the people you have observed and form different opinions—often more positive. (Life lesson here about judging people I guess. I will save my hypocritical comments about not judging people for a “Sunday Thought” another time.)

The “Executive Administrative Assistant”: This is the sometimes attractive, surgically-altered lady who basically shadows a much older executive boss everywhere he goes. Could be that she needs to stay close to her “sponsor” in case someone asks her a dental question she doesn’t know. How busy must that old guy be to need a personal assistant at the conference with him? Hmmmm. Makes ya wonda.
“British Teeth” Person: It isn’t really a dental hygiene conference so I don’t know what I was expecting. But it is dental-related. Saw more of these than I anticipated.
Early arrivers: These are the people who are in the conference room twenty minutes early, notepad in hand, sitting alone at the table staring into their a coffee mug.
Notetakers: Feel like they need to have a pen and notepad with them everywhere they go. Might miss something VERY valuable. Something potentially career-altering. Yep. I fall into this category.
Non-notetakers/Ploggers: Yep, Spencer’s group. They just retain things really, REALLY well.
Joe Casual: Doesn’t matter what you wear at the business casual conference—as long as you look better than this guy. Saw two of them on Day 2. One had on a loud Hawaiian shirt with khaki pants. The other had on a short-sleeve dress shirt, with shorts, leather moccasins, and no socks. By day three these two might, just might, be seen in a break-out session with only board shorts, flip-flops, and a “fruity” drink with a little umbrella.
Frankie Formal and Fancy Nancy: Frankie is dressed like he’s headed to either a semi-formal senior prom or a high-profile job interview. Nancy looks like she’s paid on a part-time basis to model the next fall fashion line for Nordstrom. A little much at the business-casual dental insurance conference.
Hairplug Lady: This forty-something gal is trying her best to look twenty-something. She has a huge fake pony tail sitting high on the back of her head. Worst part--it’s not even close to matching her regular (slightly gray) hair color. That, and it looks like some sort of dead animal. It’s like a color mullet—old gal in the front, young chick in the back.
Over-eager Sales Guy from Minnesota: Accidently say hi to this guy and you’re exchanging business cards and email addresses and eventually trying to un-schedule a webcast. You’ll also end up with a phone call from Minneapolis every Monday morning for the next 8 months.
The Grizzwalds: These folks bring their whole family to the conference since they get a free hotel, flight, and meal. Now many people do this. In fact, I almost did. The difference with these people is they never actually attend the conference since they’re out with their family the entire day riding rides and buying souveniers. Gotta love these guys. You never actually see them at the conference, but you run into them occasionally at the hotel restaurants at night. They often order one appetizer, one main course, one side salad, one dessert, one drink, and four waters to split with the entire family. The dinner receipt makes it through Finance and nobody bats an eye. The greasy receipt with five churros purchased at the amusement park in the middle of the day is a little tougher sale the following Monday.
No Socks Guy: This guy has a button down white shirt, a black jacket, tan slacks, and black loafers with no socks. Maybe it’s a mistake. Maybe not. Especially bad with the two top buttons undone allowing large amounts of chest hair to peak through.
Buffalo Wing Sauce Stain on His Shirt Guy: Yep, that stupid wing (the second one I ate) fell off the wing plate and slid down the front of my shirt at the sports grill. Had my plate too close to the edge of the table. Didn’t have Jess there to point out ahead of time that my plate was too close to the edge like she does for the girls. Sure do miss her. Don’t worry Jess, at least I was smart enough not to wear that shirt to the conference today.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Orlando Conference--The Opening Act

The conference breakfast was the standard continental variety. I’m not really sure why they call it that. If by “continental” they mean “cold carb choices only” or “hungry again by 10am”, then they picked the right name. There was no place to set our stuff. We just stood over by a wall and tried to balance the tiny plate, glass of juice, napkin, and notebooks we were carrying while we ate.

We filed into the large conference room like a herd of sheep and suffered through the conference reunion/introduction—which included a painful slide show of conferences past and pictures of previous award winners. There was even a standing ovation for someone we didn’t know. Spencer cheered loudly and laughed. I closed my eyes and pretended it was all a bad dream—or something more enjoyable—like an Amway convention.
The first meeting was a motivational seminar on leadership by a great speaker—Steve Farber (more on the highlights of this another time). Spencer and I sat by a lady (Christine) from Brazil who was struggling to understand the speaker because he spoke so fast and English is her second language. I was closest to her so I would translate for her when she got confused.

The translation that made Spencer laugh out loud: a powerpoint slide that showed a close-up of an Olympic skeleton rider who was just diving onto his sled. Across the picture were the letters “OS!M” He told us what it meant. It’s the feeling you get the first time you jump head first onto the sled and see how steep the death-defying drop looming in front of you really is. It’s an “Oh [Shoot] Moment”. Christine couldn’t understand what he said and wanted me to translate it for her.

Longest minutes of this seminar: When the fairy godmother came out and cast a spell on all of us. Then had us join her and cast our own spell with our pretend magic wands. Only in Disney World. Tayler and Rylee would’ve loved it. Spencer did too.

Spencer’s review of this seminar: “I don’t like buzzwords and don’t like to be motivated”.
Oh, you must’ve l-o-v-e-d the past three hours then.

Second most painful moments of this seminar: The dreaded group discussion. Naturally I wasn’t listening when he gave the instructions about what we were supposed to talk about. Didn’t really matter. Nobody at our table really wanted to talk about the subject anyway. Someone wisely threw out that Christine was from Rio de Janiero. That led to a five minute discussion on the fun and purpose of the holiday/celebration/contest called Carnival.

Most painful moments of this seminar: Self-promotion guy. During the open Q&A, the microphone was passed to a guy who was really anxious to maximize the attendance at the afternoon break-out session he was leading. He didn’t ask a question. He instead pretended to ask a question while prattling on for several minutes about his opinion on the topic and plugging for his afternoon session. I never got a good look at him. I recognized his voice however. Later on, just before the afternoon session, Spencer and I were lounging on the uncomfortable chairs in the lobby. I asked Spencer if we were having fun yet. Then like fingernails on a chalkboard, I heard self-promotion guy’s voice coming from a smiling man who had passed us seconds before my comment. He yelled back over his shoulder, “if you want to have fun, come to my session that’s just about to start”. He sensed, and acknowledged, the sarcasm in my response. (Side note: Neither Spencer or I went. But Spencer said he could hear people thru the wall, roaring with laughter throughout self-promotion guy’s presentation. Guess we should’ve gone).

The Conference Nerd
Like a conference nerd, I took notes of the highlights of Steve’s presentation. Spencer sat there and soaked it in. After the break he returned with a notebook. I thought he was going to take notes, but instead he was Plogging. That’s my new word for writing down your next post on paper because it would be too disrespectful to use a laptop during someone else’s presentation. It’s how they used to blog before the internet. I think people also call it journaling. So Spencer Plogged away. Didn’t ever see him write down anything about dental insurance, or heaven forbid, successful leadership strategy. But thankfully his next post is ready for publication.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Orlando Trip: The Man-Cation

The Pre-vacation Anticipation
This past week I spent a few days in Orlando at a Dental Insurance conference at Disney World. Spencer Sutherland, who works in my department, came along and made the trip a “man-cation”. The original plan months ago was to bring our spouses and children along to make it a Disney World family vacation. However, both Jessica and Tracy managed to get out of the trip. I don’t know Tracy’s reasons, but Jessica and I factored the cost, the long flight with little Jayson, and the fact that for three days they would have to hang out without me while I attended the conference. The overall cost outweighed the benefits. So it was just Spencer and I.

Strangely enough, Spencer informed me this trip would make or break our relationship. He also informed me a few days before we were leaving that he doesn’t travel much. In fact he has never been on a business trip. He was planning for me to take charge and he would be along for the ride. I got a message from him at 9:45 Monday night. “Are you on the same flight as me? If so, I will stop worrying and just show up and let you take care of everything.” Oh goody.

Day 1
Tayler cried Monday night when we said goodbye. In order to calm her down, I told her I would wake her up before I left. I did. She cried even harder. As I was getting into the car, Tayler, Rylee and Jessica waived and shouted goodbyes from an upstairs window. Tayler was still trying to fight off the tears. Rylee seemed as happy as a clam. Jess (rightly so) seemed annoyed that I woke them up.

Spencer (at the airport): “this is the longest I will have been away from Tracy since we’ve been married.” Glad I can be there for you Spencer.

Riding on a plane these days seems a lot like riding a train or the city bus. You see some very interesting people. My favorite was the lady who was standing in line at the gate with her inflatable head supporter already positioned around her neck twenty minutes before boarding. Fortunately I got a window seat. Perfect for the 300 pound guy with broad shoulders.

When we got to the airport, we grabbed our luggage and headed to the counter to buy shuttle tickets for a ride to the airport. Great. The lady at the counter is helping a difficult customer. For twenty minutes. While we stand in line. Spencer mumbles something about almost getting the tickets online the night before. Good thing he delegated all responsibility to me. We finally got our tickets and were told it would be a twenty minute wait. We were given a round buzzer with lights (just like you get at the lobby of the Olive Garden). When you’re there (Olive Garden), you’re family. When you’re in the basement at the Orlando airport, you get no breadsticks, salad, or pasta—only uncomfortable wicker furniture. It was now 6 pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

Forty-five minutes later the pager went off. We headed out to the shuttle and found ourselves the last to board—apparently the last people buzzed. The driver looked annoyed. There was only one seat empty and there were two of us. Spencer let me take the front seat (well, all I know is he didn’t try to push me out of the way when I went to get in). I think Spencer sat on someone’s lap.

When we got to the hotel, we checked in, ate at a sports grill, and retired to our rooms. The nightmare of "back east" travel is that you can’t go to bed until really late at night (due to the two hour time jump) but still have to get up at 4:30 am (back home time). It’s lovely. Thank goodness Jess cut my hair last night or I would have had an afro with all the humidity. I love feeling sticky. (Day 2 highlights to come)


Tay can hardly stand it when the family isn't all together.
When one of us has to leave, even for a short time, she often can't hold back the tears.
When Tay was younger, Jess used to often offer to leave Rylee home when we were all heading out to eat or to some other activity. Tay would almost cry at the thought of leaving Rylee home and would beg us to let Rylee come too.

Her need to have everyone included extends to all of her drawings. Drawing is one of Tayler's favorite things to do, and she rarely draws a picture without including, somewhere along the top, the letters "MDRJ" and she sometimes remembers to include "T".
Mom, Dad, Rylee, Jayson, and Tayler.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Looking Back, and Down, on Idaho

The first part of July we went on a trip to Boise to see our little neice's baptism.
It was a great trip, but being back in Idaho forced me to ponder some deep questions I've always had about the relationship between Idaho and Utah.

The big question on my mind was how Iahoans view Utahns. Growing up it always seemed like Utahns "look down" on Idahoans in some respects. Similar to how many citizens of the United States seem to view French people. Well maybe that's a bad example. We don't really view Idahoans as ingrates who've never given us the credit for bailing them out of a world war and who would be willing to surrender at the first sign of an altercation. (Note: I don't feel that way about the country of France, or it's citizens, but I think you'd be lying if you say you haven't heard these opinions expressed by fellow Americans. No, my recollections from visiting France on numerous occasions as a child are simply limited to how annoyed they were that we didn't speak French, needed to bother them by asking directions, had five kids...oh, and the look of disgust they always seemed to have on their face when having to deal with stupid Americans. That...and great bakeries!)

Maybe the better comparison of how some Utahns view Idahoans is how some Americans view Canadians. In a "close, but not quite" sorta way. I have heard Canadian condescension all my life from US citizens. I've heard people point out how Canada has contributed nothing to the advancement of civilization aside from Canadian Bacon (which is viewed as a 'step up' from its meat-cousin 'ham' at pizzerias). Or how prominent Canadians always seem to become American citizens. Or most recently, sports talk radio hosts poking fun of Canada's low medal count for much of the Beijing olympics this summer (the grand Canadian medal total at the time was zero. They finished ranked 14th with 18 total medals compared to the US total of 110).

Or, perhaps the better comparison is how the rest of the world seems to view the United States. The idiot, arrogant cowboy that's nice to have on your side during a war, but otherwise should butt out and mind their own darn business.

I admit as a youth I viewed Idaho and Idahoans according to the stereotypes. Potato farmers. Country folk. Simple life. Idaho.

As we traveled north this summer, I couldn't distinctly see the difference geographically as to where Utah ended and Idaho began. It all sort of blended together. As I sat in church on Sunday I couldn't help but noticing the ward we attended in Idaho seemed no different than any ward I've attended in rural Utah. An occasional testimony borne involving a life lesson learned on a farm. They even seemed to have the same helpful, friendly, small-framed elderly man with a full head of silver hair, thick horned rimmed glasses, bushy gray eyebrows, complete with a powder-blue suit. In short, the differences were much less than I'd been led to believe growing up.

So how do Idahoans view Utahns? I was going to ask a few locals, but then figured I could probably guess the answer. My supposition is they look down on us. We are, in fact, an easy stereotype. Mormons. No fun. No alcohol. No night life. Well, and the whole polygamy history comes to mind. Or the fundamentalist polygamist communities of the present. Yep, an easy target. To be honest, it doesn't seem like the view Idahoans would have towards Utahns is all that different than the opinion the rest of the country has of Utahns. Same stereotypes seem to exist throughout the country.

So why do we have to look down on any state or any country? I guess it's a juvenile solution to make us feel better about who we are and where we're from.

Well, my reflections while in Idaho didn't generate any real answers. In fact the only conclusion I came to during my trip this summer was a Jeopardy answer (i.e. framed in the form of a question). Is it worse to be the state everyone in the country looks down on???? Or is it worse to be the state looked down on by the state the rest of the country looks down on?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Thought--The Natural Man

I was talking with a friend the other day about the "natural man" and what the term means to me. The concept was taught by a king in Ancient America who explained that “the natural man is an enemy to God”.

In my opinion, the “natural man” exists inside everyone to varying degrees. The “natural man” tendencies often present themselves as our first innate reaction to situations that occur in daily life. I believe the overarching challenge we’re all presented with in life is to overcome these “natural man” tendencies and change ourselves in such a way that we don’t respond as a “natural man”. Instead we become Godlike individuals who can control completely our own reaction (including our thoughts) in any situation and learn to love others unconditionally.

Some “natural man” tendencies include greed, selfishness, withholding deserved praise from others, “looking out for number one”, lust, anger, passive aggressive behavior, the desire to control others, idleness, being consumed with our outward appearance, conditional love, etc. The list could go on and on, but typically the "natural man" tendencies seem to result from attempting to satisfy our own needs without regard to the needs of those around us.

The Book of Mormon illustrates a story of an entire people in ancient America who were able to put aside their “natural man” tendencies and learn to control their actions in a Godlike manner. These people were originally an idle people who believed that whatever they did was right in the sight of God—including murder. Surely this bloodthirsty people, able to murder without a second thought, were likewise guilty of succumbing to all of the “natural man” tendencies listed above and many more.

Remarkably however, upon their conversion to Christianity, these people recognized the need to eliminate these “natural man” tendencies and made covenants with God to do so. At the close of their story, we are told that they had distinguished themselves from the other Christians because of their “zeal toward God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ…and they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence…” Many in fact gave their lives because they refused to arm themselves even when their families were attacked by their enemies.

As this example illustrates, it is possible to exercise the faith necessary to put “off the natural man” and gain complete control over our thoughts and actions in all situations. Doing so requires a change of heart. The power to make these changes has been made available to each of us through the Atonement of Christ.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Breakfast with Tay

I didnt' work today. For various reasons.
Started the morning instead with my family.
Actually, started the day a little ahead of my family. Three of them take full advantage of every minute of beauty sleep (look at the results, how can I complain about that?) and Jayson's just lazy.

Thought I would clean the kitchen and living room before Jess got up. I made dinner last night and didn't get it all cleaned up. When Jess got home from shopping with Tay, I made her come downstairs and watch a movie with me. It took all the strength she had to watch the movie with me instead of deep cleaning the kitchen. She's like that. I'm not. In the story of Mary and Martha from the New Testament, she's a lot like Martha. I'm a lot not like Martha.

When Jess and Tay got up, Tay came down all ready for school and had breakfast with me. First grade is such a fun stage in life. She doesn't have a care in the world. Her biggest decision today was whether she wanted the school-provided cheese sandwich lunch or a mother-packed lunch from home. Every day Jess tries to talk her into eating school lunch. Every day Tayler chooses cold lunch from hope, usually a seve course meal packed with love. Today was no different. She opted for the Jessica special. Tough decision complete.

Let the fun begin. She told me about four jokes during breakfast--each one followed by her trademark giggle. What a happy girl.
Unfortunately, the carpool honked. Tay grabbed her backpack and headed for the door. "See you when I get home Daddy! I love you!"

I showed Rylee the DVD I picked out last night for her and Tay. "Hannah Montana and Mylee Cyrus in concert". Big mistake. Had to listen to Rylee performing "It's the Best of Both Worlds" all morning long into her plastic microphone. Completely off key. Blairing the few words she knows at the top of her lungs over, and over, and over. She can hardly wait till Tay comes home and the concert starts. She tried to talk us into an early showing sans Tay, but it was a no-go. Jess wouldn't budge. Good try Rylee. Her natural tendency is to look out for number one.

Just for fun Jess sent Jayson out to see me in a diaper and muscle shirt/wife-beater. Yep--It's a white trash breakfast at the Dunroes. Look for him in an upcoming episode of Cops being domestically abused by Rylee. Course, she'll probably cover her eyes and put herself in timeout before the cops arrive. Our little self-disciplinarian.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So I was introduced to a website the other day that is really quite disturbing. It's called It's a site for catlovers. Catlovers with cameras. Catlovers who put things on their cats and take pictures. Catlovers who put things on their cats, take pictures, and then post them online for other cat lovers to view whenever they're feeling blue. One of my coworkers, a catlover, goes to this site whenever she is feeling down. Then she attaches "cute" kitty pictures to emails when she corresponds with her coworkers.

The pictures are bizarre. I saw a cat with a pancake on it's head. I saw a cat with a helmet (complete with ear holes) made out of an orange peel. I saw a cat with a plate of half-eaten food placed on the cat's side while the cat was sleeping. Truly remarkable. Not the cats, but the people who take the pictures. Better yet, those who go view them.

What's better than the pictures though are the "fun" little captions.

Picture a cat, wearing a small apron, with various kitchen utencils in each pocket, and an oven mitt on each hand (er, paw). The caption above reads (you're probably supposed to read it aloud in a little "Kitty" voice)....."If I have to make one more cupcake I'm gonna scream".
True enough, the cat does, in fact, look annoyed. Downright ticked off in fact. Maybe he's been forced, by a mentally abusive cat owner, to make one too many cupcakes. Or maybe, just maybe, he feels completely stupid wearing that darn apron with the tiny rolling pin and wooden spoon!

Or another...

A gray and white cat with an unsolved Rubix cube sitting on it's back. The caption reads, "Peanut is stumped".
Oh the hilarity.
The cat, once again, looks bugged. But, I pause to think. Is it because the Rubix cube is too hard to solve? Is it because the Rubix cube is on the cat's back and prevents him from sleeping 23 and a half hours a day? Is it because the cat knows very well how to solve the puzzle but lacks the opposable thumbs necessary to manipulate the cube? Or is it because he's tired of being called Peanut?

Or, the sleeping orange cat who seems completely unaware of the little black paper top hat that is balancing carefully on his head. 'nuff said. No need to even mention the caption. Oh, why not? "That's one classy top-hat, if I do say so myself". I get the feeling this one should be read with a tried and true adult male cat voice with a touch of "Foghorn-Leghorn".

I wish I had thought of this twelve years ago. I would have had the perfect picture. In fact, I could have done multiple pictures with our family cat Cookie.

I came driving up to my parents house one afternoon and two of my sisters were on the driveway looking very disturbed. When I got out of the car, they motioned for me to come over to them. "We think something's wrong with Cookie", one of them said, with obvious cat-lover emotion welling up inside. "We've been calling him and whistling for him, but he won't come". Well that was not like friendly Cookie to not respond when my sister Sherra would vibrate her tongue off the roof of her mouth in a high pitched shrill. When I looked in the back of the garage, I saw Cookie stretched out on the garage floor, with his eyes open and his mouth wide open, and one front paw in the air. He was obviously stiff as a board.
"Something might be wrong with Cookie" I informed them.

Now, if I'd had a digital camera and incredible forethought, I could have taken about fifty pictures right then and there.
Caption 1: "That antifreeze sure tasted good!"
Caption 2: (with Cookie placed in tight leather cat suit holding a whip in his front paws) "Halle Berry's got nothing on this Catwoman! Rawr!"
Caption 3: (with a little brown hamster sitting on Cookie's head) "Jerry finally got the better of Tom"

Sorry if I offended any catlovers with my story. You're right, it would have been terribly rude and insensitive for me to do something like that to poor Cookie...

Would've been way more respectful to pose him for those pictures while he was still alive. Too bad I didn't. Could've made Jordan's (who sits a few cubicles away from my office) day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Calling off the Dogs--I mean Dolphins

Associated Press

Clearfield, Utah -- The Clearfield Blue Dolphins had their first game yesterday with their rookie coach. By Saturday morning at 10 am there was nothing left to do but play the game. Hours of game tape had been analyzed, weaknesses assessed, and strategies developed and rehearsed. Uniforms and schedules had been delivered Tuesday night and post-game snacks purchased. Grape Capri Suns had been chilled and transported to the field. It was show time.

The Dolphins are a rag-tag gang of five- and six-year-old soccer stars who arrived on the field with ribbons in their hair and the sweet nectar of competition coursing through their veins. Two of them are in their rookie season.
Hannah was shy and had a hard time leaving her mom. The other Dolphins had to be sent over to coax her out on the field.
Alexis (Lexy), also in her first year, was quiet and resolute. Very obedient and willing to do what was asked.
The other three played together last season. They had nerves of steel. There wasn't anything in the Clearfield Commission U-6 AYSO soccer league these wiley competitors hadn't seen before.

Isabelle (Belle) quieted the Purple Princess crowd 5 seconds into the game when she drove down the field and punched it in. Then she added another. (Moments later the Purple Princesses coach caught site of the earings Belle was wearing. That little showboat must have been trying to slide the bling past them all--probably knowingly--against league rules. Lucky they let her off with a warning. Next time she's sure to get carded.)
Rozlyn (Roz) added a couple more to the score. Coaxed on by her exhuberant dad, she celebrated with a handstand at midfield. Nearly cost them an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
First quarter ended 4-0.
The Purple Princesses snuck one by to start the second. Momentary lapse in concentration by the Dolphins. During the post-game interview, the coach took full responsibility of what he termed, "a lack of coaching preparation". He added, "it won't happen again".

Tayler (Tay) dashed the Purple Princesses new found hopes by nailing in three goals in the second.
Roz and Belle punished them in the third quarter and Tay and Roz finished them off in the fourth. Even the rookie Hannah finished a breakaway with a shot that narrowly missed (wide right). She also bounced back from a shoulder contusion that required a spur of the moment substitution and a little TLC from mom. Her teammates rallied around her. It was clear the overly aggressive Roz was sent in to punish the other team for knocking her new friend to the ground (she also appeared slightly annoyed to have to enter the game during her rest--and snack--period. But she reluctantly entered the game chewing a mouth full of cheddar cheese fish. Moments later she was begging for a drink.)

The rookie coach had a hard time calling off the dogs. He would send them back to play defense, but they would soon forget (or get bored) and take the ball down and score. It was difficult to hold back these fierce competitors without breaking their spirits. There was purple blood in the water and the dolphins could taste it. They had quite a day.

There was no Gatorade on the sideline, so someone (probably Jess) annoyingly shot the coach with a stream from a water bottle as the final whistle blew.
Final score was anywhere from 10, 11 (or maybe even 12) to 1.

Photo 1: The fire in their eyes was evident during the pre-game practice.

Photo 2: This little dolphin had a hard time following instructions from her new "soccer teacher", but ended up making her coach very proud in the end.

Post-game wrap up: Jess made me toss my twenty-year old pillow (see yesterday's post). Didn't sleep so well last night (might have had something to do with the dust mite nightmares). Hope it gets better from here. Also, Rylee informed her dad this morning that she will soon be big enough to play soccer and then her dad will be her coach "just like for Tayler". Oh dear. Look what we've started.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pillow Talk

So, for the thousandth time in our seven year marriage, Jess hid my pillow last night when I got up to get a drink. Fun game - unless you're really tired.

The conversation that ensued resulted in another reminder of her irritation with my pillow. For some reason, I have to use a really firm pillow (Jess calls it a cinder block). She's bought me several "firm" pillows over the years, and we have amassed quite a collection. But to her dismay, none of them can replace the cinder block. I really struggle at times falling asleep in hotel rooms when we travel...Unless I bring the block.

In my household, I fit right in. Afterall, Rylee and Jayson have to take their blankets with them when we travel (Tayler used to back when she was five). I understand Jess used to fall asleep as a teenager rubbing her face with the corner of her childhood blanket (sorry Babe, I felt compelled to disclose).

I really have tried to move on and find a replacement but so far, nothing comes close. What can I say, I've always been a man of commitment.

But maybe now's the time.
Because last night Jess reminded me about dustmites. I have heard that a large portion of an old mattress is composed largely of dust mites. It hadn't really occured to me that my pillow may be a habitat for them as well.

My Google request returned the following:
"Beds are a prime habitat (where 1/3 of life occurs). A typical used mattress may have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million mites inside. (Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings.)"

Ten percent of a two-year-old pillow? Mites? Their DROPPINGS? Ten percent? I wonder what the percentage is for a 20-plus-year-old pillow that weighs about four times as much as any "firm" pillows you can by in the store--and a good bit more lumpy too? A pillow I believe used to be white, but now, even after a good bleaching, is at best a dull gray.
Nice. Comfy.

So last night it dawned on me, "It might be time to graduate to another pillow."
I set the block aside and rested my head on the new pillow.
My head sunk down into the pillow. It was kinda firm. Kinda soft. Maybe this is what it's really supposed to be like. Maybe the pillow is supposed to give a little and let your head settle in. Maybe it is supposed to conform slightly around your head. Maybe I could get used to this...

Maybe not.
I lasted about 23 seconds.
Tossed the new pillow onto the floor and grabbed the block. Sweet taste of Heaven.
I was out cold in minutes.

I'm gonna need some help. Maybe a 12-step program.
On second thought, 'do the mites really look that bad?' If you blur your eyes a bit, they kinda look like a very small turtle.

I have a feeling ol' reliable is about to get tossed by Jess. So here's a picture of my pillow without the pillowcases. Keep in mind the couch is tan.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Dreams

I was awakened last night abruptly about 1 am due to severe lower intestinal discomfort that required immediate attention.

However severe the discomfort, it paled in comparison to the annoyance I felt when I realized I wasn't really competing in the gold medal match in co-ed (apparently, since I was in board shorts instead of a tiny bikini) beach vollyball in Beijing with my teammate Misty May. I was playing out of my mind too. The gold medal was ours for sure.

Interesting, with my love of swiming, that I wasn't anchoring Michael Phelps in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay against the French instead. After all, I am clutch.

Maybe it's better though. My intense lower intestinal discomfort in the middle of a crucial olympic relay leg may have muddied the water a bit for Michael Phelps and his quest for the record 8 gold medals.

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Don't worry, put your TiVo remotes down. No Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake impersonation going on here. Just noticed a recent trend of malfunctions in my wardrobe at work.


Went to the gym before work. Trying to start the day with a metabolic boost.
Only one problem. Packed up all my work clothes--Salmon-colored shirt, matching tie (best I can tell), brown/tan slacks, belt, patterned brown socks, FORGOT MY DRESS SHOES.

Nice. The gym isn't right next door. And I didn't feel like losing another 20 minutes so early in the morning (plus there was a huge negative emotion associated with going back home, then retracing the path I had already taken back towards work last time I forgot my dress shoes). Yep. Embarrassed to say, this wasn't the first time this has happened to me.

So I proceeded to work accessorized (I don't think shoes are really an accessory, but I wanted so badly to use that word and I don't own a purse, man-bag, jewelry, or scarf) with my nice red Pearl Izumi running shoes. They look great--when you're wearing shorts, white socks and a T-shirt (or wife-beater if you're "that guy"). For the record--with a dress shirt, tie and slacks the red Pearl Izumis don't look quite as nice. I felt like the "keymaster" all day (you know, the character in the first Ghostbusters played by Rick Moranis with his highwater slacks and sneakers). Either that, or the night manager at a Wendy's or sporting goods store (minus the short-sleeve dress shirt).

Needless to say, "nice shoes" comments were tossed my direction all day. Thanks co-workers (and boss) for pointing it out to anyone who didn't notice on their own.

Wardrobe-related Highlight of the Workday: Taking a suit coat from a much smaller-framed co-worker (who had a job interview) and performing my version of Tommy-Boy's "fat guy in a little coat". The highlight wasn't my impersonation, it was Spencer looking at me strangely for 20 seconds and then suddenly realizing the suit jacket was his.

His response (about 20 seconds later than I'd hoped): "Is that my jacket?" (It just dawned on me. Might he have actually thought it was mine?)
Me: "yep"
Him: "OK. Now I'm just waiting to hear a tearing sound".

Thankfully I didn't complete the impersonation or I'd have had to buy a new suit for someone.

Wardrobe malfunction #2: Flying home from Boise a month or so ago on a Monday morning. Being picked up at the airport by a coworker and being taken straight to work. Belt buckle detaches itself from my belt at the Boise airport security line. Hiking my pants up and holding them with one hand the entire walk through two airports (one of them from the farthest point on the tarmac), and the stroll to my office (and every time I had to get up and sit down on the plane) in order to avoid terrified shrieks, awkward glances, and indecent exposure charges. Fortunately MacGyver here was able to round up some wire in my office (not sure why I had it) and jimmy-rig my belt so it would work for one work day.

MacGyver Side note: I failed however to fashion an explosive device out of a stick of chewing gum, an empty white-out bottle, a dry-erase marker, and an Intermountain Healthcare-branded hacky-sack.

Wardrobe malfunction #3: Two days after the belt incident, I realized during a trip to the restroom that my fly was open, even though the zipper was up. The darn zipper broke. I had to hold a folder in front of my nether-region and go from cubicle to cubicle quietly begging for safety pins. Thanks co-workers for not laughing too loudly and for having safety pins at your desk. Also thanks for the tip about putting the pants inside out before you pin the crotch shut so people can't see the safety pin. It worked much better the second go-round after your timely advice.

Interesting how many more times than normal you have to go number one in a day when you've safety pinned your pants crotch shut with five safety pins. Thank goodness for stalls in the men's room.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jens Nielsen Family Reunion

When you think of a family reunion, do you have the same thoughts as me???? ......

Relaxing at a park under the shade of an enormous maple. Eating original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, and Aunt Edna's homeade brownies. Reminiscing about old times with grandpa and grandma. Overhearing the gleeful giggles of nieces, nephews and younger cousins competing in potato-sack races. The occasional clink of a ringer, (or thud of a horse-shoe in the sand), as Uncle Jack passes on the family tradition of tossing horse-shoes to the rising generation. Catching up on the comings and goings of a multitude of cousins who seem as excited about your life as you are theirs?

Well, wouldn't that be nice...

The Jens Nielsen family reunion is nothing like this (and never has been as far as I'm concerned)--except for the KFC.
Each year in August, we make the long pilgrimage to the same park in Riverton. We even use the exact same terrace at the park. True the drive is only about an hour, but it seems like an eternity. It's amazing how time seems to stand still when you know your entire evening is going to be sucked down the drain and you don't have the power to bring it back.

My dad has one sister, who has one daughter. Their two families, and my hearing impaired grandmother who is rapidly losing the battle of senility (bless her heart), are the only people we know at the reunion. She might even be the only survivor from Jens Nielsen's immediate family. And we only chit chat with them for a few minutes. I actually don't know anybody else at the entire reunion. In fact, I wouldn't recognize any of them if I ran into them today and the reunion was only a week ago. For all I know, they could've been complete strangers who were playing at the park and happened to wander over for free lemonade and a good time.

So all my siblings (who live about 15 minutes from each other) head down to this park in Riverton to hang out together. Except for Brother-in-law Trent whose prayers were answered this year when his family offered to take him waterskiing (coincidently I'm sure) on the same day as the Nielsen reunion. That sucker. His parting words to my sister were, "I'll try to make it back in time for dinner." Yeah right. We'll save you some chicken just in case--the drumstick nobody wants. Well that's nice. We promised our kids Asha and Ty would be there for them to play with, but they went with Trent. All I could do was shake my head in amazement and ask, "Sherra, why on earth didn't you go with them?"

If my siblings are like me, the sole reason they go each year is to prevent a guilt trip from my dad (Tom). (The notable exception is Shane, my younger brother who couldn't care less what Tom thinks but noticed a couple of years ago that a couple of the Nielsen-related clan were attractive young women in their late teens or early twenties. What hasn't actually occured to him--at least I hope it hasn't--is that even though we don't know any of them, WE ARE FREAKIN RELATED!!!!) Tom rarely gets excited about any family outing--at least not with my mom's side of the family. But for some reason he gets real stoked about his Grandpa Jens Nielsen's family reunion. He pretends he knows some of the people there. But he never really introduces us to any of them. I believe it's cause he thinks we'll find out they don't really know who he is.

Of course, there is the awkward moment every year when Tom or Aunt Carol have to stand up and introduce us to everyone not looking up from their dinner. Seriously, nobody even looks up; everyone keeps right on eating. Except for me. That's usually when I have to run to the Yukon to get "something". This year I managed to need my baseball and glove right at the moment when the awkward introductions were approaching our table. Didn't even occur to anyone that nobody else had a glove. Nothing like playing catch with yourself at the Jens Nielsen family reunion. Jess didn't even realize I was gone. She was busy pretending to feed Jayson without looking up.

This year was even more fun. We got to help out. I actually have to give Aunt Carol credit for making this the best reunion in years. She put in a ton of work, but still felt obligated to follow the same format we've followed for years. Eat in your own family unit. Awkward introductions. Games for the kids. (Our game was easy. Jess is brilliant. We just dumped a bunch of candy and small toys all over the grass and called it a treasure hunt. It was over in 1 1/2 minutes. Kids were happy. So were we.) The grand finale--The annual door prize giveaway.

This is where Aunt Carol pulled way ahead from her predecessors. Everyone there seemed to love the door prizes. I lost my ticket and thus forfeited my door-prize eligibility. I never even went up to the table to see what was there. I just believe Jess's testimony that this year the prizes were better. My older sister Shelly was sure her number wouldn't get called. She had a gut instinct. So she went up to the front and monitored Tom (over his shoulder) as he read the tickets. Sure enough, hers was the only number not called. Supposedly. My hunch is it was called at one of the moments when she was standing up there not paying attention. She did dig through the pile of called tickets and still couldn't find it. Poor thing. She actually likes the prizes every year. Would've been a shame if her brother (or someone) pulled her matching ticket stub from the drawing before it started. Definitely would've been a shame.

My collection of door prizes from the past: a hand knitted afgan (not sure if I spelled this right.) A plastic tissue box holder decorated with pink and green yarn, coconut-scented Suave shampoo, and a tin filled with hard-tack candy. In years past, it hasn't really mattered if my number was drawn first or last, the prizes all typically seem more suited for women. Probably cause they're usually made by women, for women.

The door-prize giveaway came early this year, thanks to the pouring rain that cut the kids games short--in fact, ours was the last game prior to the rain. I asked Tom if Jens Nielsen would want us to continue in spite of the rain and dangerously close lightning. I was disappointed to find out Jens would have wanted things to continue--at least according to Tom.

Carol's only mistake--allowing Tom to MC. His humor attempts were ill-fated. At times he would overhear conversation from my siblings at our table and respond or comment about it through the microphone for everyone else's listening pleasure. Nice. Good thing most people just kept eating and didn't seem to hear him.

The positives: The food was good. So was the snowcone. Our game finished quickly. Kids seemed to have fun. Trent had a good time waterskiing. Nobody got hit in the face with the baseball bat my sister brought for the pinata. It ended earlier than normal (at least for us). Tom's stint as reunion MC is over. Carol can rest for another 5 or 6 years (she did waaaay more work pulling it together than Tom--which I guess is to be expected).

The best positive: I made a formal announcement to Tom that this would be the last Jens Nielsen family reunion my little family would attend (and I blamed it on Jess--because he likes her way more than he does me and won't hold a grudge towards her). Nothing like one full year of advanced notice. My guess is Jens Nielsen would've respected that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Best Big Sister Ever

Last night when I got home from work, Jess was still suffering from a 48 hour migraine. After dinner I tried to get her to go upstairs to take a hot bath. Jess is convinced a hot bath will cure anything (probably even cancer). So I knew this is what she needed.

It was really easy to get her to stop trying to clean up after dinner and go take a bath. After I hog-tied her, carried her up the stairs over my shoulder like a 110 pound bag of flour and barricaded the bathroom door, I believe she took a bath (the girls at least reported that she was in there with a book).

I decided I should mow the lawn or my OCD wife would try to do it today while I'm at work. I asked Tayler if she would keep Rylee and Jayson busy playing in the yard while I mowed the lawn. She agreed. However, I was only halfway done with the front yard when I noticed little Jayson wandering towards me. Alone. Tayler and Rylee were nowhere to be found. So I stopped mowing, picked him up, and waited for Tayler to remember she left him alone. I also couldn't help but think 'she's got to be the worst baby sitter in the world.'

She came out of the house a minute later and didn't have time to say a word before I questioned where she was and how on earth she could leave Jayson alone. What if I hadn't seen or heard him over the mower and he wandered out in the street? She looked down at the ground and then explained that Rylee had fallen, cut open her knee and was crying and bleeding. So she hurried and helped her into the house so Mom could take care of her and thought Jayson would be OK since I was out in the yard too. "I thought I better help Rylee, Daddy".

Good one Sean. I backtracked faster than bulldog who thought he'd sniff a porcupine. "Tayler, you did the right thing. Thank you for helping Rylee". She played with Jayson until I was finished with the yard and then took him inside. When I came in, she was sitting with him on the couch with her arm around him watching a cartoon. "Tayler, you did a good job baby sitting. Thank you, Sweetheart."
"Except for when I left Jayson and went inside with Rylee."
"Nope. You knew I was in the yard with him. You did the right thing. You are the best big sister to Rylee and Jayson"

I asked her to run upstairs and get on her PJs. As she handed Jayson over to me, he leaned back towards her and opened his mouth. (Yep. He has a preference for open mouth kisses. Look out ladies. This little Dunroe boy likes to cuddle.) He kissed her right by her mouth. Even he knows what a good big sister he's got.

Tayler got a little embarrassed. "Daddy, sometimes Jayson tries to kiss me on the lips".

Me: "He's a little silly. I guess he thinks he needs to practice."

(Quizzical look from Tayler.)

Me: "Nevermind. Will you get Jayson's jammies too. And a diaper. And a throw-up bowl for Dad?"

Clarifying note: I have a very sensitive gag reflex. When the diapers are really messy, I often gag, and gag, and gag. Nothing more than that. Just gagging. Saturday as Tayler watched me change a severly messy diaper I gagged. "Do you want me to go get you a bowl Daddy?"
'Not a bad idea Tay'.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Smash This! French Guy

I doubt any of the two people who read my blog care much about swimming, but tonight the Americans won the greatest relay in history.
The French came into the 4 x 100 freestyle relay heavily favored to win. Their anchor is the current world-record holder and grade-A trash-talker Alain (surnamed something French). He promised his relay team would "smash the Americans". On paper, the French were heavy favorites. In Michael Phelps quest to beat Mark Spitz's olympic record for gold medals, this was predicted to be the toughest conquest.
Phelps led off with an American record time but the French passed the next two American swimmers and held a half-body length lead heading into the final leg. The problem was the US anchor, Jason Leizak had to try to catch the current world record holder Alain "trash-talking" (French last name). Impossible. Especially after Alain extended the lead to a full body length heading into the turn.
However, Leizak did the unthinkable. He caught Alain in the last 10 meters and touched him out at the wall. Leizak swam the fastest 100 meter relay split in history. The Americans destroyed their own world record and beat the French by .07 seconds. So long Frenchies! The Americans celebrated the unbelievable win. The French stood silent in dazed disbelief (then promptly surrendered).
It really was something to behold. Amazing!

Sunday Thought -- Holiness to the Lord

After a wedding reception at the Lion House on Friday night, we took a stroll by the fountains and saw the temple just after sunset.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Child's Prayer and Father's Wisdom

Tonight Jess and I were reflecting on a classic child prayer from a few weeks back.

Since Tayler pierced her ears, Rylee has repeatedly told us that she's not going to get her ears pierced. She's also realized that she can easily hurt Tayler's feelings by telling her that she doesn't like her anymore. So she says that a lot. A few weeks ago Tayler was talking about how she was excited to get baptized when she turns eight. In typical defiance, and to frustrate her OCD older sister, Rylee informed Tayler that she was not getting her ears pierced and "not getting baptized".

That night as Jess and Tayler knelt in prayer, Tayler sincerely pleaded with the Lord, "please help Rylee to accept the gospel and be baptized". (The way Rylee has been acting towards her lately, I would have expected the prayer to be, "Please help Rylee to stop being such a snotty little brat").

Last night Tayler came into my room crying because Rylee was being mean to her and telling her that she didn't like her anymore. I asked Tayler if she really thought Rylee didn't like her. She didn't really seem to have an answer. I tried another wise Fatherly tactic, "Don't worry about it. She doesn't mean it. If you act like it doesn't bother you she'll stop doing it." (My originality as a father is quite astounding. My kids are soooo lucky I can come up with such brilliant, thought-provoking anectdotes?) Tayler went away, slightly disappointed, I'm sure, that I didn't have more to offer. As Tayler returned to the bathroom where she had previously been verbally insulted by her three-year-old sister, I heard Rylee calmly ask, "What Daddy say Tayler?" (She wasn't the slightest bit worried that she might be in trouble. Merely curious as to what I had to offer.)

Tayler's answer demonstrated the deep impact my words of wisdom often have on her life. "I don't know."

Another Tayler classic: One night before bed Tayler and I read some scripture stories and she asked me a question about a church-related topic. I explained the gospel principle to her, and shared with her my feelings about it. After I finished, she looked at me for a moment longer and then added, "Daddy, you say those things in the name of Jesus Christ amen". Apparently, Tayler recognizes a testimony when she hears one and apparently has been listening a bit in sacrament meeting as she colors pictures for Jess and I.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Back to Work

Well, the Dunroe family is back from Utah's Dixie.
We spent a week baking in the sun and swimming in a very cool pool. We had absolutely no agenda and so we just relaxed. It was awesome. I love my family. We had such a great time together. The girls were sad to come home.
We also got to see our good friends the Millers. Sure miss not having them a block away.
I was supposed to work on my project for school but only worked on it for an hour and a half. Sweet! I barely feel guilty. Well, I guess I do now, but I didn't then.
I worked out every day for 2-3 hours and only lost two pounds. But I'm trying hard not to be discouraged.
Had to work again yesterday. I was a little rusty at it after a week off.
But developing health insurance products is a lot like riding a bike...

For the first time.
Without training wheels.
With no helmet, no knee or elbow pads.
Wearing shorts.
With a dad that's too slow to keep up once you take off.
On an asphalt parking lot with a plethora of sharp little rocks.
It's a good time.
The best part is, my scabs should be healed just in time for another ride on Monday morning.

...And if my collar bone still hurts like mad this time next Friday, my dad may take me to the Instacare for an x-ray. After all, why pay the $25 copay if it might get better on it's own?

Random insurance thought:
Shortly after my mission, I played tackle football with a bunch of guys on Thanksgiving day. I broke my arm in half. My friends took me to the nearest hospital. My dad met me in the ER with my University of Utah Student Insurance plan info in his hands. The nurse figured out it was broken when she asked me to move it (the fact that I told her I heard it crack wasn't enough of a clue, she had to move it and make the bone stick out for herself), so they were waiting for an orthopedic surgeon to come in to treat me. I was a little dizzy from the Demerol drip they gave me to dull the pain. My dad didn't say much when he got there. After a few minutes he looked up from the insurance papers and said, "If we leave right now, and drive up to University hospital, you might save a couple hundred dollars".

Who could blame him? University Hospital was only a half hour away (and the Demerol was making me dizzy).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Little Buddy is One!

Being raised as the only boy with four sisters took its toll. My parents finally had another boy when I was 15, but it seemed a little too late for me. I also grew up feeling a lot of pressure that there is not another son to carry on the Dunroe family name (at least not from this branch of the tree).

I was so excited when Jayson arrived. One year later, I can hardly believe it. He is the happiest little guy I have ever met. When he gets really excited, he flaps his arms and laughs really loud. This picture below captures him laughing, flapping, and walking towards me (quite the multi-tasker).

Happy Birthday Buddy! We are sure glad to have you in our family. Especially me. There has been quite an imbalance of estrogen and emotion in this little household. Thanks for balancing things out a bit. Can't wait till mom decides we can bring you home a little brother!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who is Jim and why is he back?

So Jess has been talking a lot about some guy named Jim. I overheard her two days ago on the phone telling a friend.
Not sure if I should be worried or not. She says she has just started going to Jim's again?
When did she used to go to Jim's?
I don't remember her going to Jim's since we've been married.
Apparently she's gone over to Jim's two or three times in the past week.
Supposedly Jim makes her feel really good.
This Jim claims he's gonna help her lose weight. What guy says that to a girl? (I tell her she looks great just the way she is.)
The weirdest part is that last night she actually admitted to me how excited she is to be hanging out at Jim's on a regular basis again. She says she now has more energy and is a lot happier.

Maybe I need my own Jim.
Or maybe I should start spending more time at Ms. Pool's.
Haven't hung out with her much since high school.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Journey--Entry 1

Well, I'm making progress again.
I've been on a journey to lose weight for a number of years and have been very successful at losing weight. It's just keeping it off that's a challenge.

Of course, I have lost the same 20 or 30 pounds at least 20 times since I returned home from my mission, but I always gain it back (often with a little extra).

This time I am planning on a different outcome. So far, so good. I'm down 18 pounds since I started. I'm not quite ready to announce my actual weight on the blog, I think I'll wait until I;m closer to reaching my first milestone. Suffice it to say--this journey's gonna be long. My first milestone is 50 pounds. If I can do that, I can do the rest. So far, I'm down 18. 32 more to go. I'm trying to take it slow and steady--eat better, decrease my portions, and exercise at least once a day (sometimes twice).

I'm gonna hit that first milestone. Hopefully by the end of October--October 27th to be exact. The question is, what am I gonna do to celebrate when I get there? Eat?