Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Joy of Giving



I love this time of year. I especially love to see how excited the kiddos get whenever they talk about Christmas. Usually I overhear them talking about what they are going to find in their presents Christmas morning. Today, however, I got to witness a sweet glimpse into the excitement of giving instead of getting.
Logan is currently off track from school. He has 5 weeks off from Thanksgiving all the way to January. I have been a little nervous about keeping him occupied while Dallin and Emma are still in school, and he has only his little brother to keep him company.
Logan is one who is usually content to do whatever one suggests, but if that particular suggestion doesn't sound fun to him, Lego's are always a good fall back. Today, he decided he would make presents for his brothers and sister and wrap them up and put them under the tree while they were at school. He decorated a couple pieces of paper, and made 2 fans; one for Porter and the other for Dallin. Then he spent a half an hour stringing some beads to make a bracelet for Emma. His poor bracelet kept coming undone, so after the beads all fell to the floor and rolled away for the fifth time, he gave up. He decided to wrap the fans and call it good.
Later this evening Logan got to go with Dad to a friend's house. They weren't gone long, but when they came back, I found Logan in the entryway of the kitchen surrounded by huge rolls of paper, given to him by our friend who is a surveyor. He had given Logan the "scratch" paper he had on hand, and Logan was thrilled to have such a prize.

Later on, he came up to me and whispered that he had a plan for the huge pieces of paper. He had decided that he wanted to decorate the paper and make a huge fan out of it, wrap it up, and put it under the tree for Dallin. He even solicited Emma's help in his cause. I was touched that gifting was still in the forefront of his mind, and that the prized paper would come in handy to that end. I can hardly wait to see how it turns out.

I don't know if Dallin will appreciate the huge fan, but I know I won't forget the love that I saw in it's construction. I can tell it's going to be another one of those wonderful Christmas seasons.

Love,

Tiffany

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Joy of Disneyland

I have been to Disneyland just once in my life - well, before this last October.

I know many people, even here in Utah, who make visiting the self-proclaimed 'happiest place on earth' venue an annual outing - and some even more.  And I don't blame them for it.  It is a fun place to be.  There is something special the place has - whether it is the cast members who are busy cleaning up every last piece of litter, or simply the folk lore long ago attained.

But something that surprised me was that the happiest time on our vacation was not Disneyland.  It was not on Space Mountain, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, or the Dumbo ride - as fun as they may have been.  It definitely wasn't found on a It's A Small World After All (which, having never gone on the ride, still is my least favorite ride) or Pirates of the Caribbean (which, is probably my favorite ride, but was closed through our vacation period).  Even as fun as the new rides at the relatively new California Adventure were, were not really all that great compared to the fun we had the day prior to entering the mecca of long lines and overpriced food.

It was simply, a day at the beach.

Or rather, a sunset at the beach.

We take family pictures every year, and we decided that we would plan on the day before we go to Disneyland that we would take some family pictures at the beach.  Which is a great plan, but one that was really just a shot in the dark.  I have taken all sorts of pictures over the years - but have never lived near a beach to know what to expect or what to look for.  But we had our visions.

So being the photographer, I assign Tiffany the job of costume designer.  She has always done a great job, and knew she would come through with flying colors again.

Well, instead of colors, she wanted white shirts and khaki pants.

Which is great, until you consider you are on a beach with young kids who really have never seen the ocean or waves before.  How are you supposed to keep them from getting all wet and messy?  (My trick - threaten their very existence - it worked - mostly.)

Being a Sunday, we went to church in the morning, visited the Los Angeles Temple in the early afternoon, went back to the hotel to change, and barely had enough time to get to the beach before the sun went down.  Not being native to the area, we had no idea where to go to find the best location.  The night before, having arrived early to our hotel, we ventured out to Huntington beach and let the kids put their feet in the water as the horizon swallowed the setting sun.

We opted to head that direction again and see what we could find along the coast.  We ended up a half mile further north than we were the day prior and found a mostly secluded spot that allowed us to take pictures without a lot of people.

As we arrived, lifeguards and ambulances pulled up a few hundred yards away from us to take care of a victim of some sort, rushing away with it's lights blaring.  Tiffany huddled the family together and offered a prayer for the unknown injured individual.  Next time Tiffany tells you she is praying for you - know this - that she truly is.

Any ways, I digress.

After threatening the kids with their lives if they got wet or dirty, I set up the tripod and started to shoot.  Some shots were candid, others, not so much, but most were just candid.

You see, in years past, family pictures were simply scheduled stress.  The kids never listening, or if they did, their siblings were not.  We have a famous picture we took about 7 years ago where I am yelling at Dallin to look at me to ensure the picture turned out.  The picture looks like familial bliss!  Though it couldn't have been further from the truth.  The hope as a photographer is that I can make it look that good, no matter the situation.

So I was hoping to make some more magic this year.

Only, I didn't need any.  The kids were happy, enjoying playing in the sand while the ocean breeze blew in their faces.  The few family shots we took were not very contrived, and in fact, in many ways natural.  As the sun continued to set, and as we had enough pictures for what we wanted, we allowed the kids to get a little wet.  Which turned into a lot wet.

And as they did, Tiffany and I sat back, and enjoyed the view.  Not of the sunset.  Not of the waves.  But the very lives that we get to be a part of each day.  And then it hit us.

Disneyland would not match the happiness and joy that Tiffany and I found in that moment.

Not even close.

Cheers,






Nathan

Thanksgiving - don't ruin it please!

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck
I am tempted to say that this won't impact my life.  But long term - I think it will.

Target, Best Buy, and Kohls opens Friday morning at midnight.  Walmart opens at 10:00 Thursday night.  Old Navy isn't closed at all this Thanksgiving.

How do I know this?  Because I am listening to Pandora and the the commercials being played are all about these openings.  I don't go shopping on Black Friday unless it is due to the regular course of life.  And when I have, even at a decent hour - say 11:00 am, the stores are dead.  At least compared to their opening hour.

But what I fear is that the all-powerful Christmas dollar continues to sneak it's dirty head into the doors of otherwise great holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are generally the only days of the year that *stores close and individuals get time off to spend time with family.  All other holidays retail establishments are usually staffed at normal levels. 

I go back and suggest that this trend this year won't impact me.  And it likely won't this year.  But with time I think the social blessings Thanksgiving and Christmas instill in our country, will be diminished.  Yes, a slippery slope argument in that life will be altered as we move to opening Thanksgiving to everyday life.

I can see it now - I am 70 years old talking to my great grand kids;

"I remember when we had a day of Thanksgiving.  A holiday that the whole country stopped for a moment to give gratitude - for whatever."

"Nice grandpa - like anybody has anything to be grateful for, let alone to take a day of to contemplate these thoughts."
Yep - Thanksgiving will be gone one day.  Oh, it will be around like most of our other holidays.  But it will be gone.  The only hope I have is that "Black Thursday", as some are starting to call it, turns out just dismal crowds and that the backlash is great.

But one thing that Walmart has taught us - we are willing to do anything as long as it is at a good price.

I wonder when Christmas won't feel so sacred?

I hope I am not around to find out - though I fear I will be.

Cheers,

Nathan


*Yes, I know that this is not 100% true - but it's pretty close.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time to Change

Tiffany has wanted a name change to the blog.  She doesn't want it named after her.  Since we have hit the year mark from the news of cancer and all seems fine (fingers are still crossed) - and since she has agreed to post a couple of times a week - I have agreed to change the name of this blog to simply,

Joy of the Journey

Here is to hoping we can keep it up.

Cheers,

Nathan

One Year Ago...

Life is normal, if there is such a thing.

Bills continuously get paid. Almost done!

The kids are a bit older and wiser.

And Tiffany continues to be fine.

Can there be a better blessing than this?

The answer is yes, but not much.

I will always be more greatful for the Savior who saves our souls. Pain, sickness, illness, disease is all a part of mortality. Sin and transgression receives an eternal consequence if it wasn't for the Savior.

I think I am only more greatful for the atonement. It allows me to be with my sweet wife into the eternities - no matter when either of us go in this mortal journey.

A Year of Living

Today marks the one year mark (based on the two days before Thanksgiving appointment we had down in Huntsman Cancer Institute) that life really seemed turned upside down.

Sure, before that day, we had already received the news that Tiffany, as it would appear, had cancer.  But it was the second opinion that got my emotions stirred.

The doctor came in to talk to Tiffany and I after having sat in an office for what seemed like an hour, though it was likely much less than that.  She sat down in front of us, and told us her confirmation of the diagnoses, the next steps and that there was no other option than to beat it. 

Never in our minds at that time did we understand how it would all play out.  Both the bad, and the good.

The bad was the surgery, the emotional roller coaster, the recovery, the unknown.  There was major stress being induced on both of us.  Most of it was stress due to the life and health concerns of my wife.  She and I had independently researched the cancer, and both of us privately held the information - not wishing to share the scary scene played out in each of our minds, though there were a few times that we did discuss the issue - even at length.

But mostly, we discussed about the faith, hope, and healing we had to focus upon.  We had decided that there was little use to consider the alternative. 

It is in some of the darkest places and times in our life that we lift ourselves and find out what we truly are or have become.  And we found a strength - together, that allowed us to move forward with faith and strength.

The rest - as they say, is history.  If you haven't, feel free to read this blog from the beginning.  The first intent of this was to keep people updated with Tiffany's condition, her treatments, and outlook.

It turned into something much more about faith, hope, and love.

So today - I would like to thank all those that helped us through that trying time.  The gifts, the well wishes.  The prayers, the understanding.

We felt the love that so many had for us, especially Tiffany.

Thank you.

And we continue to have hope and faith that things will continue as they have.

Cheers,

Nathan

PS - Tiffany went to the doctor the other day for another checkup.  He told her things continue to look great and that she will soon move to 6 month checkups rather than 3 month checkups!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crazy Hair Day

Not sure if it was the hair that was crazy or what, but we had a funny incident the other day.

We have a problem, we have elementary age kids in different schools. Each of the schools do seperate, but sometimes similar campaigns that allow the students to learn or do something during school. For two of the three kids, it is currently what they call red ribbon week - something to do with safety. Both schools do something like this, the timing and exact events may differ a bit, however.

Each day the kids get to do something along a theme to engage them in the process. One day it is wear red day. Another it is wear pajama day. Yet another is what they call crazy hair day.

Somehow, it was determined, that both schools were on the same page. So all three kids wore some sort of red yesterday. And they all came home excited for the next days event - Crazy hair day.

So they all get up in the morning and do something crazy to their hair. Emma had this idea to put a cup on her hair and pull her hair around it. I thought it was a brilliant idea that Tiffany somehow pulled off.

Logan wanted not only to do his hair crazy, but to spray it with different colors. We did not have any colors and Tiffany opted not to go figure out how to do that, which you will see was a stroke of motherly intuition, unknown to her nor Logan.

So off to school they went. Tiffany went to drop Logan off at his carpool while she ended up taking Dallin and Emma to their school. As she dropped Logan off, one of the girls from this carpool came outside, her hair all done very nicely. Tiffany, now questioning if it was crazy hair day, asked as politely as she could,

"Is it crazy hair day today?"

At once this young woman put her hand up to her hair, horrified that it may have looked out of place. You see, she didn't think it was crazy hair day, so any suggestion that said it was meant that her hair must be messed up.

However, the horror was now on Tiffany's face, only being grateful that she hadn't colored Logan's hair. Logan, being our tender-hearted, never wants to stand out, kid, started to cry at the thought of going to school with crazy hair when nobody else was. Emma then proceeded to tell Logan that his hair was cool and that it didn't look crazy, all the while Tiffany was trying, with her might, to slick down his gel-laced hair from it's frizzyness it then looked like.

According to her, she did a decent job, though imperfect at best under the timing and situation. Emma, being a kind sister in a time of need, kept on telling Logan it looked cool and didn't look out of place.

And so they went to school, on crazy hair day. At least at one of the schools.

Let's hope we can remember which school is doing what when it is pajama day. If not, one of the kids may be living a bad dream that I think we have all had at one time or another.

Yikes!

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dallin's 5th Grade Reflections Contest Piano Composition

Dallin is a budding composer, of which I am impressed. That I am his father and am a biased observer, is duly noted.

But in case I am not, attached is his latest composition. You will find two instruments at play. A piano, and a ukelele. Both parts were devised by Dallin. He taught Tiffany how to play the piano piece, while he played the ukelele.

The recording is awful at best. It was done with what time and money would allow; my Iphone memo recorder. Dallin had to have this turned in last Friday, and he had just finished composing it Thursday afternoon, teaching Tiffany how to play the piano piece througout the evening. They were both tired when I came around to record it (like 10:30 at night) and after about 10 tries, we decided to take what we got and give it a rest.

So, what you hear is not perfect. Perhaps with more time and more practice, they would have hit it perfect. I am interested to know what you really think (don't let me know that you think the recording is bad - look through that).

Please let us know.

Cheers,

 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jingles, the Elf - Part 2

So yesterday I gave you an introduction to our friendly elf, Jingles.  And I told you about the R&D department that he seems to be somewhat tied to.

So last April, I received an email from Jingles asking if we would consider having our Christmas gift a couple of months early.  Mind you, not Christmas early, just the gift early.

In consultation with the kids, they agreed to give it a try.  Though they aren't completely sure, they think that it might be a trip to Disneyland (and they might be right).  They understand that if they get this gift early, they won't be getting much, if anything, on Christmas day.  You can see the danger in this, as can Tiffany and I, so we are treading most carefully with Jingles offer.

I believe we will be successful in this endeavor, and I, to tell you the truth, look forward to Christmas this year without the hoopla that comes with Santa.  We hope that the kids will understand that their gift from Santa has come and gone and will not continue to wish for things that will not be here on Christmas this year. 

Part of the ease in making this happen, is that it is not coming from Mom and Dad, but the kids are getting it straight from Jingles the Elf, which seems to make it all OK.  Or so we hope.  We are not too worried for Dallin and Emma.  We think they will get it.  Porter is too young, still, to really understand when Santa comes and what he brings.  Logan, on the other hand, is our wild card.  He is at that innocent greedy child stage where he knows how things work.  He is old enough to understand that Jingles made this offer and to agree to it.  It is another thing to see what happens Christmas day when nothing has come from Santa (though to be fair, we expect perhaps a stocking full of candy and a few games hid within its confines to be there that morning - nothing too extravagant, however).

However, that said, the kids don't know when the gift will come.  Tiffany and I do, and in fact, so do my parents, they will show up at Disneyland on our second day, and they plan to sell the part that they received tickets to the park for Christmas as well, making it even more fun for the kids (and Tiffany and I).

Then come December, we will try to focus more on the Savior, more on serving.  More on how we can enjoy the season with ways that we give, rather than receiving.  I think, or rather, I hope, that this will make Christmas that much more meaningful for all of us. 

But if not, we will still have great memories one way or another.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jingles, the Elf

We have a friend that starts rolling into our life about this time each year.  Though really, he is with us year round, he mostly helps out during the Christmas holiday season.

You see, Santa can't do his own reconnaissance work.  If all he did was spy on children, he would be too busy to make toys, check on the reindeerr, and get fat.  Indeed, with all the running around he would be doing, he would be one skinny man.

So to help him out are his Elves.  From our understanding, their are many different departments the elves can be a part of.  From toy making to shipping and receiving, from animal care to, well, child surveillance services.

And within those organizations, just like any large organization, are supervisors, managing directors, VP's and so on.

A few years ago, I came in contact with one, Jingles, the Elf.  From all intents and purposes, he is in the upper echelons on the Child Surveillance Services.  High enough where he has direct access to Santa, which has got to be a rare thing as there are thousands upon thousands of elves, and not everyone can have access to Santa.

But Jingles does.  And he has become our family's direct line to ensure Christmas plays out well for each one of us.  We make contact with him, and him us, on a constant basis as we move into the holiday season.  Thanks to email (he has his own email address he sends the kids, and me, information through) and phone conversations we communicate most effectively.

First and foremost, he takes his surveillance job very seriously.  He is constantly watching our children, and via email or a phone call, he will let Tiffany and I know how they are doing.   He will even send the kids a personal email or two to help them know what they can do to improve their chances of receiving a gift from Santa. 

There have been many years that even up until Christmas Eve, we would have to contact Jingles on a last minute basis to see if they had earned the dreams of sugar plum fairies while they slept those nights.  On more than one occasion, we felt our parental duty to call up Jingles and offer an explanation as to why one child or the other was acting up, explaining that we were just trying to help him out in his duties.  He was always appreciative, and being true to what Santa stands for, continued to give the kids more chances to behave, to work, and to enjoy the season.

All in all, he does a great job helping us to have a more enjoyable, productive holiday season.  But he also seems to have his foot in the R&D (research and development) department.  I will tell more about this in our next post, but suffice it to say, he has offered us to Santa as guinea pigs in a research project some of the elves are putting together.  So we have been working with him since April or May to ensure this project goes without a hitch.  We are little over two weeks away from the start of this project and Tiffany are excited for it...  To Be Continued...

For the rest of you.  You should get in contact with Santa's surveillance team.  It does wonders when kids aren't doing what they should be doing.  Or simply email Jingles yourself.  Ask, and I will give you his email address.  :)

Any ways,

Cheers, and have a happy day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

OK, so it's been a while... So what?

'A good intention clothes itself with sudden power'
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best of intentions don't always relate to finished deeds.  Especially if you are me.

My parents know this about me.  Since I left home 14 years ago to seek fame, fortune, and whatever else came my way (where is the fame?  where is the fortune?), I have wished them many belated birthday wishes, and sometimes, none at all.

Oh, I have good intentions, I do.  In fact, my mom's birthday and fathers day usually line up on the same weeks, or close to it.  So this year I went to get them birthday cards.  And if my memory recalls, I even told them I was doing it (like I was on the phone with them at the store while I was doing it, or was on my way to the store, or something along those lines).

I purchased the cards.

And today I found them in the glove box.

Now, I know I missed sending these cards out.  But there seemed to be something more important at the time than writing and sending a card. 

I don't know what that thing was, but it must have been more important, at that time.  I must have figured, "I will get to it, hey, I have already the cards - that's more than I usually do!"

But it didn't get sent.

So, as often happens, I feel sheepish anytime I talk to my parents.  And they probably love me any ways, but the fact that I didn't do my part, makes me feel just awful. 

But usually not awful enough to get those cards in the mail.

So instead, I come up with a scheme to make things better.

At least, a scheme that makes things better for me.  I hope it does for them too.

And so it goes, I write in the blog today, with good intentions.  Intentions to update frequently.  Intentions to finish deeds.  Intentions to keep writing that lifts, inspires, and dazzles.  For if it does none of these things, I should just keep my thoughts in my journal.

And perhaps, that, is where this is best suited any ways.

Cheers,

I think I am back.  (Though you will have to wait until next post just to see.  Gotta keep you guessing!)

Nathan

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tiffany's Impromptu Vacation

I sent Tiffany away yesterday. Her sister is running in a relay race down in St. George, UT today and tomorrow and was going to be all alone (aside from her friends and acquaintances on the team). A while ago Tiffany, along with this Sister, was planning on a girls weekend out but due to some issues that arose, they weren't able to make it. On Wednesday this week, Tiffany said something to me about how her sister didn't seem that excited for the race. Not that her words were saying this, but Tiffany just felt like she wasn't that excited.

So I told her to go.

Tiffany ran a half marathon a couple of weeks ago and I asked her how it would have felt if there were no loved ones waiting for her at the end? It just wouldn't have been the joyous occasion that she enjoyed that day with her family there.

So she went.

She drove down with her sister yesterday, saw her off, and now is enjoying time to herself until her sister runs in sometime tomorrow. She just called to tell me that she is excited for her weekend and is having fun.

I hope so.

It's not everyday that mothers working in the home get time off like this. I probably don't send her off enough. Though, to my defense, I have tried. But like many mothers, she often feels like she would be deserting her children and doesn't want to do that.

On the contrary.

Mothers, like anybody, need a break from their job, enabling them to be better providers. A vacation not only can be fun, I think it is necessary. Just like a bow (bow and arrow bow) needs to be unstrung from time to time to ensure it retains it's powerful snap.

So go, take your own impromptu vacation.

You know you want to, so do it!

Cheers,

Nathan

Weight Loss Update - Week 16

Another three pounds this week.

I finally ordered pants that fit. I refused to purchase pants two or three times as I continued to shrink. The last month or so it has been really annoying putting on pants way too many sizes bigger than I need.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs
Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs
Week 12 Weight 8/12/2011 = 257 lbs
Week 13 Weight 8/19/2011 = 252 lbs
Week 14 Weight 8/26/2011 = 247 lbs
Week 15 Weight 9/2/2011 = 243 lbs

This week, Week 16 Weight 9/9/2011 = 240 lbs

That's a total of 72 pounds gone! And 20 pounds to go.

I've got 8 weeks to go to get to my goal. It will be close as it is getting tougher and tougher to lose even 3-4 pounds a week. I will need a few of those if I am going to make it.

Cheers,

Nathan

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Win for Me Means a Loss for Another

Good news came to Tiffany and I last week. As somewhat expected, UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) ruled against putting a large highway on the other side of our street, effectively safeguarding our view corridor for, well, a long time to come.

It was a dicey situation for us. We like where we live. We like the people, we like the view, we like the atmosphere. A highway really would have done it in for us. UDOT had said early on that an intersection alongside Bluff Rd. near our home wasn't much of an option. There were too many homes, roads, and schools they would have to mitigate against and would be costly to do so. They gave this information to the city, and with this information, the city council still voted to push the Bluff Rd. as an option. A little more about this decision in a minute.

But as we have been saved, I know there are others that will be impacted by the highway coming through their land, their back yards, their livelihoods. So no matter what relief this decision is giving to me, it is really no win for our community. There is really no great place to put this highway that will benefit the city entirely. There will always be losers in this battle. While I don't consider myself an environmentalist, and even in some ways look forward to this highway coming in (it will cut my commute down considerably) it is really a large impact on a little community that will be felt for many years to come, one that if not brilliantly worked on, will be a detriment to our city.

Sometimes people talk about their city or town 'growing up'. This is often said as a good thing. And while progress in general is good, there is a destructive force behind it which will inevitably live up to its billing. Our little city will no longer be the city we have grown to love. It will morph and change and become something different. Perhaps it will still be loved by those who live here.

Perhaps we won't.

City Council Silliness.

I was at the meeting when the city council voted to request Bluff as the option of choice. While I respect their decision, I think that there was a disservice to the community the way they ploughed ahead with an option that was not even on the list according to UDOT. UDOT had already considered Bluff Rd corridor as an option but came back saying it just wasn't in the cards any longer. With the development that had happened over the last 10+ years, namely a school and a park, roads, homes, and other amenities the community now enjoys would have to be mitigated. The fact that UDOT gave the city council this information, repeated in this same meeting above, caused me to wonder on the councils decision to push the Bluff Rd corridor. One of the city council members stated, 'we need to do the right thing, and not necessarily the easiest' (paraphrased) to which I would agree. But what was right here? Pushing an option that was already taken off the list? And so instead, the City gave up it's right to really be in the decision making, leaving UDOT to name the placement of a major arterial roadway in a community they have no concern for aside from keeping the lawyers at bay? The city had an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and work with UDOT in creating a thoroughfare that would not only fit in the community but help us thrive.

I am not sure it is not too late.

But initially, the opportunity was blown. Becoming a maverick is great when you have the force and ability to create what you want. But to do so against the behemoth UDOT is, is incompetent at best, suicidal at worst.

I hope there is still time to create a vision for our city, and that those who have the responsibility will take the opportunity to make it happen.

(Just a side note about the city council meeting and about this decision. Based solely on the responses the city council members gave, it would have appeared few, if any, had truly considered the impact this highway will have on the city. Of all the decisions that will impact the city, this highway is one of the largest impacts any of them will see during their tenure. As we look to the upcoming elections, I hope that all those that are vying for council seats will think before they act. And the same goes to those that vote them into office.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 15

As I continue to shrink, working out is tougher. To hit my target calories spent, 1800 calories per workout, it was somewhat of a breeze while heavier. Hop on the the treadmill, start at a quick pace, and heavily increase it over an hour of walking.

I am still walking, but now I start at the pace where I used to end and I still can't hit my goal. It takes me an extra 2-3 minutes to hit my target.

But, it is still working. As expected, I am losing less weight this week, only 4 pounds. Another couple of 4 pound weeks and we will move it down to 3 pounds.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs
Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs
Week 12 Weight 8/12/2011 = 257 lbs
Week 13 Weight 8/19/2011 = 252 lbs
Week 14 Weight 8/26/2011 = 247 lbs

This week, Week 15 Weight 9/2/2011 = 243 lbs

That's a total of 69 pounds gone! And 23 pounds to go.

Cheers,

Nathan

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 14

I think that was the last week of losing 5 pounds (though, to be honest, it was 4.5 pounds, but due to rounding, I am calling it 5). The weight will start coming off more slowly now. 3-4 pounds a week will be my goal until I get down to the last 10 or so pounds when we will move to 2 pounds a week.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs
Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs
Week 12 Weight 8/12/2011 = 257 lbs
Week 13 Weight 8/19/2011 = 252 lbs

This week, Week 14 Weight 8/26/2011 = 247 lbs

That's a total of 65 pounds gone! And 27 pounds to go.

Cheers,

Nathan

Friday, August 19, 2011

Looking Forward To School Starting

Today is the last day of summer break. Unless you count the weekend.

Dallin and Emma join Logan in going back to School on Monday. Emma isn't too excited to go to a new school, and tells us that she won't go, but I think that once she gets there she will make friends fast and will enjoy it. Her teacher lives just down the road from us. If I count right, 9 homes to the south of us. Tiffany came home from back to school night yesterday and suggested that this will be a great teacher for Emma.

Well, I digress. My point of this post is to say, I look forward to getting back to the school schedule. With the kids out of school, the sun staying up late, it makes summer fun, but our schedule gets off. And if my schedule gets off, I don't get done what I need to, including the blog posts.

So as much as we love summer and the break in life it gives us, I now look forward to getting on with life.

To all of you who have kids going back. Congratulations, you made it through another summer.

Now good luck to you during the school year.

Cheers,

Nathan

Weight Loss Update - Week 13

I squeaked in with another 5 pounds lost this week. I had one day that seemed to be a struggle, which up to this point it hasn't been. But even on that day I stayed in my goal. I just had some cravings that were hard to overcome.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs
Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs
Week 12 Weight 8/12/2011 = 257 lbs

This week, Week 13 Weight 8/19/2011 = 252 lbs

That's a total of 60 pounds gone! And 32 pounds to go.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1st Annual Miller Labor Day Amazing Race

If there is a second annual race, it all depends on this first one.

Tiffany and I are putting together a fun little race on Saturday, September 3rd, loosely based on the TV show, The Amazing Race.

Teams of four will be given activities, tasks, and directions to complete and be the first team pass the finish line. This is not a running race, per se, though there may be times during the race that you will feel like you need to run (because another team is hot on your heels). However, teams will be generally driving from checkpoint to checkpoint where they will be given a task to complete. These tasks could range from a physical challenge to proving your mental abilities, from using common sense skills to something that will just be fun to do. Some will be tougher than others, enabling teams to come from behind and possibly win.

If you live in the Syracuse area (or would really like to come over and participate any ways), please send me an email or contact me, we are signing teams up right now.

We will start around 3pm and will end sometime around 8ish - though I haven't actually run it myself yet, so the time is just estimated. Note the following:

You will need to arrive with your car full of gas.
Somebody on your team will need their swimming suit and willing don it and get wet.
You will need to be willing to drive out of the Syracuse area - though at this point I won't tell you where or how far.
You will need a camera (preferably a camera phone).
Please come with a competitive drive. We want this to be fun, but we also want there to be competition.
Don't expect a big prize if you come in first.
Cost = $12 PER TEAM - not per person. To cover some of the costs of the activities your team will be doing.
You will need to bring a picnic for your team as well. Our plan is to eat together when the race is done (which really could take us well into the evening - all depends on how long you want to stay and chat).

This is for young and not so young, married couples, or friends. Our initial brainstorm was mainly for a large group date type activity, though we don't feel like we want to exclude anybody. That being said, we are trying to keep this to adults only, though we won't stop you if you want to include younger individuals.

We hope that this will be a fun activity, allow you to get to know others as you compete with friends, and enjoy creating bonds of friendship which will last a lifetime.

If you have any questions, let me know, but let me know sooner than later if you would like to join in as we can't let this get too big. It is just Tiffany and I putting it together and we can only do so much.

Cheers,

And good luck!

Nathan

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 12

We hit the 12 week mark - essentially 3 months from starting this whole process - with another 5 pounds lost.

When I started, I didn't know how long it would take me, though I wanted the excess weight to be gone sooner than later. I had lived life, for a short period, in the fit category. That is how I tricked Tiffany in marrying me. And that was a great period in my life. Enthusiasm for life, energy, ability, it was all there. As the weight piled on, there was little room for those other things.

So, after losing 55 pounds in 12 weeks, I am excited to get many of those things back. My goal now is to finish strong and in 12 more weeks, hit my goal of 220. Soon on Nov 4th, I hope to hit that magical number. And I don't expect it to be a cakewalk. I fully expect to not be able to lose 5 pounds a week as I continue. There will likely be weeks that I will have to be happy with 2 or 3 pounds. So be it.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs
Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs

This week, Week 12 Weight 8/12/2011 = 257 lbs

That's a total of 55 pounds gone! And 37 pounds to go. Keep the encouragement coming, it helps.

Cheers,

Nathan

PS

Here are some before and after pics. One thing I noted, there aren't that many pics of me. I am usually the one behind the camera. You get what you get.

Before and After 50 pounds lost


At the start of the Red Rock Relay. I was the first runner and had to move that mass almost 6 miles. I am in serious awe as I took that body and didn't stop till I was at the end of that leg. A beast of burden.

Me and my sister during the race. I was just fat and happy that my legs were done! :) I think Sis was dancing. Go girl, go girl, uh huh, oh yeah!


Taken earlier this week before I went out on my workout.

This was taken last week while in Colorado. Porter enjoyed the trip up and down the trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Gives a glimpse of the weight coming off my face. And yes, those are $5 sunglasses. I learned a long time ago that nice sunglasses and kids don't mix, I think these are my third pair in a year.

Still a ways left to go, but the changes are encouraging.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Break

I decided this summer that hands down, I so much prefer year round school than traditional schedule.

There are pros and cons to each, but having kids in both, I tell you what, a 3 month summer is way too long!

Dallin started his summer with a list of things to do and a motivation to do them. Two months into his summer, he has lost the motivation and along with his brothers, would prefer to sit in front of the TV or Wii than do things that would broaden his horizons.

But just so you know, they don't get to simply play the Wii or watch TV, though I am sure they get their share of doing so.

Logan got out of school on July 1, and went back on July 26th. That was perfect. He was home long enough to get a break and back to school he went. He will get another break in a month or so and again around Christmas. The three weeks is just long enough for them to have a break, but they don't forget everything they learned and just as they start to get on mom and dads nerves, back to school they go.

A great system! Yes, it has its flaws, but I think the long summer break that the traditional schedule gets created its own demise in my mind.

Part of me wonders why we don't consider getting rid of summer break any ways, aside from tradition and a reason for it a hundred years ago, is there a real purpose for it today?

A question worth looking into. (And a hot button topic, I am sure.)

All for another day or another post. But today, know that year round school has my vote!

Cheers,

Nathan

Weight Loss Update - Week 11

Another week and another few pounds gone! Only three this week, vacationing was part to blame, maybe mostly. But 3 pounds while on vacation is something not to feel too bad about.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs
Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs

This week, Week 11 Weight 8/05/2011 = 262 lbs

That's a total of 50 pounds gone! And 42 pounds to go. Going on to week 12. Three months into this experiment, let's see what can be done!

Cheers,

Nathan

PS (For anybody who cares, sorry I didn't post this last Friday, I did the weigh in but had to get things done before I left on vacation and a blog post was not on the list.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vices

Vice knows she's ugly, so puts on her mask.
~Benjamin Franklin

Do you have something that holds you back?

Is there something in your persona that entices you to the point of not getting other things done?

I do. And don't think I am going to tell you what that is. It could be reading. It could be eating. It could be playing games, or watching TV. It could be surfing the web, day dreaming or heaven forbid, exercising. Or it could be more cynical in nature, though no need to go down that path for this exercise.

Little imperfections in our character that will us away from doing what we should do. I don't necessarily mean choosing right over wrong, but often between good and better, though good over bad may be a character flaw many of us have to overcome. The things I mentioned here aren't bad things. And they generally aren't even any where near bad things. But I think, sometimes, we desire more to do good things, than better things.

Take reading for example. I love to read. And since I was young, I have been taught that reading is good. I carry that tradition into our home (with a lot of help from Tiffany) knowing that reading is one of the best ways to expand the mind. But I also know that when I find a book that keeps my interest, I let other things fall apart. Maybe it is that I don't go to bed at a decent hour. I have been known to stay up for hours after midnight because I just can't put down a good book. I have to know what happens next. The consequence: The next day I am drowsy and don't perform my labors as I should. Or maybe the consequence is that I tell the kids to go watch TV because I am too interested in my book that I don't go and play with them.

And then it is lost. Time. Influence. Bonds. All gone. I know that their life, and mine, would have been better had I put that book down and gone and done something together.

And we could discuss similar issues for different flaws that bind us in this experience we call life.

I would ask why we do it. Or better, why I do it. Why do I allow my petty flaws to interrupt my peace?

But rather than wallow in self pity our endless doubt, my mind wraps around a thought from scripture,

'Awake my soul, no longer droop in sin, Rejoice, O my heart and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.'


There is a power that comes from this thought. There is a power that comes from making that first decision to put down that book, stop surfing the net, or not watching that silly TV show.

At least when you shouldn't be.

Self mastery: A skill worth overcoming for.

And to all those that may struggle. Hang in there. I understand.

Cheers,

Nathan

PS.
Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.
~Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 10

Another week and another 5 pounds gone!

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs
Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs

This week, Week 10 Weight 7/29/2011 = 265 lbs

That's a total of 47 pounds gone! And 45 pounds to go. I am over halfway! As promised I will take some before pics and some current picks with 47 pounds gone and will post sometime soon.

I don't recall the last time I was in the 260's But it was a long time ago. I hope to be out of them quickly. Thanks again to everybody out there who continues to encourage me.

Heading out to Colorado for a couple of days. I am hoping that I can keep up the workout regimen and food intake while there. Wish me luck!

Cheers,

Nathan

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summertime

For any of you who care, summer has been hard to sit down and write a post or two. This week was even worse.

Here is an update of what is going on.

- Bids out for the house addition are coming in. A little higher than I was hoping, so we may have to cut back in what we want for now and finish the rest later.
- Logan started school this last Tuesday. Being in year round school he got out July 1st and had a 3 week summer before he went to 1st grade. Dallin and Emma don't start for another month.
- My brother is blessing his baby this Sunday, so taking advice given by my Aunt, we didn't plan to go out to Colorado until today. We are leaving tomorrow. Hopefully that will allow us to get our vacation in without something stopping it. That said, Tiffany will stay home as Logan is in school.
- We are staying in Colorado a couple of days. I have been furloughed for a week so I thought I would take a couple of days and spend them in Colorado. I hope to get to the mountains while we are out there. I love the Colorado mountains. Nothing against the Utah mountains, there is something special about those mountains.
- Porter and Emma came down with something similar to what Logan had last week. They got their meds and so far, the rest of us seem to have been spared.

Hope all is well wherever you are.

Cheers,

Nathan

-

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 9

Back on track! Phew! I was hoping that last week was just due to vacationing and not due to some big plateau I have been trying to avoid.

We are down 6 pounds this week after being scared into submission last week and continue to feel motivated to lose the weight.


Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs
Week 8 Weight 7/15/2011 = 276 lbs

This week, Week 9 Weight 7/22/2011 = 270 lbs

That's a total of 42 pounds gone!

I have had a few people ask what I am doing to lose the weight. I will tell you, but mostly it is just magic.

It's not like I wanted to get 100 pounds overweight. I recall one night eating some ice cream, finishing off my bowl thinking, 'boy, this is not good for me, I should not eat this'.

I then went and had another helping.

That is the mind set I had. And I will bet many others who are 100 pounds overweight could share similar stories of just caving into the caloric temptations of chips, ice cream, bread - vast amounts of it, any ways - I would go buy a loaf of french bread for lunch, and by the time I got home that day, it was mostly gone - Wow! Today I realize the need for carbs, but the necessity to limit my bread intake is one of the biggest temptations I deal with.

The magic is motivation. Or perhaps the motivation is the magic. Either way, I couldn't do it without that internal motivation. And I can't tell you how to get that. You have to want it, I guess. I admit I used the Biggest Loser and the current running Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition to help. But this motivation is causing me to say no to candy, chips, extra helpings etc. It also motivates me to get out and get to the gym without fail.

With that said, I am watching and limiting my caloric intake. As stated before in a post, I am using a program at loseit.com - as an app on my IPhone it makes it easier, though Tiffany uses it via loseit.com and is being successful as well. If I am honest with entering the foods I eat, it will help me track how much I have eaten and will help me know how much more I can or cannot eat. It also tracks my nutrients so I can ensure that I don't get empty calories, but one that will help my body maintain a high metabolic rate, increasing my ability to burn calories throughout the day.

In addition to watching those intake calories, I am watching my outgoing calories. That usually means cardio. And lots of it. I usually spend about 30 minutes a day with some weights. I then spend an hour to an hour and a half on the treadmill, usually just walking. Or perhaps speed walking. By the time my hour is up, I am walking at a clip just below running speed with a full incline on the machine.

My idea here is not to work on endurance cardio. In fact, I don't want my body to become efficient yet. Not while I am trying to lose weight. I want it to burn as many calories as it can, and the more it becomes efficient, the less I will lose as a result. So I am using the muscle confusion method. Changing my workouts enough that my body doesn't know how best to conform to what I am doing. That would include stationary bikes, hiking, aerobics (which I hate, but have to admit, they are probably the best at muscle confusion), and changing my walking speed, incline, time, etc.

So far it has been working. I would expect that as I get closer to my goal weight it will be harder to lose the pounds I have been, but I also bet that if I keep this up, I will be able to get there quicker.

So there it is. Losing weight is akin to magic. And don't think it is not. Because I don't really know why I feel motivated more now than I did before.

But then again, I am not done yet, so I ought to be careful what I suggest. But I wish to thank all those that have continued to encourage me and respond to my goals and plans. You continue to help me to stay motivated.

Thank you,

Cheers,

Nathan

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiffany Update

Tiffany went to the doctor on Wednesday to get her 3 month checkup, now 7 months after our big scare. We are still optimistically cautious and this checkup continued to help us to do so. Still no anomalies to report. All platelet levels check out, as well as everything else.

She is healthy, for which we will thank the heavens for the great joyous gift!

She has started (actually a month and a half ago) to train for a half marathon, with the vision to finish a marathon down the road. She continues to be my inspiration in so many things.

We still look back to that short period of life with awe and wonder. It will always be a period we will likely look back to and know there were choices, decisions, changes that were made that will make our life better.

Let's hope it continues!

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

So I was in Oklahoma when I got a text from Tiffany. It cracked me up and I thought I would share it with you.

One side note - we have struggled with Porter and keeping him potty trained. He was really good for a while, but he seems to have some sort of struggle lately and is not making it, probably 40-50% of the time. Frustrating, but it is what it is. We do the best we can and hope that one day he understands what we are trying to do.

Any ways, the text.

Thought I would share what I just heard.

Emma: Mom! Porter just peed his pants!

Porter: No I didn't! See, I don't have pants.

Emma: Porter did you pee your unders?

Porter: Yep!


I am scared for the future if the three year old is using that kind of logic in this situation.

Wish us luck!

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice....


That's what our little girl is made of...but in her spare time, she loves everthing to do with snips and snails and puppy dogs tails, and even snakes. Today I heard a commotion outside....kids screaming and running every which way. Soon, Emma and her friend, Adele, ran inside exclaiming excitedly that there was a snake outside and they were trying to catch it. Unfortunately for Emma, the snake was too quick and went into it's hole before she could get it. She ran inside yelling, "get a shovel!" Up went the garage door and out went the determined Emma. When that didn't work, she ran inside to ask if they could turn on the hose. That snake held it's ground and couldn't even be flooded out. After a while, I didn't hear anymore about the snake, so I assumed that they had dropped the issue and had moved on to something else.

Emma came upstairs a little later asking if they could use some yarn. I said yes, and then went about my work. A while later Porter and I decided to go outside for some batting practice and we found Emma and Adele tying the yarn around a poor snail that they thought would make a delicious dinner for a snake. Their plan was to lower the snail into the snake hole with hopes of catching it...like a fish. They tried their lure out, but after a second or two, decided that maybe a snail would be too crunchy for a snake - The shell had to come off. I stopped watching after that.

Their snake hunting was not going well, so they decided they might have better luck in going across the street to the marsh and finding a snake there. So Porter and I went with Emma, Adele, and the poor naked snail on a string, across the street to find a different snake. Along the way, the girls found a ditch. In the ditch were little fish, along with mud, moss and stench. They waded in and caught a couple of little fish. As we walked back home, Emma said, “Well we didn’t get a snake, but at least we caught some fish.” Hmmm Fish versus snake is a pretty good trade off in my book...so I'll take it; Along with my sweet bug lovin', snake catching, Emmie-lou who really is made of sugar and spice and everthying nice, with just a touch of escargo.

Love,

Tiffany

P.S. As I publish this post, there is a funeral being held outside for one of the poor fish caught just this day who didn't make it. May the poor thing R.I.P.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ode to my Older Brother

If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.
~Marlon Brando


Last Friday I flew out to Oklahoma to spend a short weekend with my older brother, Cameron, and his new wife. It was a quick trip, but one that was full of activity, tender moments, fun, and one that brought back some memories as I recounted a few stories that only a brother could share to embarrass and harass his older brother.

My brother and I have an interesting relationship, probably not unlike many other brother/brother relationships.

He was the first and oldest sibling. I came two years after him, which I think crimped his style. All of a sudden, all the attention was turned away from him for a time, and ever since, he has had to fight to remain at the top. I always looked up to him. I guess that is what little brothers do. They want to be like their older brother. I see that today with Dallin and Logan. Though, there is a difference between Cameron and I and Dallin and Logan.

Dallin and Logan are split by a sister and four years. Cameron and I didn't get that. I was often old enough and big enough, to somewhat compete at some level with my brother. And we became bitter enemies, at times, because of this. Fighting occurred, jealousy ran rampant, and pride took over. And that was just my side of the equation. You see, my brother was just about better at everything than I was, and sometimes I struggled with that. Part of it was the two year difference, but more of it was simply that he was just better. There were times that I didn't want to live under his shadow. It happened all the time. Even after he had graduated high school, coaches would talk about him around me. Sometimes it drove me bonkers. Other times, however, it brought great pride.

You see, we weren't at each others throats all the time. Being two years apart not only meant that we could somewhat compete, but that we had similar interests and could understand one another. There were many times that I could say we were best of friends. Probably more often than we were enemies. That he could drive when I was 14 meant him and I spent more time together as he drove me places, or simply hang out with him (I think Mom made him take me a few times, maybe as a chaperon, or maybe to just get me out of her hair, or something). There were many nights we would stay up late talking to each other. And each time we did, a greater bond was created. One wherein a younger brother continued to look up to his older brother.

I think a capstone of our relationship happened during the Christmas of '94, just days away from him leaving on his LDS mission. He had always been quite the athlete and had lettered in many sports through high school, and, as was the case, he wore his Letterman's jacket with triumph and pride (as all athletes did then - though I assume it is still tradition today).

Earlier that year I had lettered in Football. My first letter (truthfully, I did letter in band prior to this, but you don't just go buy a Letterman jacket for a band letter - but that is beside the point here). I recall after receiving my letter, and wanting to be 'cool' like my brother, I recall going to purchase a jacket. But once there and finding the price of the jackets way out of my price range, my dream took a rain check to reality.

One other note, before I go on, was that my brother and I rarely ever shared clothes. And when I say share, I mean me using his clothes. I admit, at some point around 12 years old I got tired of hand-me-downs I always received from him. But somewhere at 15 or 16, I noted the coolness that he dripped of and wanted to be like him insomuch that I wanted to wear his clothes. He never let me, though I think there were a couple times I went into his closet and 'borrowed' a thing or two, but only if I could get it back before he would notice. I think I was caught one or twice.

Well, making a short story longer than I should, Christmas in '94 was going as many go, generally unremarkable, though fun and exciting as all Christmas' are. At the end of all the gift giving, Cameron said he had one last gift to give. To me.

The fact that he was leaving in a few days away from the family for a couple of years, the first to do so, heightened the mood of this event and even more tender than it probably would have been in any other situation.

He had a box that he gave me, and a letter. It was a multi-page read. I recall a few tidbits here and there, but mostly I recall my eyes moistened as I read, and read, and read, to myself. With all the family's eyes on me, waiting for me to respond about what the letter said or what was in the box, they watched, and before the box was opened, most, if not all, eyes in the room were glistening, as if they could all sense of the magical moment being unfolded in front of them.

Inside was his Letterman jacket. But instead of his name on it, he had my nickname, 'Fred', blazoned across it. A name he gave me a few years earlier, a name to which many of you may have heard of, but few know of the importance it has had on my life. The jacket meant a lot to him. The whole family knew it. And as much surprise as it was that he was giving it away, we all felt the sacrifice he was making to give it to his younger brother. A sacrifice of love.

***

My brother has gone through some life struggles over the last few years. But recently, it would appear, that good times are coming back. With a wonderful wife next to him, I expect that will continue well into the future.

I went out to be with him as he made religious commitments that we both seem to better understand now having gone through 30 some odd years of life's ups and downs.

And again, I feel deeply grateful, that he invited me to be there with him. To participate with him. To share that moment with him.

Because, after all, who is my brothers keeper, if not me?

Cheers,

Fred

Weight Loss Update - Week 8

Good news and bad. The bad news. I lost only 1 pound this week. I was hoping for at least three. The good news. I lost 1 pound this week, a week where I basically was on vacation the whole week and ate foods I shouldn't have eaten. Or at least wouldn't have eaten if it wasn't vacation, nor were my workouts what they should have been.

I hope to get back on my bandwagon next week and get back to losing 4-5 pounds each week.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs
Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs

This week, Week 8 Weight 7/8/2011 = 276 lbs

Wish me luck as I work on getting down to my goal weight after a struggled week.

Cheers,

Nathan

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vacation - we never get one

So back in the spring we had booked a couple of nights down in St. George to get a couple of R and R days, wanting to get out of the cold and into the warm spring sun down there. When the day arrived to go down, a cold front had moved in and we would have been stuck in the hotel room down there. Not exactly what we wanted so we stayed home and had a staycation, going swimming, visiting some places around here.

Well, we had to do that again.

We had planned on going up to Bear Lake and camping for a few days in the area. Something that we all, and most especially Tiffany, was looking forward to. Well, in the days leading up to our leaving, Logan had come down with a cold. It didn't seem too bad. We took him hiking, playing at the park, etc, and he would often come home tired, but he didn't complain too much. However, as time went on, he started to complain more and more. Walking to church, a short walk, he got tired easily. We had a birthday party for Tiffany and he went to bed instead (on his own accord). He had come down with a cough, that the dad in me said it was just a post cold cough, nothing too bad.

But a mothers intuition is something I have learned you always must listen to. She opted to take him to the doctor the day before we were to leave on the camping trip. After being examined, and an x-ray, the doctor confirmed that he had Walking Pnemonia and doctors orders were to not go on the camping trip. Apperantly the smoke isn't good, and you don't sleep or eat very well either. So to many family members behest, we canceled the camping trip and tried to have fun in any case.

We have a trip planned in October. I am hoping that we will be able to make that one. I would hate to miss out on all our outings for various reasons.

Or maybe we just aren't supposed to get out this year.

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Birthday To Tiffany

According to Dallin, Tiffany turned 28 today. He says she goes down in years, not up. Maybe I will get her to tell me her secret.

In any case, Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

Cheers,

Nathan

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 7

Another week down, and still motivated and working hard to make this happen.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs
Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs

This week, Week 7 Weight 7/8/2011 = 277 lbs

That's another 5 pounds lost this week. 35 lbs total in seven weeks.



Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Family Reunions

Family reunions are a social experiment. You get a lot of people together who have different interests, hobbies, careers, personal abilities, and even political thought. Bind them together with family ties and you just seem to get along with one another....

Differences are put aside during the reunion and memories create goodwill and sometimes raw emotions.

My dad was unable to attend his families reunion this year. So instead he sent a DVD with a slideshow that included pictures he had and pictures he took from the time he was young till just a few years ago. My dad was/is a picture bug. Not so much a photographer as he is a picture bug. And I mean that without any ire or laughter. He has his camera with him all the time and takes pictures. He is good at capturing moments and memories. It was his picture taking zeal that helped me gain an interest in photography.

Well, at this family reunion, which I attended, this DVD was playing while other activities were taking shape. As I came into the room where it was being played, I found myself hooked on the memories that stood before me. I was very interested in pictures of life before I was born. I saw pictures of people who I knew, but not in the way I have known them much of my life. I was intrigued and started asking a question here and there about this person or that person. Many of them about my own father. I learned a lot more about Dad after seeing pictures of him and talking with his sisters and brothers. I wished I had that information 20 years ago. It would have been good to be able to say back then, 'you did it, Dad, why can't I?'

If only I was more interested in family history back then, I really could have used it to my advantage.

Let's hope Dallin and his siblings don't start asking questions. It will save the, I-did-it-but-you-can't speech that would be sure to follow.

Don't go attending family reunions as a must-attend-or-mom-will-be-mad kind of way. Go with the intent of learning something about your heritage, your past.

And then enjoy the differences that abound in the family and the wonderful ability we all have to seek camaraderie and enjoy the similarities.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 6

Another week down, and still motivated and working hard to make this happen.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs
Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs

This week, Week 6 Weight 7/1/2011 = 282 lbs

That's another 5 pounds lost this week. 30 lbs total in five weeks.

My guess is that I will likely be losing closer to 4 lbs going forward. As my weight continues to drop it makes it that much more difficult to lose that many pounds each week.

However, I have been surprised at the results. It shows in the mirror, in the pants, belts, and shirts are much more lose. I still have a long way to go, but we are making it happen.

Have a happy 4th of July Weekend.

Cheers,

Nathan

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Goal Update

On the 31st of December, I put out some goals that Tiffany and I were working on. Mostly me, though she has been a big help in accomplishing some of them.

Here were my goals:
1 - Add on to the house.

2 - Brush up on my photography skills - including adding necessary photography equipment and software and become a master at using them.

3 - Weight Management. Because it seems we all do it. Even those who don't need it (I am unfortunately not in that category) seem to work on this. I told a departing missionary that I would lose 70 pounds before he got back. He left in August. I lost 18 pounds after he left, only to gain some (probably most) back this holiday season.

4 - Find a way to pay forward all the good people have given to us over the last month (December).

5 - Finish my goals.

Here is the status of the goals.

1 - We went over to the Engineers office yesterday and had our final layout completed. He said he would have final drawings to us next Tuesday. Well on our way for this goal, though we are not even half way there.

2 - I haven't really brushed up on my skills, though I have used them for a shoot or two. I did, however, add to my lens collection with a 50mm 1.4 aperture lens. A absolute need in portrait photography.

3 - I have lost 25 pounds thus far, will check my weigh in tomorrow and hoping for a little bit more.

4 - This is a little harder to say if I have completed. However, Tiffany and I have noted that our prayers often include names of individuals who are struggling. One thing that Tiffany and I felt was a tangible presence due to prayers offered on our (or more appropriatly, her) behalf. So I don't take this lightly. We have also done some other things to help out some individuals. Specifics aren't needed here, but I consider that this goal, like the others above, are well on there way and are a continual work in progress.

5 - I am doing it this year. I am going to reach my goals.

Are you?

Cheers,

Nathan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A child here, a child there, a child everywhere - or not.

I was about 10. My dad was working on taxes in the dining room. I asked him if he was a millionaire. His reply, “Maybe if I didn’t have you and your brothers and sisters.”

A joke of dry humor and jest. Knowing my dad he meant none of it. At least I think he wanted us and not the million dollars. I think.

Yahoo is my home page of choice. Though with today’s advanced browsers, I actually have three home pages. But Yahoo is the one that pops up first and gives me, generally, the national news of the day. Anything that is looming out in the world will likely fall on the front page. They like to throw in a few different types of stories here or there; sports, politics, humanities, and the like. How they pick these, I am unsure, but I find myself cycling through them here and there throughout the day.

Yesterday I read an article they posted online suggesting that today there are more and more childless marriages. This is not new. And not really news. It was written with a distinct, very pro-childless marriage view and had little to no thought of why people might want children today, claiming only a few examples of why people wanted them in the past.

The story named off reasons for not having children; ‘the cost to raise them, less guilt and worry, less responsibility, more sleep, more free time, more disposable income, no awkward discussions of teen moms, no forced relationships with people just because your kids like their kids, no chauffeuring other peoples kids in your minivan to soccer games you find less appealing than televised chess.’ Just to name a few. And for the most part, true.

However, as much as I cherish the agency we all get in choosing our lives, I have to admit, I felt sorry for these individuals. Yes, life with children is no doubt more difficult, more expensive, and at times you wonder why you had children at all. But when you think that, it is generally out of a moment of frustration, a frustration that came because of the love you have for the child, and not really a desire to not really have them.

Because as much joy as I get being married to Tiffany – and that is great joy, my heart also surges on the relationship and hope I have with my children.

And that is worth more than any money, time, or whatever I would get without them in my life.

Do we not learn more about godhood than by being a parent?

A thought worth considering.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gossip

‘He who gossips with you, will gossip of you.’
~Irish Sayings


I was in a conversation the other day when person A started to attack another individual, Person C (who was not present). In the midst of doing so, a second individual, person B, quickly said a few comments to soften the blow which person A had attacked.

I found this interesting on several fronts. Person A thought I would agree with them, so they didn’t feel threatened by my seeing how they felt about person C.
Meanwhile, Person B knew what Person A was saying, and did not agree that I would agree with the thought of Person A.

But here is what catches me.

If person A really thinks that I would be agreeable to hearsay or gossip, I feel I have done something wrong. Something in my character is off.

Gossip, on every level, is downright maddening to me (though not suggesting that I am perfect in this thing). Suffice it to say that any gossip between individuals does nothing more than to break down unity, debilitate individual growth, and squelch relationships at all levels.

I trust less the individual doing the talking. Why would I share information to you if you are going to freely share that with others? You won’t, oh, you just did about somebody else, why not with the information I give you?

How about the relationship between Person A and Person C? Built up or hewn down? Or between me and Person C? Try not as I might, human I am, I might look at Person C differently. And that is what frustrates me the most.

Experience has taught me that each of us has our demons. Sometimes we categorize them in different levels of badness, perhaps to make us feel like our demons or evils aren’t so evil. And in minimizing our evils, we make no improvement to our life.

But if experience has taught me that we all have our demons, it has also taught that most have a much, much, better side. A side full of hopes, dreams, accomplishments, abilities, and a thorough appetite for goodness. Very few people are just bad apples. Very few.

So why gossip? Why breakdown society wielding faux informational power than humbly strengthening all by allowing gossip to cease with you?

A question without answer. Because each answer I come up with just sounds silly.

Just as silly as I would sound if I ever were to gossip. To which I hope I never do.

‘If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.’
~Albert Einstein

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weight Loss Update - Week 5

Another week down, and motivated and working hard to make this happen.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs
week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs

This week, Week 5 Weight 6/24/2011 = 287 lbs

That's 5 pounds lost this week. 25 lbs total in five weeks.

It hasn't been hard. In fact, it has been rather easy. Still motivated to do it and the success is breeding more motivation. I tried to go on more evening walks with Tiffany, though we were really only able to do that once this week. However, I did take a hike with the 11 yr old scouts up Adams Canyon. It seemed much easier than when Tiffany and I went up last year, though I look forward to the day I can become one of those trail runners we met along the way up the trail. Maybe it's not that far away.

If anybody would like, there is a great IPhone app that has been helpful (though pretty sure it would be on the Android market as well). It's an app called Lose It. I enter everything I eat and every exercise I do and it helps you know where you need to be for the day. It also follows your nutrition, not just calories, so you can ensure you are getting the right nutrients in you. It is free for anybody out there that wants it. That alone has been a great help. Also note that it is a website (loseit.com). Tiffany has a web enabled phone but no app available with this app. She started using her phone by going to the website this week to enter data in and she says it has been a help for her.

There are 1001 ways to lose weight. This is just one way or method that can be done. If you are trying, do what works for you. But if you are looking or searching for something, this will help track your progress.

Cheers,

Nathan

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Legos

I like legos. I liked them as a kid. I had a small buckets worth growing up. I tinkered with them from time to time. I made airplanes, spaceships, race cars, trucks, cranes, houses, and on, and on. I had plenty of legos to do what I wanted. But I had relatively few compared to my best friend. He had a huge bag which quadrupled what I had and included motors and all sorts of fun little dohickeys. And what he did with those little blocks was amazing. He made little puzzle boxes with hidden keys that if you pushed the right block, it would slide away revealing another key allowing more of the puzzle to be found and eventually unlocking it to find a hidden compartment inside.

To this day, I still am amazed what he could do with legos (and understand he still does wonders with them today). This kid ended up our saluditorian in high school and is very successful today.

I put two and two together and decided, if I want smart kids, they need to have legos.

That's all. Just a big, honkin' pile of legos. And then they would be smart.

So I did. And they liked them. And we got more. And I made a special bag just like my friend had for our legos. And then we got more. Even the coveted motor was bought to ensure proper exposure to this timeless toy.

The collection is mighty fine. No doubt my kids will now be smart.

Except....

Now I have legos everywhere!

I am not sure what is in the heads of kids, but it seems like if you build something, you have to go somewhere to play with it. Airplanes, spaceships, etc, need to fly. Sometimes doing so takes them from room to room to room as they play. But it seems like every room they go into, they leave a peice behind. Almost as if to mark their territory.

Kid 1 - "I left a piece in the kitchen - it's mine!"
Kid 2 - 'Oh, yeah, my axel fell off on the stairs and you can't go up there any more 'cause that's mine'
Kid 1 - Oh yeah, well, you can't go to the bathroom upstairs because that is my submarine in there. Good luck taking care of business.'
Kid 2 - Oh yeah.
Kid 1 - Yeah!

Or something like that. I found a whole set of lego creations on the floor in the laundry room. I am always vacuuming up another peice or two. I used to stop and pick it up, but lately, forget it.

I figure the less they have, the less I have to pick up. Who cares how smart they are going to get, just leave me be with the legos!

Anybody want smart kids? If so, I have a bag of legos I may be willing to give away - just note the transaction will have to take place after the kids are in bed. It may look shady, but the sanity will be worth any harsh withdrawals the kids go through when they wake to find them gone.

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tiffany the Architect

Our engineer came by today with his draft plans for our addition we came up with. They are just about what we were hoping for except that our stairs going downstairs couldn't be in the exact spot where we wanted them. Making a few other changes necessary.

With plans in hand, the engineer instructed us to look over them, prepare changes, and sometime over the next week we will get back with him and make the changes we want before he finalizes the plans.

So, working from home, I would come up the stairs from time to time and found Tiffany marking up the plans each time. There were many, many markings and changes, I hope that we don't get charged more for all the stuff she wants to change or add.

But after a few hours, I think she has decided what she wants.

Until tomorrow.

And then, hey, we still have a few days to make up our mind.

Cheers,

Nathan

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers

You don't have to deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's.
~Robert Frost


Truth spoken by the poet. I understand this now more as a parent. Not that my children don't deserve my love, but I expect more out of them than simply being born.

I want them to become something. I want them to work hard.

In church today, we had a farmer/rancher guy talk to us about his mule being a hay burner. Doing nothing more than simply eating hay all day with nothing more to show for it.

I don't want my kids to be hay burners. Just sitting around soaking up the good life because they were born.

I want them to become something. I want them to work hard.

Because if they work hard they may turn into better people than I am.

And that is what all fathers (at least this father) really wants for their children.

But if not, I will still love them. My heart, however, will ache for that thing which they could have become.

Cheers,

Nathan

P.S. Dad - I have been a hay burner at times, but there have been times that I have caught the vision you had for me. I am grateful for your love and support for a young man trailing behind you on a very long road. One day, I hope to catch up. Though it may not be in this lifetime.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Playroom - Help!

This post is for Tiffany.

Not really. It's for me to get ideas so I can feel like I am thinking of some details.

My earlier post referred to creating a playroom for kids once the construction of the house is done. In doing so, we want it to be a place that not only little kids want to go, but older teenagers as well. Plus, we want it to be gender neutral in that we want both Dallin and his friends, as well as Emma and her friends will want to be there and have fun there (when not outside - I think that is a better place for kids anyways. But it's not like they will be outside all the time).

Here are some of my visions I have for this 'playroom'.

One wall will be sheet metal. Doing so creates some fun things you can do with magnets. Want a basket ball hoop? Put it up with a magnet. There are many magnet toys on our fridge, it would be nice to have a place to put all them. There are other ideas I have for this wall, but you can ask me specifically if you want to know more.

Make one wall a chalk wall. For coloring, drawing, whatever.

Flat screen TV with game consul hookups and Netflix abilities.

Table and chairs for drawing, homework, coloring, playing games, etc.

Big Bean bag chairs for viewing the TV. May need multiple to fit more kids in the room.

Game and toy shelves.

A corner for the gerbils. They may be Emma's, but every kid that comes over loves to play with them. (Poor things.)

What else would you add to make it an inviting place for kids of all ages.

Note the room is only about 12 feet wide by 18 feet long.

We would love to hear some of your ideas out there.

Cheers,

Nathan

Do You Live For Today, Tomorrow, or Yesterday?

Well, which is it?

Tiffany came to me the other day and wanted to share some ideas of what she wanted to do to the basement. We decided to add on to the house and the current downstairs is slated to be my office and the playroom. Our intent is to do many things to the playroom. We want to make it fun for all ages.

I have put a little bit of thought into what I wanted it to be, but for me, I live for tomorrow. A lot has to happen before we can turn the basement into the playroom. Mostly, just 3 months of fun construction. But in the meantime, the basement will likely be one of the places we feel like we can get away from the construction mess, and me, I don't want to live in a playroom.

We had a discussion on what we needed to do now, but she is tired of waiting. Bless her heart. She has been waiting for six years to do what she wants to our house and home. But each time she comes up with an idea of doing something today, I tell her reasons why we should wait till tomorrow. I'm a realist. Things should be done in proper order.

The problem with me, is that sometime tomorrow I will look to yesterday and wonder why we didn't get anything done today. I will then remind myself why and move forward with my plans. She will then complain to me that nothing gets done. 'Wait 'till tomorrow', I tell her.

Right now, we are waiting to hear back from the engineer. It seems to be taking much longer than we want, but once we get the plans back, then we can take them out to get bid on. Then get financing. Then construction.

And then, finally, she can create her playroom.

See, its all in order. All planned. All tomorrow. And for me, it works.

...Until I come home later today to find my basement freshly painted.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
~Mark Twain


Cheers,

Nathan

Weight Loss Update - Week 4

Another week done and in the books.

Goal Weight = 220 lbs
Starting Weight 5/23/2011 = 312 lbs
Week 1 Weight 5/27/2011 = 307 lbs
Week 2 Weight 6/3/2011=301 lbs
Week 3 Weight 6/10/2011 = 296 lbs

This week, Week 4 Weight 6/17/2011 = 292 lbs

That makes four pounds this week lost - 20 pounds over the course of four weeks. Last weekend I took the scouts on a campout and I think I ate more than I should have. But aside from that, I am on course and still encouraged at the process and results.

Tiffany tells me to get some new pants. I told her we need to wait. They may be loose, but no sense in buying more pants that will last only a month or two before I need new ones. Nope - new holes are going in the belt this next week and I will wear my baggy pants with pride over the next few weeks - at least until I can't stand it any longer.

Wish me luck!

Nathan