Friday, July 3, 2015

Get that man a fan

We have been in a battle of wits with our house over energy efficiency.

The first place I started with was Rocky Mountain Power.  They're our electric company and they obviously take themselves very seriously because I had to give a character reference when I signed up for service.  (Really.  I gave them Ammon's name and texted him that if he had any deep seated grudge against me, keep it buried.)

I called the power company with the intention of seeing if they could point me in the direction of a way to obtain an energy audit on our house.

The kind and not entirely helpful woman outlined different strategies I could employ.  Including but not limited to opening windows and using a fan.

I told her those were all helpful tips but I reiterated that we were looking to make an investment in our house to make it more energy efficient.  I wondered if she could help.

She kept talking but it wasn't helping so I moved on.

My next efforts were spent in having a man come and give me a bid on a sunshade for outside our big west facing windows.  He was also full of useful advice.  He pointed out to me that when the sun shines on our big west facing windows, it is going to get hot inside our house.

Wait, what?

He went on to describe the myriad ways he's come by this knowledge.  He's seen it before. He's been in houses up and down the Wasatch Front.    He's even been south of Provo.

I appreciated his expertise but in the end went with a different contractor whose sunshade was less than half the price.  It will be several weeks before it arrives but we are looking forward to some shade.

Our next strategy?  A ceiling fan. 

After nearly 20 years of marriage it's refreshing that there are still things to learn about your spouse.

For example, Adam, who in every other aspect of his life besides Apple Computers is...shall we say...frugal, has another place where he doesn't mind dropping some money.


Who knew?

I had called an electrician to make our fan dreams come true and they told me to purchase a fan ahead of time.  Adam and I perused the fans at Home Depot and came up with what we thought was a good one.

Then I went to bed and Adam started scheming.

He remembered the fans that had been in Amazon fulfillment centers and he decided that was the kind of fan we needed.

The next morning while I was still in my groggy, half awake state, he showed me the website.  They were expensive and seemed ugly.  I wasn't very enthusiastic and then I noticed the crestfallen look on my beloved's face.

He asks for very little in life.

I gave the website another look and found a fan that wasn't ugly and in fact matched our house pretty well.

The electricians came to do some other work and even though Adam thought he could install the fan himself it is up really high and I had a proxy fear of heights so I told the electricians I would be calling them again after the new fan was delivered.

The fan arrived in the mail.  Adam and Mark assembled it.  It seemed fan-tastic.

Yesterday the electricians came.  They loved the fan.  They remarked on how powerful and efficient and handsome it was.  I was only wishing Adam were home to hear their praise.

I am glad Adam got the fan he wanted.

Particularly since I'm currently sitting underneath it and it works really well.

I am a fan of the man who is a fan of that fan.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Family photo

My mom has a collection of family pictures from each of her children.  The picture of our family is six years old:

(Such little little children!)

My mom has been wanting an update though.  She's mentioned it once or twice or every time we visit.

It doesn't help that Marianne is steadily updating their family pictures.  (My lifelong curse--trying to keep up with Marianne...)

Robert's sister, Deborah, is an incredible photographer and so they keep churning out these great family photos that make my family picture look six years old.

Deborah, who currently lives in Texas, happened to visit Utah so we hired her for a photo shoot.  Then, I immediately felt apprehensive because I'm not photogenic.

On Sunday afternoon, after I'd awakened the nappers around here, I wanted them all to bring clothes to the family room so we could contemplate outfits for the picture.  Not too matchy, nothing clashing.  Since everyone had just been happily napping before my rude awakening, they were not that interested in clothing choices.  (In all honesty they wouldn't have been interested even if they hadn't been napping.) No one said anything but there was a definite go away vibe going on that was being directed at me.

We decided the simplest course of action was red, white and blue.

So Tuesday evening it was 102 degrees and we changed venues to American Fork Canyon which was a good idea because it is beautiful there (and was slightly cooler). 

We were meeting Adam, so before leaving home, Braeden snapped this picture (long arms) and we texted it to Adam:

What a photo ready group!

Adam texted back this:

That exchange of pictures wasn't exactly confidence inspiring about how the whole thing was going to go.

We met up with Deborah and she immediately made us feel comfortable.  She worked quickly and placed us for the photos with the assurance of the artist that she is.  We laughed a lot and had fun and I feel extra happy about the whole thing because now we'll have a shiny new picture to give my mom.

Here's a picture that Deborah posted on Facebook.  I haven't seen the others yet but I like this one particularly for the setting.  Our house is on the other side of that mountain.

photo credit:  Deborah Berrett

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Good boy

Braeden and milk.  He loves that stuff.  He must have the most calcium rich bones in America.  Quite often I start to put the milk away and Braeden gives me a look like I've wounded him and even though his glass is brim full of milk, I set the jug back down by him because he wants more.  At one sitting he eats a few bowls of cereal with milk, then he drinks a few tall glasses of the stuff and I keep going back to the store for more.

If Braeden is home, this is the situation.

Monday at dinner we were drinking lemonade except Braeden who was pouring himself a steady stream of milk.  Then I realized that was the last jug.  I cut him off and put it back in the fridge.  Adam said he'd go to the store for more.

We were sitting on the deck later and remembered about the milk run.  I maintained that the boy who drinks all the milk should be the one to go buy more.  Braeden said he would go but he wanted Adam and me to go with him.  Braeden alone with his parents is his favorite.

So we went.  Adam got distracted looking at steak and Braeden said, "Hey, if I'm good, can I have an ice cream cone?"

Which made me laugh.

When our kids were little, I would offer them a treat at the grocery store if they were good.  For example, the day Mark reached over on the shelf (from his perch in the shopping cart) and grabbed a bottle of syrup and hurled it to the floor where it broke?  He didn't get a treat that day.

(Sometimes I miss having toddlers.  Sometimes I don't.)

Bribing them with one treat helped quell the tide of wanting everything sugary in sight and it also helped curtail the whining.  I would say, "If you're good, I'll get you a treat."

Now they hardly go to the grocery store with me, but it hasn't been so long ago that Braeden has forgotten that being good=treat.

And ice cream cones at Macey's are $.59.

After Adam and I both laughed at Braeden, I said, "Go ahead and get an ice cream cone.  You have money."

"Yeah...but..." and he gave me that look that is heart melting to my mother's heart.

"OK," I sighed.  Then I tried to keep up with his long legs as we left Adam to ponder the steak choices and we walked over to the ice cream.

I was tired and couldn't stop yawning.  Braeden kept trying to make me laugh and then he got out his phone for a selfie of us.  I told him to put his phone away because him taking my picture did not equal him being good.

But he doesn't listen to me.

This is me at 10:30 p.m. in the ice cream line at Macey's with my boy who despite everything, is pretty good.

Last night he had his final interview and his mission papers are submitted!  I am working on tamping down my feelings of noooooooooo and wahhhhhhhh with feeling grateful he's worthy to go and that he wants to go.

He's a good boy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some of the books I've read

I sort of lost interest in these book report blog posts and that coincided with me not having a lot of good books to read.

Well, I'm back.

I have read several books that I can't remember.  At all.  I've also started and abandoned several books.

Here are some of the more recent ones that I actually finished:

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson**

I read Edenbrooke by the same author and I liked it more than this book.  The main character struck me as sort of pathetic.  I wanted to tell her several times to get some pride and a backbone.  Also, her mother was so villainous that she was more like a Disney stepmother character and less like a real person.  Finally, the end left me with questions as to how the author had made those leaps but that has been kind of a theme with books I've read lately.

Sea Change by Karen White*

I read (and endured) this book on the sole basis that I had completely enjoyed the other books I'd read by Karen White.  This book was mystifying.  Quite often characters in a book don't know what's going on, but the reader does.  This was not one of those books.  Up until the end I didn't know what was happening or why.  In a nutshell: a woman ended up being the reincarnated version of her husband's dead ancestor and the husband's first wife had been the reincarnated version of the dead ancestor's sister.

I know.

A Nearly Perfect Copy by Allison Amend *

The reviews I read of this book leave a more favorable impression of this book than I have.  It was compelling, but it was a disaster.  The whole thing.  It was full of unhappy characters who made bad choices and as I read I wondered how the author was going to possibly get them out of the problems they had created for themselves.  Spoiler alert: she didn't.  The characters with their bad and unethical decisions didn't end up in jail (which I guess was the good news) but they all ended up miserable.

The more I think about it, the less I liked this book.

So now, my new goal for reading is to read more books I actually enjoy.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Weekends are my favorite.  They are always full of adventures of one kind or another.

Friday night Adam and I went on a date to the Water Garden Theater which is what you would call a dollar theater if that were still a thing.  I think the movies are $4 (but Adam paid so I could be wrong).

We watched Far From The Madding Crowd, which I loved.  Give me a good period drama any day.

Adam and I were by far the youngest people in the theater (and we're not all that young).  It felt like the old days when we used to be the juveniles at the Village Theater in Everett.

Here's the thing about the elderly.  They've lost the ability to whisper.

And apparently keep track of plots, characters, etc.

There was a lot of, "Now who is that?" and "Isn't that the beggar girl from before?" and "I can't understand a word. He's. Saying."

I wanted to ask if we could pause the movie and I could quickly get everyone caught up to speed.

We still loved the movie and it turns out Adam loved it all the more because of the crowd who was watching with us.

Also that night, Braeden went camping with his friend, Bridger.  Why anyone would do that on purpose is beyond me.  They drove up into the canyon and made a small fire and cooked some dinner and discovered that soda is superior to water in dousing fires. Braeden made another discovery too.  He took the mummy style sleeping bag he's favored for all his camp outs growing up and it seems the sleeping bag has not grown up with him.  It hit him about mid chest.

About 2:00 in the morning a truck rumbled by pulling a trailer with a couple dozen porta-potties on back.  (There was a 5K race on Saturday and presumably they were being transported for that purpose.) Awhile later, there was a ruckus with horns honking and the boys wondered if someone needed help but then all was quiet and they went back to sleep.

The next morning they loaded up and started to drive back down the canyon.  The road was impossibly blocked by the truck and trailer and porta-potties.  The driver had not maneuvered a corner well.  At all.

It was all part of the adventure for the intrepid campers though.  Besides being hungry (their breakfast plan had been to hit McDonald's), they happily picked their way through the mountain roads and came out on the other side of the mountain.

That afternoon, Braeden went with Ammon's family to buy a couch and loveseat.  Braeden's role was in the helping to lift and load.  If I've done anything it's taught my children how to move furniture.  The woman they bought the furniture from thought Braeden and Ammon were brothers which I think made Braeden's day.  I thought, is that even possible?  Then I realized Ammon is only 13 years older than Braeden.

He's just a little guy.

So young.

While Braeden was gone, we ran a few errands.  We were in pursuit of things like a new printer, a Southwest salad kit, Happy Hour at Sonic. Emma drove so it was even more exciting than you might think (pulling the van into the little spots at Sonic--not for the faint of heart).

We were walking into one store and Emma said to Mark, "I love you Mark and I like hugging you, but just not all the time." (Mark loves to hug and be hugged.  Emma...doesn't.)

Mark waited a beat then held his arms out to her and said, "OK.  Let's hug it out."

His wit is quickening at the same alarming rate as his legs are lengthening.

That evening Braeden was too tired from his previous nighttime adventure but the rest of us hit the Water Garden Theater again.  This time we saw Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 and the theater was full of families, not senior citizens.  It was still sort of a wild time.  There was a lot of audience participation, which reminded me of going to the midnight movie at the Varsity Theater when I was a student at BYU.

That movie though.  Cracked me up the second time every bit as much as the first time.

Adam and I read on the deck when we got home.  (Emma drew pictures/Mark jumped on the trampoline.) Summer evenings on the deck are one of the best things that have ever happened to me.  I finished the book I was reading.  All along it seemed like a train wreck and like it wasn't going to end well.

Then it didn't end well.

(I'll get back to the blog posts Adam and Braeden don't like--talking about books I've read.  Maybe tomorrow?)

It was hot hot hot on Sunday and I'm equally grateful for our central air conditioning and terrified to get the bill.  Ammon and Melanee and family came over for dinner and to hang out where it's cool.  (I mean the temperature was cool.  I am not under any misconception that we're the cool place to hang out.)

We visited and played cards (I lost) and ate ice cream cones.  Mark and Braeden played Star Wars a little with Cormac and they gifted him with one of their light sabers.  After they left, the boys kept talking about how great it was to play with Cormac.

Living near family makes me happy.  Movies and ice cream and summer and card games and not camping all make me happy.  It's a pretty good life.

Friday, June 26, 2015


It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

We had a mini reunion.  Erin and Rachel (and Rachel's family.  Unfortunately, Erin's family wasn't there and I would have liked to have seen Brian again and meet her children.)  They are some of my oldest friends.  They're in that small group that I would call lifelong friends.  I hadn't seen Rachel for several years and I hadn't seen Erin for about 15 years and it didn't matter one little bit.  We could have talked all night.

We met when we were Braeden's age!  That's hard for me to wrap my mind around.

We looked at pictures from our freshman year at BYU.  Some of us would remember something that the others may or may not remember.  None of us remembered the name of the Multi Media Man who was admired from afar when he brought the video projector into our History of Civilization class we all took together and then Rachel ended up dating him.  And we couldn't think of his name.

not sure what I'm doing here...readying my necklace for a picture?

We laughed a lot.  We caught up on each others' families.  It was just wonderful.

I don't know if it's because we were such close friends at a pivotal time in our lives, when we were far from home or if it's because we have lived sort of parallel lives, but I am connected to them. The things that matter most to each of us matter most to all of us.

We have Big Things in common.  We want the same things.  I think if we all lived next door to each other, our children would be great friends, our husbands would chat around the BBQ (like Adam and Rachel's husband Nate did last night) and Erin and Rachel and I would never run out of things to talk about.

When everyone left, Adam said to our kids, "See?  That's why your mom wants you to go to BYU so much."

And it is completely true.  The friends I made at BYU are a gift in my life.  (And then there's the husband I met at BYU...he's pretty key to my happiness too.) 

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I think I was in seventh grade when I created an elaborate collage on my bedroom wall.  I used pictures from magazines and thumbtacks.   It was a masterpiece.

And I got in trouble.

(My dad didn't think sticking tacks all over the wooden walls was a good idea.) 

Having a garage has helped fill the chasm created by my dad trying to clip my creative wings. ;)

The other day I pulled out my stapler and went to town.

There's no rhyme or reason to any of it.  Some of it was hanging in our old garage, some of it is newer.  It's all meaningful to one or more of us.

When Braeden saw it, he said, "That makes me really happy."

Adam said, "That feels like home."

Those are two of the best compliments they could give me because making them happy and creating a home?  My life's work.

It's kind of a bonus for me when all it takes is a stapler and artifacts from our lives.


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