Sunday, July 01, 2018

Baseboards


Several years back we remodeled the back half of our house. It looked really good but I guess Lisa figured it is time to repaint. I do not like to paint. Before the kids came home for Christmas we were able to get the entire downstairs painted and new blinds put up so the house looked quite nice.
I even replaced the original base boards to match what we had done in the back half of the house. It turned out that we weren’t able to match the baseboard we had in the family room but by cutting down a similar style we were finally able to match it. I then had to stain it the right color. That was a hassle I won’t go into but by the time kids got here it looked nice.
This picture shows the corner where the old base board on right meets the new baseboard on the left. I think we managed to match pretty well don’t you think?
The one thing that I didn’t get done was a curved wall that we have by the front door. It makes a 90° bend with maybe a one foot radius. I was scared to death to attempt to put baseboard around that bend. It wasn’t done for Christmas and I have managed to procrastinate until now. While Lisa has been quite patient, she has been commenting on the one unfinished wall more and more frequently. Last weekend I decided to go for it.  
I had always assumed that if I soaked the board in water for a day or two that it would soften enough that I could bend it but when I asked experts they all told me that the only way I could get it to bend that way would be to pressure steam it. Well, since I don’t have a large autoclave, I went with the more conventional approach.
I guess what you do is make many small cuts on the back of the board so that the remaining wood is thin and flexible. I experimented with a small board and convinced myself that it would work.
After more than 200 cuts, I wrapped the board around the curve and was quite alarmed to see that the bottom of the base board hugged the curve very nicely but the top edge bowed way out.
Because I was able to make the cut on the bottom come right to the front edge of the board, the remaining wood at that point was razor thin On the top of the base however, I had to stop the cut at the inside edge of the board. That left a quarter of an inch thick of wood on the top edge. This made the remaining wood thick and stiff at the top but thin and flexible at the bottom.
After stewing (and a bit of stressing) about the problem I decided to force the top of the board against the wall using sticks wedged against the opposite wall. This seemed to work quite well. I left the board wedged in place over the weekend hoping that the stress would relax a bit. It did relax a bit but not nearly as much as I had hoped.
In order to hold the top edge of the baseboard in place I located all the studs in the wall and nailed the top of the base board into the studs. I also glued the board in place.
To complicate matters, there is a door right where I needed to place some of the braces so I laid a 2x4 between the wall and the step and braced against the 2x4. When it was all done it was quite the maze. It was a bit treacherous walking through there.
That was on Monday. On Tuesday I removed the supports and the top moved out a little bit in one spot so I re-braced that spot and gave it a bit more glue and one more day.
When it was as good as I figured it was going to get I went and bought some caulking and tried to hide as much of the gap as I could. That caulking is amazing stuff. I think my baseboard almost looks professionally done.
So I removed the last board on Wednesday afternoon and then headed to the airport to pick up Lisa. She was arriving home for her 42 hour layover before going to Canada. She was home for about an hour before she noticed the new baseboard. She loves it so that makes me happy.
--------------------trivia--------------------
The pyramids were as old to the Romans as the Romans are to us
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday School

For the last several years I have taught the ten and eleven year old boys. That would be the boys who were either ten or eleven and January 1st of that year. I also have the eleven year old boys in scouts.
With all the sexual abuse that has been in the new the church has had a two deep leadership policy in the scouting program. That means that you can never have one leader together with one boy.  The church expanded this policy to all their youth classes. That means all primary classes, whether they are taught by women or not, must have two teachers in the classroom.
About a month ago Todd Groesbeck and I were in our primary class and in comes Bruce Brittain. He had just been called to the eleven year old primary class. That confused me because it really seemed to be overkill to have three men teaching two boys. Well somehow I’d missed the memo. When we got into sharing time we learned that Lisa and I were now both teaching her class. Take about a difference in class dynamics. We regularly have five very sweet girls and one calm, polite and thoughtful boy. Talk about a dream class. I love those kids.
With Lisa out of town for a month and a half I now have one of the dads sit in with me. What a group of intelligent and respectful kids. Every one of them is very bright and all of them participate. The kids in the class are:
      Camille Gray
      Clara Morin
      Sean Johnston
      Kate Ryan
      Jack Knaphus
      Addy Proctor
I love teaching these kids.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Missing Lisa


This summer, for Lisa and I, is going to be spent apart. Last Thursday, June 14th, I took Lisa to the airport and flew her to Texas. Brandon and Serene made a trip to Egypt and Lisa is watching their kids while they are gone. Isn't she cute with all those little girls?
Next Wednesday, June 27th, I will pick her up from the airport and we will have all of Thursday together. Well, not really, since I do have to work that day and then that is our temple night, but at least we get to wake up together and go to bed together. And then Friday I take her back to the airport and send her to Calgary so she can help Kira with the kids at SMA camp.
Normally Justin goes to the camp with Kira and the kids but there is some event going on that he can’t be there this year. That is a lot of work for just Kira and her bunch. It is one thing when she can coral them all in the house but with all the events going on it would be easy for one of the kids to disappear. So Lisa will be Calgary until July 15 at which point they will fly her down to Utah.
On Wednesday, July 18th, I will drive up to Salt Lake City and give my wife a big hug. July 19th, 20th and 21st is our ninth triannual (sort of) A Q Leavitt Family reunion. Greg and Gaylia are hosting it this year and it will be held on the Green River up near the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. I am looking forward to it.
Sunday, July 22nd, after a relaxed Sunday morning we will head south. Probably overnight somewhere along the I-15 and get home Monday morning. Not long after that Lisa will start school again. I think we will plan a "get away" weekend some time in the fall so we feel like we had a vacation. 

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rick Marx


Our very good friend, Rick Marx recently passed away.

Lisa and I first met Rick roughly ten years ago. When Kathy found Rick she was quite excited to introduce us. We went out for dinner on a double date and I’ve loved Rick ever since that first day so long ago.

It was three or four years ago that Rick went to see his doctor about a pain in his hips. He thought it must have been a pulled muscle or something like that. He’d always been a healthy man and worked out regularly. Imagine our surprise when we learned that he had stage four cancer in his bones and a year to live. Rick was given many blessings and some of his blessings told him that it was not his time yet and he still had work to do here on earth. 

He has had many ups and downs since that first diagnosis. He went through a few rounds of chemotherapy and at one point he was on deaths door. He pulled through and recovered to the point that he was essentially cancer free. While we are sad to see him pass on, I can’t help but be grateful for the extra years he was granted.

I remember one day in the chapel just before church started I was playing “Clash of Clans” with my kids. In this game you create a clan and our clan would fight daily battles against other clans. It was a good game for me because it didn’t need to take more than ten minutes a day and yet it kept me in daily contact with my kids. It was fun and our clan at its max grew to about 50 people, all of whom were close friends or family of mine or friends of my kids.

At this point Rick was going through a tough spell in his fight against cancer and spent most of his day sitting around his house dwelling on his problems. I suggested he join the clan and “Rick the Rock” was born. The game was perfect for him and he was instantly thrown into a family of fifty or more members. Everyone loved Rick and it gave him something else to think about other than his own problems. 

The clan eventually went the way of everything else in life but Rick was now left with a new group of friends.

After years of great health, Ricks cancer finally returned and he declined quickly. The last week or two were very painful for Rick and he was finally taken to the hospital. Kathy had wanted him to stay home and have hospice come in but Rick was no longer able to get around. Rick is a big man and Kathy is a little girl. She needed help. 

I went to see him a few times in the hospital before he passed and I'm grateful I had that opportunity.  It was sad to see him laying their all drugged up to take away the pain. It was even worse to see Kathy sitting their holding his hand.

At 9:30 on the morning of June 5, 2017 Rick Marx passed away.

Kathy texted Lisa right away and told her that they would be doing a "Salute" for Rick at 11:30. We had no idea what that was but we wanted to participate and support Kathy so we both left work and headed right over.

The salute was pretty special. They had us all leave Ricks room and they put him on a stretcher, draped him in the American flag and then a fellow from the Veterans Association stood in the hall and rang a small bell. Two orderlies slowly wheeled him into the hallway while the VA guy loudly announced Ricks name and rank and his branch of service and other stuff. It was very solemn and almost spiritual.

video

I think Kathy was given more food than she could possibly eat but her son Colin and Ricks son Doug both spent a lot of time with Kathy both at home and at the hospital. I don't think Kathy has eaten much but I'm sure the two boys put a good dent in the food.

At some point Kathy felt inspired to ask Lisa if she would take care of all the arrangements for the memorial service and the interment. I don’t know if Kathy knew it or not but that is where Lisa shines. She can plan any event (including funerals) like no one else. It truly is a calling of hers and Lisa spent the next few days on the phone. She lined up a funeral home, made arrangements with the Military cemeteries, lined up the music, eulogies and food. What is unfortunate is that we had to leave for Brandon and Serenes on Thursday. Thank goodness for modern technology. We spent the days with the grand kids but Lisa spent her mornings and evenings on the phone and on email. She planned it all from a thousand miles away but she did have a lot of support from home

Lisa arrived home from Texas Saturday morning, June 17, 2017. I picked her up at the airport around 9:00 AM, drove her home, we changed and then headed over to the church to get the place ready for Ricks memorial service.

A lot of people helped out and I think the service was everything Kathy was hoping for. Steve Sharp prepared the program; Alan Bird prepared a wonderful slide show, the Relief Society prepared a nice little lunch for family and close friends, Trish Wolsey provided some beautiful flowers and several people helped set up displays etc.

slide show

Probably the highlight of the program was Scott Spurgiesz. That guy is a musical prodigy. When he plays the piano, I’m sure he is doing it all on the fly. He certainly has no music. It came together beautifully and I think Rick was happy.

The spirit was felt by all who were there. Thank goodness for the gospel. I don’t know how people without faith can survive this type of thing. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Texas




Early in June Brandon and Serene were able to go on their first real vacation of their marriage. While they were gone they asked Lisa if they could fly her out so she could watch the kids while they were gone. Well that is the kind of thing Lisa lives for so she was all in. We then decided that we would surprise the girls and I would go as well for the weekend. What a fun weekend it was. Brandon’s kids knew Lisa was coming but Lisa chose to keep it a secret that I was coming. I’m not sure why because we all know that the kids will be far more excited about seeing Grandma than they would be about seeing me.

We flew out Thursday evening but unfortunately the flight was delayed two and a half hours. Serene's dad, Paul Quinn, agreed to pick us up at the airport. I think he was regretting that offer when he dropped us off at 1:00AM.

Because I was only going to be there for a few days we had each day planned. Friday we went to the water park. It was a blast. Lisa and I took turns staying with the little kids and going with Sydney and Haley on the slides. Of course we were all able to ride the tubes around the lazy river.

I found it funny how Grayson kept crawling around in the water on his hands and feet rather than on his hands and knees. It wasn’t until the following day that we figured out why he crawled like that. The concrete is roughened up so you don’t slip but when you’re on your hands and knees the rough concrete really chews up your skin. The day after the park we realized that Grayson had a bad case of road rash on the tops of his feet. Oops. 


At the park they had a kids area with a large bucket at the top. By large I mean this bucket must have held two or three hundred gallons of water. 

The bucket was constantly being filled and it was hinged in the middle so that once it got full the center of gravity was above the hinge and the bucket would tip over and dump on the kids playing below. 

At one point Mackenzie got hurt and Lisa was tending to her when the bucket dumped. I was really wishing I had a picture of that so later when I saw Sydney hanging out below the bucket I got my camera ready hoping the bucket would dump. I lucked out and got a pretty good shot of Sydney getting drenched. Lisa was just as drenched as Sydney and she was totally surprised by it. I think Sydney was waiting for it. 

Saturday Haley had a softball game and then we went on a hike. I got some good shots of Haley’s run.



Here is Haley at bat. You can see Lisa and the kids in the background cheering her on.


She swings, she hits the ball and she’s off. I think she surprised herself.








And she gets a high-five from her coach at first base. 










Here she is on third with her eye on the home plate.









She heads for home…













And it’s a run for the Rockies.













After the game we headed to a nearby park with a cool hiking trail. The trail was only a couple of miles but they had all kinds of trivia for us to look at. It was a good educational event for the kids and a fun hike.

We ate a picnic lunch and then fed some of the sandwiches to the turtles in this pond.

At one point on the trail the kids got all excited because they thought they saw an owl in the hole in the tree. It actually did look a lot like an owl but once we got closer it was just an optical illusion.











After a nice relaxing hike through the park we headed back home and got ready for a nice camp out. We had Brandon line up a fire pit for us and we roasted wieners on the fire. I don’t know why but wieners taste so much better when they’re cooked on a fire. Following the wieners was the s’mores. I think the part that the kids liked the best was writing on the patio with the charcoal on the ends of their sticks. Sorry Brandon and Serene, I think it should wash off without too much trouble. 

And then we pitched the tent and camped out for the night. It was a little hairy at first positioning all of the girls so that no one complaining about having someone’s foot in their eye but in the end I think everyone fell asleep without being mad at someone. 





We just locked Grayson up in the dog kennel so he wouldn’t get into trouble.










As I’ve gotten older the ground has become much harder and I didn’t have an air mattress so I was quite concerned about getting a decent sleep. I actually slept surprising well.

It’s been a long time since we had to get five little kids ready for church. It actually went much easier than I had anticipated. These girls are really well behaved kids. We actually got to church fifteen minutes early. 






I don’t know what the fight was about but at one point Sydney and Haley were arguing about something. I saw a big tear running down Haley’s cheek so I had to take picture of it. I posted the picture and commented that seeing a tear on such a pretty face breaks my heart. Sydney saw what I posted and said to me, “it doesn’t break my heart”. You gotta love family. 








Monday was the Magnolia Market in Waco. Lisa loves that show and I have to admit that I enjoy it as well (but not nearly as much as Lisa does). In case you haven’t heard of it, the show is “The Fixer Upper”.

The town of Waco has been smart about how they exploit their new popularity so they have a free bus that loops through down town connecting to all of the shops and the Silo’s at the Magnolia Market. This allowed us to park anywhere we wanted and encouraged us to stop and check out a couple of shops.

I think the highlight for Lisa was the bakery. She loves cakes and sampled several of the cupcakes. Personally, my weakness is doughnuts and pies and since they didn’t have either I wasn’t too partial to anything. They did have a delicious peanut butter cookie that I had. 

I then wandered through the market place with Lisa and looked at a bunch of weird stuff that I couldn’t see much use for and then I took the kids and played in the play area while she and Sydney satisfied their need to take a closer look. 

I was worried about keeping the kids entertained, especially Grayson but it was so hot I think Grayson sort of turned into a zombie. I made sure he had enough water in him kept him where I could keep an eye on him. I did turn him lose on the grass a few times but for the most part he was content to just hang out in his stroller. 

I thought you might enjoy this contract between two sisters. Do you see the sweet innocent smile on Mackenzie’s face? Compare that to the wild and crazed look on Haley’s face. In case you were wondering what the blur is in the foreground, that is Haley’s running shoe trying to kick me in the face.

Lisa and Sydney finally came out and we fed the kids some very expensive lunch. Lisa then bought a small watermelon. Someone had the ingenious idea of cutting a hole in the side of the watermelon, chewing up the inside of the melon and then letting people suck it out with fat straws. There is nothing like a cold watermelon on a hot day. 

We then hopped back onto the bus and headed into town. 










On the way we stopped at an ice-cream shop. There is nothing like an ice-cream cone on a hot day. 

We then drove around Waco trying to find some of the houses that have been featured on the Fixer Upper and then it was back to Mansfield. 

And then it was Tuesday. Tuesday was when I had to leave. Sydney and Hayley both cried as I started packing up. Because they were crying Rosalie had to make sure she was crying louder than they were. She was all out wailing. You would have thought I was dying or something. And then poor sweat Mackenzie was smiling and playing with me. I love those girls and I am so sad that they live so far away.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Rick Marx

At 9:30 this morning Rick Marx passed away. It is sad to see a good friend leave this world but what a comfort it is to know that it is only for a short time. Well, I guess it doesn’t seem that short but that is what makes it so difficult. Lisa and I went to see him and Kathy on Saturday and then again yesterday. I’m really glad we did.

Kathy texted Lisa right away and told her that they would be doing a "Salute" for Rick at 11:30. We had no idea what that was but we both wanted to participate and support Kathy so we left work and headed right over. 

The salute was pretty special. They had us all leave Ricks room and they put him on a stretcher, draped him in the American flag and then a fellow from the Veterans Association stood in the hall and rang a small bell. Two orderlies slowly wheeled him into the hallway while the VA guy loudly announced Ricks name and rank and his branch of service and other stuff. It was very solemn and almost spiritual. 

What made it even more special is that Rick volunteered with the VA and this fellow remembered working with him. He even told Kathy that Rick kept a picture of her on his desk and that he obviously loved her. 

Lisa and I first met Rick roughly ten years ago. We went out for dinner on a double date and I’ve loved Rick ever since that first day so long ago. It is hard for me to judge time but it must have been three or four years ago that Rick went to see his doctor about a pain in his hips. He thought he must have pulled a muscle or something like that. He’d always been a very healthy man and worked out regularly. Imagine our surprise when we learned he had stage four cancer in his bones and he was given less than a year to live. Rick received many blessings and some of his blessings told him that it was not his time yet and he still had work to do here on earth. 

Rick has used that time well and helped a LOT of people in that time. Perhaps most importantly he helped his son Doug go through some very tough times. After giving his son some much needed support it was appropriate to see Doug by his dads bedside during his last days on this earth. 

Rick had many ups and downs since that first diagnosis. He went through a few rounds of chemotherapy and at one point he was on deaths door. He pulled through and recovered to the point that he was cancer free. I remember one day in the chapel just before church started I was playing “Clash of Clans” with my kids. They had created a clan in this game that is played on smart phones and we would fight daily battles against other clans. It was a good game for me because it didn’t need to take more than ten minutes a day and yet it kept me in daily contact with my kids. It was fun and our clan at its max grew to about 50 people, all of whom were close friends or family. We grew to be a true "Clan" and while we lived all over the content and many of us had never met we were "family".

At this point Rick was going through a very tough spell in his fight against cancer and spent most of his day sitting around his house dwelling on his problems. I suggested he join the clan and “Rick the Rock” was born. The game was perfect for him and he was instantly thrown into a family of fifty or more members. Everyone loved Rick and it gave him something else to think about other than his own problems.

In time the clan went the way of everything else in this life but Rick was now left with a new group of friends. After years of great health, Ricks cancer finally returned and he declined quickly. The last week or two have been very painful for Rick and last week he was finally taken to the hospital. Ricks son Doug arrived last week and him and Kathy have spent nearly every hour since at Ricks side. 

Losing a loved one is hard enough even when we know that they are in a better place and that we will eventually join them. I can't even imagine what it would be like without that knowledge. Rick, I am a better man for having known you. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Grad Party


'

Alex works at Wells Fargo. He got the job mainly because they needed a Spanish speaker and he started out as a teller but Alex’s boss, Pablo Grenada quickly saw that Alex is perfect for this job. He speaks excellent Spanish, he is friendly, loves working with people, he’s compassionate, and he uses good judgement in all that he does. He has been promoted up the ranks quickly and is thinking that he may just make a career out of the banking business. I don’t know the business, but apparently Alex is a banker, whatever that is. I know he makes loans.
Pablo decided to throw Alex a grad party while we were up there and it was a great party. Unfortunately Sarah and Ben had left so it was just Lisa and I and Alycia’s family. The Sanchez’s also came and a bunch of Alex’s friends were there.
The food was a taco bar and you can never go wrong with a taco bar. It was delicious. Lisa also brought “U” shaped donuts for desert. They were a hit.

Alex has two very good friends, Nick and Whitney, who he hangs out with a lot. They were at the party as well. Two of his co-workers were also there, Sierra and another girl who I can’t remember her name. And then, of course, Pablo’s family was there. Pablo’s kids love Alex and I think after the party they love Trevor. He played with them all night. The last picture is from left to right, Alex, Whitney, Sierra and Nick.
In case you’re wondering, the dog that looks like a rat is Sierra’s and her name is Bunny.
Alex has good friends and a good boss. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a picture of Alex and Pablo.