Saturday, May 22, 2010

Father & Sons / Prom

This was one of my favorite weekends of the year, Father & Sons campout. Lisa wasn't too happy that I went because it is our last weekend before everyone arrives for Alex's big weekend and she has about three weekends of work planned for me but I promised her I would take enough time off work this week for her to get most of what she wants done taken care of. Unfortunately Ben was finishing up his finals and he has a ton of work he needs to get done before he heads off to Mexico for the summer. That is another story for another posting. You can read about it here if you want. And then with Brandon interning in Utah for the summer it was just Alex and I. In the old days we used to go hiking but I think last year may have been the beginning of a new tradition. We went shooting. We had a ton of fun and we were still home early.
The problem is, this is also the weekend of Westviews Prom. Even though I was dying to get out into the back yard and make the place beautiful for Alex's big shindig, I ended up helping out inside the house getting two kids ready for Prom. Yes, you heard that right, both Alex and Sarah were going to Prom. But Alex graduated last year you may say and you would be correct but a good friend of Alex's had some complications with her plans and her date didn't quite work out. I have no idea what the problem was but Ashley's brother is good friends with Alycia and so he called up Alycia and asked if she thought Alex would take his sister Ashley to Prom. Alex would have helped out in any case but since him and Ashley were already good friends he was more than happy to go. He even asked her to go in a cool way. No one just "asks" people to prom anymore. You have to put on some big production and ask in a cool way. They had their pictures at 4:30 and that is a good thing because Sarah's pictures were at 5:30. It was quick but I was able to get a few good pictures of Alex and Ashley and then ran home to meet Sarah's date Alex. Yes that does make it a bit confusing having two Alex's around but we do OK.
As I said, Alex's pictures were at 4:30 so shortly after 4:00 he went and put his suit on, brushed his teeth and headed out the door. Meanwhile Sarah had been getting ready for several hours already. First on the schedule were the nails. Personally I think it is a huge waste of time and money to do your nails but my opinion is often not appreciated nor wanted. Sarah made sure I took the before and after pictures of the nails. I have to admit there is quite a difference.
Alycia wanted to be home to help Sarah get ready and to make her really beautiful. Personally I think Sarah was already really beautiful but Alycia wanted to guild the lily and it was actually kind of sad that Sarah had no sisters home to get all excited with her. Alycia actually tried to work her schedule so she could fly home but in the end she ended up called her good friend Sarah Borghei to come over and fill in as a substitute sister (it was also quite confusing having two Sarah's but again, we did OK). It was pretty cool. She did a great job too because Sarah was quite stunning.
The pictures were taken at Poway Park after which dinner was at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and then off to Prom.
Please don't ask me what this picture is all about, I have no idea.
Sarah never could keep her feet on the ground.
Right now I'm sitting at home waiting for everyone to come home. I'm very tired and ready to fall asleep.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thermoelectric Elements

Even though nothing of interest has happened so far this week I thought I'd give a quick update anyway. Do you remember the picture of that shiny ingot I posted a few weeks back? Well these little cubes are what I made from it. Each of these little cubes will act much like a battery if you heat one side and cool the other side. If fact each element will generate about a half a watt of electricity. The trick of course is to connect them in such a way that you can get the electricity out without ruining the electronic properties of the element. In any case, I figured that they look pretty if nothing else.

It is fun having Alex home, he's been living life to the fullest in the last few weeks before his mission. Today he just received his temple recommend so he's ready to go. We're waiting until the long weekend so that all of his siblings can be with him when he goes. Right now he's over at the church playing basket ball with all of the adults. They love playing with him. I remember one time he took the daughter of one of the men on a date. It was a Tuesday (basket ball night) and when he picked up the girl the Dad said to him, "Alex, I just have one question for you." Alex politely says, "yes sir?" The Dad says, "Are you going to have her home in time for you to go play basketball?" It was very funny hearing him tell the story.

Women lose half of their eggs by the age of thirty

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One Busy and Exciting Week

It seems like when anything exciting happens it all happens at once. I'm a few days behind in the stories I want to tell. The first one was that Sarah qualified for leagues in her 300 meter hurdles. This is good because we missed what would have been her last race when we went to pick up Alex in Utah. This gave us a chance to see her race one more time this season. The best part is that the race was on Tuesday so I was able to go and watch her. Since it was leagues it was very competitive and she didn't place all that well (but not last place). As always, she may not have been the fastest runner out there but she was definitely the prettiest. Wednesday was another great day because Brandon and his family arrived. Brandon finally finished his finals and he is taking his family up to Utah where he will be interning this summer. Unfortunately Serene had to leave first thing Friday morning for Texas. Her best friend growing up was getting married and she had to be there for it. So Serene flew out Friday with Hayley and Brandon left for Utah Saturday morning. I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures of Serene but I did manage to grab a couple of Brandon and Sydney before they left.

During Sarah's spring break her and Lisa went to the Science Museum and while there they saw the Omni max movie about the Hubble telescope. They thought it would be a show I would like to see. Lisa suggested that we take everyone to see it on Friday night. She's right, it is definitely a movie I wanted to see. It was fascinating. Some of the things they have seen with that telescope are out of this world (pun intended).

It was kind of sad when Alex said goodbye. The next time he see's Sydney she will be a five year old. Pretty crazy eh? Hayley will be older than Sydney is now. Brandon hit the road in the mid morning and had a very eventful trip. I'm not sure I can do his story justice but let me try. For the first time on Thursday they had noticed problems with their battery charging. They had plenty of power when the car was running so I assumed the alternator was fine and I just happened to have an old battery in my garage that I have used often for camping. It was a perfect fit so I put the battery in his car and it started perfectly.

Somewhere between Prim and Vegas he was getting quite drowsy so he pulled onto the side of the road and took a nap. After his nap he went to start his car and his battery was dead. With his car full of all his worldly possessions and a two year old that was pretty scary. He called me and let me know of his situation and then he decided to flag down a car to help boost his motor. He was about to give up when a huge, old, rusty, dented Cadillac full of Mexicans pulled over. When four very large men got out wearing "wife beaters" and lots of tattoo's Brandon began to worry just a little bit. One of them asked what was the matter and Brandon explained. When the guy began to translate for the other guys Brandon switched to Spanish and began talking to them. They were all instantly friends. They were very friendly and jovial and got Brandon's car started and on the way. At this point I began worrying that even though the alternator was powering the car it wasn't charging the battery. If the worst case scenario was true he would be stranded on the side of the road shortly after he turned on his lights. In the hopes that the alternator was working but just not charging I warned him not to turn off the car when he gassed up. He made it to Mesquite when the worst happened. Sydney had to go pee. He couldn't very well leave the car running so he parked it in a way that it would be easily boosted and Sydney did her thing. Sure enough the car wouldn't start but even boosting it wouldn't get it going. A local fellow was very helpful and told him where the only mechanic in town was and luckily he hadn't gone home yet.

It would be $50 to tow the car so Brandon pushed his car (with his worldly possession and two year old daughter) three blocks to the garage. Six hours and $500 later Brandon was back on the road. It's hard to know if we should be grateful that he wasn't stranded in the middle of nowhere or upset that his car broke down. For myself (and I think Brandon agree's) we're just glad there was a mechanic there on a Saturday night who was able to help. Saturday night was also Prom for Mt Carmel High School. Sarah was asked to go by Zach Sessions. She looked beautiful for the occasion and as always I took way too many pictures. Zach took her to Ruth Chris for dinner. I made sure she knew just how lucky she was to be able to go there. She had a lot of fun. After I kissed Sarah goodbye Alex and I went to watch the new Robin Hood movie. It was an excellent movie but not at all what I was expecting. They took quite a few liberties with the conventional "Robin Hood" plot line but I loved it just the same. The odd thing is that the movie ended right where the normal Robin Hood story begins. It was fun. Also Friday night I got a phone call from Bill Casper asking me to sub for the adult Sunday School class again. I've taught the class enough now that I'm starting to get a bit more comfortable doing it. I still prepare much harder than I normally do to teach a class but I'm starting to relax a little. I think my lesson went OK.

Tonight I went to a training meeting at the temple. I always love to go to the temple. They gave us all a Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD as a thank you for being there. I wasn't expecting that.

When men are in a small group that includes a very beautiful woman their stress levels as measure by their cortisol levels is equivalent to the stress felt when jumping out of an airplane.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Utah - day 3

Saturday was supposed to be another day to sleep in but Lisa doesn't seem able to remain in a bed after 7:00 plus we were going to meet the Crowley's for breakfast so I was in the shower by 7:30. We then headed to Alex's apartment and started packing him up. You'd think he would be able to do that himself but I guess he knew we wouldn't leave all his stuff in Utah so there we were packing. I use the term loosely, packing in this case meant that dirty clothes went in one garbage bag, clean clothes in another garbage bag, shoes in another one and then two totes holding everything else. It is an order of magnitude easier packing a boy than it is a girl. Kira and Alycia were nightmares compared to the boys. This big old house has been divided into five apartments. It looks like it was originally a duplex. Alycia and her husband live in the basement and Alex and four other guys live in the apartment on the right and the entire upstairs. It is a block from campus and very cheap.

Since Alex and Marie were late getting home from their late night movie we didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her. To make up for it Alex made arrangements to go by her house and say goodbye. They seemed quite happy to see each other. I like Marie. We then headed to Provo. After lunch at the "Creamery on 9th" we filled the car with a few gallons of wonderful BYU Creamery chocolate milk and then we headed to the Missionary Mall in Provo for a few more items of clothing. At the missionary mall they have a bunch of flags hanging on their walls. I figured it was pretty cool that the Belgium flag (my mission) was hanging right next to the Chile flag (Alex's mission). We then dropped off Mahonry's fridge and hit the road south.

At about 12:30 AM we were somewhere on the highway and everyone was asleep (except me of course but I was almost asleep) and Mom's phone rang. It was Ben bound and determined to be the first one to wish her a happy mothers day. You can always expect a phone call from Ben shortly after midnight on your birthday, Fathers day and Mothers day. We arrived in San Diego at 2:00AM and mom was so tired that when she unlocked the door and almost walked right into a little table that Sarah had set up by the front door. There on this little table was a necklace, a vase of flowers and a home made card from Sarah to her mother on mothers day. Sarah was in the middle of several exams so we decided it wouldn't be cool for her to miss three days of school so we left her with the Ellsworths. They have raised five boys and they're good friends of ours and Sarah loves them. They love Sarah too. They were delighted to have a girl and they've told us that they are unofficially adopting her as their daughter. Sarah jumped on us in bed much earlier than I wanted to get up on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Utah - day 2

Everyone was falling asleep Thursday night so we headed back to the hotel and went to bed fairly early. Trevor decided that he wasn't up to two long boring meetings (convocation and commencement) and was threatening not to go to either one of them. We some coercement we finally convinced him that he had to at least walk and receive his diploma so we could take lots of pictures. I was secretly glad that he didn't do the other long and boring meeting. It meant that I got to sleep in. Lisa finally convinced me that it was time to get up so we showered and dressed and headed to Alycia and Trevors house. Lisa had bought Trevor a gift on Thursday and we gave that to him on Friday. We gave him a nice frame for his diploma. That is the same gift that we gave Kira for her bachelors degree, Justin for his bachelors degree, Brandon for his bachelors degree, Serene for her bachelors degree, Kira for her masters degree and Justin for his Dental degree. Do you see a theme here? I think I know what Ben, Alycia and Brandon are getting next year. For a late breakfast Trevor suggested we go to this fancy Belgium Waffle / Friete place. I was very excited because I love the Frietes and Waffles in Belgium. When I saw the name of the place I was a bit disappointed because it was Bruges Waffles. Bruges is the French spelling for a city in Belgium and I was hoping the owner would be Flemish. The Flemish spelling would be Brugge. Everyone convinced me to go and talk to the guy anyway and I'm really glad I did. We spoke Dutch for quite a while and it was good to exercise my Dutch a bit. The Frietes and Waffles were delicious and pretty authentic. We'll be going back to that place. I was getting really excited when I noticed that they had Flemish Stew. That would be Stof Vlees in Dutch. It is a thick stew like sauce that you put on top of your Friets. Imagine my dismay when I learned that they only serve it in the winter. Now that I think about it, this place only had outside seating so where would you sit in the winter? I guess it must only be take out.

After breakfast we headed back to the Alyica and Trevors for a little while and then we dropped the cars off at the hotel and walked to the Huntsman center where the graduation was. It was a beautiful day and a great time to walk. That is good because when we picked Alex and Marie up the day before there were snow flakes falling. It was bitterly cold.

The graduation, as always was long and boring and we anxiously anticipated the 10 seconds when we would be able to cheer for Trevor as his name was called. It came and went so fast that we almost missed it. the stupid thing was that they had the graduates walk up and get their diplomas in a direction that put their backs to the audience. It was so stupid. I think I'm going to write someone a letter and tell them that if we're going to sit and wait for an hour and a half then we at least want to see their faces when they do it.

When I realized that we were only going to see Trevors backside I ran completely around the Huntsman center so I was on the opposite side where I could take pictures of his face. It was funny after Trevor got his diploma he headed back to the seats but then when he should have turned into the isle he went straight on up the stairs. Everyone thought he had enough of the place and he was bolting. I was heading back to sit with Lisa so I followed him out of the hall to make sure he didn't take off. Luckily he was only getting a drink.

Following the mandatory pictures and all we decided to go to Tucans for dinner. You've got to like Tucans, it is all you can eat meat. They cook all different kinds of things on skewers and bring them around to your table. They have several cuts of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, turkey, pineapples (perhaps my favorite), vegetables, and a lot more that I'm forgetting. I was still full from breakfast but did my best to get my moneys worth.

After dinner Alex and Marie headed off to have their final date (the new Iron Man movie) and then have their final good bye.

Meanwhile we went back to Alycia and Trevors and made small talk for a while until once again everyone was falling asleep at which point it was back to the hotel room and a nice warm bed.

1 out of every 5 American meals are eaten in a car.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Utah - day 1

There are so many things I need to talk about that I can’t possibly do this all in one posting. I'll spare you the long discourse and break it up into several smaller ones. We went to Utah this week to pick up Alex and bring him home but also to celebrate Trevor’s graduation with him. Let me brag a little bit for him, he was able to graduate magna cum laude. I believe that means that he graduated in the top 2% of his school but what ever it means, Alycia will testify that it means he spent a lot of time studying.

I went into work on Wednesday morning to participate in a conference call with Germany and then we hit the I-15 heading north. Because of a late start we didn’t pull into Sanchez’s until 2:00 AM. We have a pretty good deal going with the Sanchez’s. We both make out but somehow I think we get the better end of the deal. Mahonry spends a lot of time in San Diego where his company’s main office is and any time he is in town he stays with us. Then when ever we are in Utah we stay with the Sanchez’s. The funny thing is that on this trip Mahonry stayed in our empty house with no one there and we were in Utah. We called ahead and let Molly know how late we were going to be and she left a key out for us. I remember one time we all ended up at the Sanchez’s. Kira and Evan were in town, Alycia and Trevor came out to visit Ben happened to be in town and Brandon and Serene were there. I’m sure we kind of overwhelmed them but they are good and made us all feel welcome. The one person I would really like to thank is Laurel. It is her bed we usually end up taking over. Wednesday we headed in and picked up Alex. He was at his girlfriend’s house. This was the first time I got to meet Marie McConkie. She is a very nice girl. She pretty much spent the entire time with us until her and Alex had to say goodbye on Friday night. That is the last time she will see him for at least two years. How sad. We then went up to the University of Utah library and viewed the Frederick Kesler chest. I believe I explained the chest once before but Lisa’s ancestor Frederick Kesler built a chest where he stored a bunch of his memento’s. All of his journals were in it along with his Nauvoo legion sword, a couple of canes, some books including a first edition of the doctrine and covenants and odd little things like pebbles from the Jordan River and dirt from his family farm. Marie’s mother met us there as well because she is interested in some of these things. Perhaps the coolest thing that we saw was a hand written original page from the book of Mormon. I’ve seen photocopies of this before but this time I was able to see the original. It is strange to look at it and to think that Joseph Smith dictated the words that were written on that page. They were quite faded but for the most part, still legible. Interestingly they don’t know who the scribe was for that page. It wasn’t any of the common scribes like Oliver Cowdry or Sidney Rigdon, he is referred to as the unknown scribe.

After checking out the chest we headed up to Alycia's office. She looks quite professional sitting at her desk. By this time Alycia was nearly done work so we waited until she could come and off we headed to Mr. Mac's. That is where we bought most of Alex's mission supplies. After we had everything loaded into the car Alex says, "I've never had so many clothes in my life". He was quite correct too. Two suits, eight pairs of pants, ten shirts, a coat, two pairs of shoes and it goes on and on. By this time we were all ready for some food. One of our favorite places to go to in Provo is the "Brick Oven". They have other stuff too but our favorite is their bottomless root beer and pizza. It was late when we finally got back to our hotel. Lisa checked out all the hotels in the area and was quite surprised to learn that one of the cheapest hotels is right on campus. That is very convenient for a graduation because parking is such a night mare. This way we can just walk from our hotel room. We had a great view of the city too.