The Lizzard Zone

Welcome to the Lizzard Zone, the web home for the latest on me and my family. I'm Lizzard, a technology loving Deafie. I'm married to Fox, the cutest ASL teacher in the world. We have a 11 year old son (Jake), a 9 year old daughter (Marisol), and a 5 year old son (Cody). Cosmo, our tuxedo cat, keeps life interesting with his antics. For more on any of us, click the buttons on the left.

(22 May 2017)

Eight years ago tonight was the first hospital stay I can remember. Being admitted there was the start of 25 hours of a wild emotional rollercoaster, culminating in the birth and death of our twins. My husband commented recently that we've now lived more of our married life after we lost the twins. That's so weird to think about. What was once the 'new normal' is now just 'normal'. I can't say that the pain has lessened each year or anything like that. It's more like an injury that has scarred over. I no longer dwell on them every waking moment, perhaps because I've since gotten busy with three other kids, but I absolutely miss them. I often wonder what their personalities are like. I say 'are' because I know that their spirits live on. I know that I will someday be reunited with them. It could very well be that I became acquainted with one or both of them in the premortal existance but that I simply can't remember that while in mortality myself. I like to think that they are very aware of the happenings in their family, including the recent adoption of two of their siblings.

In the meantime, tomorrow is their birthday and I just want to shout out to cyberspace that I love and miss my boys very much. They are not forgotten.

(18 May 2017)

Who needs tv when you've got kids?

That's a quote from my husband one day, said in response to a thrilling tale of something strange one of the kids did. It's true that kids can be quite entertaining -- and sometimes very frustrating -- and parenthood is best endured with a big dose of a sense of humor.

In 5th grade around here, the kids get to go on a 4-day, 3-night field trip to "Outdoor School" which Jake has been anticipating. Unfortunately, his behavior over this school year has been less than stellar, culminating in us actually taking that trip away from him. However, we are nice parents and do want him to do the fun stuff, so we gave him the opportunity to earn it back. Every day, for 5 weeks, we would discuss his behavior and assign it as 'red' (bad) or 'green' (good). If he could get 18 green days, he would be allowed to go. It wasn't until he was very close to getting 18 red days that he really started putting some effort into it -- and the difference was absolutely incredible. He was so pleasant to be around. Family time was FUN! Our stress levels were lower. Jake even commented on how much better it felt when he chose to behave. Amazingly, he managed to get the 18 green days. The very next morning, however, he made some very poor choices when it came to his behavior. Since he'd earned the trip, we weren't going to take that away (lest he be unable to trust us), but there was something terribly ironic in having a conversation with him that was basically "You were good and earned the trip, but you are grounded until then." Oy.

The icing on the cake though was today. Earlier, he made the realization that he would miss the fun events this weekend, as part of being grounded. We have a policy in our family that if you misbehave, you miss fun activities. So, at bedtime, Jake innocently asked Dad to let him know when fun things are coming so Jake will know to behave. Wait, what? Does he really not understand that we expect him to always behave (though he is human and will flub up from time to time)??? Fortunately, Dad was able to explain the need for constant good behavior since opportunities for fun things are sometimes unannounced and spontaneous.

Kids are fun, aren't they?

(8 May 2017)

As independent as I like to be, there's something special about knowing that my husband will come to my rescue if needed. While transporting two foster kids to our house for a weekend visit, a brand new tire blew. No one was hurt though we all were more than a little surprised. Using the videophone app on my phone, I was able to call my husband and let him know what was happening. As I'd predicted, he offered to divert our kids from bed to the car and come to help, especially since we were only a few miles away. While I can change a tire myself, I was grateful to have the help, especially with those tight lug nuts!! In addition, my husband is very smart and thought to toss the bicycle pump into his car on the way out of the driveway. Turns out that the spare was flat so without the pump, we'd have been stranded for a lot longer than we were. Overall, I felt very special, loved by my knight in ... dirty SUV.

We all have our little quirks. One of Jake's is that he often doesn't listen very closely. It can lead to some hilarious (or frustrating, depending on the mood) conversations.

Dad: (listing off events this weekend)... and then Mother's Day.
Jake: On Monday?
Dad: I didn't say anything about Monday.
Cody: (concerned) I thought Mother's Day was Sunday!
Dad: Easter is always on a Sunday. Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. What day was Mother's Day on last year?
Jake:...
Dad: I'll give you a hint. We were in church.
Jake: April?
Cody: Sunday!!

(3 May 2017)

Fourteen years ago, I married my best friend. Since then, life has given us both ups and downs, but there's no one I'd rather have with me for the ride. He's the calming influence when I'm hot-headed, the voice of reason when I'm riled. My constant support and shoulder I can cry on when I'm sad. His quick wit brings a dose of humor, almost daily. He's a wonderful dad to our children. Here's to many more years together! It feels like he's always been in my life, even though the truth is he's been in it less than half. Maybe that's just because of how much of an integral part of my life he has become. I love him so much and, equally as important, I know that he loves me.

Collage of wedding and honeymoon pictures

(25 April 2017)

Due to spring break last month, the normal Cub Scout pack meeting was not held. As such, it wasn't until today that Jake received his Arrow of Light.

Jake putting pin on Mom's lanyard Jake receiving his arrow

Cody has been showing an interest in my Rubik's cubes. Earlier this month, he learned how to identify which pieces need to be where to fix the top layer, though he can't actually do those moves yet. He'll point to one and say "Mom, this needs to go there..." and wait for me to do it. So, when I came across this item in the toy department the other day, I had to get it for him. He loves it and can actually solve it most of the time. At dinner today, he told me that he actually solved one case that had been puzzling him. "I did Mom! I really did!!" he said, with evident pride.

Rubik's bear

(20 April 2017)

We spread Mikey's ashes at the Oregon coast this morning. We knew that we wanted just me and my husband present, so we took advantage of the kids being in school and each took the day off. As we drove to the beach, the rain was coming down. We were reminded of day he proposed when, as we got to the location we had chosen, the rain stopped. We walked along the beach a ways until we found a place we liked. I gingerly poured the ashes onto the sand as the sun came out. We stood there for several minutes, watching the waves start to disperse the ashes, each deep in thought. When we walked back to the car, a sprinkle of rain started to fall. By the time we got into the car, it was a downpour. I guess our timing was perfect.

We chose the beach because Mikey loved it so much. To clarify: he loved the sand, not the water. I find it mildly ironic that his ashes are being spread by the very water he so often avoided. Oh well, that's what happens at the beach. Here are a few of my favorite "Mikey at the beach" pictures...

Mikey chasing Fox on the beach Mikey on the beach

(18 April 2017)

If dogs don't go to heaven, then I want to go wherever they go.

It's been a full four weeks since we said goodbye to Mikey. Some days it feels like life is moving on. Other days, it feels as if a dog-shaped chunk has been ripped from my still-beating heart which was then left to bleed out. I know, I know we did the right thing and that Mikey's spirit is pain-free and running around somewhere. I know death is a part of life and that when my time comes to pass through that portal, Mikey will probably be there to greet me, tail wagging. I remind myself of the many fun times and experiences over the years. While I feel a fair amount of grief and pain now, I don't think I would not get him if I could go back in time. There were too many good and fun experiences that I would have missed out on! I think part of the pain is that, for several years, Mikey pretty much was like our kid, especially when it seemed our family was slow to grow. Mikey was a huge comforting influence when we lost our twins. He stuck close when I was sick while pregnant with Cody. And a million other things. It's hard to lose that, even if it was in his best interest.

(16 April 2017)

We had breakfast for dinner tonight. At one point, I left the table for a while (chasing kids to bed maybe since it was late?). When I returned, I was surprised to find my uneaten egg and ham still on the plate. Somehow, I apparently thought Mikey would have eaten it. Sigh.

(15 April 2017)

Cody told me that today should be one of the best days of my life because it's my birthday AND it is Saturday. So cute. My family did pretty much let me do what I wanted, which was very nice. I had an interesting thought at one point during the day. When my mom was my age, I was in high school. A few years later, we went on a trip to see BYU. I remember thinking she was "so old" -- but I think my perspective has changed a bit.

The kids were really excited for me to open up their presents -- a variety of unique Rubik's-cube type puzzles. As soon as I'd open one, it was immediately borrowed and messed up. I think we'll be having fun with these for a long time to come.

Solved wheel cube Messed up wheel cube

Wheel Cube: This thing is interesting in that there are two rows for some colors and three rows for others.
Corner pieces do not need to have all three colors!

Circle cube

2x3x3 pie shape: Looks simple, right?

Gear cube

Gear Cube: All moves must be 180 degrees. 90 degree moves lock this up.

Solved rhomboid cube Messed up rhomboid cube

Diansheng Moren Rhomboid: I'm not even sure how to put this one into words.

(11 April 2017)

"No one can truly understand why dogs are called 'man's best friend' until they have experienced the loss of one"

I'm really missing Mikey today.
Heart in pieces

(5 April 2017)

I can't believe I forgot to mention that Mikey always wanted to be the center of attention. If people were gathered to talk, he was always in the middle of the room, unless someone had food. Then he checked that out first. Whenever we tried to play a game on the floor, it was a battle to keep Mikey off of the board. Eventually we learned we just had to play games on the table.

(3 April 2017)

Cody likes to mess up my Rubik's cube and then give it to me to solve. As soon as I solve it, he messes it up again, with the biggest grin on his face. Today, while we were playing this game, I mentioned that I would love to teach him how to solve it someday. He wanted to start immediately, so we spent a few minutes learning how to identify where each corner piece of the selected color should go. He used the pattern of colors to start telling me where the middle pieces should go. He can't do the moves yet, but he knows where each piece of the starting layer go... after only about 20 minutes. I thought that was pretty cool.

(31 March 2017)

Obviously I don't normally put an update on here on a daily basis, but I'm finding it to be sort of therapeutic. I promise I'm not actually as depressed as I may sound... I just miss my buddy.

But, I'm still learning more about CSS and other cool stuff for making cool webpages. I made a small edit to the pictures on this page which I think looks great, but the big changes will be part of an overall site redesign that is in progress. I'm still trying to visualize what layout I want, but I have a few ideas.

(30 March 2017)

For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

We got Mikey's ashes back this morning. My husband did the actual pickup, perhaps because he wasn't sure I could handle it. So it was in my room that I got to see the box which contains all that physically remains of my precious dog. It's amazing how small it actually is. In life, he weighed 70 pounds, but a lot of that is water which would have evaporated during the cremation process. What was more touching, though, was that my husband had been clearheaded enough that day to order a special plaque with Mikey's paw print and name. We will keep that in a special place.

It's still hard to believe that he's gone. When I sit on the floor, I keep expecting him to come in and plop down beside me. He loved to sleep with his back against my leg. I've had to catch myself several times as I've been about to ask a child to "feed the animals" and change it to "feed the cat." Cody dropped some food the other day and then commented that it was sad we didn't have a dog to come clean it up as Mikey would always have tried to do. But I am glad that his suffering is over.

I thought of a few more memories:

  • Mikey loved the "magic window" -- any fast food drive-up window. He'd jump up on the back seat and whine until we opened the back window. Then he turned on the charm, full blast. More often than not, the worker would say something like "Awww, what a cute dog! Can I give him a treat?" One day, the folks at KFC ran out of the dog treats, so they gave him a piece of popcorn chicken instead. Mikey didn't complain a bit.
  • When taking Mikey to Doggy Daycare, my husband would sing this little song that he made up. He'd get just a few notes into it and Mikey would be jumping all around with excitement. Granted, sometimes he did that even before the song. I don't know the tune to the song but the words went something like "It's doggy daycare day. It's Mikey's favorite day. And it's doggy daycare daaaaaay. And it's Mikey's favorite daaaaaaaay. Yay!!"
  • At the old house, Mikey would watch the world through the fence. It was one of those fences where you could only really look through two boards at an angle, but he figured out how to do it.
  • He was terrified of my husband's remote control car. He would go hide behind the chair -- until we started putting dog treats on it. Then Mikey would follow it around, from a safe distance, until it stopped or the treat fell off. Then the treat was snapped up.

(28 March 2017)

My husband said it best today: "What a roller coaster of emotions!" A week ago, we were drowning in grief over the passing of our beloved dog. Today, we had an experience that was sweet and exhilarating. We were able to take our children to the temple so Jake and Marisol could be sealed to us, to forever become part of our eternal family. Cody was able to go as an observer, so we were all there. In addition, we had several family members and dear friends in attendance, which made it all the sweeter.

Afterwards, we were able to take some pictures while we were all still in our white clothes. The one I love best is of the three kids.
Jake, Marisol and Cody in white clothes and big smiles

(24 March 2017)

Be still, my soul; Thy best, thy heavn'ly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Just a few more Mikey memories...

  • Mikey once chewed through the power cord for a lamp -- while it was still plugged into the wall. It was a good thing that my husband heard the sparking before a fire started...
  • His bladder was huge, about three times normal for a dog his size.

(23 March 2017)

Obviously I can't list 14 years of memories here, but at dinner tonight, we mostly shared our positive memories of Mikey. The kids had some but the bulk of it was my husband and I sharing some with the kids, as we had many more years with Mikey to make those memories. Here are some of them.

  • We took Mikey to a 'dog day' at the pool once, to see if we could get him to into the water if he saw the other dogs enjoying it. At one point, I was on one side of the pool with my husband at the other. Mikey heard my husband call him (the intent being to lure Mikey into the pool to swim across) so he walked all the way around the pool with a "You called?" expression. Then he found the door that led outside and played in the sand instead.
  • Mikey's name sign was based on the word 'hyper', which was a perfect description for most of his life.
  • He loved to go to the dog park. He'd always poop within the first minute or two and then go play. One day, he was running full speed and basically T-boned another dog who had been running perpendicular to Mikey's path. The resulting yelp got everyone's attention (except mine but I was already watching). Amazingly, both dogs were fine.
  • My husband's grandmother made a gourmet sub-style sandwich one day when we were visiting. We didn't know that until Mikey came out of her room, holding said sandwich like a prize in his mouth, tail wagging fiercely. "Look what I found!!" Oh, we were so embarrassed. Fortunately, Grandma wasn't too upset.
  • Whenever the sun would shine, Mikey wanted to bask in it. At the apartment, he'd beg to be let out onto the deck and then complain if we made him come in, which we did when the downstairs neighbor was out smoking. At the house, he had a few favorite places to lay in the grass. One was by the back fence. One was near the house, kind of by a gate. How he didn't burn up considering he was wearing a black fur coat will forever remain a mystery to me.
  • He had short black and white fur, which was fairly coarse. Except for his head. The fur on his head, especially behind his ears, was soooo soft.
  • He loved to just "be with." He'd usually curl up next to my chair if I was reading a book or under the desk if I was on my computer. He's often lay on my husband's feet. At dinnertime, he was almost always laying under the table.
  • When we took Mikey on the Youth Trek, our group somehow didn't have enough water. We all got mighty thirsty as we hiked under the bright summer sun. Unlike the rest of us who just had to deal with it until we arrived at Camp, Mikey was happily (and noisily) drinking from every stream along the way. We were very jealous of him that day.
  • The day I brought him home from the shelter, he chewed through his leash in under a minute. Fortunately, I was able to get a chain one. He chewed on it once and decided to leave it alone after that.
  • When we were visiting Fort Stevens, we explored an old WWII bunker. Some friends and I climbed some stairs in one area. My husband tried to stay downstairs with Mikey since there was a stair missing and was rather steep for a dog, but Mikey wasn't having any of that. "Where Lizzard goes, I go!" was his motto... so up he came!
  • I lived in an apartment on the 2nd floor when I first got Mikey. The stairs leading up to the apartment were the kind where you can see through the vertical spacings. Mikey was terrified of that! For the first few weeks, I could only get him to go up the stairs by holding a treat in front of his nose. Then he didn't seem to mind it. He never minded going down, just going up. The office of the apartment complex kept dog treats handy, so Mikey would get one whenever I needed to pick up a box or pay the rent. When we took our walks at other times, he'd always try to lead me back to the office, even if they were closed for the night.
  • Mikey was very smart. He'd walk quickly at the start of his walks, stopping only if he absolutely needed it. When we turned around to start heading home, that's when he'd stop to smell every blade of grass, trying to make the walk last as long as possible. Except when it rained. Then he would pee once and try to convince us that was enough.
  • When my then-boyfriend wanted to propose, he asked to bring Mikey with us to the Oregon Coast... knowing that Mikey would eagerly go up the big sand dune, forcing us to follow. The place where he wanted to propose was up there and needed a good excuse to get me to climb the thing. In the time it took us to climb up once, Mikey bounded up and down several times. Well, not the whole way. He'd go up a ways and then come down to where we were and then race up again, as if to make sure we were still following.
  • For a while, we had to put mousetraps on the couch to keep Mikey from climbing up and sleeping there. At first, they had to be set so they would 'snap'. Later, we could set the disarmed trap there and accomplish the same purpose. We also had to put mousetraps on the bottom branches of the Christmas tree to keep Mikey from getting too close and knocking it over.
  • In Colorado, he went on a hike with us to the Continental Divide. He easily covered twice as many miles as the rest of us since he would wander off to sniff this or that and then come back. At the end, while we were waiting for our ride back to camp, Mikey fell sound asleep -- in a ditch.
  • Mikey liked to squat on a bush when he went poop... as if the bush was a toilet or something. We never understood why.
I miss him so much.

(22 March 2017)

A line that Marius says in Les Miserables has been going through my mind over the last 24 hours. There's a grief that can't be spoken. There's a pain goes on and on.

Yesterday was really hard, I'm not going to lie. After we came home, I tried to sleep for a few hours because I didn't feel like doing anything else. Then I played video games, allowing myself to get lost in another world. We took the kids out to Sonic for dinner since we didn't feel like cooking and we all sort of grieved together. The older kids still felt like going to Scouts and Activity Days, so I took them there. After putting them to bed, it was back to the video games. Then I played some more this morning. I guess that's just part of how I grieve -- I hide and process it little by little. I have to admit that it felt kind of therapeutic being able to whack the living daylights out of a bunch of animated bad guys without causing any actual damage to anything.

One thing that has helped has been remembering some of the fun times and Mikey's little quirks. Here are a few, including some my mom reminded me about.

  • When he lay on his bed, he would often sleep with his head hanging off the side. It always looked terribly uncomfortable but he would always do it!
  • He loved to open presents, like for birthdays or Christmas. He was always very good about leaving the presents under the tree until Christmas morning though.
  • Whenever an egg was cracked, he would come running. Actually, I thought about making eggs for breakfast this morning but couldn't bring myself to face that one yet.
  • Popcorn! When the air popper would run, Mikey would sit and wait for any kernels which missed the bowl, or the ones that got knocked out of the bowl by a popping kernel.
  • Whenver anyone would come to visit, Mikey would try to get his nose into their suitcase to search for any goodies... and we'd find chocolate wrappers around later. Never enough to hurt him though.
  • "I have to go outside!!!" turning to "Never mind!" when he realized it was pouring rain.
  • Dishwashers: Not once but TWICE Mikey managed to get a dishwasher rack stuck on his collar while trying to lick scraps off of dinner dishes. The first time was in our apartment. Forkes, knives, spoons, and everything else was flying everywhere before he shook himself loose. The second time was at our house. This time, I managed to grab the rack while he was flailing around and help get it loose, but I did get a scar for my efforts.
  • He drank his water very loudly. We had Deaf visitors who would suddenly stop signing and ask what the weird noise was when Mikey started getting a drink nearby.
  • He hated the water, usually only going into a stream up to his ankles, if at all. We were at the beach one day when we met another black dog. The two of them played and ran around until we weren't exactly sure from a distance which one was Mikey. Then one ran to the ocean, and we knew ours was the one running away from it. On a youth Trek we went on, Mikey found a tree over a stream that he used to cross rather than fording it like the rest of us. Exactly how he got up on that fallen log I'll never know, but he didn't seem the least bit concerned about falling off.
  • He loved going to Doggy Daycare. Somehow, he'd always know when it was Friday. If it was a holiday, such as Thanksgiving, he would get ticked that we weren't taking him to play. He's probably the client they've had coming the longest. He went up until the end of January, stopping only when he could not get up unassisted anymore.
  • Mikey loved to watch the world go by. He spent hours sitting by the window, with his chin on the windowsill, just keeping tabs on everything.
  • At the old house, he had an interesting way of sitting on the stairs. He'd be at the point where the stairs turned 90 degrees. He'd sit with his butt there but his front legs would actually be down on the next step.
  • Mikey was the most treat-motivated animal I've ever seen. He would do anything for a treat. He didn't like baths, so we'd have to put treats in the shower to entice him to get in. If we walked away a little bit, in he'd go, even though he had to have known we would hurry back and slide the shower door shut, thus trapping him inside.
  • Whenever we would have a soft bed out, such as for sleeping near the Christmas tree or leftover from a slumber party, we could be sure that Mikey was going to lay on it. I remember one night at Girls' Camp. He and I were sharing a tent. When we went in for the night, he claimed my sleeping bag. That was fine while I was getting things organized but when I tried to move him to the soft Mikey-sized bed I'd created right next to me, he looked at me like I was crazy.
  • He loved ear rubs and being scratched at the base of his tail.
  • He was quite protective of Cody, always staying nearby. There are very few pictures from Cody's first year that don't have Mikey in them. If he wasn't in the picture, I guarantee he was nearby.
  • He was never very fond of the cat, but he was forever trying to get into the kitty litter, so we had to creatively block off his access - at least until we got a Cat Genie.
  • I loved Mikey's tail. He'd walk around with it up and it would curve over his back, with a bend or hook a few inches from the end, so it would point down to his back.
  • Back to the treats... if we gave him a treat one evening, he would expect it the next. It was so hard sometimes to resist giving in to his begging for one, especially when he looked at me with those eyes.
  • Doorbells: He could watch us push the button for the doorbell and still bark like crazy...
  • Mikey did not fear or respect the vacuum cleaner in any way, shape or form. We could vacuum right next to him and he wouldn't move a muscle.
  • At the old house, whenever Mikey got spooked (such as during the annual Air Show that brought jets zooming right over our house), he would hide in the bathroom. Yep, the bathroom. That's where we would find him, quivering like a leaf.
  • Not too many people know this but he had seizures sometimes. Shortly after our twins died, he had the first one that we saw. It was very scary and I was terrified we were losing him. Still reeling emotionally from the death of our sons, I prayed fervently, asking that he would be ok because I couldn't stand losing him so soon after burying the twins. He survived, obviously. He had a few more over the years but the best we can guess is that it was some kind of epilepsy.
  • He had a bit of a mischievious streak, especially when he was young. The first afternoon that I brought Mikey home from the shelter, he chewed through his leash while I was on the phone. Not long after, he started chewing up my bedding whenever he could. One day, I set mousetraps and placed them on the blankets. Then I went into the bathroom to see if he would trigger the trap. I peeked underneath the bathroom door just in time to see his paws jump away from the bed... and thus ended that habit of his. Don't worry - the mousetraps didn't hurt him. They just startled him when they snapped.
  • He loved to sleep in his kennel -- as long as the door was removed.
  • He had a sensitive trachea, so we used a Gentle Leader which went over his snout rather than connecting the leash to his collar.
  • He would sleep in until whichever of us adults got up last actually got up. He'd look at the first one to get up with expressions that seemed to communicate "what are you doing up?", regardless of what time it actually was.
  • He had one episode with fleas. I only mention it because he had the strangest reaction to them. You know that feeling when a shiver goes down your spine? That's the best description of how fleas bothered him. He just kept doing that spine shiver thing.
  • When he did the "play dead" trick (or "bang" as we called it, as if shooting a gun), his tail would almost always wag. So here was this 'dead' dog with a wildly waving tail. Other tricks he knew were sit, stay, lay down, spin in a circle, shake (which he always did with his right paw), "shake the other paw", and "Get Lizzard" (as in 'get her attention')
While he loved everyone in our family, I'm pretty sure he felt a special bond with me. A few weeks ago, I went to Utah for a few days. When I came back, I greeted everyone. Mikey was so excited to see me that he couldn't wait for me to come to him. He tried so hard to pull himself up so he could come to me. Needless to say, I went to him and gave him all the love I could. Maybe that's what I'll miss most - the eager greetings when I come home.

(21 March 2017)

Mikey, our 16-year-old black lab mix, passed away this morning. He's been my buddy and confidant for 14 1/2 years. I already miss him greatly but I know that he's running free in the spirit world now, free of the physical pains and limitations that his aging body was dealing with. He had a good long life, most of which was with us. He loved to sit in the sunshine and hated the rain, which is weird for black labs. He would do anything for a treat. I can't really sum up 14 years in a few words, but I'll just say that I'm very grateful that I had him in my life. Cody said it best when he said his goodbye: "Bye Mikey. I'll miss you and love you."
A younger Mikey, basking in the sun

(24 February 2017)

Today, I have the opportunity to spend a few hours on BYU's campus. I have so many memories of this place. So many. Stressing about tests. Hours spent with my friends (many of whom I'm am still in contact with). Hiking up the hill by Helaman Halls to get to campus. Watching football games. Learning ASL. Learning how to snowboard. Hurridly cleaning the apartment for the monthly cleaning checks. Countless hours spent in the engineering computer lab. Sitting in the front row of the Marriott Center for weekly Devotionals, especially when a General Authority or Apostle came to speak. My first visit. Logging into my email account for the first time and finding an email from my Mom -- which happens to be the first one she ever sent! Ice cream and chocolate milk from the Creamery. My first trip to the temple to do baptisms, since there was no temple in Anchorage at the time. My senior project. Having three different roommates my freshman year. Watching as "the pit" transformed into an underground extension of the library. Reading the email from Intel with the offer of an internship. Doing Phantom of the Opera as a signed song with my best friend. Too many tests in the Testing Center. ASL Club. Graduation. And so many more. I am so thankful for the privilege I had of being a student here.

But has it really been 15 years since I graduated? 20 since I first set foot on campus? It hardly seems possible. But as I look around, some things have certainly changed. Deseret Towers is gone, as is the walkway that used to connect the Law Building to just outside the WILK Student Center. Some other construction projects are in progress. The SFLC has been completely redone, and apparently so have the Heritage Halls dorms. Off campus, the Albertson's that I would shop at is now a Walmart. The dollar movie theater is closing. The University Mall seems to have greatly expanded. Some of the offerings at the Cougareat are the same but some are much different. Perhaps the most telling indication of how times have changed: the number of laptops/computing devices that I see. When I first came here, laptops were big and heavy as bricks. There were not a lot of places to plug them in to get internet access. Now they are commonplace, and connected to wifi. There is even a guest network, to which I'm currently connected... checking my work email.

While part of me longs to be back here, among the students that I see, mostly I'm glad that I'm done with school. :-)

(8 February 2017)

Running season is upon us. Last summer, I ran my first full marathon. I did a 10k event in the fall and then ended up taking some time off from running. Life happens. I've been trying to get back into it but was kind of floundering without much of a goal. I'm debating if I want to do all that training again and do a second marathon this year, with my brother-in-law who is tackling his first. Oddly enough, it was an Uberthons challenge to run 500 miles during 2017 that seems to have helped me find my motivation again. They do have an option where you just do 25 hours on the crosstrainer (30 minutes = 10 miles they say) but that wouldn't be nearly as satisfying to me. So, that's my new goal. 500 miles. Realizing that I missed my workouts for several days in January (snow days, work responsibilities, and other stuff like that), I'm coming a little late to the game but it is certainly possible.

To that end, I've signed up for a 5k series: 4 5k runs held throughout the year. Two years ago, I did the half marathon series, so this could be considered a step down but considering that I haven't really run in months, I think it's just right. My older children have both expressed an interest in running with me sometimes, so I challenged them to be ready to run a 5k in March with me. I'm absolutely positive they'll have to take walking breaks, but I'm looking forward to doing that run with them. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition.

P.S. The kids had their 10th snow day of the year earlier this week...

(30 January 2017)

It's been said that we should never stop learning. At work last year, I made a simple webapp to automate a redundant and somewhat boring task. It was enough to remind me that I've had a desire to learn more about web design but hadn't gotten around to actually doing it yet. I have a lynda.com subscription through work so I've been taking a few classes, in increments of about 30 minutes or so since that's about all the free time I have any one time (see previous posts about having three kids running around at home). I just finished one on CSS, which deals with the presentation of web pages (fonts, sizes, colors, and a lot more), which was something I've been wanting to learn about for years! Now I just want to play with it! No, not just play. I feel compelled to experiment, so you'll probably notice the look and feel changing a bit as I make tweaks and edits. Eventually I want to do an overhaul of this site to make it look a little less 'homemade' but there are another few classes I want to finish first.

(23 January 2017)

The annual Cub Scout pinewood derby is upon us. This year, the troop is letting anyone who wants to race a car for fun do so after the boys are done. So, Marisol and Cody have both been excited about building cars. Dad showed Marisol how to use the sander, so she spent a good part of the evening using it to get her car into just the right shape. At one point, I saw her doing that while Jake was washing dishes in the kitchen. I love how my kids are learning stuff that, in years past, would have been for the "opposite gender". Jake is learning to do housework and Marisol is learning how to use power tools. It made me smile.

It's been a wild month for school. The kids had school cancelled for 9 of 17 consecutive school days (starting from the first snow day back in December). As much as I love my kids, I was pretty darn happy to see the school bus finally come again last Wednesday morning. I can only take working from sitting on the floor in my room for so long...

I hope you enjoy the slightly new look of this page. I'm slowly working on redesigning the page. :-)

(10 January 2017)

Today, we had the privilege of having the adoption finalized for our older children. When we first went into the courtroom, Cody wasn't sure if he wanted to sit with the rest of us (who were in the front as participants) or not, but the judge said he could sit wherever he wanted. He eventually came and sat in my lap, so the whole family was there at the table. The lawyer asked a few questions to verify that we knew the adoption would be permanent and then the judge signed the papers. Cody immediately blurted out "I have a new brother and sister!" which made the judge smile. We later went to a celebratory dinner to the Old Spaghetti Factory - while it was snowing outside. The kids now have a snow day tomorrow (after having one on Monday and missing school for their court appearance today). Such a hard life. ;-)

So, world, please welcome Jake and Marisol to cyberspace and our family.

Family with the judge

Adoption announcement
Click to see a bigger version.

The 4th quarter pics are posted. These actually include Jake and Marisol since I no longer am forbidden from putting pictures of them up on the net.

(7 January 2017)

It's hard to believe that it is already 2017, and that we are already a week into that! My mom and her husband came down to spoil the grandkids... I mean visit which was enjoyed by all, especially Cody. Since he's not in kindergarten yet, he had the chance to have the grandparents all to himself for a while every day after the older kids had to go back to school. Here's a basic update on what is going on with all of us:

  • Fox: The love of my life broke his little toe shortly after the New Year started, by being accidentally kicked by the heel of a child who didn't want to go to bed. Not exactly the stellar start to 2017 that he was hoping for but he's improving day by day. He is still teaching ASL at the high school as well as one class at the local college.
  • Lizzard: I just passed my 15th anniversary with Intel, so I have two more years in which to take my second sabbatical. We're thinking about a trip around the world just for me and Fox, assuming grandparents are willing to help take care of the grandkids, but nothing official yet. I'm managing to watch some CSS and other web development classes online so I'll be applying some of those new learnings to this website during the year, or at least that's the plan.
  • Jammer: He is in 5th grade. He played soccer in the fall and is playing basketball currently. He earned his Webelos rank in Cub Scouts already and is ~75% done with earning his Arrow of Light. Just a few more things to do before his birthday...
  • Applejack: She is in 3rd grade. She recently discovered chess and has been eagerly attending the Chess Club at school. After being quite hesitant to read during the first several months with us, she's now found with her nose in a book more often than not, which is awesome. When she's not reading, she's doing some kind of an art project. I am in awe of her creativity.
  • Cody: Cody is 5 years old, which he happily announces to anyone who asks. He loves trains and construction equipment -- and the Robot Turtles game that he got for Christmas. His favorite food is spaghetti, which he says he would eat every day for dinner if we let him. He will go to great lengths to protect his spaghetti, including taking the noodles to the barbershop so his siblings can't eat them while he's gone.
  • Mikey: Amazingly, Mikey is still with us. He's 15 (almost 16!) years old. His health has been declining a bit in the last 6 months or so, but he's hanging in there. It's sometimes hard for him to walk and we think he can't hear very well anymore, but there is nothing wrong with his nose. He can find treats anywhere.
  • Cosmo: Our cute kitty is approaching 8 and is as adorable as ever. For a cat, he's amazingly social. Lately, he's decided to find whoever is sitting on the reclining couch and curl up in their lap for hours on end. So...warm...

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Don't I have a cute family?
Family picture