Archive for the Category ◊ Family ◊

15 Mar 2009 Bachelorhood stinks
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The wife and kiddies have been in San Diego since Thursday and won’t be back until Tuesday late. Although there are moments I enjoy the solitude, I openly admit I miss them terribly. In fact, and this will likely be a shocker to anyone that knows me, I cried the first night they were gone.

Perhaps there’s some of you who now think, “What’s the big deal, baby? They’ll be back!” And yes, it’s true, they’ll be back – but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, now. Once the screaming/yelling/fighting and such starts up, here at home again, I may need an occasional reminder about what, precisely, I missed — but right now, anyway, the silence is deafening.

09 Mar 2009 Family gathering
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I’m down at my folks house in Saratoga Springs. I’m not sure exactly how many munchkins there are running around, but I bet my grandparents feel every jostle, scream, and noise! Hehe. Dinner was nice. I’m not looking forward to the drive back home, though, given the near-whiteout conditions – maybe it will clear up some before we leave.

What I wanted to highlight, though, is the cotton candy machine my parents have. I’ve not used it since I was a kid, before my mission. I saw it in their cupboard today and just had to have one… so I did. I introduced Cinderalla to the wonders of cotton candy. Doodle didn’t want to try it – poor boy doesn’t know what he’s missing. Mrs. Smith, grandma, and others enjoyed it, though. As did I. 😀

05 Mar 2009 Hushing one’s fears
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So a few months back I read something in the book of Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, which has stuck with me and I think of from time to time.  It takes place shortly after Alma (the Elder, a Nephite Prophet), leads a few hundred souls away from the wicked King Noah’s clutches.  Alma refuses the people’s voice desirous that he should be their King, continuing instead “merely” as the High Priest.

Alma also admonishes the people that it’s not good to have a King because of the great wickedness a King may cause the people to commit (unless it could be guaranteed the King would always be righteous, which is never the King when not dealing with God as the King).  Alma has some great words on the subject: “I desire that ye should stand fast in that liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you” (Mosiah 23:13).  Alma exhorts them to many things pertaining to their freedom, all of which I commend to the reader and which is something worthy of considerable discussion in its own right.  But that’s not the part I wanted to discuss tonight.

Reading along farther, starting in verse 25, the Lamanite army, lost after seeking Limhi’s people, stumbles across Alma and his followers in their city of Helam.  Naturally, the Nephites fled from the adjoining fields into the relative safety of the city.  Mormon records that they were “much afrightened” because of the Lamanites (verse 26).

With faith in an omnipotent God at his side, Alma boldly exhorts them “that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them” (verse 27, emphasis added).  How did the people respond?  This is the part I love – for some reason I still don’t understand yet it speaks to my soul:

“Therefore, they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord” (verse 28, emphasis added).  The citizens responded with equal boldness and faith in their Lord, and Priesthood leader, that He would in fact preserve them if they but excercised sufficient faith.  And, as always, the Lord responded according to their faith and their lives were spared.

I think the lesson is equally applicable in our lives.  Although I don’t live in a war zone (and I recognize many Saints around the world do!), I can likewise hush my fears and exercise faith in the Lord’s (a) capacity, (b) desire, and (c) willingness to bless my life.  Whether it’s fears about being a poor father, inadequacies in my calling, temperment, love toward others, et cetera, I can likewise “hush” my fears and trust the Lord to step in with His grace.

OK, so it’s not likely a huge eye opener for anyone -nor, really, for me- but there’s something about the way it’s documented, perhaps even the poetry of the statement to “hush” one’s fears (and I’m not into poetry!), something just makes me tingle.

10 Dec 2008 engagement ring story
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Alright. The other day I alluded to a great story about our favorite jeweler, Tony Bagdy. It’s time to document the story. Cue the music:

Some couples shop for rings together and others do it apart. In our case, we shopped for rings together. We got mine from Unicorn jewelry in Rancho Bernardo (San Diego), with which we were quite displeased. I don’t recommend their services or products to anyone. From that experience we went looking elsewhere and discovered Palomar Jewelers. While there Mrs. Smith located the ring. We ordered it to be her size and sometime thereafter I picked it up and proposed. Mrs. Smith elected to wear the whole thing, not merely the engagement band, because it was so nice which was fine with me.

Now, understand Mrs. Smith is not much of a jewelry person (yay!). She occasionally will wear something, but by and large she doesn’t rely on jewelry to enhance her physical features (yay!). Unfortunately, the byproduct of that is that when she washed her hands one night at an “Islands” restaurant, she took it off and failed to pick it back up. She discovered the ring’s absence a little later during the meal but the ring, by that point, was gone. She hunted through the trash, we had the U-drain checked, etc, but alas, no ring. Someone likely picked it up. 🙁

So, there we were: engaged and ringless. A few days later we stopped at a supermarket and plunked ~$5 into a toy machine trying to get a ring but, alas, no ring for us! Now we were ringless and $5 poorer – argh! So I went to Tony’s store, explained what happened, and requested a new one be created with the same design as it was the ring. When I went to pick up the ring several weeks later, Tony gave me a tremendous surprise: he charged us only for the band, not the precious stones (diamonds)!

First off, he certainly didn’t need to provide anything for free, yet he did. Secondly, the band is considerably cheaper than the diamonds, particularly since he specifically put in diamonds of better quality than what we originally purchased!

Think he got customers for life You betcha! Customer service may be a dying thing in many industries, but it’s alive and well at Palomar Jewelers!

09 Dec 2008 vacation summation
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We’re back in SLC now.  We arrived home this morning at ~1:45am (got to sleep about 3am after getting the kids to bed, stuff out of the car, etc).  Vacations are great.  And, as I’ve told people, San Diego is a wonderful place – to visit.  Glad I don’t live there anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, the weather was nice, people were friendly, air was clear (no “Santa Ana” conditions while there, or brush fire smoke), beach was nice, etc.  But the expense and congestion, particularly on the roads?  Ick.  No thanks.

As for the rest of the trip, it was a blast.  After the evening with the J & J Smith family (and their pushy vaccum salesman), we met Mrs. Smith’s brother and his girlfriend for dinner (Mrs. Smith and the kids went to visit Aunt K., too, while I took my CA real estate broker exam – which I failed… remind me to study next time), and the next two days we visited Legoland (buy one day get 2nd day “free”).

The park was perfect for kids our ages.  Older kids (9+ I’d say) might have been bored as it’s a theme park geared toward a younger crowd.  But for our barely 36″ and just over 42″ kids, it was awesome.  And, given the unusual season, there were no crowds.  Our kids were able to repeat rides over, and over, and over (did I mention they did them over and over?), and over again without having to stop.

On Saturday we hung around the timeshare, met our favorite jeweler (great story for some other blog entry – if you’re in SoCal, I highly recommend Tony Bagdy’s jewelry shop!), and met with Mrs. Smith’s former music teachers and mentors, Martha Rossicker and Diane Geller.  Mrs. Smith was instructed in the “Kodaly” (pronounced Co-Die – go figure) music methodology (I may be incorrect in classifying Kodaly as a methodology – I don’t know; I’m sure Mrs. Smith will correct me as needed).

Sunday we went to the ward in which I grew up (or in which I aged, anyway – whether I “grew up” remains to be seen) and from which I departed for the mission field.  It was nice to see some of the old families from my youth, though there were a lot of new faces!  Afterwards we visited Mrs. Smith’s former piano teacher, Dale Warstadt, and had a great visit with her family.  And finally, we went to J & J Smith’s house again for dinner, some games, and creation and, shortly thereafter, the destruction and consumption of a traditional gingerbread house.

The next morning was spent cleaning/packing things for the road trip with Mrs. Smith’s bro who hitched a ride home for the holidays (yay! he was a big help with the kids in the car).  The trip was ~12.5hrs to drive.  Ugh.  There were four instances when we had to drop down to stop-n-go traffic due to traffic and Vegas afternoon construction.  And then from ~Cedar City to ~Nephi (in So. Utah) we had whiteout conditions.  Not fast, not fun.  Mrs. Smith woke up at one point when I went over the warning strip on the side of the freeway (I couldn’t see the road, afterall), and then decided she wasn’t going back to sleep.  She didn’t much like the whiteout.  Not a bad drive otherwise, though.  I listened to a book on tape (book three of a series by Lloyd Alexander, author of The Black Cauldron) and actually didn’t get sleepy throughout.

Nice to be back home, even though it was 46 degrees in the house (we turned off the heater while gone) and our waterbed was a bit above freezing (turned it off, too).  Brrrr.

02 Dec 2008 Temple, Jamba Juice, and a pushy salesman
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Today’s been a fun day.  After breakfast this morning, we left (well, when we left it was closer to lunch, but it was after breakfast after all) for the San Diego Temple.  We ate sandwiches on the Temple grounds, took some pictures, and the kids “played” with the various Nativity statues and animals on the Temple grounds.  One of the most exciting things, for us, is that we discovered a Visitor Center is planned – yay!  In my estimation, it’s something that’s been missing from this Temple for some time, given its proximity to the I-5 freeway, etc.

After there we went across the street to a Jamba Juice – the same one Mrs. Smith and I visited immediately after we were married.  When we finished pictures on the Temple grounds, following our marriage, we left immediately for our honeymoon (we did the reception when we returned a couple weeks later), we were hungry.  So we went across the street to Jamba Juice – Mrs. Smith still in her wedding dress and I still in my tuxedo.  Like the lovestruck kids we were, we’d not brought more than $5 cash – enough for one smoothie.  Fortunately, the employee gave us the ‘Just Married’ special and provided a buy-one-get-one-free offer – wahoo!  We waited for our smoothies, danced to whatever music was playing on their speakers, and delighted in our status as husband and wife.  😀

So, from there we went to the Birch Aquarium which is nice, but which unfortunately doesn’t compare to the Aquarium at Monterray Bay where Mrs. Smith and I vacationed a few years back (also with our WorldMark, The Club, timeshare resort).  From there we went to Mount Solldad, a federal war memorial, where I proposed to Mrs. Smith nearly six years ago now.  And then we stopped (where I am currently writing this, in fact), at my brother’s house.

We had just arrived, and I received the tour, when the doorbell rang — a Kirby vacuum salesman.  He offered to ‘quickly’ shampoo the carpet to provide a demonstration of its amazing abilities (he hasn’t gotten to it yet, but I’m sure that soon he’ll reveal it also makes Julian fries, doubles as a mini-Cooper, and solves so-called global warming).  Well, ~90 minutes later he’s still sitting downstairs doing the demonstration and started into the ‘pushy’ sales tactics we all know and love so much from in-home salesmen when my brother and his wife have rebuffed his sales efforts.  Oooh, overhearing the conversation, it just went into the emotional manipulative mode “Well, I obviously haven’t done a good job of convincing you about this vacuum if you’re not going to buy it…”  Nice.  To my sister-in-law’s credit, she and her husband have remained civil.  All the while dinner is now, for sure, quite cold on the stovetop.  Were it I, I’d likely have already agreed to it, signed the papers, kicked the guy out the door, and then relied on the 72hr right of recission (i.e. “cool down”) that’s federally guaranteed for in-home purchased products because of pushy salesmenship.

I’m sure anyone over 18yrs of age has experienced the salesman that’s quite good at what they do but which inevitably falls into what I categorize as distasteful, lengthy sales attempts.  Personally, I’d be much more likely to purchase something if they came in, skipped the presentation, told me the bottom line, and then left my family alone.  We’re now going on ~120min.  Take a hint, please – how many ways does someone need to say no?  Clearly many more times than once.  🙁

30 Nov 2008 San Diego Vacation
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We’re in San Diego where we’ll be for the next week or so.

We left Friday night around 10pm MST and drove through the night.  We arrived at our first stop, my brother’s house, at ~7:30am PST.  You do the math – my brain still hasn’t woken up, I think, from the all-night drive.  Mrs. Smith was awake for the first couple of hours, then she was out with the kids.  In fact, she slept more than the kids did, as they awoke periodically during the trip.  And Doodle is in the midst of potty training, so he was specifically taken to the restroom each time we stopped for gas, and would then be awake for some time once back on the road.  The good news is that we’ve left him without a diaper now for three nights running – and he’s been dry come morning for three nights running.  Wahoo!

In true Smith fashion, we don’t have anything planned for the week, apart from Wednesday morning when I have my CA Real Estate Broker exam scheduled.  I think we’re going to hit the pool(s)/beach tomorrow, we’ll see.  As for the other days, it’s fair game.  Sea World, WIld Animal Park, Disneyland, SD Temple, In-N-Out, etc… only time will tell.

We’re staying in Oceanside, technically, at the WorldMark (by Wyndham) timeshare resort.  We love our WorldMark ownership.  If anyone is looking for a great timeshare opportunity, one that provides maximum flexibility with useful vacation opportunities, let me know.  I’m not looking to sell anything, but I’m willing to provide information and personal experience, fwiw.

No pictures of the trip to view, though, for a couple of reasons: (1) I’m not much for taking pictures, and (2) My wife is, so I encourage the interested reader to peruse her blog.

20 Nov 2008 Precious Moment
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So, when Alisa came home with the kids tonight they were asleep so I dutifully trudged outside to carry them upstairs to bed – that’s what Daddy’s do, right?  Unbeknownst to me, little Doodle also thinks so too, apparently!  He woke up some and as we were walking up the path to our front porch he said, “You’re carrying me – you’re the best Daddy!” and gave me a bug squeeze around the neck.

Don’t know about yours, but it melted my heart.  Life is full of challenges but nestled within them (sometimes deep within) are the nuggets that matter.  Such was this precious moment to me.

20 Nov 2008 “Oncall” woes
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Since I returned home from my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December of 2000, I’ve been employed in the technology sector (in fact, I was before my mission, too, but not for large enterprises).  And throughout that period of time I’ve been “oncall.”  For any that may be unfamiliar with the concept, there’s a rotation of x weeks (which depends on the number of others in the rotation) when any alerts, pages, problems, et cetera, land in your lap.  Some weeks there’s a little; some weeks there’s lots.  Always it’s blech.  And when you’re in technology management positions (as I’m not currently – yay!) it’s worse, because you’re essentially oncall 24/7/365.  True, the first set of alert(s) don’t always come to you, but you’ll be the escalation point.

So, I’m oncall this week…

I’m looking forward to a career, some day, when I’m not oncall – ever.  😀

16 Nov 2008 Family struggles
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Poor Mrs. Smith hasn’t been able to sleep well in, oh, about 4.5yrs now (ironically about the same time she became pregnant with our first child… I doubt there’s any correlation, though).  Some days it’s worse than others.  Yesterday was one of those “worser” moments.  I feel impotent, utterly unable to remediate the problem.  Like most guys, especially engineers, when there’s a problem, we don’t want to just hear about it and do nothing – we want to fix it!  Well, I haven’t yet discovered the way to fix this one.  🙁

Something’s gotta change for Mrs. Smith.  I’ve discovered that I can get by successfully with considerablyless sleep, from both a routine and once-in-a-while perspective (not that I don’t enjoy sleeping, I just have many obligations that require that I be elsewhere physically which thus precludes a lot of sleep).  Unfortunately, she’s the one that handles “Eagle,” the smallest Smith, and his sleeping habit (or lack thereof) is driving her bonkers.  And when Momma is bonkers, so goes the rest of the family relatively short order.

Clearly the Lord must know a better way, so I’ll continue to seek His guidance, because I’m at the proverbial wits end.  Any suggestions, especially from those that find themselves in a similiar pickle with their spouse?

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