Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crazy Insane School Year

Hi Everyone!!!
This is Erica, and Mom says I should write about ME because i'm never in her posts. (Something about her not knowing about what I do at school or something.) Since I am not as creative in writing as Mom, I'll steal a few Ideas from her. (Mainly her lists.)


1) My backpack weighs 16 pounds. Litterally. I weighed it on the bathroom scale. (and it doesn't even have my binder in it!!) The sad thing is that I want a bigger one so I can fit my 5 pound binder into it.

2) I have so much homework that I think that my teachers are trying to make my brain explode. (Yeah, that's it. The only reason that people want to be teachers are to make their students brains explode. Yeah, that sounds plausible.) I mean come on! Yeasterday, I worked on my homework from 3:15 to 6:30!! That is WAY to long to do homework!!!

3) I'm in advanced Honors English 10 and my teacher has us writing a typed paper every day. It's a wonder that I don't lose my mind.

4) The school has the Air Conditioning still going strong, so I'm wearing long sleeves when its 70 or 80 degrees out. (It's absolutely SWELTERING on the bus ride home.)

5) Oh! So I have this absolutely awesomely lovely red and gray yarn hat with a pom pom on it, but I don't have anything to match it and Mom keeps telling me I'm insane for wanting to wear it to school. (I have no idea why she does. I LOVE my hat!!! Well ,maybe I do...She thinks I'm insane anyway for wearing sweatshirts in the summer. But, oh well. I ADORE wearing sweatshirts!! : > } )

So, I'm having a lovely school year. Really. I love my school (Timpview), and I love my classes, but it is WAY more fun to complain and say the bad things than to gush about everything.
So, sue me.

Family Home Evening

Family Home Evening at our house is always a learning experience of some kind or other. Sometimes they are learning experiences we hope we've learned from and never have again. Sometimes they are very sweet and we have a great time as a family. Last night was an interesting combination of events. We learned lots of things.

1) It is possible, on occasion, to have a very pleasant afternoon and dinner with no sarcasm or name calling that leads right into the opening of Family Home Evening.

Since it is the Monday before conference we had our usual "hang-the-pictures-of-the-First-Presidency-and-Quorum-of-the-Twelve-Apostles" lesson. The idea being that we get a semi-annual review of who all those great men are.

2)We learned that with all the changes this year, no one could remember who was in what order anymore. Thank heavens for the pictures in the middle of the last conference edition of the Ensign. What great examples of knowledge the parents of this family are!

3) We also learned that Mom had forgotten (in her defence, she was a little busy packing and moving right after the last conference) that there had been an addition to the Twelve, so we are currently short 1 picture. She will shop tomorrow.

During the conversation while hanging pictures, the pre-teen males in our family informed us of some very important bits of teenage wisdom.

4) It is very cool to have "pit hair" and the more the better. (It is also cool to count each one when you are a pre-teen, even if you need a magnifying glass to do so.)

5) "Pit hair" is the glory of a teenager.

6) Chest hair is the glory of a man.

Aren't you just filled to the brim with the spiritual undertones of our FHE so far? After the lesson portion we played 20 minutes of Trivial Pursuit: The Star Wars Edition. Again, we learned important things.

7) It's been a long time since we have seen Star Wars movies. Oh, the disgrace at the lack of recall!

8) Some of us are very good at identifying Darth Maul when his face is so pixelated that it's basically a light stripe between two dark stripes.

9) Spencer knows the names of more types of Star Wars spaceships than I ever realized they had.

10) Our boys created a "Star Wars Victory Dance" when we lived in New Hampshire and they still remember it.

If the purpose of FHE is to have a most solemn gospel discussion, we failed miserably. If the purpose is to spend time together, have real (sort of) discussions, learn about the gospel, and have fun, then last night was a total success. If nothing else, we created a memory that I know will make me chuckle for a very long time.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I have always loved the mountains and the New England Coast. I think, though, that mountains win out (even though ours come with the added bonus of earthquakes!). Today I was thinking how beautiful it is outside right before the sun comes up and thought I'd share. I love to watch the sun stream through the canyons before it actually peeks over the mountain. These pictures are from a month ago, but they still look pretty much the same except the leaves are beginning to turn red.

I don't have a panoramic camera, so a series will have to do. (Also, I'm getting a bit frustrated because the darn computer won't let me post anything above the previous picture and I'm tired of deleting everything and starting over. We'll just have to deal with it!) So the picture above and then the following three are what we see across the street every morning on the way to school. The photos run from north to south. I personally think the next mountain north, which we can't see, is just a bit prettier. I especially love rocks and cliffs and that mountain has more than ours. Oh well.

The next shot is just one of my favorites. Spencer climbed out to the edge of an out cropping of rock on our way down from hiking to the "Y" last June. We took his picture and then chewed him out for getting up there in the first place. I'm a little paranoid of heights when my children are involved. It does make a cool picture, though, and he did live to see another day.

Isn't this world such a beautiful place!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Friday!

Only an hour left til the cherubs start getting out of school for the weekend. (Have to write now so I can still use the word "cherubs"!) The weekends seem to be crazy, and this one will be no exception, but the rush is off and it can be a nice change of scenery even if the pace doesn't change. Tonight Greg is working on a paper for Monday (he's gotten 100% on his previous two- Go Greg!), Erica wants to go to the high school football game (it's Homecoming), and the rest of us have NOTHING! How exciting is that. Tomorrow is volleyball, and viola, a birthday party, shopping for said birthday party (can you say pro-cras-tin-ation?), and the Relief Society broadcast. Sunday is church, Greg is teaching Priesthood, presidency meeting, visiting teaching (once again, "pro-cras-tin-ation"), missionary correlation, Sunday Evening Discussion, etc, etc, etc. So, today I'm going to enjoy the next hour, finish my "to-do" list, and hang out with my boys, maybe make cookies, edit Greg's paper, probably watching something on TV tonight, maybe do a little family search indexing in front of the TV, and otherwise enjoy the large vacancy that is Friday Evening on my calendar. Hope yours is as anticipated as mine!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Kathleen asked what my motivations are for healthy eating and the new found, mysterious, jogging desire. I do have a few disclaimers. 1) You are not here to witness my whole day and are not privy to my regular eating habits since I typically don't share them. Aren't blogs supposed to make one look good? Yes, I do try to eat healthy, but I also ate 8 chocolate chip cookies on Thursday afternoon -not counting the dough because that wasn't really a cookie yet and doesn't count towards my intake. 2) I am working to exercise more, but our last move has currently placed me in the midst of a "perfect storm" of circumstances. Some were already there, I just wasn't taking advantage of them for various reasons. Most of them fall under the "motivations" category, so I'll list them. They are not in any particular order.

1) I want my children to arrive safely at school and home. Every time I think about just waving them out the door every morning I hear a story about some nutcase who tries to pick up a child or two while they are walking home from school alone. We also had that lovely experience with the door-to-door sales man a couple of weeks ago. Yes, even here in "Happy Valley" we have our share of kooks.

2) 1 mile each way to school, up hill both ways!- Ok, not really, but we do live way up on the mountain. It is very much downhill all the way to school and very much up hill all the way home. I can guarantee that it is better than a stair stepper or tread mill anyday, having used both at various times in my previous life. And since Motivation #1 is a huge one to me, I am there walking almost every day. Some days we drive, but it is the rare exception. Curch happens to be half way between between our house and school, so we try to walk there as much as we can as well. Given their choice, the kids would drive all the time. Not going to happen as long as afterschool activities consist of books and computer time. Soccer a couple of times a week is a start, but not enough if there's anything I can do about it.

3) There are no buses for anyone at the elementary school. Our school happens to have all the students live within walking distance, so the only options to get my children to school are to walk or drive. We live about as far as you can and still be in the school boundaries. There is another school at the other end of our street, but it would be at least as far, if not a bit farther and doesn't have as much shade on the way home. See Motivation #4 for the reason we don't drive.

4) $4.00 gasoline- I know it's dropped down here now to about $3.70, but I'm trying to stay in the exercising habit. In fact, in the first 3 months we lived here, I only put 1500 miles on the car including several trips to Salt Lake and a couple of drives up the canyon. That is a major improvement over mileage in, say, New Hampshire!

5) High Cholesterol- Runs in my family and I am very prone. Exercise seems to work better for me at keeping it down than just watching my diet. I happen to like living and have no desire to cut my turn on earth short due to heart/vascular problems. I also would prefer to not have to take medication, so that leaves me exercise.

6) Knees- I've had bad knees since elementary school. As a result, I can pretty much count on getting shiny new metal ones at some point in my life. I saw videos of that particular surgery in college and am in no rush to experience it! Exercise does a couple of things- keeps the joints healthy and lubricated and the muscles strong to prevent more damage. If and when the blessed event occurs, the stronger my legs are at the time, the faster the recovery will be. I'm also hoping that the longer I can put off the surgery the longer science has to come up with some plan that won't require it. Keep those fingers crossed!

7) It's not hot here! I really hate being hot. I'm getting over it in relation to working out, but doing anything but swim outside in AZ is just not even remotely appealing. It was on the warm side when school started here- usually upper 90's when school got out. There were some days when it was near 100 and I just drove. I don't like being that hot, so I won't make the kids walk home that hot, either. Now it's in the upper 70's/low 80's in the afternoon and it's been in the 40's and 50's in the morning. I still get warmer than I'd like walking in the afternoon, but it's bearable. The mornings are perfect. I love them. Yes, I plan to walk as often as we can in the winter, but we'll see how it goes. I planned to give birth to my first child without an epidural. I wasn't in labor very long when I discovered how foolish that thought was and changed my mind. Winter here may be the same kind of experience, though I walked every day in college and survived. We'll see.

8) I can feel new muscle. There's something very encouraging about success. It also helps that the numbers on the scale have dropped by a few and since I know that I have new found muscle I know that I'm most likely losing inches as well. It's very motivating to feel any progress and it makes me want to do more.

9) I have changed my diet enough that food really high in fat make me sick to my stomach now. For example, I really can't stand the thought of ribs. Even those yummy chocolate chip cookies last week made me feel somewhat sick. It's been a pretty good motivator to at least attempt to eat better.

10) Exercise and healthy eating helps keep the headaches away. If I have a headache coming on and can get in a walk, or some other form of exercise, and some thing to eat with a healthy source of protein, most of the time I can get rid of it. Sleep plays a big role, too. I could definitely be better in that department.

That's going to be it for now. Now, I'm off to get in my car and drive to the store to buy the ingredients for Family Home Evening dessert (Cream Soda and sweetened condensed milk. Throw it in the ice cream maker and it makes a yummy slush). So, when it comes to exercise and healthy eating, do what I say and not what I do!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Weekend

It's been a normal, busy weekend and I thought I'd leave a couple of verbal snapshots. I'd leave real snapshots, but I keep forgetting to take them.

1) The shirts are in town and have been since Thursday morning at 5:04 (according to the website). The UPS guy and I can't seem to coordinate our schedules. I waited until 12:30 on Thursday, when I had to leave and run a couple of errands before school got out. He stopped by about 1:15. Friday I went to the temple at about 10:15 and passed him about halfway there. I had left a note telling him I'd be gone and that coming around 2:00 would be great. He moved the note from off of my doorbell and left another UPS sticky note indicating a missed delivery. Monday I only have to take the boys to school and go to the dentist at 9:40. Hopefully we can both be at our house at the same time.

2) We actually worked in the yard. Yesterday I weeded the front yard. Well, ok, the edge along one side of the driveway and part of the flower bed. My neighbor was very excited, seeing as our yard abuts his house. It must really bother him that we don't do a lot with the yard. The previous owners paid him to maintain the yard for them since they lived in CA and had renters here. He's put in a lot of work here and I think it kills him to see us only mow it every other week. Hey, we do what we can! He saw me weeding and mentioned that he just sprays for the weeds. I didn't mention that I had just sprayed Round-up over half the back yard- the really weedy half- so we could turn it into a garden next spring. He's mentioned before that two owners ago used to have such beautiful grass in the backyard. I did say (very kindly I must add) that if it really bothered him, he could just spray a little on our yard when he did his yard. It wouldn't bother me and I wouldn't sue him. He said "Ok!" and got out the weed killer. It looked like it might rain, so he said he'd get to it sometime this weekend. He also very kindly offered let us use his edger as well. He got it out and it was out of gas. He asked us if we had any, but our lawn mower is electric. I don't think that impressed him, either. He filled the tank and then edged for me. He did leave the sweeping for me to do, though. I'll have to make cookies or bread or something and take it over. This morning he came outside and was, again, very excited to see Greg mowing the lawn. It always looks so nice, I'll admit, but between soccer and school it just doesn't always happen. Hope Wally survives us as neighbors.

Greg also trimmed a tree in the neighbors yard on the other side. It's very overgrown and the branches lay on the roof of our house. We'd mentioned before that we needed them off the roof, but nothing happened; then they moved out and renters moved in. Now, there are no branches on our roof and I don't think the renters care. Hope the owners are alright with it the next time they stop by. If not, well the part of the tree in their yard is still there, just not the part that was on our house. That sounds kind of rude, but I don't want to have major roof repairs or bugs in the future.

3) Today was Ryan's day to go to the football game with Greg. They had a great time (BYU played Wyoming and won, 44-0) but left during the 3rd quarter. Greg's dad left the kids $20 each when he was here last month and we've been letting the kids spend it at the games. Ryan used his to buy a cougar tail (3 foot long maple bar), a root beer, and 2 frozen lemonades- 1 regular and 1 strawberry. He didn't eat everything, but by the third quarter he was getting tired and his tummy was starting to hurt. Imagine that! He and Greg got home at the beginning of the 4th quarter and watched it with us from the couch.

4) We had a ward block party tonight in the cul-de-sac behind our house. We had hamburgers, hotdogs, lots of salads, chips, and desserts. The Young Men and Young Women were responsible for activities. The YM did basketball shooting contests and sidewalk chalk drawing contests and the YW did a cup cake walk. The kids drew great pictures. Steven won the "Most Consecutive Free Throws" contest with 5 and won 2 boxes of Nerds. Joseph won the "Farthest Free Throw" contest and a hershey's chocolate bar. The man who took second told Joseph that if he could make his last shot, he'd give him $10. Joseph made it and the guy gave him $20 instead. Nice man! Joseph is in heaven. The cup cake walk went very well until they brought out the candy cannon. Like it's name suggests, it shoots out gobs of candy. That was more fun than cup cakes, so now we have about 25 cup cakes from Sam's club, with orange halloween frosting, sitting on the counter. I was going to take them to the YW at church tomorrow, but I dropped the box (twice) in the van. Luckily, the lid stayed on but the cup cakes took a beating and I got orange hands from trying to get them all resituated in the box.

5) Tonight my brother-in-law was baptized. We weren't able to go, but we're so happy for him, my sister, and their family.

6) I ran. Not the country, the action. I can tell all the hiking up and down the mountain twice a day for school has been beneficial in the muscle department. The last couple of weeks I've had these weird urges to jog. Can't remember the last time I felt like that! One day last week I jogged on the flat stretches on the way down to school and didn't die. That's a good sign. Last night I jogged up to Korey's house, almost a complete block from us but very uphill, and actually felt pretty good. Tonight I ran to the corner just beyond Korey's and back down to our house. My body liked it, but my lungs aren't so thrilled. They are getting over it, though. It's not anything major, but it's progress and I'll take it.

So, there are a few of our weekend happenings. Nothing really stupendous, just the "living life" kinds of things. Here's to Sunday and a day of rest!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rachel's Challenge

Erica's school had an assembly today for the students and a presentation tonight for students and parents about Rachel's Challenge. Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School in 1999. Her dream was that her life would have an impact upon millions. Her thought was that the smallest acts of kindness can start a chain reaction which has the potential to change the world. Do something nice for some one, no matter how little. You never know how far the ripples will travel. Kind of the "Pay it Forward" mentality with out waiting for something nice to be done to you first. Her story is quite amazing and her family wants to use it to prevent a similar tragedy from ever occurring again and help to change the world for the better. They taught the kids (and the parents) to avoid prejudice, set goals and write them down, surround themselves with positive influences, and to be kind. All in all, it was very different, and much better, presentation than I had expected. It really gave me a lot to think about. I know it has changed me for the better, I hope for the long term and not just the here and now. So, I'll pass the challenge on--Go see the chain reaction you can start.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Found the Passphrase, Wireless Works

'Nough said. Norton worked the first time, too. No need to reinstall it. Greg is awesome!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Just a quick update- the shirts have shipped and should be here in a couple of days (yea!) and the computer/Norton problem is on the road to somewhere.

First the shirts- Gap sent an email last night saying they had been shipped. I double checked the address and they are coming to this very house. They even showed a refund on the card, so the Man In Manchester must have been so kind as to return the first set! A signature is required this time, so I'll have to stick around the house Thursday morning. That shouldn't be a problem. The UPS guy is quite nice. The previous occupants of this house get packages sent here all the time. The normal routine is for him to ring the bell and apologize for interrupting. He then says, "I know this isn't you, but I have to ask anyway. Is this the right address?" I always answer, "Nope. That person doesn't live here." He says, "Thanks, have a great day." and runs back out to his truck. I think it will really throw off his game to have a package come that actually belongs here.

As for the computer- we finally called Dell for help and they walked me through a PC Restore. Basically we wiped out everything and started over. This was a necessary step because the Norton"helpers" had pretty much made every program that required input from a Microsoft program inoperable. That would be pretty much everything was inoperable. The computer is now supposedly back to the state it was in when it arrived at our doorstep last winter. The Norton icon even came back up. The computer consultant (a wonderful woman who actually spoke to me on the phone! No live chat this time!) says that if the icon is there, the program should be working. I didn't have time to get everything set up again today, so I'm reserving my right to cheer until then. If not, we have the disk in the box and we'll reinstall it. Luckily, life has been so crazy since Christmas that all we really had on the laptop (and still needed) were pictures and family history info. Both of those items were backed up other places, so I'm all ready to try again! The only real issue I can foresee is that we password protected the wireless internet and I'm not sure where the password and info is. If that was wiped out, too, we may be facing a different frustration until we can get that all figured out. If we can't, it won't matter so much if the Norton works or not. The main source of viruses will be unavailable. I guess you could look at that as a silver lining.

So, things are looking up- at least with respect to shirts and computers. Some other aspect of life may take a down turn tomorrow, but tonight I'm going to bed with my thought load just a little lighter.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I Learned (Again) Today

Today was not my best day as a mother, but everyone has days like that. It's just not a good sign when you wake up and before three sentences have been muttered you can't wait for everyone to be out of the house, and maybe stay there until after dinner. Between the hours of 8:25 and 2:50, my day went pretty well. I got most of my "to-do" list done and even got to listen to a little Harry Potter while working. I was in a great mood both walking down to school and walking back home. Not a great sign, again, when not even three sentences had been muttered once home and I was wondering where everyone could go until bedtime. Couldn't even get a break during soccer as one son (shall remain nameless) had a not-so-positive progress report from school due to laziness and got to spend the hour in the car with me doing schoolwork instead of with his team playing soccer. I had issues with the laziness. He had issues with my having issues. We were lots of fun to be around. Things did calm down and we got a good start on things being ok by the end of practice. Not really in the mood for family dinner (making or eating) or Family Home Evening, but we persevered. Things finally turned around at bed time. I knew I was forgiven when said nameless son asked me to tuck him in and prayed that I'd have a good day tomorrow in his prayers. I even got a hug and a kiss.

I spent a lot of time today wondering why it is I ever wanted to be a full time mom. There must have been a really good reason. In many, many ways, it is the hardest job on the planet. We joke about it, but raising children is not for sissies. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to end the day wanting to get up and try again tomorrow. A little love and forgiveness go a long way, though. I'm pretty sure I'll get out of bed and hit the ground running tomorrow. The way things look right now, I'll even be happy to see everyone and enjoy the few moments we all have before my family scatters for the day. That's why I do what I do. The rewards, every day and for eternity, are so precious. The consequences of giving up too terrible to consider. In the end, it will be worth every minute.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where, Oh Where Have My Brain Cells All Gone? (I Miss Them.)

I'm feeling a bit sheepish right about now. At the end of August I ordered some shirts for the boys. We're having a family picture at our reunion in December and everyone is supposed to match. We had ordered shirts last spring, or maybe even winter, but they were stolen along with my Dad's luggage when he was bringing them home for me. That's another story for another time. Anyway, Gap had the exact color shirt on clearance at the end of August, so I ordered 4. They said 4-7 business days for shipping but it's been almost three weeks. Feeling a bit frustrated and, I'll admit, a little put out, I went to their website all ready to complain. I thought I'd just check and see where the shipment was before I opened my big mouth. Good thing, too. The website tracker said they had already been delivered. What?! I looked at the details and discovered that I had ingeniously had the shirts sent to our house in Manchester, NH. That's logical, since I'm there all the time. The brain power that it must have taken to do that is staggering. Funny thing is, I don't remember putting in an address when I ordered. I mean, hopefully I would know where I currently live if I was asked to tell someone. I hope that means I ordered from them before and had an account set up, but I don't remember doing that either. My memory cells must be leaking out of my ears at an accelerated rate lately. I called the 800 number and explained the problem. The very nice woman looked up my information and said the shipment was signed for by a man (no name) in Manchester. A very nice 20-something single guy bought our house from us. Maybe it was him. Don't know what he'd want with four identical boys shirts in different sizes, though. The woman said he'd most likely return the package to Gap with the return sticker and very kindly resent my order to our current address. This time it will take 6-9 business days and she put a signature requirement on this package. I think she's doing her part to save me from myself. I really appreciate it. Hope I remember it tomorrow.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Norton Internet Security, round 2

I just thought I'd update everyone on our Norton Internet Security experience (see post from Sept.1). It's been a bit frustrating. Greg was on the computer with them until about midnight Monday night. That makes nearly 12 hours. They couldn't figure out what was wrong, so they downloaded a bunch of error logs, gave Greg a "calling card" (a one time "direct link" back to the help line), and said to contact them in 48 hours. Well, neither of us wanted to be contacting anyone at midnight on Wednesday night. So, Greg used the "calling card" on Thursday evening at 10:05 p.m. -thinking that it would be a very short/quick/brief conversation resulting in a solution.

When you activiate the "calling card" a little window opens on the computer that says you've logged in and someone will be with you shortly. "Shortly" being in comparison to the creation of the universe, not as in "just-a-minute". Greg or I sat within visual range of the computer until 12:30 am (ok, Greg was within sight at 12:30, but looking at the inside of his eyelids!) when we gave up and went to bed. Since the "calling card" is a one-time shot, we left the computer on and connected to Norton. All day Friday I would check on it. Greg emailed the director who did not reply. They have both our phone number and email address. Greg was in AZ last night. I went to bed about 11:30 and still we were being asked to wait and someone would be with us "shortly".

I got up this morning to find that Guru Prasad (not sure if Guru is a name or a title!) had joined our "conversation" at 1:31 am (27 hours and 25 minutes AFTER we had started said "conversation"). Amazingly, no one was there to converse. He tried to access some files, but Windows firewalls kicked in and wouldn't give him access. Since the humans on our end of the "conversation" had foolishly gone to bed, Guru exited the "conversation" at 1:37 am without trying an email or phone contact. At 8:35 am the "calling card" expired and we had already left for soccer by then. Ahhh! I do not like online chats!!! They are not helpful. Now, we get to start all over again. It's a good thing these people are not within driving distance, because I would be very tempted to have a face-to-face "conversation".

Ok. I've vented. I keep trying to find a silver lining in all of this. Hasn't happened, yet. Maybe one will present itself later. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


"Courage is that quality of mind which meets danger or opposition with calmness and firmness which enables a man to face difficulties that lie in his pathway to righteous achievement...Courage implies facing difficulties and overcoming them."
-David O. McKay

We had a little experience last night that has had me thinking about this quote for the past 12 hours. Last night was one of those nights where almost everyone has some where different to be at almost the same time. Spencer and Steven had scouts at 6:00. Spencer at the scout master's house. Steven at the church. Ryan had a soccer game at 6:30 and Greg was the designated driver and parent in attendance. Erica and I had Young Women at 7:00 at the church. As we currently don't have an 11-year-old Scout leader, Joseph was the only one not rushing out the door. Our schedules meant that he would be home by himself for an hour or so, until Greg and Ryan got home form the game. No big deal, he stays home all the time.

About 7:50 I had a call from home on my cell phone. I hate it when the girls (or the leaders) use their phones during YW and since Greg should have been home long before that, I didn't feel like taking the call and answering a profound question like, "Can we have some ice cream?" Unexpected calls from home always worry me, just a little, so I changed my mind and stepped out into the hall to return it.

The phone rang and was answered by someone. All I could her was yelling or hysterics over an extremely terrible connection. I couldn't even tell who it was. Finally I could make out that it was Joseph. He sounded hysterical and said something about a man and the back door and then the line went dead. My heart about stopped and fell out on the floor. My first thought was , "Where is Greg? He should be home by now." I called his phone. The game had started late, but he was almost to the bottom of our hill and was on his way to take Ryans friend, Jaron, home. I told him about Joseph's call and he agreed to book it home as fast as he could. I, being health and gasoline conscious, had of course walked to church and it would take me a good 10 minutes to get back home. Greg would definitely beat me. I called home, but no one answered. I decided to keep calling until either Joseph or Greg picked up.

Part way through my 4th call, I turned around to see Joseph sobbing and running barefoot down the church hallway. I gave him a huge hug and sat on the couch, waiting for him to calm down and tell me what happened-oh, and called Greg to tell him that Joseph wasn't home so he wouldn't freak out when he got there.

Turns out that the doorbell had rung and Joseph had answered it. A tall creepy-looking man with short, reddish blond hair asked to speak to his parents. Joseph said they weren't able to come to the door then and to come back later. Then the man looked at him very strangely and told him to go ask his parents why the couldn't come to the door. That was enough on the creep-o-meter for Joseph. He shut the door and locked it, grabbed the phone, and ran out the back door; calling me on the way. The connection was terrible because he was rapidly running through the backyard behind our house and away from the phone base. It went dead when he got out of range.

Greg got home and found no one. He made Ryan and Jaron stay in the car with the doors locked, just in case. He searched the house but found no one there and nothing out of place (except the total destruction in the basement from Ryan and Jaron playing all afternoon). He closed and locked the house and left to take Jaron home. On the way, he passed a man meeting Joseph's description at the door of our neighbor, Nicole, down the street. She's our Primary president, so Greg went and confronted him at her door. Greg said he did look kind of creepy and didn't seem at all concerned that he had terrified our son. Nicole called later to say that she had been kind of creeped out, too. The guy was going door-to-door selling essential oils. She had been trying to close the door and go get her kids to bed, but he wouldn't let her. I don't know where he went after that, but Greg came down to church to pick up Joseph and Steven and they saw him walking across the street on their way home. We haven't seen him since.

So, it was a totally freaky experience, but has had me thinking about courage. Courage really isn't the "laugh-in-the-face-of-danger" bravado that we sometimes imagine. It really is keeping a cool head and doing what needs to be done in the face of some obstacle or difficulty. In Joseph's case, it happened to be intense personal danger-or at least the perception of it. (I really want to believe that it was just a really bad case of miscommunication and misunderstanding, but I don't know that.) Sometimes courage is standing up to do what's right, even if it means doing so all by yourself in the face of laughter or ridicule. No one "laughs in the face of danger" at those times, but that's when the biggest character strides forward are taken and the deepest depths of your strength and faith are tested. I'm hoping that this particular instance gives Joseph the knowledge that he can remember the right things to do and then do them even when the doing seems impossible, whatever the circumstance. Because, last night, my hero was a terrified young man who faced a very huge difficulty and overcame it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

This hasn't been the funnest of holidays for Greg. It didn't start out so bad. He got take Joseph to soccer practice, cut down branches from our neighbors tree that are hitting the side and roof of our house, and play Monopoly with the boys. It was even cool enough out to snow on the tops of the mountains, on September 1st, no less! Seeing as he had the day off, Greg decided to figure out the problem with our Norton Anti-Virus. It quit working on the laptop a couple of weeks ago. Greg uninstalled the program but couldn't get it to reinstall. You can't call Norton for help (unless you want to pay $60), only communicate through online chat. Things even went pretty well with that at first. Greg could play Monopoly with the boys while the Norton guy tried to figure the problem. The non-fun began when Mr. Norton (I think at that time it was a person named Vijay) told Greg the laptop had to have a hard-wired connection to the internet, not wireless. That ended Greg's Monopoly game as the internet connection was upstairs and the game was happening downstairs. He's now spent the better part of the day in the computer room, spoken with 6 different analysts (three of them elevated case managers), been disconnected three times and has now started over for the 4th time. The whole process started at 12:45 this afternoon. It's now 10:05. Steven and Ryan were in here earlier crossing all the appendages they had, but it didn't work. We had Family Home Evening in the computer room with the then current analyst beeping in occasionally and remotely operating the computer, which is kind of weird to watch. The computer has now been restarted more times than he cares to think about. Needless to say, Greg is a teeny little bit frustrated. He thinks he's being cursed because he didn't shave today. I appreciate all his efforts. To his credit, the computer has not flown through a window, the internet cable is still attached to the wall, his face is still flesh colored, there are no bulging veins in or around his face, and he can make a joke and still smile (at least on the outside). Our current analyst is Sujeesh. He's hung in there so far , this fourth time around, and not disconnected Greg. Hopefully this will be resolved soon. If not, we'll disconnect ourselves from this whole process and start again another day. I bet Greg shaves tomorrow.