Monday, January 30, 2012

Wake Up Call

Hannah can be a grump when she wakes up. She must take after her aunt (Actually Rachel thinks Hannah looks Aunt Lindsay and Olive looks like Aunt Jana). Here Olive is provoking her grumpiness by waking her up early from a late afternoon nap.

Special Delivery for Olive

Last week Olive received a package in the mail for her first birthday. A book and a play phone were the contents.


Olive witnesses Hannah and Heber getting sent to the corner. So every now and then she decides that she needs to go to the corner as well.

A Card Lover

Not the Arizona Cards, but rather birthday cards. This one was from her Grandma Susie (who her middle name was given for). She also got one from her Aunt Brandi. You'd think being a little baby she wouldn't care for a card, but she loves them. Here she is carrying the remnants of one all around the house.

The Week of the Olive

I declare this the week of the Olive. I thought after having twins I might not be able to adore our next little baby. But this little girl brought a whole new level of preciousness.

Kid Humor

One afternoon last week Heber and Hannah were putting there feet on their "fish puzzle," saying "Mommy look, feet on fish! Mommy look, feet on fish!"
They giggled and laughed about it for a while and kept trying to tell me how funny it was. They got a big kick out of it.
It is interesting how when they're young, we think kids' humor is strange. And someday when they're older, they'll be rolling their eyes as I'm laughing up a storm. I better soak it up while I can.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Virginia Tech

This is the building that I work/study in 5 days a week as well as the bus that I ride to commute there. The campus landscape and buildings at Virginia Tech are quite a contrast from those at Arizona State University.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Home-Style Southern Cooking

Last week Rachel and I went to this highly recommended bbq restaurant. It's called Due South. The food alone was authentic and there was an array of different bbq sauces. The spicy one is their award winning sauce and ws indeed my favorite. However, the live bluegrass, baptist band gave it it's signature touch. I soaked it all in knowing that these fun experiences won't last forever.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Goal Schedule

2012 is almost a month underway which means that New Year's resolutions are just starting to fizzle out. My sister Jana recently posted on her 2012 goals and I thought I'd follow suit.

I am a goal setter. My father is a goal setter. His father was a goal setter. If I had a dog, it wouldn't be an english or irish setter, but a goal setter. On top of that, I grew up playing sports that instilled a competitive drive to achieve hard things. I served a mission for my church in which everything you do seems to revolve around a a little planner with monthly, weekly and daily goals.

Sometimes I enjoy planning more than carrying out my plans. I imagine all that can be, and then casually go about my way. In the past I have carefully categorized the different areas of my life—family, personal, physical, professional, spiritual, etc.—and then set ambitious goals for each one. However, this has often led to conflicts between goals and misuse of my time for those things that are most important.

I have often been critical of how one goes about setting goals, insisting that they must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based goals. I would draw from motivational self-help books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friends and Influence People and use vision and mission statements and other success principles to guide my goal setting.

While I have found these to be valuable, I took a different approach this year. I still thought about the new year and all the possibilities it holds, but I went with my gut and took an approach that was foreign to even me. I only set goals for my daily and weekly routine. I'm still not sure if it is a valid method, but it's done. Here it is:

Monday - Fridays
6-7am: Gospel Study. A combination of scripture study, prayer, reading gospel books, taking notes and writing.

7-8am: Exercise. Right now I do about a half an hour of P90X, go for a run, or ride the stationary bike.

9am-6pm: School, work and whatever else related to my professional life.

6:30-8:30pm: Family Time. I try to leave the day behind me at this point and turn my focus on my wife and kids, including helping out around the house, playing with and reading to kids, etc.
9-10pm: Wind down. This is where I acknowledge that the day is over and if it hasn't gotten done by now then it can wait until tomorrow. I use this time to journal and do light reading.

Saturdays are flexible

Sundays are focused on activities that help "keep [my]self unspotted from the from [my] [my] devotions" to God.

Three weeks into the new year I am glad that I have chosen to do it this way. It has really helped me to avoid making goals that push me too hard and end up taking time from more important things, especially time with my family.

However, this only works, I believe, because I already have a general idea of what my long and short term goals are. Additionally, as I go along I am setting goals that are appropriate, instead of doing them all at the beginning of the year. This is definitely not a recommendation for how everyone should go about goal setting, but it is working well for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Birthday Girl

Today Ollie-pop turned 1. Here is a picture of her after waking up and just before going to bed (Although they both look like she is waking up).



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Little Ones

This picture captures our kids personalities well.
Hebes: Hyperactive and Over-aggressive
Hans: Preoccupied and Mischievous
OlliePop: Sweet and Oblivious

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thoughts on Motherhood

I have read and thought a lot about motherhood. Makes sense, since it is my chosen career. I  have been reading to see how I can be a better mom and if I am going in the right direction.

A mother is a nurturer. However, that seems to encompass so much.  How do I know if I am nurturing? How do I know what are the most critical aspects of nurturing?

Then I found an old pamphlet called To the Mother's in Zion. I found a section at the end of the pamphlet called "Ten Ways to Spend Time with Children". The pamphlet expounds more on each of them but here they are just listed:
1. Be at the crossroads
2. Be a real friend
3. Read to your children
4. Pray with your children
5. Have weekly family home evening
6. Be together at mealtimes
7. Read scriptures daily as a family
8. Do things as a family
9. Teach your children (moral principles, how to work, etc.)
10. Truly love your children

It seems like simple stuff but I just love having the list. It's nice knowing what I can work on and what I already am doing. Now as I am doing the things on that list, I feel a reassurance of how important each of these things are and that makes me enjoy them even more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Potty Training

Today is dedicated to potty training, something that you can only appreciate if you've had to deal with it. Hannah seems to be taking to it more enthusiastically. Any suggestions for us rookies?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Military Spouse

These posters are displayed in the entrance of my Air Force Squadron. Even though my wife, Rachel, has not yet had to endure a deployment, she still deserves credit for her sacrifice every time I have to leave for another week or two for duty. Thank you, sweetheart.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Voter and Candidate Trends

The GOP Primary elections are underway now with the Iowa caucuses last week, New Hampshire voting this week and South Carolina and Florida finishing up the month of January. It is an understatement to say that it interests me. The truth is it consumes too much of my time. In fact, I have earned the "Ultimate Badge" on Google News.

That's right. Not a bronze, silver, gold or even platinum. An ULTIMATE! And, of course, along the way I have developed my preferences in candidates. But I don't want to campaign (too much) for anyone here. I just want to point out some things that I have learned from the rise and fall of the candidates in the polls.

You hear about a new poll everyday on the radio, the TV, internet, etc. I am naturally skeptical of each poll, e.g. Who was polled? How many? How was the question worded? But recently I ran across this chart below. I like it because it averages many, many polls (eliminating error) and gives us a real picture of what is going on in this election.

Real Clear Politics
So here is my analysis. Based on this graph I think you can divide the candidates into 3 categories:
  1. The High Roller This category belongs to Mitt Romney alone. Not only is he a high roller in money, but in support. He has sailed rather steadily above his opponents ranging from 20-30%. What does this tell us? He is the candidate that the most people can agree on. But at the same time the people are search frantically for somebody—ANYbody— else. Enter group 2.
  2. Humpers Now this one requires a closer look at the graph but is interesting in what it reveals. The candidates in this group are Michelle Bachmann (dropped out), Rick Perry, Herman Cain (dropped out), Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. All of them have stayed at about 10% or lower since June with the exception of 1, short-lived rise. Back in August it was Bachmann (small black hump on the left). Then Perry (large blue hump) who seemed to have dethroned Romney before he even said a word (unfortunately, for him, he kept talking). When he fell, right away Cain (red hump) got his rise and fall as a result of the additional media attention. But before he could even completely come down, another rose to replace him, i.e. Gingrich (large green hump). It does not take a genius to know what is going to happen. His fifteen minutes of fame are already ending (see the green line sloping down to the right) and another is filling his shoes, i.e. Rick Santorum (the brown line sloping up).
  3. Tortoises Only two can claim this group and that is Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. They seem to have not fluctuated at all until recently. I'm sure there are a host of reasons for this. These happen to be the two that I support the most. If I had it my way, I'd go with a Huntsman/Paul ticket, in that order.
But eventually a candidate will emerge. Based on the trends, I think it comes down to 3 at this point.
  1. The Constant High Rollin' Romney
  2. The Fortuitous-ly Peaking Santorum
  3. The Tortoise, Ron Paul (I'm assuming a miracle won't happen for Huntsman.)
Additionally, I think it is pretty safe to say that we the voters fall in one of these three categories as well. 
  1. Do we go with the familiar, safe bet?
  2. Are we swayed with the flavor of the month?
  3. Or do we stick to our guns, our "weird old guns" (skip to 9:45 on this video)?
These are just my ill-thought out opinions. Any thoughts of your own?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Horsie Ride

This was at the Whittier's house on Thanksgiving. They were kind enough to invite us over for an amazing dinner out in the country.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Plane ride with Hebes

Heber was very excited to fly on the plane. He was a little impatient at the slow start demanding that we go "up". When the plane finally took off his response was, "the plane's being funny".

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Virginia I've been waiting for

It snowed yesterday evening and last night, leaving us with this white blanket of snow. Undaunted, I bundled up and went outside at 7 am to do a morning run. I got to the end of the street and turned around to finish up on the exercise bike inside. Now I know what it means to be bone-chilling cold.

Sunday, January 1, 2012