Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Week 2008

Our Christmas week has been very busy with some great highlights. I feel sort of guilty because my volunteer work this week was so fun that it shouldn’t be called work. I got to play underwater Santa at the aquarium for Breakfast with Santa. It was crazy to fit myself into a wet suit, a large fake fat belly, thick red pants, a Santa jacket, and funny boots over the flippers. The head stuff was the worse. I had to manage a bushy full white beard and mustache with a regulator mouthpiece in the middle of all that hair. The red cap had built in long stringy white hair and my mask held it all in place. As I entered the water the wig hair covered my face such that I couldn’t see well at all and the hair in my mouthpiece drove me nuts…but when I would brush back the offending white wisps and look at all the children huddled up against the glass Ahhing and Ohhing about Santa’s arrival is was all worth it. They were so excited and jumping around. Parents were going crazy taking pictures and the kids couldn’t get enough of the “wet” Santa. It was a great way to serve and I look forward next year to the pain of dressing, but the joy of seeing those kids faces.

It was a calm Christmas eve with just Don, Danica, and Dave for a wonderful dinner. Mom surprised me with a slue of great gifts that we can do together. Particularly a new camera, a hefty bike rack, and a dreamed for scuba vacation to Bonaire in March and her patience with me for another year. I couldn’t ask for more. Then on Christmas Day we bounced back and forth between the McDonald’s and our place with some fun games, stupendous food, and a happy call with Austin. It was a great Christmas.

We have had a missionary weekend in honor of your nearly completed mission. Last night we had Steve and his wife over for dinner with 4 missionaries and Tiana and Preston. I will be baptizing him in a couple of hours and feel like a little kid so excited about helping this good man into the church. I hope his wife comes to the service. I think you will enjoy meeting him. Then in Sunday School class one of the investigators was asking some very pointed but good questions about “How do you know this is the true church?” His wife just got baptized in September and he is trying to understand the gospel. Mom and Tiana talked to him for about an hour after Sunday School and mom said Tiana was great in bearing testimony to him. Church felt particularly good today with the sweet taste of missionary work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Busy Weekend Con't

A fun short video from Thanksgiving.

Busy Weekend

I didn’t get to tell you all about our Thanksgiving week in Utah. It was fun with food and family and we missed you. I visited a client company in Orem that was employing 128 people last year and they now have one person. They are a home builder and that market has collapsed and so everyone has lost their job. It made me so grateful to be self employed even though there are some rough days, if things go bad I have no one to blame but myself.
On the way home we traveled with Dave and Danica. Everything was fine until Vail and then it took two hours to get to Frisco. It was snowing a little bit but the traffic was horrible. The electronic reader board said that is would take 7 hours and 40 mins to get to Georgetown which is normally 30 mins. We were moving so slowly that mom was walking back and forth between our car and Danica’s exchanging food and movies. We made a smart decision and drove down to Breckenridge and stayed the night in the condo. So instead of sitting on the freeway going nowhere for 8 hours we sat in the hot tub, ate delicious burgers, played with the grandkids, and watched a movie. Once in a while we do things right.
Thursday night I met with the missionaries and Steve Wilburn and he moved his baptismal date to Dec 28 and asked mom to speak and me to baptize him. What a neat honor. His wife jumped right in and was helping plan the program. I think she will come around someday. I think Don and Melissa will be here for the baptism which would really be sweet. It is so exciting to see the change that has come over Steve – he stopped smoking in Aug and stopped drinking in Oct. Not even the Thanksgiving festivities tempted him. He is saving enough money to pay tithing.
Yesterday was crazy around here. We are selling both the Explorer and the Lexus and so mom was working like crazy trying to clean them up. I picked up my new wheels on Friday (a Nissan Murano) and so we had 4 cars in front with hoses and buckets. We also got a new hot tub cover and so all the packaging was out for the garbage. Plus the rest of the raked leaves were piled up. Then we had a contractor guy over to fix up the basement for the missionaries. His truck and all the left over construction material made the garbage pile higher and added cars to the street. Then you throw in Dave and Danica visiting and me trying to put up the Christmas lights it was one wild, busy, and crazy day. The best news is the basement of now almost ready for the missionaries to come live in. We have a refrigerator, sink, cabinets, table, fixed shower, and disabled TV for them. We just don’t know if they will be sisters or elders. It will be simple if they are elders and cleaner of they are sisters.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!! The Greatest Holiday of the year, in my humble opinion, but you know that already. We have so much to be thankful for, mom and I are in Utah for the entire week to conduct some business, set Tiana’s wedding plans and celebrate being with the family. The world has tried to reach up and snatch my happiness this week but I’m not going to let it. Such as: the market keeps falling and my income drops, I got into an car accident with the Lexus we’re trying to sell, and BYU loses big to Utah, nevertheless the sun is up, we’re with family we love and the church is true. Those things all weigh more than any bad news I heard this week.

Our missionary experience is still going well. The missionaries, Steve, and I met last Thursday and finished up the Commandments lesson. He has now stopped smoking and drinking and is pretty much cleared to get baptized. We’re hoping for a late Dec date. His wife worries me because she doesn’t seem to be interested at all.

I hosted a dinner seminar for about 65 people at CB&Potts on Monday night to try and drum up some new business. Wed night I had a great night at the temple. I was doing initiories and all the patrons were doing their own family names. One guy was doing work for his brother-in-law and was telling me stories about his deceased relative. It brought tears to his eyes to do his temple work. Thursday was the missionary lesson. Friday I babysat Jenson and Lily all alone for 3 hours. I felt lucky I only had to do one diaper during that time.

Saturday I was attacked by a bamboo shark as he chomped down on one calf and I knocked him away and he went for the other calf and bit through the wetsuit. As I was hitting him off my 2nd leg the puffer fish came to his rescue and bit at my head. It kind of freaked me out, but was still fun.

The big trouble happened on the way to the aquarium. I was in a merge lane with a yield sign and I glanced back to make sure there was no traffic and the lady in front of me came to a dead stop in the middle of the road because she wanted to be safe and didn’t realize there was anyone behind her. Well the police gave me the ticket and it smashed in the front of the Lexus we are trying to sell and drive to Utah. It will cost hundreds of dollars to fix this little problem. Then Utah destroyed an embarrassingly poor BYU football team. So there are my weekly woes and as you can see they are a mere speed bump on the road of life. The really important things like testimony and health are doing great.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

General News

Well our little attempt at missionary seems to be working out well. I had another lesson with Steve Wilborn and the elders on Thursday night. The elders did better and Steve has set a baptismal date for Jan 7. We will be in Costa Rica at that time so we hope he can move the date forward to the last week of the year when we will all be here. He has asked me to give him a blessing at this week’s lesson and I’m praying for the spirit. Pray for him and his wife Melissa also please. Investigator class was so good today because we had Steve plus two other non member fathers there with their member wives and we talked about how the gospel blesses our family. It makes me so thankful for the church.
Well it is official – Preston (Elder Van Dyke) proposed to Tiana Friday night. They already had the date set – Feb 20; the time 11 am; and the place Salt Lake Temple. All that was needed was the asking. Preston was going to wait until he could ask me face-to-face at Thanksgiving but he ran out of patience (he lost a few points for lack of patience, but who is keeping score). He called me on Friday and after a few minutes of medium grilling him I gave my permission. He took Tiana to a fancy restaurant overlooking the temple in SLC and then walked around temple square, but never asked her. That was his plan to make her think it was coming but never ask to make her wonder what was going on. I suggested a few things to spice up the anticipation and Preston and I were suddenly in cahoots to frustrate Tiana – I like this guy. It all worked out great and Tiana was surprised. We’ll finally have someone in the family that can challenge the hulk Austin (other than Don).
Don is bringing home a girl for us to meet at Christmas time. Her name is Melissa and she is a non member, but has been to church a few times and may take the lessons. She wants to keep the commandments and is helping Don as well. I like her too, even if I haven’t met her yet. They will probably get engaged just before he leaves for Iraq in Feb and get married when he returns.
Well we have survived the first week of the projected Obana presidency and the stock market only dropped 1300 points. We're in for a long 4 years.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Change vs Improvement

It is like watching an approaching train wreck in which your kids and grandkids are in the way of a horrible disaster. It appears that this country will elect a candidate who according to his words, “will fundamentally change America”. Wait a minute, this country doesn’t need fundamental change. To quote Dennis Prager, “We change things that are bad and improve things that are good”. Our country needs improvement, but not fundamental change. McCain wants to change Washington and Obama wants to change America. We are in for a storm with the entire mechanisms of government geared to move us in a dangerous direction. Especially with the dangerous ideas of Obama as “The One” leading the charge. The fanatical following of the media towards the left removes the opportunity for intelligent debate and drives us towards one party rule – that is not the definition of hope.

The newspaper quoted a verse out of the book, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” It described how the majority of ancient Athenians, in a very short time, moved from contributing to society to expecting from society. When their focus was on what they would get as opposed to what they could give they “lost both their security and freedom.” We are headed in the same direction.

The paper also had a quote from Thomas Jefferson which said, “A government big enough to solve every misery and problem is strong enough to take everything you own.” I see the difference between this election and the one four years ago is that a majority of Americans think and want the government to solve their problems instead of their own resources. If we have rounded this “dead man’s curve” of the expectation of our Federal government then the future is indeed bleak.

If we replace; rewarding hard work, optional charitable service, and faith is a divine higher power with governmental institutions we are a people and country in peril. Improvement yes, but no to fundamental change.

God Bless America and America Bless God.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Godly Happiness

I had one of my best nights ever at the temple this week. I was officiating for a session and the temple coordinator brought down to the endowment room a young couple to be the witness’s. It was their first time attending the temple since their marriage two months before and their first time as the witness couple. The coordinator in a very serious tone told the wife that she was allowed to cross the aisle and punch her husband in the arm if he falls asleep and misses his cue to go to the altar. Then he cracks this great big smile and says some other funny things and just brought a warm and happy tone to the start of the session. I also jumped into the conversation and we all were smiling when the session filled up and got started.

I stood in front of these noble saints and thought no guilt for the laughter we enjoyed, in fact it felt great. I realized that the Lord’s house is a place to be joyful and happy. If the gospel is “good news” then the temple as the “House of the Lord” should be one of the happiest places on the earth. I listened to the movie and several times it mentioned “happiness”, “joy”, and “rejoicing”. I viewed the whole session differently. As I look out over the patrons there was this one tall guy who couldn’t stop smiling during the whole session. There was also a lady who was always smiling and both of them brought such a happy countenance to the endowment. Sometimes all you see are sad, droopy, sleepy faces, but during that session it seemed so bright with a lot of reflection on the joy of the gospel. It made me very thankful to be able to be in the temple and be presented with godly happiness.

Saturday we had some fun when Danica and Jensen both aged about 3 years old came to visit and rolled around in the huge pile of leaves in the front yard.
I had a great trip to the aquarium where I became best friends with another Moray Eel, maybe its my new hair gel. The aquarist said she had never seen an eel act so friendly, but she warned me not to stick out my fingers. It wasn't my fingers I worried about when he dove down between my legs. Mom and I found a new and fun bike trail in the afternoon and then we played games over at Danica's at night. We topped Sunday off with a Sunday with Chad Greenberg and family. His 5 year old boy is crazy over sharks and so he and I had a fantastic time swapping shark stories.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The ups and downs of life

It has been another wild week in the stock market, up 900, down 750, up 400, down into the Tylenol bottle to sooth my headache in trying to follow this crazy time. With the global market meltdown, energy turbulence, war, and deep distrust of our political and business leaders it sounds similar to a few scripture references to the last days when “the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard”, “perilous times shall come”, “men’s hearts shall fail them”, “then shall be great tribulation”. You get the picture. Thank goodness our wise and blessed country will select a mature and seasoned patriot to lead them during these tough times and not an empty suited, inexperience, indecisive, well spoken young man with no real credentials. What are we doing to ourselves????

Maybe I’m sore because I’m sore. Tiana’s new boyfriend, Preston, came to visit and he being a weight lifter taught me a few new exercises. Well, I’ve been hurting and limping all week from the silly thought that I am 20 years younger and can bench press 200 lbs. You can’t fool Mother Nature.

Luckily I wasn’t sore enough to stay off the bike and mom and I had a great ride on Saturday afternoon to the top of a bluff high above Highlands Ranch.

I peddled all the way up to the top without stopping, not too bad for someone in my crippled condition.

I was also able to take some of my frustration about the market out on the dead tree in the backyard. You will notice that we were excellent lumberjacks and had the tree fall perfectly where it wouldn’t hurt either the fence or the deck. We even made sure that all the small children were out of the way when the tree toppled over. There is the promise of a rousing campfire with oozing s’mores left in this tree earthly legacy and then she’ll be ashes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ceiling Tiles

Not much of a blog today, I’m just glad to have the past few weeks pass into history and hoping that we can get away from the bouncing of the crazy stock market and the election year which is causing great distress with so many of my clients.

Mom and I had a chance to get away this weekend to Boulder to go biking and catch some of the fall colors. It was a perfect Friday and Saturday – BYU won, we found the motel in the dark, a free hot breakfast, the weather was ideal for biking, the trail was a gentle slope up this beautiful mountain, the intense fall colors were brilliant, and best of all it was so wonderful to ride along the trail talking with mom and enjoying the scenery.

I had listened earlier to a radio show about happiness. The caller had told of a beautiful room with a tiled ceiling. Unfortunately one of the tiles of this gorgeous ceiling had fallen out and was missing. The caller lamented that she didn’t have a tile to fix the ceiling and worse she couldn’t take her mind off of the missing tile. She had a difficult time appreciating the pleasant artwork laid out by the all the rest of the tiles. All she saw was the blank space and it ruined the room for her. Too often in life the one missing tile effects our ability to appreciate and enjoy all the other tiles that are in place and can bring great pleasure. I need to get past the missing tiles in life (a rocky stock market, court cases, partnership issues, general frustrating things) so I can appreciate the remaining beauty of the blessings we can enjoy in this life.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rough Week con't.

The forces of nature haven't let up from last week. I guess I haven't learned all the lessons I need to at this time. Thank goodness Tiana hasn't had any more seizures. But she did total her car in a parking lot accident and really bruised her cheek with the impact. The car now becomes a $3,000 anchor around mom's credit neck, what a shame. Bryce is having a painful recovery from his surgery. The incision was actually horizontal across the lower part of his neck halfway around the front of his throat. He can't move his head up or down and can't ride in a car for at least 10 days. It is a strain on Marcia and the kids but they are surviving.
The stock market continues to beat up on my business and dodging one court battle found me at another lawyer's office this last week giving testimony over the 1031 loss. It was brutal to be grilled for 5 hours and I'm sick of the legal profession. On the way to Denver I accidently dropped my driver's license down the tiny slit along side the moving sidewalk and it is lost forever. I couldn't rent a car in Utah and mom had to mail me my passport so I could get back on the plane to come home this Sunday. While in Utah driving Bryce's car I hit and killed a raccoon, which ripped the tire protector off of Bryce's car and I had to get that fixed as well. I didn't have my license so I wasn't able to help Tiana with some legal issues and the week was a painful one.
Then I heard that Sean Walker's baby had some serious consequences with his birth and suddenly these last week's painful complications got put into prospective. The markets will recover, Bryce will heal, Tiana is receiving a gift of a car from a friend, I can get a new driver's license, and other than the raccoon I think we will do OK.
While in Utah I did have a great time meeting Preston VanDyke, Tiana's boyfriend, with interesting connections to mom past childhood. We also sat around one night and told a ton of funny stories that made some of the pain go away. Thank goodness for humor and laughter.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Rough Week

It has been a rough week for the family. Tiana is struggling with some mysterious seizures that has all of us worried. Bryce has ended up in the hospital with a running soccer neck injury. We’re still waiting for the outcome of this serious accident. On a lighter note, I’ve winched and wined all weekend with a very painful toothache – possible root canal and the medical community starts licking their chops at the Barrand family.
I did get in two great dives at the Aquarium, one in the big “Sea of Cortez” tank. A fish had died earlier in the week and so they close the tank to diving and apply antibiotics when a fish dies. So ours was the first dive in over 5 days and we needed to feed the Moray Eels. I’ve been attacked by all those fresh water fish in the Reservoir, and felt a little nervous, but I was freaked out by those Morays. They aren’t usually aggressive but they were hungry and even when I didn’t have any food one kept coming after me when I was cleaning the sand. They are about 5-6 ft long, thick, slimy, green, well armed with sharp teeth eating creatures. Thank goodness they are nearly blind. The folks watching thought it was so funny when I kept back peddling away from the eels.
Things got really crazy when we brought out the food. We hold the large dead mackerels in a long canister and feed the eels with tongs and no mesh gloves. The other fish in the tank haven’t eaten well either over the past week and they were all over us with the smell of food. We had 5 eels to feed. The first bite of fish goes well, and then everything falls apart. The Morey realizes that I have food and starts coming after me with jaws snapping. I have to hurry and dig down into the canister to grab another fish with those silly tongs before the Morey chomps down on my unprotected hand or arm or face. We also need to fight off the other fish in the tank from stealing the mackerel meant for the eels. It must have looked like a comedy act, with this giant green eel with jaws moving coming after me as I swam backwards trying to stuff dead fish in those teeth and avoid being bit. It was wild and I loved it. It kind of reminds me of dealing with lawyers.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

You Just Never Know What Will Happen In A Week

You start just fine and it is amazing how a little lawsuit can mess up your whole week.

Yes I was sued this last week, by my own company. They are upset that so many of their reps have left over the past two months that they lashed out at me to tried to punish the other company.

It has been a nightmare week. They charged me with stealing trade secrets, identity theft, fraud, and conspiracy. The complaint was 56 pages of accusations. They had hired a huge national law firm out of Chicago charging $1,500 an hour to attack me and this other company.

My regular work stopped and I launched into overdrive to find a lawyer to represent me in time for a Friday appearance in court. There are a lot of nuts out there and it is expensive to search for a lawyer, but I found one by Wed and we rehearsed on Thurs and prepared for the hearing. Late Thursday night we heard that the two parties may have reached a settled agreement, but we would still have to appear in court. They reached an agreement when the other side realized that they had NO case against me because I hadn’t done anything wrong. I still had to pay for the lawyer.

It was a strange feeling to sit in court (like you see on TV) with a black robed judge, court reporters, and contentious lawyers. The judge read the charges of theft and fraud and I felt so embarrassed. Even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, I felt that the people in the court would look at me like a thief. I felt so dirty and wanted to crawl under the bench. It isn’t how I want my name to be used. The judge then announced that there was an agreement between the parties, but I didn’t get to speak up and clear my name. I wanted to yell out, “I didn’t do anything”.

I imagined what it would be like to be brought before the bar of God and have our sins read aloud. As it says in the scriptures (Alma 12:14)

14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.

The saving grace would be that Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father and a balance between Justice and Mercy will prevail. If we have repented, then that time before the judgment bar may be a sweet experience. We will realize all that our Savior has done for us personally to remove the pain and embarrassment. We will tap into an outpouring of love so monumental and realize all that we owe our Redeemer.

I would rather read about court cases than experience them first hand and have to pay all the legal costs. Life moves on.

Saturday somewhat made up for the misery of the previous week. Mom and I went on a 2 hour bike ride. And in the late afternoon took “Thomas” crazed Jensen to see the real live Thomas at the Colorado Train Museum. He was in a daze as he crawled over, in, out, and through all these trains on display. For the finale we got to ride on Thomas as he circled the yard three times. I’ve never seen Jensen so calm and excited at the same time. It was a great Grandparent event.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Return to Reality

The mystery tours have ended and it is a happy/sad return to real life with real dirty jobs. So instead of spending my Saturday scuba diving with Don, visiting historic Boston with Celeste, biking with Bryce, listening to Tiana, or hiking around Breckenridge with Danica I donned rubber gloves and was applying chlorine cleanser to my shower in Highlands Ranch. Windex on the mirrors and Soft Scrub on the sink – this is just too much reality. So I took my frustration out on the weeds in the backyard. After an hour or so out in the fresh air, under a perfect blue sky, with the sun in my face I could take joy in the common labors required in life. There must be opposition in all things; by cleaning the toilet I value spending time with kids and grandkids more intently. It has been a great summer.

I can’t claim that the weekend was total drudgery. Mom and I took off late afternoon Saturday with our new bikes and we rode from Kohl’s all the way up to the bluffs behind McArthur Ranch. It was a great ride and I was actually able to peddle all the way to the top without stopping. I was determined not to get off and walk. We were rewarded at the summit with an incredible view all the way from Pike’s Peak on the south to Mt. Evans in the north, just at the right time for that magnificent orange sky that prevails over the Rockies. The 3-D layered mountains with varying shades of deep blue provided the jagged foundation for a breathtaking sight. I say breathtaking sight because it was hard work to reach the top and we both were panting for a while. Mom and I reacted differently to sitting at the top; I was thinking, “the ride down is going to be a blast” and mom was thinking, “I want to build a house right here to catch the view”.

We returned to our home ward for the first time in over a month and the bishop had to re-introduce himself to us. Now things seem back to normal and life can continue.