Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reflecting and recounting

A lot has happened. I feel silly speaking of any of it on this blog since four of the people that read this blog also read my wife's blog, and already know a lot of our happenings.
In short order, they are:
We are in the horrible process of buying a house right now. The incompetence of all involved in procuring financing for houses is spectacular to me. I didn't know that getting a loan could make me want to continue renting. But there you go. We should get the keys tomorrow, but I have heard that for the last 3 weeks, so whatever.
I passed the bar exam. That does not mean that I was adequately prepared or marginally intelligent, but it does mean that there were amazing, faithful people praying and rooting for me and that a kind Father and a sweet daughter were helping in otherworldly ways. I am grateful not to ever have to take that exam again.

I am now General Counsel for a mid sized corporation. That means that I have gone from knowing nothing ("he's in law school, let's ask an attorney") to being expected to now know the answer to questions on many topics, ranging from employment law, ERISA (medical insurance) law, intellectual property law, engineering malpractice, corporate governance, securities transactions, and many others. I just named those because I have been asked to weigh in on those items since I was sworn in on the 2nd of December as a person who should know the answers. I am glad I learned how to research in school.

Let me explain something that I only want to type, and not to talk about, and yet must communicate at some point soon. Losing a child, for me, is a much different experience than it has been for my wife, my other children, or anyone else. No duh. However, some things are the same. I feel a lot of the things that my wife feels, but my schedule, role, and personality cause me to react and express those emotions differently. An expression of grief at work would make others feel uncomfortable. If I cried during one of the MBA classes it would not go unnoticed. And the weird thing is, since it has been 6 months since our loss, I think that I would understand if people said, "yeah, but that was like 6 months ago, right? Why is he crying now?"

The anxiety that comes with the unexplainable death of a child is unmatched in my understanding of things. I know that there are worse things out there, but in my life, this has been the pinnacle. The initial loss was soothed by my religious beliefs, but the ramifications, logistical and mental, are not as easily reconcilable.

For instance, our other children were not going to take a hiatus from needing food, clean clothes, baths, or loving and positive attention. When you don't want to get up and face the day anyway, the thought of waking up to an accumulated mess just adds to the bed's allure as a place of respite. The many pressing legal issues of a corporation will not wait either. Logistically, it is tough to take time to mourn when life doesn't take time off.

The mental ramifications have been staggering, even for someone who loves logic. I work in a field that is defined by logic and reasoning, but I can't haven't yet totally reasoned my way out of the almost crippling fear I feel, even to this day sometimes, when I am walking down the hall to check on the baby in his crib. First of all, the fact that I feel the need to check on him is totally because of fear. I would never have checked on a sleeping baby before. The sleeping time is the one time you shouldn't have to worry about a baby. It is really the only rest of a parent's day. Not now. Now I worry all through the sleeping time. So every once in a while I go check on him. If I find him breathing, it will only help me feel better until I walk out of the room and can't see his chest rising and falling, letting me know that he is still here. But I check because not knowing that that is still happening means that I can wonder if it is still happening. at first, I think, "Is the baby okay?" Then, I think, "Am I being prompted to go in there right now, or am I just worrying?" When that thought comes, I have to check. So, I walk down the hallway to see him.

As I walk, the whole time must reason with myself that the baby is still breathing. Fear makes my heart feel like it will explode. I feel like I want to run to make sure he is okay, but I also feel like I want to stop existing so that I can't go in there and see that he has stopped breathing. In the struggle, the logic and the desire to see him breathing triumph over the fear and I keep walking. When I hear his pig-like snorting with his stuffy nose, I silently congratulate him for his efforts and am instantly proud of him to being so strong and healthy, sleeping like a baby. I feel a surge of thanksgiving that honestly has not waned even a bit in the past 6 months. I am not sure how long it will last, but every time I see any of our three living children, even the oldest, asleep and breathing, I feel proud of them and thankful that I did not find them otherwise.

I am tired a lot, but am thankful for the many blessings that I have received this year.

I miss my Little Miss more than anyone knows.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Stoudemire's new knickname: Squints

Amare was poked in the eye by Boris Diaw, and the poke tore Amare's iris. This got me thinking about other bespectacled athletes, and the immediate first entry in my mind was Chris Sabo.
I am not sure why I thought of him. I didn't follow the Reds, but I have this glitch in my head that makes me think of him when a person wears glasses to play sports.

The close second is Kurt Rambis.
Everyone loves the Rambler

The reasoning here is not too hard. He was probably the most memorable Sun to ever wear glasses on the hardwood. Oliver Miller also wore glasses for a bit as well, but he is more commonly remembered for his inability to keep extra weight off than he was for any eyewear decisions.

Oliver Miller

Some type of medical authority has said that Amare will likely have to wear goggles for the rest of his career. I have never before seen a person look scary or intimidating on the court while wearing glasses. I think he will be the first ever.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Training camp, and Sun Devils

He's yelling "I hate U of A!"

The last post was up for a long time, and I think it is time for a lighter, Suns update type of post.

Training camp is my favorite time of the year. Of course, I have never been to a Suns training camp, but I love this part of the season. There is hope. New players arrive. There are new shoes, new practice uniforms, team photos, and everything else that helps cure the drought of new team info that has lasted three months. The only bad part is that they are having training camp at the University of Arizona.

Let me explain the hatred I have for the U of A. I grew up in a time in AZ when there was no pro football team until I was 10. We didn't have pro baseball or hockey either. The Suns were the only professional team in the state, and they only played 41 games at home a year, unless they made the playoffs. I only went to 2 Suns games ever before my mission. The Suns were not a team I watched in person. I did, however, get to accompany my dad to ASU football games. We would park at what used to be a waffle restaurant on University just west of the power plant on McClintock. Then, we would walk to Sun Devil stadium. This was like a half mile walk. I was 8 or so, and was short for my age, so the walk seemed really long for my short legs. We would walk through the "Cornerstone" shopping center (Flaky Jake's, The Gap, etc.) and on to campus. I remember some of my dad's friends from his old softball team, the "Arizona Tortillas," were guys named Bobby Jones, Kinky, Thumper, and Dave. They would tailgate, and we would eat a hot dog with them before heading into the stadium.

Sun Devil stadium was a castle of concrete at that time. It had not been shared by the Arizona Cardinals yet, so it was more basic than it would become later. I remember the smell of beer a lot, and I remember my dad always using binoculars. I guess this was because there was not a giant TV screen in the stadium showing replays, like there are now. I remember my dad being puked on by a drunk guy that was sitting behind him. I remember eating peanuts. I remember once, on the walk back to the truck, while walking through the "Cornerstone," my dad gave me his cowboy hat, jacket, and drivers license and sent me to the front door of a bar, just to see what would happen. My parents were divorced, and bad memories are a part of that, so the good memories are super important for me. ASU meant fun times for my dad and I. A natural part of being a Sun Devil fan was despising the U of A, so I started that at an early age and have continued ever since.

Our coach? He hugs our enemies. Barf.

Steve Kerr, the Suns new GM and former Spur, played for the U of A. This puts him on the "guys I don't trust" list. He has now gutted my favorite team, and sends them to the U of A for training camp every year. Seeing the Suns practice in Tucson is like seeing your daughter get married to a great guy in a garbage dump. You are so happy, and yet the surroundings make you want to barf. Oh well, I have not yet been asked by the Suns brass how I feel on the subject, so I will let it go. Or let in fester quietly. At least Amare is an ASU student, they aren't all lost.

I read something this morning that made my ears perk up. One of the beat writers for the Suns said that Matt Barnes' mid-range jumper has been automatic. That made me so excited. I have told many that I believed that the best Suns team during this run of good teams was the 2004-2005 team. I think that team had the best chance of winning a title. That year, Joe Johnson smashed his face in the playoffs and the Suns were dispatched by the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Then, during the summer, Johnson demanded a trade and he was replaced by Raja Bell.

I like Raja Bell, and I love his tenacity. However, in D'Antoni's system, the spacing doesn't work well enough for the offense to dominate unless there is a shooting guard with a consistent mid range jumper and three point shot. A lot of people think it is only the 3 point shot that spreads the defenses, but guarding the lane AND the 3 point line is do-able. It is when there is good 3 point AND mid range shooting that the defenses become too porous to stop the offense. Since Raja is only a 3 point shooter, the Suns haven't been as good as they were with JJ. The sad thing is, D'Antoni is gone. I can never prove my theory. Now I have no idea what a good mid-range shot does for the team.

Another former Spur? After seeing this I need to go slam my hand in a car door.

Terry Porter, the new Suns coach and former Spur (I am detecting a pattern here), has said that he would rather win in the 80's than lose in the 110's (this is points scored per game, for those who are still reading without knowing much about basketball. If there is such a person still reading, I am sorry to be boring you to death). What happened to wining in the 110's? That means that we could end up watching a Phoenix version of the Spurs. I think I just threw up in my mouth. I would not be happy if that were the case. Why play that style of basketball when you have the best point guard in the game for an open court game on your roster? Playing grind it out basketball with Nash as your point guard is like using the Hope diamond to hammer nails. It will work, but you are using the best thing in the world to do something that a lot less expensive item can do - AND you are denying the world of something special by denying the true purpose it was made for. Steve Nash should not be pounding the ball for 12 seconds in a half-court set, he should be running a team like the 2004-2005 team that wins in the 110's.

Terry Porter's favorite hammer

Regardless of what all this means, I am glad that it is the start of a new season for all that it means to begin anew. Go Suns.

Let's hope we still see plenty of this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I am flaky

Sorry for the insane delay in posting. A lot has gone on this summer.
I posted that we had twins already. That was a long time ago, so i can catch you up. It is funny even writing about it, since most of the people who see this blog also read my wife's blog, but for those who don't, I will keep you in the loop.

I studied for the bar this summer. The bar exam in California is a horrible event. It costs a lot of money to take the test because nearly everyone has to take a prep course to get up to speed on all of the subjects. The prep course is the really expensive part. There are 4 hours of lecture each day, with homework at night. Some people study 14 hours a day. I, on the other hand, am not a bachelor without a church calling or a job. I am actually the opposite of that person. At the start of the prep course, I had a job, a calling, and a family of 6 to care for. My studies were therefore neglected in the first part of the course so I could help my wife with the twins. I planned on attending lectures and skipping homework until the twins started sleeping through the night (with our kids, that usually means 8 weeks old), and then I would put the pedal to the metal for the last 4-5 weeks of class and really make up for lost time.
When I say "lost time", I do not, in any way, mean that the time I spent helping with the twins was somehow a waste of my time. I had a really good time being busy in tending the twins. It is really something to see two babies eating at the same time. It is a special time with any baby when the middle of the night feedings happen. There is not a lot like that in the world these days. A mother or a father rising from a comfortable sleep to feed a helpless child who needs to eat multiple times during the night. The house is quiet. Eternal things are pondered. Prayers and blessings are uttered which are sometimes forgotten by the time morning rolls around. A parent's clock is at that time truly a 24 hour cycle. The day is not measured by day and night, but by 3 hour feeding intervals. All is altered for the child. It is special.
One item I truly loved was to see their mother holding them both at once. To imagine them both in her body at the same time was difficult after seeing them on the outside. I loved this sight enough that I took multiple pictures of it, especially during feeding times. The babies were bottle-fed, so it was a graceful dance of coordination and skill to keep the bottles in the right position for each child while both were still unable to move much on their own. It seemed like the guy who spins plates on the end of long sticks. At all times plates are spinning, but they are all constantly slowing as well. It is a struggle against gravity to keep the plates spinning, and it was a struggle against gravity (and 3am fatigue) to keep the bottles up. Different bottle propping mechanisms were purchased, and then discarded.
At 7 weeks and 6 days, both babies made it through a 6 hour stretch without eating. That is a long rest to parents of newborn twins. We were excited. Although my wife's time is spent mostly with the children, my time is mostly spent at school or work. This is necessary so that her time CAN be spent at home. It is because of this that we see the long stretch as a sign of different things. We both see it as a big step for the babies in their physical growth. However, to my "outside the house time" it means a chance to study more to catch up. My plan was working. All was good.

On The morning of their eight week birthday, I found our baby girl dead in her crib. No other words are needed here as to that morning. I can't really type anything that would convey anything anyway.

There was no cause of death found. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is known by many and fully understood by no one. There is no known cause, and no symptoms that are recognizable. A runny nose seems to be the only symptom that is at least correlated with a SIDS death, but our baby girl's nose was never runny.
We had to pick a burial plot. A casket. A headstone. Speakers and songs for the funeral service.

The funeral was special. I would not call it beautiful, because I wish it had never had to happen. The spirit of the Lord was present, however, and a lot of friends of mine who are not members of our church were there for me and heard me bear my testimony of the plan that God has for our family. We needed the spirit we felt there, and it was very comforting to have so many loved ones present.

After the family members flew back to their homes, things were quiet for a while. I told work that I would not be coming in for the indefinite future, and I didn't attend bar prep lectures. These things were not important to me then, and Stacie and the kids were all that I could focus on. We were very close to God for a while. This is not because we feel far from Him now. It was just different. We were reading everything we could from prophets and apostles about death, dying, tribulation, and other topics that we thought might help us. At first, the mind tries to understand why the death happened. Not only did we not understand what caused her death, but we didn't know why our Father in Heaven would give us a beautiful daughter only to take her back after 8 weeks. In talking with my wife, I have compared it to winning our dream house, to be built as we want it. After about 9 months of anticipation, we move in for 8 weeks, only to have it burn down. It cannot be replaced. Multiply this many times over to match the level of loss, but you kind of get the idea. We changed our view of our family for the 9 months that my wife was pregnant. We got used to the idea of having 4 kids, with a set of twin infants. We were elated. The loss of our daughter brought several types of mourning along. We obviously mourn HER. Her little body that we cannot kiss and tuck into bed. Her smile, which we only saw in the last week she was alive, will not be a part of our family pictures. We miss her.

We also mourn the plans we had. We will miss seeing our two babies grow up as a pair. We will miss our oldest daughter having a younger sister to teach girly things. We will miss pink onesies, matching dresses with big sister, and all the rest that comes with a little girl. Those plans are hard to mourn as well, but not as hard as mourning our little girl.

After talking with a some people I respect greatly, I decided to take the bar exam. After missing two weeks of classes, I had some catching up to do. I didn't ever really catch up. I wanted to be with my family, and when I was "studying", I just didn't really feel like it. I did get my studying done, but nothing like I would have without our loss. So what? How hard could some dumb test be, compared to the rest of my summer? Even if it WAS so hard, how hard would failing the test really be for me? I was pretty relaxed taking the test. I got a priesthood blessing, and I did my best on the test, even if my preparation was shoddy. I will get my results the week before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is well known to my family as being my favorite day of the year. Regardless of whether I passed or not, I will be thankful for much.

The week after the funeral, our landlord/neighbor/bishop (all one person) began some previously planned and sorely needed structural work on our house. It was major enough construction that for a few weeks we could not live at home. Mourning, studying for the bar, and taking care of three kids (still including a new baby) are all hard enough in a stable living situation. Living at my in-laws' house a half hour from our house was not terrific. I am thankful that they took us in. I love them. These things aside, I feel like our lives craved normalcy and we were instead on an odd type of break from reality. The three days of the bar exam were spent alone, as my family was at my in-laws' house and I stayed in our open air house at night. These are not optimal testing conditions, but I rested well, ate good breakfasts, and was blessed to be okay during the test. I did miss my family and was excited to be reunited with them.

The night the exam ended we went to a beach cottage in Bodega Bay with some friends to unwind. We couldn't stay in our house anyway, and I needed a break. We had a great time, and it was fun to be with our friends' family. They have five kids, so it was a busy time and there was a lot of fun had by all.

The next week I attended an LDS scout encampment that hosted 25 stakes from northern CA. I had attended planning meetings for this camp since February, and it took the organizers one year to plan. It was a major undertaking. I served as our stake commissioner, so I was busy for a lot of the time. I got to spend a lot of time with the bishops and leaders of the wards, and with the stake presidency. I enjoyed the focus on priesthood and came away with a new perspective on leadership and service. I heard an apostle and the Young Men general president testify of the scouting and Young Men programs, and I was glad to have attended.

For the last week of our house's uninhabitability, we went on a vacation. This is not common for us, as we usually just are taken on vacation by the in-laws. Not this time. I have a real, full-time career now, and as grown ups we took the family of five on a trip to San Diego where we stayed in hotels that we paid for and picked out ourselves. It was good to be away together. It was a type of rest that we had not enjoyed since at least the babies were born, but probably more like since the start of law school.

Upon our return, I started work full time. I worked full time during the summers during school, but it feels different now. I have a plant in my office. I have organized my desk. I wear work clothes. It is the start of my professional life again, since I did this once already in the Bay area before returning to finish school. This time, there is no exit in sight. This is my life. I still have to finish my MBA, which will take two night classes a week for the next two years, but I am no longer focused on school first and work second. My company has been great for us, and I see a long relationship here.

Since the summer of 2005 we have been looking at houses. Really looking. We have used 6 or 7 realtors who have shown us many houses. I think we have toured every model home in our area code, and have been pretty serious about 5 or 6 places. This summer we got very serious about one, then the twins were born and we faded. Then we got serious about another, and it didn't seem right. I thought that we were never going to buy. But now, we think we have found a home. I will post about it later, if we get it.

That is where I am now. My oldest daughter starts kindergarten the same week that I go back to finish my MBA. We have an ice cream social to attend this afternoon welcoming her to the elementary school. Our house still does not have a roof. There are trusses, but there is no plywood. This means that the drywall from our ceiling is the only thing separating the inside of our house from the outside air. We have no clue when it will be done.

My sweet wife is doing pretty well. She has had the most stressful summer that anyone could imagine, but she is a strong person and still serves faithfully in her calling. We have moments where the loss of our daughter is brought right in front of our faces, and sometimes it feels really heavy again. Some people that knew we were having twins but don't know about our daughter's death will ask where she is. Some ask how the babies are doing. When I hear "babies" instead of "baby", I know that I have to tell them. I feel sorry that they are embarrassed or if they feel like they have ruined my day by bringing it up. The thing is, I never forget it. They are just talking about something that I was already thinking about, but not talking about yet. I have a picture of the twins eating together on my office wall, right behind my computer.

This is definitely the longest post I have ever made, and I doubt very highly that another post will ever come close. There are no pictures and most may not read the whole thing. I realized that my wife's blog has not been kept as current on our lives as some might want, so I thought I would get it all down in print before I forget something.

I want to thank those who have prayed for our family. We have felt the added strength. We are thankful for the cards, letters, food, flowers, and other items that we have not thanked you for. We have a list of everything we received, but I am not sure that we will ever sit down and write those thank you cards.
If anything else happens that is major, I will try to keep all informed, if the wifey doesn't.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spare Time

This could be the most insane thing I have ever seen.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two new additions

We are now the proud parents of four children, as the twins were born last Wednesday night. A boy and a girl, both healthy and hungry. As this is not a family journal type blog, my wife's blog can be scoped to see pics of the kids, if you are into that type of thing. Also, I kind of have a fear of putting pictures of my family on my blog in case a Spurs fan (they are all devil lovers) sees one of my kids in the streets and harms him or her. That is not below how the Spurs and their minions act (See: Bowen, Bruce).

As for game 1, I wanted to download some of my thoughts.
1. Except for the iffy offensive foul calls against Shaq, I thought that the game was fairly well officiated. This is a change from the past. However, reading blogs everywhere I have apparently come to expect the worst, and have now been weathered against being picked on by the refs. All others are saying that the calls favored the Spurs, and I thought it was a pretty even game. I guess that is what I get for being a Suns fan, gratitude for not being treated TOO harshly by the officials.
2. The Spurs should have won the game. They are the world champs and were playing the first game of the playoffs at home. They are supposed to win that game. The fact that they needed a) Shaq to only play for 30 minutes of the 58 total game minutes, b) Amare to foul out, c) favored officiating, d) a horrible shooting first half by Nash, e) Grant Hill to be playing injured, f) the only 3 pointer that Duncan made all year, g) 2 overtimes, h) and to play at home all shows that the Suns are the better team here. All of those things will not go wrong again at the same time. The Spurs had better look the heck out.
3. Let's not overlook that awesome fall away 3 pointer that Nash had with only a few seconds remaining in 2OT. That was awesome.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Best case scenario: Shaq was sandbagging this last year and a half in Miami because he knew they sucked and he didn’t like Riley anymore. Shaq’s arrival to Steve Nash’s team means that he will have a career year just like every other Nash teammate has before him. No one can double team Shaq without leaving Amare open, so Shaq and Amare get to be guarded one on one (how does that taste Timmy?). Boris Diaw and Grant Hill are inspired without Marion on the squad, so Boris returns to 04-05 shape and we make this a championship season.

Worst case: Shaq is always hurt, cries about having to share the stage with other stars, and we have just witnessed the end of the Nash era in one big boom.

Biggest thing that no one is talking about: Steve Kerr is no dummy, so there must be more to this than we all see. The first reaction of everyone is that this is a sucky trade, so why would they even consider it? There has to be a reason that stems from knowledge that everyone else cannot see. We lost a star, but he was leaving anyway, complained all the time, couldn’t create his own shot, had a bad out of game work ethic (see: horribly ugly jumper that he refuses to change, gone all summer instead of practicing with the team) and he was asking for a max level contract to boot. We also dumped an overpaid backup PG that was sitting on the bench, making room for our two good rookie signings from the summer.