Friday, November 26, 2010

Year Four

You would think that eventually the dates of our losses would fade from our memories and we would only remember the times that we spent together with loved ones who have passed/moved on. Unfortunately, that isn't how it works.

I was only a few hours into today when I saw the date and had the poignant feeling of loss. It has now been 4 years since Andrew died. The days get easier in between, but when this day comes around each year, the wound feels fresh, as if no time has passed at all.

The tiny memories have started to disappear, only surfacing during random moments of reflection. Sometimes I remember the sound of his laugh; other times I can no longer hear it. There are days where I'm sure I can smell him and feel him there; other days when I only feel the emptiness of the absence of his presence.

It seems weird to me that I have been married for a couple years now and my husband and brother have never met. They would have been good friends. I know this, because they are both dorky enough to laugh at all, well most, of my jokes and goof off with me. Both have dared to dance all crazy with me. Both have been willing to care for me when I am sick or just plain lazy and both are my best friends.

I now realize that I sometimes took our friendship for granted, and that hurts, because I didn't cherish it completely when I had it. I always figured that he would be here with me, regardless of where life took us. I just didn't realize that life would take him away.

I'll never make that mistake again.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Phoenix, AZ

Yay- We got to visit with Todd's bro and his fam in Vegas on our drive down and I stayed with some family friends who we don't often see.

Boo- 101 degrees. Seriously. In October.

Yay- The King Fam (from my mission) lives only an hour from where I stayed, so I got to visit with them, not once, but twice while I was here. And because they know me, they remembered the ice cream.

Boo- The economy is rough in AZ, which does not bode well for sales.

Yay- For fun pranks.

While visiting the Vegas Mosher's we decided to take a dip in the pool during the evening. There were dares and cajoling and all the boys and I ended up getting in. Todd hadn't brought a swimsuit, so he borrowed his brother's. Of course, Mark was smart enough to give him the white one. Oh, did I mention that he had previously cut the liner out of it? Right after Todd did a cannonball into the pool, Mark turned to us and said, "His swimsuit doesn't have a liner, so it's see-through." Of course, Todd decided to get out of the pool right at that moment, since nobody had joined him yet, and instinctively we all checked out his swimsuit. Yup, see-through. I think I got a towel in front of him quickly enough for modesty's sake. However, it did take me a minute, because I was laughing too hard.

Boo- For dead camera batteries and missing General Conference.

Yay- Hello, both of those are things I can fix. Buying batteries and visiting the Mesa Temple to get my pic and I can watch Conference when I get home. Gotta love tivo and the BYU channel.

Boo- Sore feet from standing all day for 10 days... and did I mention the 101 degree weather?

Yay- It's time to go home! I'm meeting Todd in Vegas and then we are coming home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lake Powell

Lake Powell...sunburns, red sand castles, laughter, wakeboarding (with a few tears), pictures, cliff jumping, lizards, sand crabs, snakes, mud fights, random underwear washing up on the sand, shredded flat boat trailer tires, ice cream sucking fish, Camp Three-Beach and campfire. It was a great trip with minimal bumps and tire changes.

Here are a few pics (OK, maybe more than a few):

Such concentration

I am supposed to inform you that Jessica was not posing...she really was just checking to see if there was sand on her bum. I just happened to catch it on film,

No, they are not in pain. It was a brisk early morning dip.

The view from our campsite.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nashville Nightmare

Throughout my entire life, my family has always joked that we are living proof of Murphy's Law. I do not remember a vacation where something didn't go wrong. Sometimes there were only small problems, whereas other times, it was disastrous. There was never a time, however, where we didn't have a blast and make memories.

I am just going to have to chalk up this last trip to Nashville, TN to that same Smith curse. It started out badly and went straight to worse. I think that I lost my driver's license somewhere in the Portland Airport and didn't realize this until it was too late to do anything about it. Luckily, I had my passport and so could still get on the airplane. In the meantime, I had my mother call the car rental agency and attempt to figure out whether I would still be able to rent a car if I had my information and driver's license number faxed directly to the company. It wasn't until I arrived at the airport that I found out that they don't care if you misplace your information. No amount of faxing or emailing or even personal calls to the police dept. will help you out...and subsequently sweet talking.

So, I figure, alright, I can handle this. I weigh my options and do a quick cost analysis and end up using a shuttle. I'm still waiting for my credit card to be reloaded after booking all kinds of hotels and whatnot on it, so I go to use my debit card to pay for the shuttle. It is after it declines a couple of times that we realize my debit card expired the day before. Doh! I had plenty of money, but no access to it. Luckily, Todd had handed me one of his credit cards before we parted.

Once I got to the hotel, I asked the hotel clerk if there was any sort of public transportation that I could use to get to the Sam's Club where I was doing a road show. Apparently, there was one small "trolley" that nobody could find information about, nor was their any info online. No taxis were available and I hadn't been able to get a hold of a manager at the Sam's to verify a time to set up my demo. So, I swallowed my pride and asked the night clerk for a ride when he got off work. Unfortunately, he forgot about me the next morning. There was, however, a guest who had just checked out who was willing to give me and my large pelican case a ride.

I spent my entire weekend either walking a couple hours in the morning or catching rides from random Sam's cashiers/sample people. I gained an intimate knowledge of 3 miles around my hotel, thanks to some bad directions, and I gained a stalker, who later apologized for being stalkerish. I also found out, after some products I had sold were returned, that one of my coworkers was demo-ing at the Costco not even a mile from where I was. Of course, Costco sells our products for cheaper and so I lost quite a few sales to him. And to top it all off, my TV at the hotel wouldn't work. I found it sadly hilarious that Todd seemed not to stress about any of my dilemmas until he found out about my TV. His response? "Could ANYTHING else go wrong?" So after an unproductive weekend of leaving to walk to work at 6am in order to work 14 hour days and hitching rides, I am extremely ecstatic to be home.

I do have to say a quick thanks to Bob and Sam, who were driving to Florida to pick up Sam's grandparents and take them home to Kentucky, Mik and Kelsey, who both work at Sam's and are dating each other and took pity on me several times, Raven, whose husband has been stationed in Kuwait for the past year (the only time she has seen him was when he took 2 weeks leave for them to get married) and Matt, who is recently engaged and saving for the wedding of his fiance's dreams. I am very thankful for these new friends who helped me out and shared their lives with me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Portland, OR

My first official trip to sell ladders was to Portland, OR. I really enjoyed being there and I learned a lot. There are a lot of great people who live there, and I made quite a few new friends while working. It was also fun to see some friends who moved there a few years ago and their new home.

Here are a few things that I learned while in Portland:

1. When buying cases of beer, you must purchase either 1 or 3. I don't know why, but I was positioned across from the alcohol section and watched as people loaded their carts up with beer.
2. On that note, $300 for a ladder is a lot of money, however, $300 for wine isn't. I'm a little confused by this considering that the ladder has a lifetime warranty and the wine...well, a moment on the lips and all that.
3. Apparently, there are a lot of people who eat fish. This is a phenomenon not seen in Utah and definitely not appreciated by me. I mean seriously, why choose fish when you can have a good steak or something?
4. Rain gutters have to be cleaned out regularly. Of course, you have to have foliage for this to be a necessity.
5. Babies love to be in backpacks. Now, I have seen this before, just not in such high numbers. It seemed like every baby I saw was in a backpack on a parent's back.
6. The whole athletic clothing in the morning while running errands after your run isn't just for mornings when you are in Oregon. You can wear your workout clothes all day long. I often felt quite overdressed in my polo and khakis.
7. Lemon pudding cake is my favorite dessert ever. Previous to this, I had always thought it was my mom's pie. I must have been misinformed.
8. If you make friends with the sample ladies they will give you as many samples as you want. This is really good when it is steak and cheesecake day...I don't want to talk about it...
9. Days Inns do not have complimentary conditioner. Their target market must be men with short hair, because women understand how important hair conditioner is.
10. I have also had it reaffirmed that people outside of Utah find my sense of humor charming. In Utah, people stare at me blankly when I am trying to be funny. Elsewhere, they think I am freaking hilarious. I would move to a different state, but being in Utah keeps me humble.

I also found a new Italian restaurant that I love, visited the Portland Temple (pics will be up later), and realized that, yes, I can do this whole being a salesman thing. In fact, I quite enjoy it. Now off to Nashville, TN.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The End of the US Census

Now, as the Census slowly draws to an end and the temporary Census workers put on their job seeking hats, I have to think to myself how thankful I am to have already been placed in a position at a different company. I will forever be thankful that I was able to work here and save my sanity (I don't do well being at home), as well as my financial situation. I have made some great new friends, but I am ready to move on.

This may sound snobbish, but I didn't go through all my years of schooling to work in a position that won't even compensate me enough to pay off my student loans. Instead, I spent the time earning an MBA so that I can be a ladder salesperson. Yes, I see the irony in that statement. I will be working as a salesperson for Little Giant Ladders, the same as Todd.

There are quite a few pros for the job:
1. This will put me on the same travel schedule as Todd and we will have every 0ther 10 days together, without me having to go to work while he gets to sleep in.
2. There is a pretty decent upside to the payscale (although it is 100% commission, which can be good, but also can be bad).
3. I will be working with a company that has integrity (and surprisingly, this is not an oxymoron) that I can believe in and who has a superior product.
4. Spending a few years working in sales will help me bolster my resume, which will enable me to truly utilize all of my other preparations for the corporate world.
5. Oh yeah, and did I mention that I will have every other 10 days off? I will have time to work on all sorts of projects that have been put on the back burner until a time when I have, either more time, or more money.

I am quite excited to see this chapter in my life end and the new one begin. You never know what could happen next. Maybe I'll actually learn to cook or sew or something...probably not.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Dreams

I must be feeling nostalgic because lately, I have had a lot of random dreams about different friends from the past, or friends who I don't see very often anymore. So, I just wanted to put a note in here to wish all those friends well and let ya'll know that I've had you on my mind.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why am I so overwhelmed?

Yup. This pic pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately.

I'll be honest, I have no idea why I feel so overwhelmed these days. I could blame it on the fact that I am working, but that never used to be an issue for me. It does seem like there are many people pulling me in many different directions (though not overly much, so that isn't a good excuse), plus work literally gives me a headache everyday. I blame the headaches on the cheap headphones that we have to wear, which put pressure on my head all day.

I don't think that it helps that I am feeling so unorganized. That is actually something that I can control, and I love to organize, it just seems that I am never able to keep it that way. Plus, there is definitely an added level of difficulty being married to someone who prefers chaos to my over-organized ways.

I've slowly been working at getting my church calling a little more organized. It helps that there are now three adults to 6-7 girls for Activity Days. Now, if only I could get my house in order. It seems that every time I finally start making some headway, something happens to mess up what I am doing. I am going to have to go back to putting all of my clothes out for the next day, carrying my large homemade planner (it is actually very cool and very fitting for my needs) and planning my meals a week at a time.

After I get organized, again, I can definitely start focusing on all my other goals that seem so far away at this moment...oh, and the perpetual list of things to do around the house.

If anyone reads this post (haha...that's the big if) and has any great ideas to help me out with this, please, do tell. Heck, right now, even this post is a big jumble.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...Thankfully, it's off to work we go.

So, Todd started his new job this week. It's a month of training and then back to traveling for a living.

This is a good thing, for those of you who are thinking, "Oh, that sucks." We actually had a couple companies that were wanting to hire Todd and we chose the one that involved travel, because it just works for us. Todd loves to travel, (sometimes I'll go with) and we get the added benefits of hotel points and frequent flier miles. *Hey, we all have our priorities.* Oh and it helps that technically Todd only works half of the year, when he's home, he's really home and he gets a month off starting just before Christmas.

Things worked out pretty well after Todd got laid off. (Ah, such is the life for salesmen during this economical low.) He found a new position and started work about two weeks later. Those two weeks became paid vacation due to his old position paying him wages for his accrued vacation time. All I can say is, thank heavens for the blessings of tithing.

Now if only I can find a position as quickly after this temporary position ends at the end of July...Oh, and can I request that it is applicable to my degree and moves my career in the direction I want it to go? Maybe that is too much to ask.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love birthdays...and holidays in general. Todd, not so much.

So, although Todd got laid off and so we have been (as always) pinching pennies, I know he loves me when he spends the majority of the day planning and preparing a great dinner meal. The table was set with our fine china (we only have 5 place settings so it doesn't get used very often, but it is beeeautiful), the crystal and even a votive candle in the middle of the table. Todd dressed in one of my favorite outfits on him and we had a great meal with every food being something different from our norm.

The theme of the evening was "stuffed." We had stuffed peppers, salad, green beans and stuffed pork chops, and to top it off...I was very stuffed at the end. We're going to have to wait a while before we decide on what to eat for dessert. I still have some sugar cookie dough and cream cheese frosting from yesterday. Mmmm...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kylie's Obituary

Last week, from the information that we could gather, my brother's widow, Kylie, walked into a gun range, checked out a gun, bought some ammo, then ended her life in very much the same way that my brother's life ended.

I'm still not certain how I feel about it. It is almost like a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy, without the prose. My initial thought was an emotionless, "Wow, what a waste." Then I moved forward.

I tried to find a way to make it to the funeral, but it just wasn't possible, so we sent flowers and a note. Then, I began to feel such sorrow for Kylie's dad, and that is when the tears came. This poor man has been through so much and watched his family spin out of control in a lot of ways. I ached for his pain.

As for Kylie. I don't know if it was part of the forgiveness process or just how I have dealt with the unresolved situation, but I don't really feel anything, not even regret. I just hope that now she can find peace, something I don't think she has felt for a very long time. I also know that Andrew will help her find that peace in death, just as he took care of her in life, only now, he will have more strength as he takes on her struggles.

Kylie Obituary

Kylie Fleming, age 25, passed away April 14, 2010 in Utah. She was born May 2, 1984 in Mesa, Arizona to Jeffrey and Erin Bell Fleming.

Kylie spent much of her early childhood in Mesa and attended Longfellow Elementary. She was the apple of her daddy’s eye and the joy of her family. Kylie moved to Orem, Utah in her early teens to live with her mom and siblings. After returning to Arizona at age thirteen, she spent some time living with her paternal grandparents in the pines of Strawberry. Kylie then moved with her dad to Gilbert, attending Gilbert High School and playing soccer. After high school, Kylie returned to Utah and found work as a lifeguard at Lagoon. There, she met Andrew Smith. Kylie returned to Arizona to live with her family for a while and began her work in retail sales and management. She found that her work ethic and desire to succeed served her well in the industry. Kylie lost her mom in 2003 and worked through that pain bravely. Andrew and Kylie were married in 2007. Her family witnessed a wave of peace come over Kylie that they had never before seen. When Andrew passed away, Kylie was again devastated by her loss. Her strong desire to survive and the support of her family seemed to sustain her. Most recently, Kylie has been in a long-term relationship with Bob Olsen of Utah.

Kylie was a loving daughter, supportive sister, caring granddaughter, favorite cousin, and loyal friend. Of Kylie’s many roles, she was deeply fulfilled in her role as big sister. She adored her siblings and felt a tremendous responsibility to take care of Zach and Stephanie from a young age. She was a thoughtful and loving big sister to Jenna, as well. Kylie was undeniably “Fleming” in her wonderful sense of humor. She had an uncanny ability to quote movie scripts and song lyrics. Countless family pictures show Kylie making silly faces or laughing hysterically. Kylie loved food. People would never believe how much she would eat given how remarkably tiny she was. In the past few years, Kylie took great pride in learning to cook. Kylie was a talented artist and loved to draw. She had an ear for music and was self-taught on the piano. Kylie enjoyed snowboarding, motorcycle riding and taking pictures of her friends and family. Kylie was an extremely passionate person with great capacity for love. She was a breathtakingly beautiful woman who turned heads wherever she went. Kylie’s twinkling eyes and radiant smile would light up an entire room. Her abundant hugs made those inside them feel loved and accepted. Kylie was, at heart, a happy go-lucky girl who found great satisfaction and fulfillment in helping others. Despite her many trials, Kylie awoke every day attempting to focus on the positive with admirable optimism and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Kylie is survived by her loving family; her father; Jeff Fleming, her siblings; Stephanie, Zach and Jenna, her niece; Kenadie Fleming, her step-mom; Kathy Diggs, her grandparents; Gerald and Carolyn “Funny” Fleming of Gilbert and R. DerMont and Linda Besner Bell, her great grandmother Dorothy Fleming, her aunts and uncles; Harrell and Jennifer Boyster, Guy and Sylvia Fleming, Kevin Fleming and Jennifer Mallicot, Carrie Hinson, Jeff and Karen Bell, ChrisJohn Bell, Brandon and Audrey Bell, Chad and Susan Fullmer, by Jaynee Besner and 42 beloved cousins.

Kylie was preceded in death by her dear great grandmother; Georgie Irene Besner, her mother; Erin Bell Young, and her husband; Andrew Smith.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Windy Days

I have seen many comments from friends talking about the wind and how creepy or how dirty it is. It is exactly the opposite for me as I sit here this evening with a good book (courtesy of Kailey's ever-growing library) and listen to the wind beat against the house.

I'm not sure if it is the sound, the smell, the feel of the wind when I walk outside or the way that it suffocates out all of the day-to-day white noise that causes the feeling of security I always feel when it is stormy out. I know that sounds contradictory, but the wind and rain always remind me of when I was little and the quiet calm of driving through either the stormy weather or the stormy obstacles of my life. And then I hear a song, Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and I feel as though I'm sitting back in the old (then new) Mercury Sable, driving home from visiting my grandparents in Idaho.

Why I always think of that trip in particular, I don't know. There was nothing noteworthy about it. It was just my parents, my brother, our new puppy named Bandit and me. It seems like so many of our trips home were either driven at night or during a storm and this drive was no different. It was late night, there was a steady rain and I could hear the windshield wipers swishing. Andrew and I were in the backseat practicing singing in a gravelly Louis Armstrong voice as the demo tape with maybe 10 songs played on repeat through the night. I also seem to remember a stretch of time where nobody said a thing. We all rode in a comfortable silence, lost in our thoughts and listening to the music.

So, although the wind seems horrible to so many others, it truly soothes my soul and brings me peace. I don't think of the wind as a storm, but more like a blanket of security, blocking out all of the extraneous and superfluous white noise while I allow myself to get lost in my nostalgia.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Favorite Shot of the Weekend

I love this shot of Wendi & Jared. I think the subtlety of the reflection in the window of the Manti Temple is what makes it my favorite shot of the weekend.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Little Things

Todd may not be the best at grand gestures, but not many can argue with the care that he puts into the little things that he does everyday. I am most impressed by the latest routine that he and I have gotten into.

He knows that I really struggle with early mornings, so every morning he sets his alarm in time to wake up and make both my lunch and breakfast. Then he starts the truck to let it warm up. Now that is love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Early Mornings

I am not an early morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but work starts at 7am for me and I have to meet my carpool at 6:10 while it is still dark outside. How sad is that? I don't even get the benefit of seeing the sunrise. So, this is my new wallpaper, that for some reason I have to reset every morning. It is amazing at how much a picture can change my outlook on the morning. I know, it's cheesy, but it really does.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Piece of Chocolate and Spinal Readjustment

As I was helping out with the Business Expo today, I decided to take a break right before closing. Todd and I walked around a few aisles of the different booths and stopped at the Spinal Rehabilitation's booth when we saw that not only were they offering a free 5 minutes massage, but they were using some new-fangled machine to do a quick readjustment on backs. For anyone who knows me, you can understand why I would wait in line for such an opportunity. I am always looking for a way to get my blasted rib (which has been out for a very long time) back into place without spending a ton 'o' cash. I was pretty impressed with the whole process and the pricing and will probably be going into the clinic during the near future, funds allowing.

It was during the time that I was watching the whole process being done on another lady that a little boy, probably only about 5/6 years old, came up to me and handed me one of the Kit Kat bars being given away by another booth. It was so random that I had to chuckle, when the thought of why he might do this came to me. I could just imagine his thought process:

"Uh-oh, chubby girl. I'd better give her some chocolate before she eats me."

And at that thought, I chuckled, again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Beater Vehicles

I have to preface this by stating that I am glad that both Todd and I drive older vehicles and that they are paid off. A car payment is not an added financial burden that I would like to have right now. That said, I still do not appreciate the joys of cars that break down because they are old enough to be my parents (OK, not really).

This past week, on the car alone, we found that we needed to replace the battery, starter, ignition switch, something on the frame and a couple tires. Mind you, we just replaced the CV joint just a little while ago. Thank Heavens for mechanic brother-in-laws and dads who know their way around an engine. Both of mine have been willing to help Todd work on the car, although he replaced the starter and the battery by himself the other day.

As for the ignition switch...well, it's kind of important to be able to start the car. However, to fix that, we have to take the whole steering column apart. Who has time for that? So instead, we are saving that project for a sunnier day and Todd and my bro-in-law bypassed the ignition switch with wiring and created a start button in the car. It's real classy when we have to reach down below the steering wheel and hotwire our car to go anywhere.

So if you see me starting my blue car, I promise, I'm not lifting it. And as for the question of why don't we get another car? If we can find one that's cheap enough, we might be able to swing it, but I sure do have sentimental feelings for my Grandpa Blue car that was inherited from my brother. I don't know if we'll ever get rid of it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 2 at Work

I have now officially been working with the Census Bureau for 1 week, going on 2. So far we have done a TON of training and learned tasks for multiple positions. Because I am part of quality control, we do a bit more training than the census takers, and it has been pretty interesting.

It has also been interesting to watch the blogs and posts about the Census as it is getting closer to CENSUS DAY, when the call centers go live. There are so many fallacies and ridiculous rumors going around about how the census is gathering information that will be used to manipulate the public, find out personal information about us, etc. Wow. All I can say is that people really need to do their own research

To sum up the answers to the fears out there, no, the Census is not a ploy to exploit the American public. There is one every 10 years and has been since the creation of our nation (haha...creation of nation rhymes). The information gathered is used for many of the statistics that we hear, fund allocation and most importantly, to decide how many representatives each state is allowed.

ALSO, anyone working with the Census has to sign very strict confidentiality contracts, which if broken, are punishable by prison time and huge fines. These contracts are lifelong and do not even allow the people's names to be mentioned to a non-Census worker. Information gathered will only be released in the form of statistics, with no personal information being used. In fact, no other government agencies are allowed access to the personal information, not even the President. In several decades the details will be released to the general public and used mainly for genealogical purposes. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this method of family history research.

I think the whole process is very cool and very well organized. It'll be nice when we finally get out of the training process and officially start work. AND I hope that people will be nice and do their civic duty by filling out their questionnaires.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Prep

I can't decide how I feel about this Valentine's creation. We made "Love Bug" Valentines for Jessica to hand out to her class, but Kailey didn't really want anything crafty. I hate not going all out for the holidays, so I told Kailey that I would create a card for her that involved our animals, which are her passion.

This is the card that I whipped up in Photoshop. I'm not sure what I think about it. Can I get some feedback?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monthly Projects

Every month the girls have a monthly project assigned to them in school. So far we have done reports, created projects for constellations, created picture books and even a Grecian urn depicting our version of the birth of Aphrodite (or Venus). This last month the girls had to learn all of the major Greek Gods' counterparts in Roman mythology.

So their project was just a test, but we attacked it with the same vigor that we have with every other project. We created a game of memory with the Greek and Roman names that had matching symbols. We played memory and used them as flash cards; the girls practicing while they were at their mom's house, as well.

It definitely paid off in the end, because both girls got 107% on their tests! I am so proud of them.

This month they are studying Medieval history and have to create PowerPoint presentations. One of the girls' topics is period clothing and the other is the code of chivalry. It should be fun. Both topics are great.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do You Ever...

Have a desire to write this amazing blog post that inspires and uplifts others, helping them to find meaning in their lives to keep trudging forward through all the crap that life gives us, only to find that you have written an extremely long run-on sentence and not even inspired yourself to move away from the computer?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cinderell-ee, Cinderell-ee

Fat Kitty has officially started shedding. I know that you are wondering why this is a notable event. It's not. It is a problem, however, due to the fact that he sheds A LOT more than the other animals. I have had to work much harder at keeping the house cat-hair-free. I am also trying to train him to stay off the counters in the kitchen and out of the pantry. This is not an easy task as he LOVES to wreak havoc in those two rooms.

Several times when I have realized that I haven't seen Fat Kitty for a little while and have gone in search of him, I have found him wrestling with an empty bread bag, the loaf of bread strewn all over the floor. He doesn't even have the courtesy to eat the bread; just a few nibbles here and there. This is why we created the "no animals in the kitchen/pantry" rule. The kids find it hilarious that Fat Kitty ruined it for all of the other animals. Daisy does not find it amusing in the least, now that she has to lay outside of the kitchen.

It has been fairly easy to train the dog not to go into the kitchen. The other cat is grumpy enough that it only being chased out of there a few times with a squirt bottle to do the trick. Fat Kitty, on the other hand, is a stubborn cuss. He tries so hard to be sneaky and the squirt bottle only does the trick if you spray him in the face. I know it sounds mean, but it is the only way I can get him to leave.

So... we are slowly getting to the point where the dog and Fat Kitty, who love each other, will lie together on the edge of the kitchen floor and watch us as we prepare our meals. Seriously, how cute is that?

As for clean kitchen floors, Jessica got the opportunity to scrub the floor this weekend when she found out what the difference between dish soap and dish detergent is. I'll give you a hint...LOTS of bubbles. Don't worry, as you can tell from the pic, she is smiling. It was hard not to after I practically fell on the floor laughing. This was quite a relief to her, considering she thought she would get into trouble for creating a HOT mess.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lisa!

I know, I'm a bit early, but otherwise I will forget to post this.

Happy Birthday!

L - likeable
I - intelligent
S - super
A - amazingOh yeah, we're cheesy like that.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Truth...

Behind cell phone bundling.

When Todd and I got married we both had individual cell phone plans through AT&T. We were happy with our plans and I had never had any problems with AT&T, who had much better customer service than any of the other cell phone providers that I had worked with.

After Todd got laid off, we decided that we had better bundle our phones in order to get a better deal and save money. What a false assumption that was.

First, they have two different ways of billing for customers. Some pay the month previous to usage and some pay after usage. I'm not quite sure why, I think for credit reasons? Anyway, Todd was previous and I was at the end of the month. When we merged, we settled my account and merged to his account because apparently he couldn't merge to my billing cycle, but I could to his. However, when we merged, they changed my billing cycle and so have been trying to double charge me for a month (plus the pro-rated for the change, which is what I was expecting would be the total). PLUS, they charged all total fees and past bills to our new and "improved" (please note my sarcasm) merged plan.

Then Todd got a new underpaying job where he uses his phone a lot more than we realized. So, we are already fighting the huge double phone bill when we realize that NONE of our rollover minutes transferred, not even Todd's. This really sucks because we both had thousands of rollover minutes, none of which we got to use when we received an $800 bill. Yes, $800 in one month. OUCH! That didn't help our already tight situation due to Todd's having to take a huge pay decrease to get a new job.

So, I called the phone company to see what they could do for me. In the past, I have had much better success with them, so hoped they would help me out. As it worked out, they were willing to backdate a new plan, but remember, my bill has already come out and so this doesn't affect my past bill. They are also willing to write off a few hundred dollars worth of minutes. Thank heavens. The wonderful customer service man took pity on me and added almost a thousand rollover minutes. However, that still leaves our bill at about $400, plus the double pay that we are still fighting. Unfortunately, CS Man wasn't wonderful enough to be able to take care of that situation.

So, back to my math for merging cell phones into a family plan?
2 Separate lines with 900 minutes each plus unlimited text = $160 after taxes (plus I have a U of U discount that brings it about $20 lower)

2 Lines on a family plan with only 1400 minutes (current increased minutes plan) and unlimited family text = $160 after taxes (my U of U discount now applies to 2 lines and saves us about $35, however, we had to pay $70 to sign up with AT&T's corporate something or other to get it.)

So, in the end, we will end up saving about $15 (after discount) a month. Of course when you think about all of the extra set-up fees, difference in minutes, loss of rollover minutes and double billing, which comes to about $700 (once again, OUCH!), we will eventually be saving money in about 4 years.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back to the Grind...Maybe?

A while back my sister was so kind as to let me know that Vangent is doing the hiring for the 2010 Federal Census. They are hiring 1200 people to help in call centers doing telephone surveys, quality control, etc. It is a temporary position based out of Sandy, but it pays better than a lot of the jobs that I have looked at and so I went ahead and applied for a quality control position.

I had my interview at the end of December where the gave me a conditional letter of hire, dependent upon my ability to gain security clearance.

So, yay, I will soon be working with a steady paycheck and will continue working with health insurance (any Utahns, feel free to contact me about it) during the time that I am not at work.

Boo, I am still stuck waiting for the background check and I really need to be able to bring in an income now. Luckily, I don't think it will take too long, considering I just had a background check when I got my insurance license and that didn't take very long. But it is hard to sit here, speculating on the date that I will be able to begin.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Break

It's been a fun Christmas break for us this year; very easy going and laid back. We had a fun Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning and then got the kids back a few days later. We've been swimming at the Legacy Center, playing with friends, had our annual New Year's Eve sleepover and breakfast the morning after and we were visited by the local fire department when we burned our Christmas tree a little too high.

We burn our tree on New Years Eve to help us celebrate the past year by burning our written regrets and unreached goals. This year we also held a flag ceremony to dispose of our old, dilapidated flag properly. Apparently it alarmed one of our distant neighbors when they saw the flames rising in our backyard. I guess next year we'll have to cut the tree to pieces before we burn it. It won't be as much fun, but I reckon we ought to refrain from scaring our neighbors.

Austin's Christmas present, real football lockers.

Christmas Morning

Matterhorn de Pett

...and the luge...