October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

















For some reason our kids both wanted to be creepy this year. Ever since Joey saw the new Batman movie he's wanted to be the Joker and Maddy decided to resurrect her "Dead Prom Queen" outfit from a year ago. She was so sick on Halloween last year that she came home from school early and wasn't able to go trick-or-treating at all. Thankfully she felt much better today. Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2008

Clean Freak

I have a bad reputation, one I’ve completely earned, for cleaning up after others even when they’re not done with what I’m cleaning up. If you come over for dinner, you may find your glass in the sink even though you weren’t finished drinking out of it. You may find your plate there also, even though you weren’t finished eating. I know its rude and not very hospitable, but sometimes I fall back into this crazy “everything has to be clean” mode. Call it what you will – clean freak, OCD, or just annoying. You’re right on all three. I am working on it, I promise.

The latest "situation" happened this last weekend. Maddy, notorious for leaving her things all over the place, had been eating some Red Hots in the kitchen and had left her box on the counter. It sat there, untouched, for hours. So, thinking (like most people would) that she was done, I proceeded to throw the box away. To my surprise, and hers, a few hours later she asked “Dad, have you seen my box of red hots?” I told her that I had thrown them away and she got very upset so I suggested in jest that next time she’s going to leave something out for hours to write me a note and let me know. A few hours later I came into the kitchen and found what you see in the picture below. Nice.

October 25, 2008

Vertigo

















I have never been afraid of heights. In fact, I don't think I've even been up high enough in an unsecure location to be afraid. I certainly haven't fully comprehended what it means to have vertigo. All of that changed yesterday.

Two years ago we had Christmas lights installed on the outside of our home. In years past I've installed them but there was something about this home's roofline that made me nervous, plus I wanted the installation to last and most things I install have uninstalled themselves before I've put the tools away. Because we leave the lights up all year round, the strong Spanish Fork wind, the biting cold winters and unbearably hot summers make the plastic clips brittle and then they break, leaving you with strands of dangling lights somewhere around September. Last year, we had a company come to replace the broken clips, change out burned-out lights, and it cost much more than I thought it should have. This year, I just didn't want to pay the nearly $300 to have someone do that again, especially knowing that it only took them about an hour to complete the job. That's attorney type money and I didn't want to have an attorney electrician up on my roof. So, I have been trying to convince myself for months that I could do the job.

In August, I borrowed a ladder and after several attempts, wasn't able to transition even one foot from the ladder to the roof - the pitch was too steep. I stood at the top of the ladder but just couldn't bring myself to taking that first step. I tried again in September but ended up with same result. My knees got a little wobbly and I started cold sweating. And who in their right mind would want to be on top of a roof in the cold wind with a cold sweat? Not a healthy decision if you ask me! Realizing unfortunately though that the cold weather was coming which would make an installation even more dangerous, and still not wanting to pay for an attorney electrician, I bought the needed supplies a few days ago, mustered up the courage one last time, and then yesterday, made the ascent.

Once I got on the roof, I realized that I had forgotten to bring all of my climbing gear like my ice pick and carabiners and my sherpa (you can never find a good sherpa when you need one) but I pressed forward anyway. All I could hear in my head was a man's voice that sounded like Bob Barker saying, "Now kids, don't try this at home." A little too late Bob - where were you 30 minutes ago?! Thankfully, I didn't experience too much trouble except for a few pitchy, slippery areas that required careful maneuvering (ie, sliding on my rear-end and holding on for dear life). When all was said and done, I conquered Mount Home AND my newly discovered fear of heights without any injuries, thanks in part to my neighbor Tyler who lent me his ladder, his hand, and his calm voice of reason. The picture above shows me on the peak. If you look carefully you can see some of the hanging strands of lights. The picture below is the house after I was safely back on the ground, convincing myself that it wasn't so bad but mentally calculating how much I'd need to save each month from now until next year to hire the attorney electrician.

October 20, 2008

Floored

Jeni and I have moved over 10 times in our 14 years together. That being the case, it probably wouldn't surprise you that we are living in our 6th home. Our first two were in a new neighborhood behind the High School in Spanish Fork, Utah. The third was a new tract home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the fourth a home in American Fork, Utah. From there we bought a new standing inventory house in Pearland, Texas from a very large builder. Coming back to Utah, we found a great house back in Spanish Fork that was completely custom. Custom cabinets, custom paint, custom appliances, custom fireplace, custom flooring and..... custom problems, custom headaches, custom cursing and custom chaos.

Though the builder was very talented, this was only his second house (the first was next door) and as we neared the end of completion, corners were being cut as fast as we were cutting extra checks to pay for unplanned "upgrades." Though we absolutely love our house and it has become a blessing in our lives, it has not been without its drama. Like the fact that they forgot to insulate the garage right below our bedroom leading to frozen pipes our first winter. Like the combining of electrical circuits so that our Christmas lights couldn't be on at the same time as the office lights. Like the "two-tone" paint job that left our ceilings the same color as the walls. Like the upstairs air-conditioning unit not being adequate to keep our bedroom cool during the summer. Like the appliance allowance being used on everything except appliances. We really do love this house, but it has cost us a pretty penny to take care of all these mistakes. Lesson learned - don't buy a custom home when your company's relocation policy says you have to be under contract and close by a certain time and the builder isn't sure he can meet the deadline but tells you he can in order to secure the contract and then subsequently short cuts most of the remaining items to meet said closing deadline. Whew!

One of the biggest surprises in the new house wasn't even any of the items already mentioned. It was the wood flooring. Oh, the wood flooring. When you walk into our home, on the left is a formal family room. On the right is the office. Take a close look at the pictures below. Do you see anything a little abnormal? Irregular? Peculiar? Unexpected?




































As you can see, the flooring in the main entry is a different color than the flooring in the other two rooms. Here's a closeup.

















We actually love it this way now and wouldn't think of changing it, but that's not how it was intended to be. Originally the two side rooms were to have been carpeted but we asked instead for the wood from the entry to extend into these rooms. No problem we were told. Then we were told they were out of wood and that specific die-lot no longer existed. This was hand scraped pre-fabricated wood so we agreed that the builder would try to find something that would match and look nice. A few weeks later we checked on the house to find pure oak floors being installed. It didn't look anything like what we had and the stain they were putting on didn't come close to matching. The floor looked like someone had gone to Home Depot and purchased 2x4's and laid them down and then stained them. Even the installer agreed that the floor looked better with just the concrete. We spent the next month going back and forth with the builder and the flooring company. "The builder said this is what you wanted," said the flooring company. "The flooring company said they can't match the wood," said the builder. "The builder said this is what you wanted," said the flooring company. You get the idea. Frustrating!

Then, right at our wits end, the other partner with the flooring company came to see us one night after work. He apologized for the merry-go-round and offered a solution. "Let us pull the oak floors out and replace them with the identical type of wood in your entry" he said, "just a darker color. It will look great. I've got just enough extra wood in the warehouse so you just pay my guys for the labor. Just don't tell my partner because she doesn't think its her fault and I disagree." We got all of this in writing, agreed and the work commenced.

Fast forward about 3 months after we moved in. We got a call from the first owner asking about our floors. Somehow she had heard that we had changed out the oak with the hand-scraped wood. She was calling to tell us that our floors had been stolen. I assured her they were still here as I was at that very moment standing on them. "No," she said, "the wood used in the two rooms was stolen out of my warehouse by my 'former' partner . He stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of my inventory and is now in jail." Thankfully I was able to show her the receipt for the labor so she didn't pursue legal action with us. Every once in a while I get nervous coming home though, wondering if I'm going to find the wood floors ripped out, repo'd by the floor company. Can they even do that?

October 17, 2008

Family Home Crazy

Several weeks ago we had some friends over for family home evening. After a great lesson by their 9th grade son and a warm bowl of chocolate soup (I've got to quit making that!), I was informed that one of our basement walls was "bubbling." I'd never heard of a wall doing that before so I wasn't sure what I'd find as I went downstairs. To my dismay, there was a leak behind one of our walls and it had caused the paint to start bubbling. We tried to figure out where it was coming from but all we could figure is that a water line had burst right above that area as it did seem isolated to that one spot. We called a neighbor friend over who owns a painting company and he referred us to a plumber friend who said he would come in the morning. We turned the water line off in the house, put down some towels and then walked our friends out to their car.

To their dismay, their car, parked right in front of our house, had been tagged with some red spray paint! They called the police and were informed that there had been several reports of the same thing that evening.

















Well, all's well that ends well. Later that night our friends called with news that they had been able to get the paint off with some dish soap. And, the next morning the plumber came, cut through the sheetrock and found that the leak had been caused by a cap on a vent pipe that had fallen off. It was the same vent pipe that had been cut through and then capped when we finished our basement nearly 2 years ago. (Guess who capped the pipe.) Evidently when capping vent pipes, you're supposed to glue the cap as well as screw it shut. So for 2 years this pipe had been building up pressure, enough to slowly pop the cap off. Once the cap came off, the vent drained out. Thankfully, besides having to fix the sheetrock, the leak itself was an easy fix. Below is a picture of the pipe with the cap back on.

















A crazy night to say the least! The moral of the story - park in the garage and glue your caps!

October 13, 2008

Quote 19

He warned people to 'count the cost' before becoming Christians. 'Make no mistake,' He says, 'if you let Me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest nor let you rest until you are literally perfect - until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.'

And yet - this is the other and equally important side of it - this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 202-203

October 11, 2008

Facebook














The peer pressure was too great. It came at me from all sides - my sister, my friends, co-workers, etc. I was not a big fan of the Myspace craze so when I heard about Facebook, I'll admit I was skeptical. Now that I've joined, its actually been a lot of fun as I've been able to reconnect with relatives, old high school friends, missionary companions, seminary students, old ward friends and others. What a great way to get in touch! So, if you're on Facebook and we haven't connected, look me up. Amazingly, I'm the only one you'll find if you search for "Rohan Shearer."

October 07, 2008

Automated Theft Machine

















Last week while enjoying a wonderful layover in the Phoenix airport, I was doing some banking online and noticed two strange debit card transactions on my account that had taken place the day before. Knowing that I had been in Phoenix that entire day and that my debit card had never left my side, I immediately called the bank and was transferred to the fraud department. After a few minutes I learned that the two transactions took place at an ATM machine in Illinois and that someone had used my card and PIN! I politely informed the fraud rep that as much as I would like the power to be in two places at once, my DeLorean DMC-12 was still in the shop because the nuclear reactor on the flux-capacitor was out of plutonium. I asked how in the world someone could use my debit card in Illinois since my card was in my wallet in Arizona, not to mention how they knew my PIN. In my mind, I began doubting myself. Had my flight to Phoenix a few days earlier gone on to Illinois and had the man sitting next to me somehow hypnotized me into giving him my account information and creating him a duplicate card? Or had I secretly traveled to Illinois myself during the 10 minute breaks we had during our work meeting the day before? Or had I sleep-flown to Illinois during the night, completed the two transactions and then returned without even knowing it? I had been extra tired the next morning.

The fraud rep explained that some hackers lately have been able to infiltrate gas pumps or other ATM type machines where you use a card but she had no idea how someone would get my PIN. They promised to refund my account temporarily and open an investigation. I called Jeni to tell her and she informed me that she had been to our actual bank branch that same day and there had been about 16 individuals complaining of the same thing and more coming into the branch as she was there. It turns out that someone had broken into the ATM machine at our branch, obtained our debit card number and PIN, duplicated our numbers onto new, fake cards, traveled to Illinois (and New York) and withdrew money from all of our accounts. How the perpetrator did this, I have no idea. I don’t even know if they’ve found the person yet. Suffice it to say, I'm done using ATM's. I think I’ll be using live tellers for a while.

October 06, 2008

Memory Lane

While in Seattle, I had a chance to take a stroll down memory lane and take some pictures of Jeni and my beginnings together.

The picture below is of the Cedar Park Apartments, our "home" for the first 6 months of our marriage. Located in Renton across the street from the cemetary where Jimi Hendrix is buried, these apartments were set up like hotels where the entry to "our" apartment was actually down a long, inside hallway. Our 1 bedroom apartment cost about $400 a month, deeply discounted at the time because of the double homicide that had occurred there just prior to our moving in. Yes, I knew about the homicide. No, I didn't tell Jeni about it until after we left. Such was our communication in the early part of our marriage. Other fond memories while living there included Jeni being followed home from the grocery store by a strange man, witnessing several drug deals in the halls, watching séances and rock bands play on top of Jimi's grave, and continually smelling a strange odor from the door across the hall. 6 months came none too soon!





































Pregnant with Maddy, we moved to Auburn to a wonderful apartment by the Green River. Yes, I knew about the Green River killer. No, I did not tell Jeni about him. This 2 bedroom apartment cost us in the $500's. To afford that enormous expense, Jeni and I did a morning paper-route at 2am, I then taught an early morning Seminary class, took the bus to UW in Seattle, taught two more Seminary classes after coming home, and then drove pizza at night for Dominos. Those were difficult times but we created so many memories. Some of those included Maddy's birth, a huge flood thanks to the river, buying a couch from Goodwill that smelled like cat urine and me trying to wash the cushions (with no success - a complete waste of $20), Jeni being approached by a man in Kent at 3am asking if she was "waiting for Diamond," and helping the downstairs neighbor find her car at the park and ride after her drunk husband was taken away by the police late one night for not being very nice. Below is the picture of our place there, where we lived for a year before moving to Utah.





































Then, we lived like any other newlyweds would, somewhat naive, madly in love, and trying to find the best in each day. Now, 14 years later, we're still somewhat naive trying to raise a teenager and a pre-teen, still madly in love, and still trying to find the best in each day. Its amazing how times are so different and yet so much the same.

October 05, 2008

Mission Reunion

A few months ago, Jeni and I formed a committee with some former companions to hold a mission reunion for our second mission president, James J. Hamula, now a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. That reunion took place on Friday night and it was a wonderful experience. President Hamula and his whole family spoke to us and we spent the evening with close to 30 former missionaries and their spouses. I had the privilege of serving in the mission office with Spencer Fluhman (now a religion professor at BYU), and James Anderson (now a very successful dentist) when President Hamula and his family arrived into the field over 14 years ago. This was the first time the four of us had been together since those first few months of their arrival and it was just great.

We count our missionary service as one of the greatest blessings not only of our lives, but for our lives. We also count it a great blessing to know President Hamula and we're so excited for the rest of the world to get to know him as a result of his new assignment. And, it looks like that is already happening as he spoke during last night's Priesthood session. Amazing!

Below are pictures of Jeni, me and President Hamula, one with Spencer, me and James, and one with Jeni and two of her former companions, Heidi Marberger and Heather Disbrow.

















October 04, 2008

Seattle

















Two weeks ago I traveled to Seattle for work and had a great time visiting my family during the evenings. It had been nearly a year since I'd seen everyone so it was fun to reconnect, especially with my sister and her four adorable kids! One night I made chocolate soup with her girls. Elijah loved it too and couldn't get enough! The picture above is the view from Somerset hill where my parents live and the pictures below are from the night with Cailean's family. I miss you already!

































October 02, 2008

Student Council

















Last year Maddy was on the 6th grade Student Council at the Elementary school. This year, she encouraged Joey to try out so he turned in his application essay and made it to the final round. Tomorrow he puts his poster in the cafeteria and next week he'll give a one minute campaign speech in front of the whole school. Above is his poster, all his idea. The Harley is his uncle Bob's. Regardless of the outcome, we're proud of Joey for doing his best.

October 01, 2008

Rock Band

















After Dad's birthday dinner, we all headed back to our house. Steven, who lives in our basement, had converted the game room into a rock band stage set. I've always known Jeni's family to be very musically talented but this was a sight to see. Trent played the drums, Scott and Steve played the guitar, Bob played the bass and Jeni, Becky and Carin sang. Without any sheet music, they played songs from The Police, The Steve Miller Band and OK Go. If we could only market their talents into a video game of some kind where everyone gets to play an instrument or sing. But what would we call it? Hmmm.