A whole bunch about us you may have never wanted to know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bad Customer Service, part II

As mentioned in Josh's comment, customer service is really a part of every company, and in my opinion a part of any company's survival. In any case, I thought I'd let everyone in on our latest bad customer service. This time it wasn't necessarily rudeness, just incompetence.

Paul and I set up new bank accounts with Mountain America Credit Union. We've been wanting to leave Washington Mutual for a bit, but we finally decided we'd do it. MACU has the best kids' program of any of the banks/credit unions around, so we set up accounts for our kids last fall. So, several weeks ago we went and set up our own accounts as well.

When we were talking about the debit cards tied to the account, the man helping us said some people come in and change the picture on their debit cards because they don't like them. Okay, whatever. After a couple of weeks of not receiving our cards in the mail we called to find out where they were. Turns out this not-so-helpful employee was supposed to give them to us when we set up the account. I guess that'll teach us for going during the last 30 minutes before the bank closes. :)

So, I went down to pick up our debit cards. I asked for them to show me the selection I could pick from. The girl said that you don't get to pick -- that the machine "just spits out whatever one it wants to." Okay, sure. I knew it was probably just that she didn't know how to put the card into the machine herself, but I figured the designs couldn't be THAT bad, could they? I hoped if there was a cutesy one that I would get it. However, I figured if they don't let you pick, then none of them must be cutesy or a man wouldn't want it.

They brought me my debit card, and it was pretty much what I anticipated -- a nice, beautiful, peaceful-looking mountain picture:

Then they brought out Paul's. I started laughing:

So much for my thought that none of them would be cutesy. I mean, look at the font!!! I told the lady that my husband would not like such a cutesy card. Mind you, I would use it in a heartbeat, but I just can't see Paul going to Home Depot and pulling out a card with such cute letters on it. HELLO! I assured the girl that Paul would be back to change out his debit card.

I later called the customer service line and asked if it really was true that you can't pick the design of your card. She said that you could pick out your design, but you had to pick from what the bank had on hand. Two strikes for us, I suppose. Not good ways to start our service with MACU, but hopefully it's just a fluke that the first two employees we encountered were eager to get rid of us quickly. Do I smell or something? :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm used to calling customer service of various companies and getting people with accents, and oftentimes heavy accents. I'm fine with that. It exercises my brain, I suppose.

Anyway, today I was calling Hotwire to ask a question about an airline ticket I wanted to book. When I made it through the phone tree, I got an employee who answered in what sounded like another language. I said, "English please" as I wondered if I had mispunched a number in the tree. I was actually very surprised at the response I got, "This is English. If you can't understand me that's YOUR problem!"

Hello? What did you just say?!? I quickly realized this was not a person I wanted to deal with on my phone call. I said, "Oh, sorry. Is there someone else I can speak with?" He said if I wanted someone else I would need to hang up and call back. I asked for his supervisor. He said no, that I was being rude. I said that I hadn't meant to be rude, but that I honestly hadn't realized he was speaking English. I once again asked for his supervisor, to which he hung up the phone. The click of the phone is understood in any language, I suppose.

Paul and I have been appalled over the past few years how much customer service has disintegrated. We're not difficult customers ... unless there is need for us to be difficult. :) We are usually very easy-going and laid-back, but I am often appalled at how poorly people treat their customers. Apparently they haven't heard the statistics about how much cheaper it is to keep a customer than to get a new one. Sigh -- I guess they'll have to deal with their own consequences as I shop elsewhere!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"New" technology

This morning I had a hilarious reminder about how much things change. Becca came upstairs after trying to call a friend and said the phone wasn't working right. It was making this weird beeping sound every time she tried to make a phone call. I told her to bring me the phone and let me hear what it was doing. (I got nervous that maybe Vonage wasn't going to work, and I just signed my mom up for it last week!)

So, she dials her friend's phone number and listens for a minute and then hands me the phone. I listen to see what this weird beep is. I started laughing, which Becca didn't appreciate. I said, "Becca, that's called a busy signal!" She said, "Oh, I didn't know." I found that hilarious. I guess she's used to it going straight to voicemail or having Qwest say, "The line is busy. For only 75 cents Qwest will redial the number and call you back when it's available."

This reminded me of when my mom taught piano lessons about 20 years ago and a student was stumped by her phone. The student went to call for a ride home, but then came back to my mom and said, "I don't know how to use an old-fashioned phone." Maybe those rotary phones were trickier to figure out than I realized 20 years ago!

In any case, I'm behind the times with technology myself. I'm just now going to online banking. Paul would probably be embarrassed for me to admit that considering he is an IT smarty-pants, but we haven't done it in the past. (This is mainly because I balance the checkbook myself. If Paul were doing it, he would have gone to online banking years ago.) I wanted to start using MS Money a while back, but I didn't know how exactly to start it when the checkbook and the bank are never in sync. So, we've opened up a new account from which I'll go all electronic. I'll save some money on stamps and the headache of pulling out my calculator to do the math. I'm a little nervous since I know it may be a pain to set it up (which is why I've avoided it thus far), but I'm excited about the time it will save me in the long run. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Funny Raymond and MILs

The other night my favorite episode of Everybody Loves Raymond came on. It's one that just cracks me up. In fact, when I saw the preview that it was going to be on, I thought to myself, "Yes, that's funny, but I won't laugh nearly as hard this time as I did last time." And then I did. Well, almost.

It's the episode where Raymond's parents tell the kids that they're going to move into a senior community. Debra and Raymond go into the kitchen and have a little mini celebration as quietly as possible. Robert and Amy decide to join them and the four of them all start hugging and dancing around in excitement. Rob gets so excited that he picks up Amy and sits her on top of the fridge. They do some more dancing around and then Raymond tries to pick up Deb and put her on top of the fridge. He can't quite pick her up that far and basically throws her into the fridge.

It's hilarious. If you've seen it, you're probably laughing about it now, too. If you haven't seen it, you definitely need to watch it. (Episode 194, "The Home") I definitely thought I wouldn't laugh out loud this time, and I still did.

I think I relate a little too much to Deb and her relationship with her MIL. The last talk they have before Marie moves fits my relationship to a T. Deb stops her and says that she is sorry that they haven't been better friends and that she wants to resolve their differences, because she knows their relationship is not how it should be. Marie smiles and says, "Do you know what your problem is?" She then goes on to tell Deb she's such a drama queen and that she (Marie) is just fine with their relationship. Of course, this reminds Deb why the relationship is how it is and that she really should be okay with them moving away. That conversation alone would explain my relationship with my MIL. I would like a real relationship; she wants the appearance of a good relationship.

How is it possible that we (I say we because I know I'm not alone in this!) fall in love with and marry men who have mothers who are so DIFFERENT than us? I mean, has anyone out there gotten the MIL you imagined? Maybe I'm just selfish -- I just wanted someone to be totally into me and my kids. I think I'm a little biased, though, because my mom is probably the perfect MIL, and I've seen her be that for more than 20 years now. Of course, she's not my MIL. :) However, I believe my husband and in-laws would all agree with my opinion. In any case, I'm hoping you all have figured out your MIL relationships better than Deb or I. Let's just say that 7 1/2 years hasn't been long enough for me to figure this out ...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

United, although different, States of America

So, Paul finishes his training for his new job tomorrow and gets to fly back to good ol' Utah. He's enjoyed his time at company HQ and getting to know his new team. They have been great to work with thus far, and Paul is enjoying the work.

Anyway, his new team has taken Paul out to dinner every night to make sure he gets to know everyone. What's crazy is how small Delaware is. It doesn't have a major airport in the whole state. Isn't that crazy? Paul had to fly into Philadelphia and drive to New Castle. So Paul's gone out to eat in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. That's just crazy! Getting to another state for dinner would be a major ordeal for me here in central Utah.

He said one of his co-workers from back East came to the Utah office once and decided he'd take a jaunt down to Vegas since he hasn't been there. He had no idea how long it would take to get there and back, because "it's just in the next state." How funny is that?

I think the Eastern states are much like the European countries that are so small. It's much harder for them to comprehend the size and distance in these western states. In any case, I'm looking forward to Paul coming back to laid-back, slower-talking, very-long-desert-stretched Utah.

Vonage update

Our free trial for voicemail transcription is over. However, the humor continued, although nothing as good as Pitsy Gazillion. According to Vonage, my husband can now be called Paul, Bob or Carl.

Oh, and if you missed Josh's comment to my first Vonage post, make sure to check it out. It had me and Paul both laughing ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Swim fun ... or not

My kids are aquaphobic. My boys get any water on their head, and they freak out. Swimming lessons ought to go well this summer. I thought I was set when I realized that Shayla LOVES the bathtub. However, she proved me wrong this afternoon. This is how she looked when my sister Rachel had her walk into that "deep" water:

I get her bath water deeper than that and she loves it. The only thing I can figure is that at least in the tub she's contained and she's the only one in the tub, so she determines when to splash and when not to splash. It was funny to watch her get so upset when the water wasn't even close to deep. She actually ran away from the water when we tried to get her to go back into it. Eventually she warmed up and came and sat on my lap as I sat in the water. Toward the end of our being there she actually tried splashing the other kids, which was hilarious to watch. She'd try to grab the water by clenching her hands and then lift up the two separate fists and throw the water (by this point just drops) on the other kids. They were great about playing with her. You can see she eventually did have some fun:

And I was great about remembering sunscreen on everyone, including me. As we left I realized my sister's back was red and that she hadn't put any sunscreen on. Fortunately she said she isn't burned. However, tonight as I sat on the couch I felt my back hurting and realized I forgot to have anyone put sunscreen on my back. I had Becca check it, and she said, "Whoa! That's so red!" So, my advice to you all for this summer is this: Don't forget the sunscreen -- even on your backs!!! Aloe vera, anyone?

Zoo pictures

That's right -- we're not boring -- we went to the zoo! :) In fact, my kids will look back at all the photos we took (thousands!) and never think we were boring ... except when they're teenagers, that is.
Anyway, here are some pics from our recent zoo escapade.

We broke all the "rules" and let our kids go play first. That way we didn't forget to let them do it at the end like we usually do. :) They enjoyed the snake slide, the spider web ropes, etc. Here are a couple of pictures of them playing:
Yes, Zachary is smiling. As long as the spiders are fake, they're okay ...
That's the cutest thing I've seen hatch from an egg:
Somehow I imagined Utah Prairie Dogs would look different ... maybe darker ...
Okay, this next picture is still going to look like we're in the play area, but we aren't. This white alligator fascinates me! I think I've been a little excited about alligators since I saw them in the wild in southern Georgia and South Carolina -- in the wild and at Okefenokee Swamp Park and Savannah Wildlife Refuge. Anyway, this 21-year-old white alligator was found in the wild with 10 brothers who were also white and 8 brothers who were normal color:
The first time I saw this guy I thought he looked like a big plastic toy. He's very interesting to look at. He's not albino -- he actually has blue eyes. Although this was the first find of its kind on record, there is some old legend about gazing into the blue eyes of the white alligator that it will bring you good luck for the rest of your life. Shayla's good to go:
The Hogle Zoo has this big elephant "statue" that makes noises and squirts water intermittently out of its trunk. Tyler was fascinated! He insisted we stay there until he was able to get his hand wet when it squirted. I got a picture of the happy event:
Hogle Zoo's newest highlight is their new carousel. They have all kinds of animals on this carousel, including a lady bug, a snake on a log, a praying mantis and other misc. animals. Zachary insisted he get the zebra, and that worried me since there were about 20 people in front of us. Fortunately the other kids found other exciting animals to ride on so Zachary could have his zebra that starts with Z:
In the meantime Becca went to find a good animal for Shayla to ride. She found a polar bear, but Shayla wanted NOTHING to do with the whole riding on an animal bit. After this quick picture she wouldn't even get back on:
Tyler found a peccary to ride, which obviously made his day. It is a distant relative to the pig, and if you know anything about Tyler you know that he loves pigs. When we went past the live peccarys (or is it peccaries?) while we were there, Paul pointed out that they quite resemble ROUSes -- you know, rodents of unusual size. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to go watch Princess Bride right now!)
I don't know why, but I got quite a kick out of how this bear was napping:
And of course we had to find the zebras. It was this time that I realized how big their ears are! I guess before the stripes made them blend in, but they really do have big ears. Makes me wonder if they're more closely related to donkeys than to horses. In any case, apparently this time Zachary also realized that zebras smell. He was cracking me up:
Paul and I also got a kick out of this baby giraffe getting food dropped onto its head. Too bad in human society its the parents heads that get dropped on!
I could have had a cute picture of Becca, but she wouldn't open her eyes because "it's too bright!" I have three pictures of her smiling like this with her eyes shut. I'm still trying to figure out how she knew it was bright when she wouldn't open her eyes to see it! :)
And if my sister Rachel ever saw this van all glittery I think she'd go paint her own minivan. However, instead of glittery green, I think she'd go for glittery pink or purple. Funny that I found this van outside the zoo as amusing as some of the animals inside:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Surreal ... or boring?

Do you ever have times in your life when it just feels surreal? I've been thinking about this as Paul embarks on a new adventure for work. This new job didn't feel real until we had travel plans set for him to fly to Delaware today, and that didn't happen until Friday. (Kind of a nervous feeling after you've already quit the other job!) It still doesn't feel really real to me, though, since I'm at home doing the same ol' thing.

This weekend we also had to buy plane tickets for Paul's mom's wedding to a man we've never met. In fact, as of last weekend we'd never even heard of the fellow. So, that's been weird to buy tickets to something that seems surreal ... or at least odd.

Then I started thinking about my friends and this summer. My friend Autumn had a baby last week, so that's obviously a huge life change for her. My buddy Hilary is gone for the summer spending time with family and family and family. My buddy Marilee is gone to Texas for the summer while her husband does an internship. And here I sit doing the same ol' thing.

As I started to think about this I really started to feel boring! I am not bored with my life and don't find myself boring, but maybe my life is just boring?!? Maybe I need to travel or have a secret life of my own! Then again, it is rather nice and peaceful to lead a boring life. I think I'll stick with it for now. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy Paul

This post is to celebrate Paul, the wonderful father in our home. We love your sense of humor and the jokes you tell -- even if they're not funny, we get a kick out of you thinking they're funny. :) I love seeing how much the kids enjoy playing with you. I am grateful that you are willing to make sacrifices so that I can be home with our children every day. I'm grateful that you try to improve yourself in the workforce so you can provide better for us. And I'm grateful that you love us! We will miss you this week while you are gone training for your new job.

The following are pictures we took for Paul to have on his new desk at work.

The kids are signing "I love you, Daddy." We made them to remind Paul every day that he's coming home to people who adore him. Oh, and to remind him that his desk is now a desk, not a dashboard. :)

Monday, June 9, 2008


So, Paul and I are going to save $25-30 per month on our phone bill. (Actually, that's just enough to get cable in time for the BYU football season -- yes!! :) We had a pretty basic plan -- local service with minimal long distance. However, that "basic" service ended up costing us between $55 and $60 per month. Enter Vonage. We have signed up to use Vonage as our phone service, and with taxes and fees it will be $30 per month. Awesome!!!

So during our initial use of Vonage's service they are providing a free trial of their service where they'll transcribe voicemail and e-mail it to you. We don't plan to continue after the trial since they charge a quarter per voicemail. (Besides, for free they'll e-mail you the actual audio of the voicemail.) Why have them transcribe? So you can get a good laugh.

The first message they transcribed was from my buddy Hilary. She had a bunch of errands to run right before going out of town and called to tell me the morning was going extremely well. Her transcribed voicemail said, "Hey. It's Hillary. I was just calling to tell you about my smooth morning. My pitsy gazillain errand. And everything's just going in place just where I need to." Okay, anyone else wonder what a pitsy gazillain errand is?

I thought of every possible thing I thought she may have said and couldn't figure it out, so I e-mailed and asked her what a pitsy gazillain is. This was her response:

"Pitsy Gazillain is the pole iteuay of saying watt I thaw tough their rand. Bith away, doughnut say that phrase in your rope. :) Geoduck with yore lass weak of wok. I'm exited for ewe two fart the gnu job. (Dis iz watt happy swen Vonage get spaki stanis two tran scrieb yore voy snail!)Hillary"

I'll translate: "Pitsy Gazillain is the polite way of saying what I thought of the errand. By the way, do not say that phrase in Europe. :) Good luck with your last week of work. I'm excited for you to start the new job. (This is what happens when Vonage gets Pakistanis to transcribe your voicemail!) Hilary"

I love how she even misspelled her own name in the translation. Perfect! She says that Lee helped her with the response, and Paul and I found it hilarious. Hey, Hil, that WOULD Have been worth a quarter. :)

By the way, I listened to the original voicemail and she said "fifty gazillion errands." I don't blame the poor transcribing machine (since I'm guessing it's a machine and not Pakistanis) -- yesterday at church I really thought I heard someone swear over the pulpit. I could tell from the missionaries' reaction that they heard the same thing I did. I asked someone after church what the lady ACTUALLY said, and then I clarified it for the Elders, too. I was too far in the back to see who else had shocked looks on their faces so I could clarify it for them, too. For all I know that poor sister has an appointment with the bishop about appropriate Sacrament Meeting language ... and she can't even blame it on Vonage. :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy Hawaii Friday!

We bought a Hawaiian shirt for Tyler at a yard sale, and he couldn't be more happy. He asked me for days what day Grandpa wears his Hawaii shirt. My dad got the city offices wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays for "Hawaii Fridays." Many of the people complained that they didn't have Hawaiian shirts, so he headed to D.I. and bought a few. People snatched those up, and then the others complained that they needed Hawaiian shirts, too. So, my dad went back to D.I. (which apparently has plenty of them to buy) and got enough for all the people in the office. Now every Friday in Mapleton City offices is Hawaii Friday.

Apparently Tyler wanted in on the action. He even came upstairs one day with the shirt on and asked if it was the day Grandpa wears his shirt. When I said no, he went and changed. So, when it was FINALLY Hawaii Friday, we had to take a picture of him and Grandpa wearing their Hawaiian shirts:

And Shayla didn't want to miss out on the day, either:

Hope your Hawaii Friday is a great one!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

STRESS levels are FINALLY down ...

You can NOT believe the level of stress we've had here over the past couple of weeks!!!

The good news is that Paul has accepted a new job. The bad news, however, is that it has been VERY stressful getting to this point ...

We applied for a Senior LAN Technician position at Company A and heard from the recruiter the next day. He had received more than 10 applications and was picking the best two to interview. Paul was one of the two, so they scheduled a phone interview for that Friday. On the phone the interviewer asked Paul if he could do an in-person interview on Monday. (In-person interviews are kind of tricky since the HQ doing the hiring is based back East.) So, the in-person interview was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

This company seemed to want to move at lightning speed and said they'd like to interview on Monday and then have the person they select start the following Monday. So, we totally expected them to make an offer the next day. When they didn't call, we figured they must have gone with the other guy. However, late Tuesday the recruiter called and said that Paul was their top pick thus far, but that they also were going to interview one additional person (probably an internal referral from the sounds of it). That interview was Thursday. They also wanted to ask Paul a few more technical questions. So, Thursday morning first thing Paul answered their technical questions without a hitch. We were getting very excited at this point.

Thursday afternoon Paul also received a call from Company B. They had seen his resume on Monster and really liked what they saw. They asked if he could come in for an interview, so Paul scheduled that for the following Tuesday.

So, we expected to receive an offer on Friday from Company A, in which case Paul would then have canceled the interview with Company B. However, we got no word on Friday.

Going through the weekend was torture, but we made it ...

Then Monday he heard from the recruiter that Company A was going to make a decision and let Paul know on Thursday or Friday. Okay, that's a lot slower than we planned to move, but that gives us time to talk to Company B. Paul interviewed Tuesday with Company B, and they LOVED him. He is told they'd try to get him an offer on Wednesday, or for sure by EOD Thursday because he was expecting another offer.

Friday morning comes (very slowly) and we're waiting to hear from both companies. He finally hears from Company A about their offer, and they say they'll FedEx the details. Of course, it's Memorial Day weekend, so they won't come until Tuesday. TORTURE!!! They finally give Paul a number (salary), but we figure there will be a lot more info in the FedEx.

Then Friday afternoon he hears from HR at Company B. Turns out their CEO is buddies with the CEO at Paul's current company, and therefore the two CEOs made a little "agreement" that they wouldn't hire each other's guys. Totally shady and frustrating!!! So, they won't even make Paul an offer unless he terminates employment before they make an offer, or if he gets managerial approval to move to Company B.

Paul's new manager is the one who wouldn't approve his MCSE training and wouldn't even discuss why he wouldn't. (That's a whole other story!) So, we figured his manager wasn't a good person to ask for approval.

We fret for a bit, and finally we decide the only answer is for Paul to talk to his CEO about the opening at Company B. We pray that somehow he'll still be in the office when Paul gets back at 6 p.m. on a Friday night before a three-day weekend. Not likely, but miracles can happen, right?

Amazingly, he's still there. He's talking with other people, so Paul waits. Meanwhile I come up with talking points for Paul to use in his discussion. (See, my PR skills do come in handy once in a while. :) Paul has the discussion w/the CEO and tells him that he's leaving the company one way or the other, so he asks for the CEO to provide permission for him to go work at Company B. The CEO agrees, but asks that when Paul sends the contact info he'd also like Paul to send two lists -- one that says what lead him to his decision to leave this company and one of what the company can do better.

(As a side note, during the conversation Paul mentions that he now has his MCSE certification. The CEO says, "Great. Did we help you pay for that?" Paul says, no, that the company refused to pay for a penny of it, and actually required him to use vacation time to attend the boot camp. The CEO is concerned and said that's the whole point of the program. Uh, yeah, that's what we thought, too. At least the CEO acts like he still wants to offer it, even if the people actually available to make decisions don't. But as I said, that's a whole other story ...)

Paul came home from the conversation just wired. He couldn't believe he'd just marched into the CEO's office and "demanded" he give permission for Paul to work at another company. We have all been VERY impressed with him having the guts to do it!!! Every once in a while Friday night Paul would say, "Aggghhh! I can't believe I just did that!"

So, Paul and I spend Memorial Day weekend writing up the lists. They're pretty good lists, too. Paul sent them off to his CEO, who then sent his approval to Company B to resume talks with Paul.

Meanwhile Paul gets totally and completely sick. He has severe nerve pain (from a car accident when he was a teenager) that he's never had, and every bone in his body aches. The problem here is that when Paul isn't feeling well his brain shuts down. Not a good time to be negotiating new salaries and jobs when it's hard to even think straight.

Tuesday comes and Company B calls and asks Paul to go out to lunch w/the team. He goes even though he's not feeling well, and the lunch is nice, but nothing of consequence happens there. Later the HR guy for Company B says they'll get him an offer by EOD Tuesday. All day Tuesday we also await the FedEx from Company A to get the final details of his offer. It never comes.

By Tuesday afternoon Paul is beat -- in addition to the stress he's got some kind of virus AND the nerve pains in his arm and hand.

Wednesday morning arrives and Paul calls in sick to his current job. He is barely thinking straight, so I log onto his e-mail and let the recruiter for Company A know that we didn't receive the FedEx package. He e-mails back and says to call him because he's confused. At 9:30 a.m. Paul finally checks his v-mail from the night before and hears a message that Company A wants an answer by 10 a.m. Huh? So, he calls them and lets them know that he needs more info about their benefits and such before being asked to make a decision. They say they'll work on getting that to him. (Turns out since they told him a number verbally they decided not to send a FedEx. We're guessing the confusion came from the recruiter's back-up who stepped in Friday while the regular guy we worked with was out.)

Meanwhile we contact Company B to find out about timing since Company A is chomping at the bit. They send an e-mail asking if Paul can buy another day or two. Are you kidding me?!?

So, Paul gives them a call to find out where they are in the process. Turns out they're hoping to offer Paul more than the pay range usually runs, so it needs CFO approval. That could take an hour, or it could take a couple of days. We're really stressing out.

Finally the recruiter for Company A e-mails the insurance info. Meanwhile Paul has a conversation with Company B, who says the CFO rejected the higher pay. They went to him with a lower amount and he vetoed that as well. So, that's where they left it -- they weren't going to make an offer.

So, we figure it must be meant to be for us to go with Company A. However, we decide to try to get a little higher salary. Paul contacts the recruiter and says that he'd like more, so they put him in touch with the lady doing the hiring. Once he gets a message from her, he paces for 10 minutes (stressing the rest of us out) before finally calling her back.

He got her to go up a little higher, and he got an additional week of vacation. So, it ends up being a lot more than his current salary (HOORAY) and probably will be a bit less stressful than Company B anyway. We're happy a decision is FINALLY made and that we can start focusing on that instead of continuing with the stress.

We come home (we were at my mom's house) a few hours later, and there's an e-mail from Company B. It says, "Apparently I spoke too soon. We do have an offer for you ..." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? With bonuses, the offer was similar to Company A's offer; however, we stuck with Company A since we had already accepted their offer. Company B says they will keep Paul in mind when they have any senior openings, which are more in his desired pay range and experience level.

Now that we've had a little chance to settle down, the stress level here is beautifully low. You can't believe how much stress this whole situation caused -- and all for nothing! Company B seems like a great company, and maybe one day Paul will go work for them. However, not for now. Interestingly, nearly three years ago Company B also offered Paul a job the day he started with DirectPointe. The position paid $20,000 more than what he got offered at DP, but it required a lot of travel. Paul used that to leverage a higher pay at DP then, but I can't figure out the purpose of them stepping in and creating so much stress this time.

We were extremely excited about Company A until Company B came along. Company B has better benefits (not health benefits, but other perks), and they have a lot more positions that Paul could move into. That got us excited, so we felt like Company B was the company for Paul. However, throughout we prayed that he would get the offer that was right and that we would know. Maybe Heavenly Father knew the excitement of the perks would override the promptings of the spirit about not going to Company B and that's why that offer fell through. However, I sure wish they'd never even come into the picture so we'd be a little more giddy about Company A's offer instead of feeling let down that we didn't have two to choose from. I wonder, though, if he will eventually end up at Company B and this opened some doors for down the road. I'm going to hope that there was a reason like that instead of just unnecessary stress!

In any case, Paul is leaving DirectPointe and going to work for a company called TA Instruments. They're also in Lindon and actually just a little down the road from DP. I'm VERY excited that he won't be in a car all day and that he can take leftovers for lunch. (Although I'm sure he'll miss his daily ham sandwich. ;) The health benefits are head-over-heels better than what we currently have (WAY better coverage AND more than $200 cheaper per month for premiums), and his overall pay is a lot higher as well. Now that we're not stressed out of our brains we're getting excited and feeling very blessed.

Paul's employment hunt lasted only about a month, which was a great relief. He sent his resume to about four or five companies, and he had about eight companies contact him unsolicited. (In fact, just this week he has been solicited for two more jobs!) We have a neighbor on the same street who works at TA Instruments, so we're hoping to carpool and cut back on our gas costs. (This seems miraculous to us since there are only 10 houses on our street, and we didn't even know he worked there until Paul showed up to interview.) And although they've been a good company, we are glad to be leaving DP. (Only one more week to go!) Paul is ready for a change and looks forward to his new responsibilities. Paul is also looking forward to his training back East for one week with this new company, because the company HQ are only 45 minutes from Havre de Gras, MD, where Paul spent 7 months of his mission. And we're grateful to know that the Lord is mindful of us and answers our prayers, even if there is stress and confusion along the way.

Paul, you've just won a new job at TA Instruments. What are you going to do next? I'm taking my family to Disneyland!!! (In October, that is. :)

My baby is two!!!

Time really has flown by. I can't believe that my little baby (who is not so little anymore) is already two years old!!! We had a great day with her on her birthday.

The gift she opened in the morning was a My Little Pony. I figured she would love to brush their hair over and over and over. However, when I went to buy one I found that they no longer come with the cute little brushes. Are you kidding me?!? That's what little girls like to do with the ponies -- brush their hair! So, I went over to the hair section of Walmart and bought a separate comb and brush that are a bit too big. She seems to like them anyway. (Notice that she still has her adorable chubby cheeks.)

I loved making her birthday cake. She has never seen Sesame Street, so I have no idea if she even likes it; however, I know that she LOVES cookies. She seemed confused when we went to my parent's house last week and there weren't any cookies on top of the microwave as usual. (By the way, my parents have solved the problem by pulling more cookies out of the pantry to stick in their usual place as to not create additional confusion for other grandchildren. :) Anyway, I love this picture of her getting ready to blow out her candles:

I should clarify that she wouldn't actually blow out her candles. Good thing we had plenty of kids around to help out with that. :)

Hilary and her family found a perfect gift for her the day before at a yard sale. It's a little princess vanity with a stool. As you can see from this picture, she LOVES it! Thank you Roberts!

On Monday I took Shayla to the photo studio to get pictures for her birthday. Now, I knew she would be a challenging subject since I take so many pictures of her that she completely ignores the camera. However, what I didn't expect was that she was scared of their camera! I guess the louder "click" and extra flashing lights were too much for her, so she kept trying to run out of the room. Oops. Doesn't help that we had to wait in the lobby for 30 minutes, all of which Shayla spent happy dancing and singing. Anyway, she was already done by the time we started, so when they started taking pictures with the "scary" camera, she wanted not a thing to do with it.

Good thing that on her birthday I took some impromptu pics ... which also happen to be of her running away. Isn't she a doll?!?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hike to the Cross

Saturday Hilary and her family (yes, her WHOLE family -- Lee was in town -- hooray!) invited us to join them on a hike to the cross. I'm sure this cross is there for a purpose and has a name, but nothing at the cross mentioned why it is there. I just know it's up on the mountain and you can see it from our house and other places throughout Spanish Fork.

So, we parked and started hiking. Not long into our hike we discovered that apparently it was the season for two things: cankerworms (also called inchworms, loopers, measuring worms or spanworms -- of course, this is all from my brain, not the Internet :) and mating beetles/stink bugs (they looked like a mix of the two).

So, the cankerworms were hanging from webs in the trees and were trying to drop on us in hopes to make a cocoon on us ... at least that's why the Internet says they're dangling down. (And anything you read online is true, right?) Anyway, since Lee is the tallest (or because he was in the front :) he was elected as the one to clear the way. Therefore he spent his time with a stick waving it back and forth in front of him to clear the trail for us:

The funniest thing ever was when we came around a corner and there was a man walking toward us doing the exact same thing! Too bad they keep falling down from the trees so the path wasn't clear once it had been cleared, if that makes any sense!

Anyway, the trail also was covered in beetles, which freaked out a couple of the kids (especially Z-boy), so we had to convince them to keep moving "so the bugs won't get on you."

Here are Zachary and Brynne trying to avoid them:

In any case, if it were the Browns alone we would have turned around long before now. But since we didn't want to be wimps in front of the Roberts we persisted. Paul carried Shayla in a backpack part of the way up (Hilary did the rest of the way up AND down -- did I mention she's superwoman?), and she loved it. I'm not sure why she wanted to keep her arms up, but she did it for almost the whole way. (I'm talking about Shayla here, not Hilary.) She loved the backpack. It was our first time to use it, and she carried it all around at the top of the mountain in fear we would leave it behind. (She's since been putting her dolls in it and carrying it around. Very cute!)

Anyway, the kids ran ahead much of the time. We regularly had to stop Morgan and Tyler so they wouldn't get out of sight. Here is a picture of them almost to the cross. I didn't notice the HUGE bird while we were there. It looks big enough to have picked up a kid and taken him away!

At the top we got some great pictures. I'm not sure if Shayla was hot or just wanted to show off her cute belly button:

We enjoyed getting a better look at the windmills recently installed at the base of Spanish Fork canyon. Now we're just waiting for them to start turning:

This cute boy is great about smiling for pics:

This cute girl isn't:

Thanks to Hilary for "sneaking up" on Shayla to get this awesome picture since she wouldn't look at me! :)

And on the way down the kids raced ahead again. You can see how far ahead they got in this picture -- look closely and you will see the kids:

In any case, now we can say we've done it. Next time I'll have to find out when the cankerworms aren't in season ....

BTW, since I mentioned being able to find anything on the Web, I just found info on the 37-foot cross in case you're interested:

Erected in 1981, The Escalante Cross sits on top of Dominguez Hill in the foothills of Loafer Mountain above Spanish Fork, Utah. The cross honors the Dominguez and Esclante expedition. In July of 1776, two Franciscan monks, Fathers Francisco Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante, began an expedition to explore the southwestern United States in search of an overland route from Santa Fe, NM to Monterey, CA. On September 23, 1776 the expedition reached the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. They climbed the hill now known as Dominguez Hill and became the first white men to see Utah Lake and Utah Valley.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Family Fun

We are SO excited about our recent family purchase. We have been thinking about buying a bike trailer for years, but we've never had the budget to do so. (At least, not after buying the other things that were higher on the list from our tax returns. :) I determined that this year we needed to do it so we could get out and enjoy family bike rides, but we've been a bit tight on money. (What's new?!?)

Then we came into some unexpected "fun" money when a friend decided to pay me for my "resume enhancing" services. (By the way, this service really is free if anyone needs it! This friend and his family just are over-the-top generous like I hope to be one day!) So, we went shopping.

We found a bike trailer we liked, and we figured it would also be good to get a hitchhiker for Zachary to ride so the trailer wasn't so heavy. He barely fits into the trailer anyway, so I'm glad we got the hitchhiker, too. (The hitchhiker weighs more than Paul's bike does, so he gets to do a fun balancing act while we're out riding.)

The first time we went out Zachary was scared to be on the hitchhiker. However, we made him do it, and he thought it was a blast when they raced past me with Shayla and Tyler on his two-wheeler. After that there was no complaining.

Shayla loves riding in the trailer as well, and she doesn't weigh too much for me to pull:

We got her a helmet to wear for safety in the bike trailer, and I think it's adorable:

In any case, we're now able to go on family bike rides for the first time EVER!!! It is awesome and we're very excited to get out and get some exercise and fun family time. Thanks Amp!