Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A week ago today, two of my nephews (from Melanie’s side of the family) flew into town to stay with their grandparents—and hence with us. Eddie, Peter, and Creegan have been having lots of fun with their cousins. Kyle and Jeremy are 9 and 7, which works out quite well with Eddie being 8 and Peter being 6. At 3, Beegy is nevertheless keeping up with them and their shenanigans quite well.

Aside from playing Minecraft and jumping on the trampoline, which seem to be the two major at-home activities, there has been a lot of other fun over the last week. July 24th is Pioneer Day in Utah, celebrating the arrival of the Mormon pioneers back in 1847. It’s basically a repeat of July 4th, but with a greater emphasis on Jell-O. Banks and the state government close down, there is a local parade, and fireworks rule the night. Melanie’s parents took us all to an all-you-eat-buffet, which the kids find extremely exciting. This buffet even had cotton candy, which was a big hit with the kiddos. After that, we came home, hung out for a little while, and then did our own fireworks at the end of the driveway. ‘Twas very fun.

A holiday wouldn't be a holiday without someone in their underwear.  Thanks, Beegy!


Beegy, excited as hell about Pioneer Day.

The next big to-do was going to Hogle Zoo on Saturday morning. It was hot, and Melanie and I both got headaches, but aside from that, it was great. Melanie’s parents bought an annual pass that allows you to take several kids and a couple of guests with you at a time, so we’ll probably make use of it again when it’s a bit cooler. As it was, we only saw about half the zoo, if even. We pooped out by noon-ish, after making sure to ride the carousel and the train. The kids were more excited about that than the animals. In fact, they don’t get very excited about the animals. The strange thing is, I know if I let them watch a YouTube video of a monkey fumbling around in a cereal box, they’d want to watch it over and over again for an hour. When we see the same thing in person at the zoo, they can’t move on quickly enough. Sheesh.

Eddie was super excited to ride the praying mantis on the carousel, mostly because he knows those are my least favorite bug and give me the creeps.

I'm actually quite pleased with how the carousel photos turned out, because I was taking them from somewhat of a distance and zooming in all the way.

Peter studies the map.  (My kids get more excited about complimentary maps at theme parks, zoos, etc. than they do about the place itself.)

On Monday, we went and saw Rio 2 at the nearby dollar theater. And, crazy enough, this dollar theater actually costs only $1 per ticket! On Mondays, they have a “family special” where groups of three or more can get $1 tickets. (I think $1.50 might be the normal price.) The previous Monday, we saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but that was before our cousins arrived. So, this time around, it was a bigger family affair. I slept for varying lengths of time at varying intervals throughout the movie, so maybe my judgment isn’t quite fair, but I thought the movie was rather mediocre. But I think the boys had fun.

As for today, we went to a place called Jump Around Utah, which is a warehouse full of bounce houses. It’s basically like Zoinks, which we used to frequent in Tallahassee, only there aren’t any arcade games. The kids quite enjoyed it. We even got them to try out a hurricane simulator, which is like an enclosed tube you can stand in that blows nearly 80mph winds at you. I’ve included a video of this after some photos.

Creegan took this photo.

And that’s that. Kyle and Jeremy will be sticking around until next Wednesday, so we’ve got a good week left with them. I’m not really sure what’s on the horizon, plan-wise. There’s a carnival at our church on Friday night, but I’ll be spending Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Sunstone Symposium at the University of Utah. (It’s basically a conference for Mormon intellectualism.) I’m also happy to report that I have a doctor’s appointment for Monday, which will put me at about six weeks of having a numb right hand. I don’t know what hoops I’ll have to jump through before we can get me in for surgery, but here’s hoping it will come soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Free Parking

With almost zero money but a decent amount of time on our hands, Melanie and I have been making use of the many parks that are available in Utah. Not having lived here in eight years, our kids aren’t that familiar with the parks, so it all feels new and fun to them. What follows are some of the photos we’ve snapped during our escapades:

I was trying to get a good photo of the sky here, while also capturing Peter on the playground equipment.  Can you see him?

Rolling down the hill.

It is not a park, but my parents have a swimming pool at their apartment complex.  It's outside, and it's free for us, so that's park-ish enough for me to include it here.

And the nearby skate park:

The end!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Semi-Comfortably Numb

We’re now at the three-week mark for my right hand being largely and consistently numb. The problem is that my Florida-based insurance won’t cover anything in Utah other than emergency room visits. But the constant numbness left me worried about nerve damage, and so I finally did visit the ER last week. They confirmed my suspicions that this is indeed a classic case of carpal tunnel, and due to the numbness not relenting or changing whatsoever over a two-week period, they said surgery was almost guaranteed to be necessary. Even so, they put me in a sling and gave me a prescription for Prednisone. It’s now six days later, and there’s no change.

Let me begin by looking on the bright side. First of all, my ER visit was extremely pleasant. I was in and out in about 30 minutes or so. Maybe 45. It was one of the easiest going doctor’s visits I’ve ever had, emergency or no. In Tallahassee, a trip to the ER is guaranteed to be an all-day affair. But I guess the plethora of hospitals around the Salt Lake Valley enable some hospitals to keep relatively non-busy. Lucky for me! I’m also quite glad that I was able to fulfill my prescription. My insurance wouldn’t cover it, and I thought I’d have to shell out a hundred bucks or more to buy it out-of-pocket. But the pharmacist worked her magic and was able to sell me my pills for just under $10. I could manage that. And finally, having the sling is very nice. It’s also very awkward, but having it on masks the numbness to some extent. When I take it off, it’s then that I realize how weird and non-normal my hand feels. When I have the sling on, it makes sense that I wouldn’t feel normal in my hand—so it feels non-normal in a very normal way. Make sense?

Now the downside. I’m supposed to be following up with an orthopedic surgeon and figuring out all of the surgery details. The sooner the better, not only to avoid lasting complications associated with carpal tunnel, but because I need to be able to start using my hand again! I can’t easily type a dissertation in this condition. (I’m typing a blog, I know, but trust me, it’s tedious.) Unfortunately, my insurance just won’t cover anything in this neck of the woods. And so I don’t really know what to do about it. My insurance originally told me that if a doctor here in Utah wanted to call and work it out with them, given the situation, they could probably authorize the work. But the doctor here in Utah says otherwise and won’t even bother trying to do that. And so I feel stuck.

To end on a slightly more upbeat tone, I am getting much better at using my left hand. Eating with a knife and fork has greatly improved. And yes, bathroom issues are getting better, although that’s definitely among the more annoying aspects of my current condition. I probably shouldn’t mention that, because my left hand is doing most of the work now, I feel like it’s getting a bit more numb too. It hasn’t really been a problem before, but now I find my left fingertips going numb as I go about things—like typing this blog post. Which is why I’ll stop here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Party in the USA

We had lots of fun last week, what with the Fourth of July and Edison’s birthday all falling on the same weekend and everything. (They tend to do that.) I thought I would miss celebrating Independence Day in Tallahassee, where attending a good fireworks show is easy breezy compared to fighting the monstrous crowds you encounter here in Utah. But I was pleasantly surprised. We followed Melanie’s parents and brother to a nearby park-and-ride lot for the commuter train, which afforded us an overview of much of the Salt Lake Valley. A fireworks show would soon be put on directly in front of us. While we waited, we could scan the horizon and, no joke, see about 20 different fireworks shows going off in the distance. It was a panorama of distant fireworks until the big jubilee erupted directly in front of us. Yes, it took four or five times longer to work our way through the post-festivity traffic, but we planned as much and didn’t get frustrated about it. We had a ton of fun, and it was a great night.

About the crown: it was Edison's birthday crown that he chose while picking out some birthday decorations.  Creegan kept insisting that I wear it at the fireworks show.

On Saturday morning, we went out to Village Inn for Eddie’s birthday breakfast. This has become a tradition with our children. As always, Eddie and Peter got the Vill-Inn Funny Face pancake breakfast. Beegy didn’t want pancakes and got “macaroni of cheese” instead. I designed my own omelette that included cheese, ham, red peppers, and olives. It came with hash browns and some pancakes, and then I did my fatherly duty of finishing off any leftover pancakes from the boys. This was my first knife-and-fork type meal that I’ve eaten since my carpal tunnel has become severe, so I tried to stick to my left hand. I felt absolutely inept. It was much more difficult than I would’ve expected.

After breakfast, we headed to my parents’ home to celebrate Eddie’s birthday with them. On our way out of the Village Inn parking lot, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket only to discover that I was connected to 911. My phone has a terrible design. I “lock” it, but it comes unlocked so easily while in my pocket, and it has some feature where if you press the right buttons, you can dial 911 without unlocking it. Needless to say, I have butt-dialed 911 a few times in my life. The last time was last year, about half a block from that same Village Inn. Stupid phone. Anyway, we took a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (Eddie’s choice, of course) to my parents, who presented Eddie with a nice assortment of fun gifts. (I think my sister Krush is primarily responsible for choosing those gifts, so thanks to her.) Eddie received an Angry Birds cup (which he has used a ton since), several t-shirts (Angry Birds, Minecraft, etc.), a cool Angry Birds Go toy, and his own set of fireworks.

That night, Melanie decorated her parents’ house so Edison would wake up to more birthday fun. That next morning (Sunday) is when he opened gifts from Melanie and me, as well as from Melanie’s parents. We gave him a Minecraft book and a toy chainsaw, both of which were urgently requested by Eddie, and then surprised him with a set of Bunnicula books and a laser tag set (which we’ve all had a lot of fun with, though they are rather noisy). Eddie chose all three meals that day. Breakfast consisted of crepes, lunch consisted of these frozen little taco things, and dinner was a pot roast with baby carrots. (Eddie pretty much just loves the carrots, to be honest, but he likes them cooked with the roast.) We also added some rolls, a dinner salad, and some mashed potatoes. For dessert, we had regular made-from-a-boxed-mix brownies, as Eddie insisted. It was fun.

Happy birthday, Eddie!!!