Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Today is not my day

Three minutes.

The online bus tracker showed three minutes until the bus reached my bus stop. If I hurried, I could still make it. Time is quickly fading and I have a great deal of work ahead of me to get my dissertation finished before I am supposed to graduate this summer. Losing a half hour to wait for another bus seemed pointless.

I grabbed some leftover chicken and a yogurt and threw them in my bag for lunch, threw on my winter boots, and ran out the door. I trudged through the snow in our front yard to save the few precious seconds it would take to walk around on our front walkway and driveway down to the sidewalk. Plus, I knew the driveway and sidewalks were probably slippery.

Lafayette got eight inches of snow two days ago, and freezing rain that night. There was no rain yesterday or the night before, but temperatures hovering just above freezing yesterday had started melting the snow, leaving puddles on the sidewalks that had likely frozen overnight.

I crossed the street and quickened my pace to make sure I could get to the bus stop a block away before the bus. As I reached the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, I looked up to see if I could see the bus coming down the cross street.

Bad idea.

Looking up meant that I didn't see the patch of ice on the sidewalk, and before I knew it, my feet slipped out from under me and my knee hit the pavement.

Only slightly phased, I got up and continued my  trek, successfully making it to the bus stop just as the bus was arriving. A slightly banged-up knee is a small price to pay to catch the bus, I thought to myself as I boarded. And, if that were the extent of the story, I would still agree.

Taking a seat on the bus, I looked down to find that the fall had caused a rip in the knee of my pants, and the stinging I was beginning to feel made me realize that it had probably drawn blood as well.

Ripped pants (I'll spare you a picture of the knee)

A half hour and a bus transfer later, I reached my destination and went up to my office. I reached into my pocket, only to realize that, in my haste to catch the bus, I had left my keys (and my glasses) at home. So I turned around and went straight into the bathroom, wet a number of paper towels, and went into a stall to survey the knee damage. Luckily, while there was a significant bloody patch of scraped skin, it was not as bad as it could have been. I cleaned it as best I could, and then went in search of someone who could let me into my office.

Upon getting into my office, I found the first aid kit I had stashed in my desk and patched up my knee. Then I opened my bag and took out the chicken I had grabbed for lunch to throw it in the fridge. When the container felt sticky, I knew something was not right.

Opening my bag fully, I found that the yogurt must have felt the impact of my fall, and had exploded all over in my bag. Sticky pens and paper went straight into the trash and I tried cleaning my bag and other contents as much as possible - I still think the bag might be a loss.

And now I'm writing this blog post because, if I don't, I will just sit fuming about these events for the rest of the day.

Oh, hey - if I had waited for the next bus, I would have started working a half hour ago.

Note to self: Next time - just wait for the next bus.

P. S. I won't even get into how water unknowingly spilled onto and likely killed my laptop during a flight last week, or how my dissertation right now is hanging by a thread. Maybe it's not my year.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Experiencing God's Tender Mercy

There are certain stories that highlight God's tender mercies that you just don't want forget. One of those stories happened about a month ago, and getting it recorded has been on my mind ever since. It's even enough to make me break my six-month blogging drought.

At the beginning of August, I was slated to present at a conference in Orlando. When discussing the trip with Deidra, we decided that, instead of her staying home with the kids while I was gone, it was a good opportunity for her and the kids to visit family in Idaho early, since we were planning to be there the following week for her class reunion anyway. I would fly in to Idaho from Orlando to join her after the conference ended. So we booked flights leaving Indianapolis the same day, with Deidra and the kids flying out a few hours before me. The one thing we wondered in the back of our minds was how Deidra would handle the flight alone with a two-year-old, a five-month-old, and all of the carry-on luggage (including a car seat and double stroller). And just to up the difficulty level, she also purchased another stroller for one of her sisters off of Craigslist here and had to take it home.

We packed up the night before our flight and headed to a hotel in Indianapolis. That night and the following morning, we prayed that the trip for Deidra and the kids would somehow work out smoothly. Leaving the car at the hotel, we boarded a shuttle to the airport early in the morning. We had four suitcases, two strollers, one car seat, one diaper bag, Millie's roller backpack, and both kids in tow. We somehow managed to get it all in the airport, and I quickly took two bags to the Southwest terminal and checked them both when I checked in for my flight to Orlando. (Getting two free checked bags on Southwest meant that I took could take an extra bag with me that included things nobody would need until I was able to meet up with the family.)

The next stop was the Delta ticket counter to check Deidra and the kids in for their flight. We were hoping that, with our Delta American Express cards, Deidra and Millie would each be able to check a bag for free. No such luck. Since I was not traveling on the flight with them (and since I am the primary cardholder), they wouldn't let us do it, even though Deidra also has a card under the same account. So we chose not to pay extra, hoping that they could check them at the gate.

A little frustrated, we forged on to security with Deidra carrying the diaper bag while pushing Truman in his car seat in one stroller, Millie somewhat haphazardly pulling her roller backpack (part of the way), and me carrying two pieces of luggage with a double umbrella stroller slung over my back.

After weaving through the long line of passengers while trying to keep Millie entertained and corralled, we made it through security without incident. (One good thing about the hotel's airport shuttle was that it got us to the airport way early, so we weren't also stressed about whether we would make our flights.) Hot and frazzled, we made it to the gate where Deidra and the kid were flying out, and unloaded our heavy burdens. Deidra talked to the Delta agents at the ticket counters who, after seeing that the flight was full and that overhead bin space would likely be at a premium, allowed Deidra to check the two pieces of luggage at the gate and pick them up at baggage claim. (That was Deidra's argument with the woman at the check-in desk, to no avail.)

Since I would not be boarding the flight, that left Deidra with both kids (one of whom she would be required to carry), a diaper bag, Millie's backpack, two strollers and a car seat (the last three items would be gate checked, but she still had to make it down the jetway with them). We knew she could handle it, but also knew that it could be quite difficult, and nearly impossible if Millie decided not to cooperate. Not to mention that Deidra then had to manage both kids throughout the nearly four-hour flight.

As we thought about how to most effectively tackle the challenge, with another prayer in our hearts that somehow everything would work out, I recognized a man approaching the gate with his wife as Ron Ellis, our Stake President. Since we attend church in a different building than President Ellis, and we have only interacted with him on a few occasions, I doubted as if he would recognize us. But if he and Meg, his wife, were on the same flight as Deidra, I knew they would be willing to help out.

I was just getting ready to go introduce myself to him and explain our situation when I looked up and saw him approaching us with his signature smile. Turns out he did recognize us, and he came to say hello. He joked that it looked like we had our hands full. When we explained that I wasn't flying with the rest of the family, his response was something along the lines of: "My wife and I love being able to assist in these kinds of situations. Just let us know how we can help. We'll take care of them."

As Deidra boarded the plane carrying Truman and a folded umbrella stroller, with the Ellis's pushing a stroller with an empty car seat and helping to keep Millie headed in the right direction, my heart was filled with gratitude for the tender mercies of God in sending help when we needed it most. I later learned that President Ellis and his wife had continued to help throughout the flight by taking Truman at times. Upon arrival, Sister Ellis met Deidra outside the plane with Truman and the double stroller, while Pres. Ellis was waiting inside the terminal with the single stroller and the carseat. They took the whole kit and caboodle to baggage claim and waited with them until Deidra's mom arrived.

Spencer W. Kimball, a former prophet and president of our church, once said: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." I had great respect for President Ellis as an ecclesiastical leader prior to this experience, but I now have an even greater love for him and his wife because of their individual care for our family. And I am humbled by a loving Heavenly Father who answered a prayer in a way more perfect than I could have hoped.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Language of Millie: "-ing" Verbs

Millie's vocabulary continues to grow, including her verbage. She is beginning to understand how the present participle (-ing) verb tense works, even if she comes up with some non-traditional verbs.

For example, dressing her was briefly known as "shirting," "pantsing," "socksing," etc.

It gets really tricky with words that she previously knew as "ing" words. For those words, she has taken to adding a second "ing" on the end. Some examples include eatinging, talkinging, and throwinging.

Then there is the game that she likes to play where she runs from the front door to the back door (then back to the front door, etc.), reaching up to play with the lock on each doorknob. She now does this while screaming "Runninging and lockinging!" at the top of her lungs.

I love that little girl!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Welcome to the World, Little Brother!

Truman Reading Hartwell was born at 8:03 pm on March 5, 2013 (he matched his sister by being five days overdue). He weighed in at 8 pounds 5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Mom and Truman are both doing well, and Millie loves her new baby brother (or "baby Toomie," as she calls him). And I think he's pretty awesome as well - especially after he only woke up once during the night last night.

Welcome to the family, Truman!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The G.O.D. Conference

With all of the recent NCAA conference realignments, and with schools like Brigham Young and Notre Dame deciding to go independent for some sports, I got to wondering what it would be like if those schools were in the same conference. In fact, what if there was an NCAA conference made up solely of schools with religious affiliations?

The Glorious Omnipotent Deity (G.O.D.) conference.

How about a conference slogan: “In G.O.D. we trust,” or “Heaven help us,” or “The Spirit of Sports,” . . . I’ll work on it.

It could be some pretty fierce competition. And you know that when those schools duke it out, it’s always for some major bragging rights (i.e. “God blessed the winner more than the loser!”).

There would have to be rules to determine eligibility for inclusion in the conference. And since I’m making up the conference, I suggest the following rules for inclusion: (1) only schools with a strong religious affiliation, (2) only schools with highly competitive Division I athletic programs, and (3) only one university per religious affiliation. Therefore, I would like to submit these nominations to the G.O.D. conference:

Notre Dame (Roman Catholic)

Brigham Young University (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Texas Christian University (Disciples of Christ)

Southern Methodist University (United Methodist)

Upon reflection, maybe my rules are too restrictive. Only taking schools that have a strong religious affiliation would eliminate schools with historical religious ties (e.g. Duke, American). I also couldn’t find any suitable candidates with competitive Division 1 athletic programs from other religious affiliations (e.g. Jewish, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist). And limiting the conference to only one university per religion excludes a lot of other potential Catholic programs (e.g., Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Xavier).

At least this starts the conversation and gets the ball rolling.  

Ok, maybe not. It would never happen. But I still think it would be cool.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Language of Millie: Counting

Millie may be learning a lot these days, but she definitely got a lot to learn. Take this video, for instance, where Millie (not-so-)expertly shows off her counting skills.

At least she's ready for her birthday coming up in April!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Language of Millie: Shally Shells Sheshells

Millie's vocabulary continues to grow at an alarming rate (at least to this first-time parent). Every day, she is saying words she has never said before and pronouncing words that she knows even better. But the one thing I get a kick out of these days is that she has the cutest lisp when saying sords with S.

When we ask her what an S says, she replies without hesitation with a flawless "ssssssssss." But it's a different story altogether when words are involved. House becomes housh; sock becomes shock; soup becomes shoop; sausage becomes shaushage. But my absolute favorite is when we ask her a question and she responds with a resounding "yesh!"

And I can only smile and try to stifle my juvenile chuckles when she attempts the word "sit."

Hopefully she's grown out of this lisp by the time potty training comes along. I don't think I could control myself if she has that lisp when she tells me she wants to "sit on the potty."