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."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Houston Bound

I am part of a couple of conference submissions that got accepted to the SIOP Annual Conference this year, which means that I will be traveling to Houston in early April (around the 10th-13th). While I have flown through numerous Texas airports, this will be my first time spending any significant time in Texas.

I have been checking out some potential things to do and have found that the Astros are not playing at home while I will be there, but the Rockets are. And that's about all I have figured out so far. What can I say - sports come first.

 I'll be sticking in the downtown area during my time there. For any of you that have been to Houston, any recommendations of things to see, places to eat, places to stay, etc.? I'm pretty sure the readership of my blog is at about 10 people right now (if that), so I'm not banking on getting much of a response, but any little bit helps.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Language of Millie: Homonyms

Millie has been getting so good at using words lately; she is a chatterbox, just like both of her parents were when they were little. But as good as she is, sometimes it takes some mad translation skills to decipher what she is really talking about. Some of the words she uses sound almost exactly the same!

So just in case you are ever in conversation with Millie, you can use the context of the conversation and this handy guide to assist you:

  • Papa - Grandpa, pacifier, and popcorn
  • Mama - Grandma and blanket
  • Bay-bay - Baby, blackberry, and bagel
  • Boo-bur - Bluebird and blueberry
  • Muckah - Melting, matching, monkey, and mustard
  • Hebby - Happy and heavy
And finally, the big wild card:
  • Uh-nuh - I don't know, what's this, I want that, her doll's name, orange, and pretty much any exclamation
Hopefully this is helpful. I am sure I will have more helpful tips for communicating with Millie to come in future posts.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goals for 2013

I've already discussed that one of my goals for 2013 is to blog weekly. Three weeks in and all is well! So far, my posts have all included lists, and this one will be no different. So, here are my goals for 2013:

Physical: (1) Run at least 213 miles during 2013, (2) run at least one long distance race (marathon, half marathon, or Ragnar-style relay race). If all goes perfectly, I may even run all three types of distance races this year.

School: I am done with coursework and have taught my first class. This semester is the first one without teaching or taking any classes, so I get to focus on research. My goals are (1) to apply for a research grant for the next school year (so I wouldn't have to teach next year if I get the grant), (2) get an article published in a top journal, and (3) propose my dissertation (first step - determining a topic).

Marriage: (1) Weekly dates and one date a month with a babysitter. (2) Doing at least one household chore when Deidra leaves me home alone (or with Millie and/or Baby Brother after they are in bed) - i.e. folding laundry, mowing lawn, doing dishes, vacuuming, etc.

Family: (1) Spend one half day at home each week, (2) Daddy-daughter dates at least quarterly, and (3) Take a family vacation (Michigan? Cincinnati?)

Spiritual: (1) Daily scripture study and/or study of teachings from church leaders, (2) Daily morning and evening prayers on my knees, and (3) Quarterly temple attendance

Creativity/Leisure: (1) Read at least four books (outside of textbooks and journal articles) during the year, (2) Get at least one full song recorded during the year, and (3) play disc golf at least six times

At Deidra's suggestion, I've been using the Good Habits and Way of Life apps on my phone to keep track of my daily goals. I like Way of Life better (because it gives more statistical information and I'm nerdy like that), but you can only have three goals without paying to upgrade the app. But if any of you are working on daily goals, those are a couple of good free apps to try.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My Top 12 of 2012

Since I've left you in the dark during 2012, I figure a good way to catch you up is through listing what I consider the top 12 happenings for me during the year. And since Deidra has been a much better blogger than me, I will link to her take on the events (where possible):

1. Baby brother is on his way: We are really excited for baby number two (and boy number one) who is due on February 28th!

2. Passing my comprehensive exam: The entire first two years of my PhD program was basically leading up to a two-day comprehensive exam on the topics surrounding both organizational behavior and human resource management, including: work motivation, job attitudes, leadership, work teams and groups, strategic human resource management, recruiting, selection, performance management, employee training and development, employee turnover and retention, legal issues, research methods, and statistical methods. I started studying about 5 hours/week in January, 10 hours/week mid-March, and 40 hours/week at the end of April.

On June 26 & 27, I took my exam. Each day, I had one three hour morning session and one three hour afternoon session. I was completely exhausted by the time I was finished. We took off for a much needed vacation with family on the 28th. Upon my return to Lafayette in mid-July, I got word that I had passed the examination. Hooray! What that means is that I have no more required coursework and can begin focusing more on research, and especially a dissertation. Oh, I can can officially refer to myself as a PhD candidate instead of a PhD student. I have found that the right terminology is very important in the academic world.

3. Copper anniversary getaway: I surprised Deidra with a night away from Millie for the first time on our 7th (copper) anniversary. This included dinner at the Copper Kettle, an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast, going to the temple together, and a treat from Copper Cupcakes. All-in-all, it was a fun little vacation, but the best part was Deidra's reaction once she found out we were going away for the night, and not just for dinner.

4. Running the Purdue Half Marathon: I seem to only have motivation to run when I have a goal that I am running to meet. So I decided the inaugural Purdue Half Marathon would be that goal. The race went much better than I expected, and I finished just under my pace from the Top of Utah half marathon a few years ago. I considered that a success, since this marathon did not have the elevation decline that TOU has.

5. Presenting research at a conference (and vacationing) in San Diego: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) had its annual conference in San Diego in April this year. I was part of four submissions, all of which were accepted into the conference. I was the lead author and presenter for one of the projects, which was my first time presenting in that type of setting. A full run down of the trip can be found here and here.

6. Watching Millie grow: Celebrating Millie's first birthday, seeing her go from wobbling first steps to running, hitting the 18-month mark and sending her to nursery at church, watching her vocabulary explode, and witnessing how quickly she learns has made this a truly awe-inspiring year.

7. Teaching my first undergraduate class: The main reason I got into this whole PhD thing was because I want to be a university professor and hopefully be an inspiration to help some college students find their way in life. My first semester of teaching came this Fall with a senior-level undergraduate Human Resource Management class for business management majors. My class had 91 students and was held in a large lecture hall with theater seating. Some days I wondered if anyone was even paying attention when most students' eyes were transfixed on their electronic devices and no one seemed to be able to answer the questions I posed. But, overall, it was a great experience that I enjoyed and learned a lot from. When the class evaluations came back, I felt good about the mostly positive ratings and comments from students, and even had a few students reach out to me individually to thank me and/or explain to me how I had made a difference for them. It reminded me of why I am here and renewed my vigor for my chosen career course.

8. Erecting a fence: Those of you who know me, know that I'm not the most handyman-man around. But I am learning a thing or two about working with my hands through home ownership. After replacing a water heater last year, this year's big project was going to be fencing in our back yard so that Millie can go out there and play without being watched all the time. Luckily, 75% of our backyard was already fenced, so I only had to worry about 25 feet or so. But, while the fence was something on our "would be nice" to-do list, the time and costs kept me from really pursuing it.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving morning. Deidra's parents were in town and we got together with some friends to do a little turkey trot 5k run in a friend's neighborhood. During the run, my father-in-law spotted a homeowner tearing down a fence. Knowing of our wish for a fence, he approached the man and a few days later, we had more than enough fence panels delivered to our home free of charge. A few weeks, 6 post holes, a 20 pounds of gravel,and 100 pounds of concrete later, I finally got most of the fence put up before Christmas and our first big snow fall - all that's left is the gate.

9. Prairie Home Companion: We got complementary tickets to go see a live taping of Prairie Home Companion, a throwback radio show on NPR, when it came to Purdue. Having only minimal exposure to the show (I had really only heard the "News from Lake Wobegon" segment, which wasn't my favorite), I didn't really know what to expect. But it was such a fun and amazing experience watching bands play, announcers using different voices, and the legendary vocal sound effect guru Fred Newman. It's one of those things that is so much better to watch live and I am really glad that we went.

10. Getting an "R&R": In the academic world, R&R doesn't stand for rest and relaxation; it stands instead for revise and resubmit. When you send an article in to a journal for potential publication, it usually either comes back as a flat-out rejection or an R&R, which basically is the action editor saying "I think there might be some potential for publication, but here are all of the problems that were found with your manuscript by me and the other reviewers. Try to address these issues and resubmit the revised manuscript and we'll take another look at it." So, my first journal submission (as the 2nd author out of four) got the latter response, which is one step closer to publication. We have now completed the revision and sent it back to the editor for a second round. We'll see what comes of it. (Hopefully it eventually gets published, as publications are vital for finding a professorship after my PhD program is finished.)

11. Cheering on the Washington Nationals: I grew up as an Atlanta Braves fan, but switched my allegiance when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. I was living in DC at the time and had the good fortune of going to a handful of games during their inaugural season, which was right before I moved from DC. Since then, I have remained a fan. They have always been pretty horrible, but finally turned things around this year. They happened to be playing the Padres while we were in San Diego for the SIOP conference mentioned earlier, so we even got to go cheer them on in person (and check "sit in an all-you-can-eat section at a major league ballpark" off of my bucket list). I also got a Nationals baseball cap for my birthday. It was fun seeing them do well and even get into the playoffs this year, though their breakdown in the final game against the Cardinals was heart-wrenching. But, there's always next year, as the saying goes.

12. Taking the WEPCO league Fantasy Football Championship: For the second time in three years, I won the championship in the 12-team fantasy football league that I have been running for the last ten years. It's a very low-key and low-commitment league, so the only thing you win when you win the championship is bragging rights. And since I have won those rights, I figured I better use them here.

There were many other memorable moments in 2012: Sunday dinners at the Wallins, a short vacation in St. Louis, going to the beach, Millie's Halloween costume, Scout campouts, visits from family and friends, a summer adventure traveling out west, etc. It was a great year, and I am looking forward to 2013!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Don't call it a comeback

Almost 14 months ago was my last post on this blog. It was a busy 2012, and I let the time get away from me. But I am making a renewed effort to blog once a week either here and/or at Bizarre HR. It's a new year and resolutions abound, so I figured I might as well have a resolution of my own, right?

So, since it's been so long since the last post, I figured I would start off the year with a look back at the history of my blog. This is my 326th post on the blog since its inception on June 30, 2006. That averages about one blog post a week, even without posting for over a year. There have been over 13,000 page views of my posts, which means that too many people have too much time on their hands.

Interestingly enough, my top five viewed posts are as follows:

1. No Go BOGO - A rant against Buy One Get One not free scams
2. Happy Birthday, Deid! - My ode to Deidra on her 24th birthday
3. Sorte Sue Contentus - The mediocrity that is my ancestral heritage
4. Taste the Rainbow - The decorative beauty of Powerade
5. Live from Anchorage . . . It's Saturday Night! - Musings on similarities between Alaskan governors and SNL cast members.

Random, huh?

Anyway, hopefully the new year will add to the unmemorable legacy I have already created.

Happy New Year!