Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

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Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

Tuesday – 23 August 2014
Not only is today Team DiVa Tuesday,  it is the first day of Autumn, as well.

Last night, we stopped by Sara’s parents’ place for a visit. While there, the girls decided that they wanted to wear some of their Papi and Gumbi’s hats. I managed to capture this picture:

Team DiVa in Hats!

Team DiVa in Hats!

Over the years, I’ve heard people mention how adept kids are at picking up habits and phrases from their parents. Our girls are no exception to this, it would seem.

Apparently, when I encounter a facepalm-worthy situation around the girls, I often say: “Oh, God…

I can’t remember what situation prompted it on Sunday, but Diana said it on the way back from breakfast. I think that Sara and I laughed for a good mile-and-a-half before either of us was composed enough to talk about it. Even then, we still cracked up while discussing it.

Sara related this to me when I got home from work last night:

She picked the ladies up from preschool. Typically, we’ll give them a small pre-dinner snack, because they’re “so hungry…” Yesterday’s snack was a bowl of cashews and peanuts. Through some unknown-to-me process, Vanessa managed to spill all of her nuts on the floor, prompting a transformation from Team DiVa Cutie into… Baby Meltdown!!!

Diana, hearing the commotion, ran into the kitchen to see what was going on. When she got there, she looked at the floor, saw the mess, and said, “Oh, God…

Yep. My kid.  (I wish I had been there to witness it.)

Hello, Monday.

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Hello, Monday.

Monday – 22 September 2014
This past weekend was rather good.

I went into Friday thinking “Friday!” I came out of Friday “Blah.” We had a situation at work that lasted all day, meaning that I wasn’t really able to take care of any of the things that I had planned to tackle. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was call it a day. Sara, the girls and I went out for dinner. By the time we got home and got the girls ready for bed, I was ready to decompress… but didn’t know what I wanted to do. Sara! to the rescue: She brought me a glass of Maker’s Mark, a bag of Doritos and suggested that I vent some frustration in Titanfall.

Best. Wife. Ever.

Knowing that I had a fairly atrocious night’s sleep, Sara let me sleep in on Saturday morning. When I got up, Team DiVa and I went downstairs to watch a couple episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and the second half of The LEGO Movie. After lunch, the girls went down for naps. I probably should have, as well. But, I didn’t. I did mow the lawn, though, so I’ll count that as a “win.” Saturday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a “Fall Cookie Extravaganza,” as Sara called it. It was nice to be able to hang out and just enjoy the company of friends… and cookies. The girls turned into quite the little hostesses, as well: They would ask everyone who showed up what drinks they want and would pour a small – VERY small – drink for them. (I really think that it was more a matter of them liking to use the lemonade and water dispensers.) We had dinner and then we watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who – one with Twelve, one with Ten.

Sunday morning, we got up and got ready to go out for breakfast. Instead of heading to Millcreek Cafe, as is our usual Sunday morning routine, we drove up to Layton to meet our favorite Treasure Valley Rollergirl, Mia Wallups (a.k.a. Jen)! We surprised her by inviting Dave, Angy and Gala, as well. At Sara’s suggestion, we ate at Sill’s Cafe. And it was worth the drive.

Picture - (c) http://everydave.com

Angy and Jen (Picture courtesy of http://everydave.com)

I tried a scone (which was, literally, as big as my head!) and biscuits and gravy, which were fantastic. I’m not sure exactly what everyone else had, but the consensus was that everyone’s meals were good. It was also nice to catch up with Jen; life’s been busy for both of us and we’d kind of lost track of each other in the process.

We came back home, got the girls a light lunch, and then put them down for naps. Once they were safely asleep, I headed downstairs to catch what was left of the second half of the Ravens-Browns game. I’d been tracking the game’s progress and it had been a back-and-forth battle. But, in the end…


Justin Tucker nailed an at-the-buzzer field goal to put the Ravens at 2-1 on the season.

After the game, I went to the Big Shiny Robot & Bohemian Brewery’s Nerd Swap Meet. I came home with a couple of finds:

When I got home, the girls wanted me to go for a ride in their “rocket ship.” I love their imaginations. I’m going to have to find them either astronaut costumes or, at least, a couple of astronaut helmets. Sara reminded me that we’d promised them a trip to “the Slurpee store,” so we returned to Earth and headed to the local 7-Eleven. Then, back home for dinner, kids’ showers, a show (and a few Schoolhouse Rock! videos) before putting the ladies down for the night.

We wound up the night with glasses of wine and The Strain.

All-in-all, a good weekend.

Stray Toasters

  • Sunday would have been my friend, Jess’, 40th birthday.
  • While watching the score of the Ravens’ game, I thought about how much I would have enjoyed watching the game with Brad and our late friend Dave, a Browns fan.
  • I picked up Destiny last week. I have yet to play it, as I discovered that I need to get a new hard drive for my Xbox.
  • I’m still forming an opinion about the new Doctor. But, at this point, I’m liking him.

That’s good for now.


How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Sunday – 14 September 2014
For the past week, I’ve been on vacation. It’s been pretty amazing.

Last weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con was in town. I went (of course), as did Sara and Team DiVa. I think that the girls’ highlight moment can be summed up here:


They were pretty ecstatic to see Wonder Woman. I thought that Diana was going to try and knock people over to get to her. Unfortunately, by the time I finally got this picture, they were starting to run out of people juice. Click here to see more pictures of the outing.

Sunday afternoon, we packed up and headed to Redfish Lake for a long-anticipated family vacation. As Sunday and Monday were the girls’ birthdays, we had a small to-do for that:


We spent three-and-a-half days at the lake; it was a nice change of pace and it was a lot of fun to see the girls interacting with a new environment. There was a bit of a love/hate relationship with the lake: Temps were mostly in the 60s and 70s, so the lake was… brisk, to say the least. But, the girls had fun wading in the water and trying to catch minnows:


Sara! also introduced them to fishing. With hooks and bait and the whole nine yards. The fish weren’t biting, but they still liked it. I even managed to sneak in a bike ride while we were there. Click here for more pictures of our time in Central Idaho.

We came back to Salt Lake City to prepare for the last hurrah of the weekend: Team DiVa’s third birthday party (yes, that’s a picture link):


Yes, the girls are in their Comic Con costumes – it was a superhero-themed party. We invited some of the girls’ friends from daycare and a few other kids they know. The birthday party was a big hit. My mother, sister, niece and uncle flew in for the weekend to help celebrate. After the party – and a couple of much-needed naps for the girls – we had a family dinner in the back yard. (I think we’ve used the yard more in the past two months than we have in the past two years. Go figure.)


This morning, we saw Mom, Kris and Kennadi off at the airport.


My uncle had a early flight, so we said our goodbyes to him last night. It was nice having them here for a few days, as we haven’t seen them since last summer.

After that, we headed to breakfast at Millcreek Cafe. From there, we stopped to pick up a copy of Cinderella for a family movie morning. The movie went over with a mixed reaction, but the girls watched the whole thing. And from there, it was lunch and nap time.

Tomorrow, the working world awaits. But that’s tomorrow. For today, I still have a few hours to spend with Sara! and the girls. And there are Slurpees in our future.

And that’s just fine with me.


September 11th, 2014

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September 11th, 2014

Thursday – 11 September 2014
It’s been a busy day, but I wanted to try and get something up before the day was out. (Hey, I’m on Mountain Time. I still have almost two hours!)

It has been thirteen years since the terrorist attacks in New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

I hope that people took time to remember those who died, both in the attack and those who gave their lives trying to rescue/save those in the affected areas.

Today, Joe – a friend and a former New York native  - posted a few pictures of the World Trade Center, including a couple of him at the WTC. He also took this picture of me, atop 2 WTC (the South Tower):

Even after all this time, it’s still a little odd to see this picture, remember visiting the towers, thinking about the 1993 attempt to fell them and realizing how it felt to see where they were intended to fall… while standing inside and atop 2 WTC…

…and to know that they are not there any longer.

Again, for my thoughts on the attacks and the aftermath, refer to these posts.

Remeber the past.
Cherish the present
Look with hope to the future.


Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

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Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Monday – 08 September 2014
Before I forget to post this… again…

This past weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con happened in… um… Salt Lake City, appropriately enough. I went as part of the Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection cavalcade.

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

I even managed to take a few pictures (click here).


Happy birthday, Vanessa!

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Happy birthday, Vanessa!

Sunday – 08 September 2014
Three years ago, this little lady was born.

The Birthday Girl and her Aunt Missa!

The Birthday Girl and her Aunt Missa!

Happy birthday, Vanessa!

Happy birthday, Diana!

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Happy birthday, Diana!

Sunday – 07 September 2014
Three years ago, this little lady was born.


The Birthday Girl


Happy birthday, Diana!

May your life be full of surprises. (Or, “Follow-up to the video I posted earlier.”)

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May your life be full of surprises. (Or, "Follow-up to the video I posted earlier.")

Sunday – 24 August 2014
There’s an adage about being careful what you wish for.

Saturday morning, I was watching cartoons with the girls and decided to check out what was new and exciting on the Internet. One of my stops was, of course, Facebook. I saw that a friend from college, Mark, was taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (I’d watched this video a few days ago and it put me over the edge about wanting to make a donation to the campaign.) If nothing else, I figured that Mark’s challenge would be entertaining.

As I got ready to watch it, I remember thinking: I know a lot of people who have done this but none of them have put me up for the challenge…

A few seconds in, I heard him challenge me. Well, then. That’s that.

Not being one to back down from a challenge – at least not a worthy one – I decided to “suit up” as Tony Stark said [indirectly] to Bruce Banner. It was just a matter of deciding what to do.

It went something like this:

Challenge: Accepted



Thanks to Sara!, Team DiVa, and Steve & Bonne Kelly for helping to have a bit of fun in the name of a good cause.

Just checking something…

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This is merely a test. Please feel free to overlook this post.


End test.

Where in the world…?

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Where in the world...?

Thursday – 21 August 2014
I’ll just go ahead and apologize up front for this post now.

I found the last picture in this post – HEY! No skipping ahead! – a few years ago. It still makes me laugh. I found the other pictures over the past week, while looking for something totally unrelated.

Separately, they all have their amusing points.

Collectively, they tell something of a story.

I imagine it going a little something like this…










Suits me.

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Suits me.

Wednesday – 20 August 2014
Suits. It’s no secret that I like them and that I like wearing them. Sure, there are occasions for wearing suits, but for me, said “occasions” are “practically anytime.’” That sentiment is considered “a little” odd for someone working in a non-management position in IT, where the assumed standard is often t-shirt and jeans or, at most, business casual. But, that’s just the way I’m wired.

This morning, I opted to wear my navy pinstripe suit (with white shirt, red jacquard tie, cordovan loafers, and my Superman braces). Just because.


It's a bird, it's a plane...!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…!

I arrived at the office at the same time as my coworker, Nicole. She noted that I was wearing a suit and that it looked nice – for which I thanked her – and asked if there was any particular reason that I chose to wear a suit. I offhandedly said, “It was clean.” Then I amended that statement with, “…and it’s a day that ends in ‘y.’” She laughed and nodded. A few moments later, we parted company, heading to our respective parts of the office.

A short while later, she sent me the following message:

http://vimeo.com/37855064 – this is the song that came to mind when you commented on your suit. 

I didn’t have a chance to check it out when she sent it. After lunch, I remembered that I had the URL still sitting in a message window. I clicked it and watched. The title, “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit,” made me grin like a fiend. The video itself actually made me laugh.

Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit from Livia Gondim on Vimeo.

…and I might just have a new theme song.


Twenty-one minutes and thirty-eight seconds about Ferguson, Missouri

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Twenty-one minutes and thirty-eight seconds about Ferguson, Missouri

Monday – 18 August 2014
There has been A LOT said about the situation in Ferguson, MO on the air – and on social media – over the past week. I actually think that far too much of it has been the reporting equivalent of static. I’ve intentionally stayed rather absent and quiet about it, trying to glean facts from all of the information/sensationalization.

The bottom line for me is:

  • I am sorry for the senseless loss of Michael Brown’s life.
  • It is wrong for a young man – of ANY race – to be killed for simply being suspected of committing a crime.
  • It’s sad and disheartening that in an age where we (as a society) pat ourselves on the back for being so educated and enlightened, far too many people are still judged simply for their skin color. Or their religious beliefs. Or, even something as mundane as the clothes that they are wearing or patterns of speech.
  • It’s telling when some of the best coverage of the news comes from a news satire show, be it The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

That said, listen to what Mr. Oliver has to say about the Ferguson, MO debacle and tell me that he doesn’t make sense.

And then listen to this and tell me if it rings true about the state of the media in America, if not the world, today.

Be good to each other. We’re all we have.


Phase III: Complete!

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Phase III: Complete!

Wednesday – 13 August 2014
Last night, in the rain, we finished Phase III of #CrashingOurYard!

I went to Home-Away-From-Home Depot for sod…

Neal before sod!!! (And anyone who didn't expect that just doesn't know me...)

NEAL BEFORE SOD!!! (And anyone who didn’t expect that just doesn’t know me…)

…and, by the end of the evening, we had a new total of 260 square feet of grassy yard!

Instant Grass! (Complete with 2' border for planting)

Instant Grass! (Complete with 2′ border for planting)

And that’s One More Thing: DONE!

Next up: Phase IV - Flagstone patio, which should be the last thing we need to do back there. But, I think we’re going to take (at least) a few nights off before heading up that project. (Arguments could be made that Team DiVa’s play area could be considered “Phase V,” but really it’s just figuring out what toys go there, so I’m good with saying that their area was done when Phase II was done.)


Welcome to Level Seven… I mean “Phase Three.”

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Welcome to Level Seven... I mean "Phase Three."

Tuesday – 12 August 2014
We’ve done it.

We’ve already started on the next two phases of the #CrashingOurYard project. You’d think that after busting our butts for a week and a half, we’d want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors from the first two phases of yardwork.

Yes and no.

Sara! and I were talking about how much we’d done and how nice it was to be done… and what we wanted to do with Phase Three and Phase Four. Eventually. Last week was relaxing, given that we didn’t have to rush to get things done after work – and after dinner… after the girls were fed… and in bed. In fact, we had talked about leaving any other work until next spring.

Then, we took a trip to our local Home Depot and looked at some of the things we’d need to make the next parts of the project happen. We realized that what we wanted to do wasn’t terribly difficult, it would just take a bit of time and some work. We started looking at timetables for getting things done.

Over the weekend, we talked with Sara!’s dad about the flagstone from his patio, that he was getting rid of; he said that we were welcome to it. Sunday morning, I picked up the first load and picked up the second load after dinner. It’s currently in an impromptu staging area.

Last night, after work, I headed to Home-Away-From-Home Depot – twice – to pick up twenty pieces of sod. My sister-in-law commented on my second check-in at the ‘Depot:

Melissa: Wait, you finished the back yard. Why do you keep returning to the hardware store?

Me: No, we didn’t finish the back yard. If you go back and read carefully, you’ll see that we just finished the first two phases of the back yard.

I bought twenty pieces, but it turned out that I could only get ten or so pieces in the truck. Thus, two trips. I brought the first ten pieces home; Sara and I started arranging them. I took a quick break to watch a couple Schoolhouse Rock cartoons with Team DiVa, before they went to bed. Then, I went back to Home Depot for the second set of ten pieces; we laid those out in the dark.

I went out this morning to get a few pictures of our progress:

photo 2

Wait… is that… grass?!

photo 3

By Jove! That is, indeed, grass!

As a frame of reference, here’s what that section looked like before Sunday evening:

It's the section between the fence post and the tree.

It’s the section between the fence post on the left and the tree.

Depending on the weather (and little girls’ temperaments), I’ll be picking up the last eight (give or take) pieces of sod, to finish off Phase Three.

To quote Cyborg: Booyah!


“Up, up, and away…”

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"Up, up, and away..."

Sunday – 10 August 2014
Saturday morning, Sara!, Team DiVa and I got up (far too early for a weekend) and went to see the Sandy Hot Air Balloon Festival.



To see more pictures, click here.