Alex has a younger cousin!

Keaton Francis Lyons
29 January 2010
5:32 am
8 pounds, 2 ounces
22.5 inches

Congratulations, Sheldon and Michelle! We are so happy for you and can't wait to meet the little Keaterbug!


My baby.

Alex is growing up. I don't know how each day is passing so quickly.
He is about to crawl and has rashes on his elbows and knees from the carpet.
He is almost six months old.
Almost starting solid foods.
He stares at himself in the mirror and gives big, toothless grins.
I feel like I barely get dressed for the day and then it is Alex's bed time.
I want him to slow down. And yet I am looking forward to seeing him live his life.

I know these are common thoughts of a mother; it just never seemed real until I was watching my own son roll around the room.

Now Sam and I reminisce about the days when Alex would stay where we put him.
The times he would fall asleep on our chests.
I remember being so anxious to leave the house with just a purse instead of a diaper bag.
I remember walking into a room and selecting a seat based on where I could have the most discrete exit.
I remember getting dressed knowing full well that I would have to undress eight times throughout the day.

"As my children get older, I realize there are good and bad parts to each stage of our lives together. Many of the challenges pass with time. So do some of the joys. I try to take stock of the joys, to imprint them on my memory for the days when the long, sleepless nights have passed - and with them the sweet, soft smell of a baby's warm head against my neck." (Ensign)


Corning Museum of Glass

We went with some friends from our ward/Sam's program to the Corning Museum of Glass. It was way cooler than I was expecting. I did not know anything about glass and I learned so much! I didn't know the consistency of glass when it is melted. During the hot glass show, they said it has the consistency of cold honey. They were just pouring the glass! It was incredible. Also, glass is used for so many things that I did not realize (optical fiber, microchips, etc.).

This guy was showing tension points in glass and if you hit the weak places (even softly) then the glass will shatter.

Rotating the rod so the glass wouldn't drip off.

Sticking the glass into a mold.

Spinning the glass so it will flare out.

The glass looked room temperature but then he threw a paper towel in it and it caught on fire.

Mommy and Alex.

Alex's favorite part of the museum.

We watched Bob Carson make this.

This costs $44,000. Any takers?

DeGraffs and Merkleys. It was so nice to get to know them a little better.

Look at that vein!

These were giant!

Alex kept turning his head side to side to see everything.

He left fingerprints everywhere.

Imagine trying to make that. Incredible!

Trying to get hands-on.


Lesson learned

I was not planning on writing about this because it will not accomplish anything except proving that I am cranky and whiny. But I am going to write it anyway just in case I ever forget the lesson I learned, I can reread it and remember to not be so foolish.

Never move to New York. That is, if you own a car. Actually, I have heard that the car registration process is quite lovely for some so let me edit my previous statement. Never move to New York State if your vehicle has a salvage title. Perfect.

When my car registration expired (in August), I was a good little girl and went to register my car. They informed me that I would be unable to do it that day because I had to have a special inspection. I said "okay," took the paperwork, and went home assuming I would get the inspection the next day and then register my car.

You see, in NYS, if your vehicle has a salvage title then it must have a salvage inspection so they can assure that the VIN on your title matches the VIN on all pieces of the vehicle. If any VIN does not match, you must have original receipts of parts purchased so they know that nothing was stolen. This inspection costs $205.

I was perturbed when I first learned this and after multiple phone calls explaining that no major parts were replaced, I was informed that there was no way around it.

I gathered everything I needed for the application for a salvage inspection. It was a packet. Pages and pages of information. I mailed it all in and waited. A few weeks later, I received an email stating that I had an appointment set for the inspection that was one month away and if I didn't show up then I would lose my $205 and have to reapply. Also, if I showed up to the inspection with an unregistered vehicle then I would be issued a citation. So they expected me to have my car towed. The inspection location was an hour away.

We got a 3-Day temporary permit from Arizona and drove to the appointment. We passed the inspection. Duh. My dad restored my car and I'm pretty sure he doesn't sneak out to steal parts off of other peoples' cars. But who knows. Maybe he does. Anyway, we were assured that the title would arrive before Christmas. This was pertinent because Sam's car was making weird noises (see post about alternator failure) and we wanted to take my car to Columbus for Christmas so we could take his into a mechanic.

The day arrived to leave to Columbus and my title had not yet arrived. So we took Sam's car, all the while cursing NYS and all the insane rules the government has established.

When we got back, my title was in the mailbox. The next day the DMV was open, we went to register my car. The DMV lady (her name is Kelly, we became friends) had license plates in her hand and I was starting to be happy that this process was finally over. Until she informed me that my insurance card says, "Not to be used for registration 45 days passed the effective date." Guess what. The effective date was in August. Yes, the very same August I originally attempted to register my car.

So I called Geico and told them I needed a new card faxed over. "No problem," they said. "No problem" is now being interpreted as "This will be the biggest headache and runaround you have ever experienced. Brace yourself."

But that wasn't the end. Listen carefully. Geico and NYS have teamed up to ruin my life. I was "this close" [place index finger and thumb one centimeter apart] to switching insurance providers. Geico said they can send a card with an August effective date or a February effective date. I handed the phone to Kelly and she told them that NYS will not take either of those. They then said they would fax something else over and we could see if that worked. So I hung up. They faxed an insurance card for Colorado. Ridiculous. I haven't lived in Colorado for over a year. Kelly said, "Sweetheart, ask for a supervisor and don't let them push you around." So I called back and did just that. After a 45 minute conversation, and a Geico employee having an "integrity issue on his part," they said I would get it. Another insurance card for Colorado. Awesome.

I called Geico again and they said that their system was currently updating, it could take up to two hours, and I should please call back tomorrow. Until then, they could not send any faxes.

Then I shot someone in the head.

Sam, Alex, and I had been at the DMV for almost two hours and it would be closing soon. We ran a few more errands then called to see if Geico's system was done "updating" and it was not so we went home.

Side note: I worked for a company where we were told to use that B.S. about systems "updating." It is code for "Our systems are currently malfunctioning and we really hope this problem gets fixed soon because I am sick of people yelling at me."

The next day, I called Geico and told them to fax it again and this time the lady emailed it to herself at the same time so she could open the file and make sure the right card had been sent. It was a good thing, too. The first time she sent Colorado's, then she sent one with the wrong effective date, then (hallelujah) she sent the right one.

So we immediately headed off to the DMV and they sifted through the stack of faxes they had received from Geico for me and finally found the right one.

A few minutes later, my car was registered. It only took one hernia, one aneurysm, one gunned down stranger, a few bald spots, and four and a half months.

I still needed to get the emissions testing though. The salvage inspection doesn't work for that because, according to the DMV worker, "That would be too easy." Right. Why did I even ask.

The car passed the emissions testing and my NYS plates are secured onto my vehicle. Now I just need to avoid trees.

So the moral of the story is to avoid New York. Ohio had an amazingly efficient system. Utah's was pretty good, too. Those are all of the states I can speak for though. When you are looking at places to rear your children and grow old, do not worry about school systems, find out a little about the state's car registration process.

Ramble over. Emily out.


Winter break in Ithaca

Sam signed up for a WISP. It stands for a Winter Intersession Program but basically it is just a two week internship during the Christmas break. He planned to leave last Tuesday for New York City where he would be working with an arbitrator on dispute resolution.

On Monday, he was trying to pack but didn't know what to wear so he called the arbitrator to ask. He asked Sam if he could not come for a few days because he was currently being overloaded with students.

We were grateful to have a few extra days to have Sam's car fixed. However, later that night, the arbitrator sent out an email to all of the students and canceled the WISP! He said that he is currently working on a case for a hospital and they will not allow students to work on the case. He thought it was probably an abuse case.

So we will end up having 20 days in Ithaca before school even starts. The time Cornell gives you off so that you can leave and miss the worst part of the winter.

We are planning on going to New York City and New Jersey to visit the friend that Sam was going to be staying with during the WISP. Until then, we are just freezing here in Ithaca.

Honestly though, as good of an opportunity as this could have been for Sam (and his resume), we have loved the time we have had together.

Alex is trying to crawl and we are enjoying crawling around trying to teach him and laughing that he isn't strong enough to get his head of the ground at the same time he's on his knees. It's adorable. He will have his head up and then pull his knees under his body and put his head down on the ground. Then he'll lift up his head as his legs go straight again. One day he'll get it. Until then, we like how he stays pretty close to the place we set him down.


Welcome, 2010!

Well, my lease on "Oh, I just had a baby and that's why I'm fat" has run out. Before Alex's arrival, Sam and I would work out at least four times a week. After the worst tear in the history of deliveries (in my opinion), I decided that I should not work out for a few weeks. Then we moved and I got lazy so we never started working out. I didn't think it had gotten too bad though.

However, during Christmas break, I lost seven pounds. That's right, lost. I realized that was due to how I eat at home; my eating patterns were horrible. While a guest in someone else's house, I ate at meal times. If I slept through a meal time, then I would wait until the next meal. I definitely didn't want anyone to feel like I thought their house was a 24 hour buffet. This decreased the amount of snacking (although I did snack plenty after we received a ridiculously large amount of Christmas candy). During meal time I would eat a lot. I have heard that this is not the best way to keep your metabolism up but it is much better than what I was doing at home.

Anyway, I am getting off track. Last week, Sam and I started working out. We only went a couple times but we plan to continue. Let me tell you, running is about fifty times more difficult while lactating.

This is one of my New Year's Resolutions (right along with about 99% of the world). I want to eat at meal times and not snack throughout the day. I do hate to break up with my midnight popcorn though.

Maybe I'll write about how it goes. Unless I fail then I most definitely will not.

Here are a few more of our resolutions:

1. Do readings for all classes.
2. Participate more in classes.
3. Be better about helping with Alex.
4. Write in journal once a month.
5. Practice Chinese.

1. Read to Alex daily.
2. Plan meals ahead of time.
3. Send birthday cards to family members.
4. Go outside more often.
5. Finish the books I have started.

Oh yeah, according to the National Association of Good Grammar, 2010 should be pronounced "twenty-ten." Do it.


Reflection on 2009

This was our Christmas newsletter. It definitely was a year of celebrations. Sorry if we missed you!

January - We celebrated the New Year on a cruise to Mexico. We celebrated Emily's beginning her final semester at Brigham Young University. We celebrated Sam's having a full time job as the Chief Technical Officer for a home security company.

February - We celebrated Emily's pregnancy by announcing it to our friends (family found out much earlier).

March - We celebrated Sam's acceptance into the school of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. We celebrated the Lehi Days rodeo by driving to Arizona to surprise Emily's family.

April - We celebrated Sam's completing a half marathon with his sister and dad. We celebrated our last night together before Sam moved to Akron, Ohio, to begin his fifth and final summer as a lead technician for a security company. We celebrated Emily's graduation from BYU with a B.S. in psychology. We celebrated our arrival in Akron after three nights of sleeping in the back of a moving truck on the side of the road.

May - We celebrated the baby growing inside of Emily. We celebrated the night as sometimes Sam would not get home from work until after midnight. We traveled to Arizona and celebrated Emily's cousin's wedding. We celebrated our one year anniversary.

June - We celebrated Sam's 28th birthday. We celebrated living only two hours away from Sam's sister and her family.

July - We celebrated Emily's brother receiving his mission call to the Ukraine Donetsk mission. We celebrated Sam finally deciding to attend Cornell University.

August - We celebrated the birth of our son, Alexander Paton Merkley on August 1st. We celebrated the end of our summer in Akron. We celebrated learning to be parents. We celebrated moving to Ithaca, New York. We celebrated Emily's brother's wedding in California.

September - We celebrated Alex's smiles and cooing. We celebrated that Sam can still work a few weekends a months servicing alarm systems. We celebrated that Cornell has incredible networking and Sam will be able to have a great internship next summer.

October - We celebrated Emily's 21st birthday. We celebrated Alex's first laugh. We celebrated the blessing of Alex. We celebrated the beauty of the East by seeing New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

November - We celebrated Thanksgiving in Arizona with Emily's family. We celebrated that Alex is excellent on flights across the country. We celebrated being called as ward missionaries. We celebrated that Ithaca was still relatively warm.

December - We celebrated Alex's rolling over. We celebrated buying our first Christmas tree together and decorating it. We celebrated that most of Sam's family lives east of the Mississippi so Christmas was celebrated in Columbus, Ohio, meaning that we only had to drive seven hours.

Sam, Emily, and Alexander Merkley


Pretty boy

We were standing in a line at the mall a few days ago. Behind us there was a group of three girls and one boy. They were smiling and looking at Alex and talking to each other about the cute baby.

I picked up his carseat and said to Alex, "Are you flirting?!" I meant that he was flirting with the three girls. Then one of the girls hugged the boy and said, "He's taken!" I was confused until I realized she thought Alex was a girl who was hitting on her man.

Alexander is such a beautiful boy. Sorry to all girls, but for the next 15 years and 7 months, he's "taken" by me.


The winter and I will never be friends

I lived in Arizona until I was 17 years old. I do not think I had ever driven in snow until my freshman year at BYU. And even then, I did so rarely. I was always hearing about other people sliding into things and the snow and I already were not friends. My sisters had rolled their truck in the snow. I just don't like snow; the last thing I wanted was for the snow to take away my car.

When Sam and I started dating, he drove us everywhere. Sam grew up in Utah and knows a lot more about how to drive in the snow. He has never been in a car accident that involved any other vehicles. All of his accidents are weather related.

A few months after we started dating, we were leaving his parents' house and we could not get up the hill after pulling out of their driveway. We decided to go down the hill and take the longer way out of the neighborhood. As we started going down the hill, we started slipping and ended up running into a curb, messing up the axle of Sam's car.

In December of 2007, I was driving home to Arizona and I slid on ice and ended up facing the wrong direction on the opposite side of the road. Luckily I did not hit anything and was able to drive away.

Just last week, when we were in Columbus for Christmas, the alternator on Sam's car failed. We were in a hurry to get the car fixed because we were leaving Ohio only a few days later. It cost us $700 to get it fixed.

On Saturday, we left the house to run some errands and we were about 50 feet from the entrance of our complex. The road turns at a ninety degree angle. Sam was going about 15 MPH and we started slipping. We were going so slow and we both thought that Sam would have time to get back in control of the car. But he didn't have time. I just kept saying, "No. No. No. Please no. No" But it didn't help. We slid into a tree. And then another tree.

We took our car into a shop to get an estimate. Rack and pinion, bent tire rods, and body work. $4000. The car only cost us $5000 in the first place. Sam's car was working from Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon.

So once again, I am remembering how much I hate the winter.

Arizona is looking really good to me.


I dare you...

...to watch this and try not to smile.


Christmas and a New Year

We had a very eventful Christmas in Columbus. I didn't take pictures of everything but here are some of the things that occurred...

Sunday, December 20th
After we finished packing, we made a gingerbread house.
Monday, December 21st
On the drive to Columbus. The car was so full that Alex's carseat was tipping.

Alex loved riding not seeing anyone for seven hours.

We played a lot of RockBand.

It was entertaining to watch.

Tuesday, December 22nd
No pictures today. Sad.

Wednesday, December 23rd
We went out to dinner at a cute Mediterranean restaurant called The Olive Tree.

I made these and then lost Sam's. Sad day.

Alex made friends with Aunt Ellie.
Thursday, December 24th
Alex and Mommy got sick.

We acted out the Nativity. Sam was Joseph, I was Mary, and Alex was baby Jesus.

Everyone shared a talent. The accordion was my favorite.

Friday, December 25th
Before the wrapping paper disaster area of 2009.

So early!

Big mess.

Still partly asleep. Luckily, we are all feeling much better by this time!

Some of us had nap time.

And play time.

Stephen had some sad time.

And some adorable, happy time.

We had a very nice Christmas dinner.

We played Beatles RockBand.

Saturday, December 26th
We got a tour of Ohio State from our brother-in-law.

He even walked backwards!

Amazing library.

Ohio State and Columbus.

Alex loved it.

The group at the end of the tour.

Bowling. I scored 60. SIXTY! Yikes!
Sunday, December 27th
At church, I ran into a friend I worked with in Provo! Small world.

Alex slobbered on the couch.

Monday, December 28th
We went on a tour of Graeter's and played with magic dry ice bubbles.

They just vanish!

Tuesday, December 29th
Alex got a new toy from Uncle Seth.

We had a white elephant gift exchange and Ellie got a gargoyle.

Alex wanted that New Moon lunchbox.
Wednesday, December 30th
We toured Amish country.

We tested some crazy flavored cheese.

Sam and Alex took a little break.

Alex has one crazy eyebrow and one normal eyebrow.

Sam relaxed in an Amish furniture store.
Thursday, December 31st
We went and saw Avatar.

We celebrated Bryan's birthday.

We played games while waiting for midnight.

We stood around the TV for five minutes.

Then we celebrated the New Year!

Friday, January 1st
We drove back to Ithaca and stopped at a rest stop to play for a few minutes.

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