Monthly Archives: September 2009

Up Past Bedtime

It was past her bedtime when she got home with her mother, but there was no way my sweetie pie of an eight-year-old was going to just go upstairs and go to bed.  She was way too excited!  She had just been to a little gathering at the church and was anxious to show me what they had given her to take home.

So, I’ll be honest.  I was a lot surprised at the amount of enthusiasm she was showing.  This was a church thing, and although she has fun with her friends at the activities, and in primary, enthusiasm isn’t what we usually expect out of her.  Especially when it comes to church and school.

“Look dad,” she said with a beaming smile “a time capsule!”  She plopped down on the couch beside me and while she struggled to pull the end off of a cardboard tube, her excited little voice never missed a beat.  She talked about the bath salts this, and the letters that, and the temple, and mommy, and her friend Savannah, and… I was completely confused.  At length she managed to get the capsule open and it all began making a little more sense.  Albiet not much- yet. 

I was delighted that she was so excited to share with me her experience.  As she sat there snuggled up to me chatting away, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sence of contentment.  I have liked being a daddy more than I thought was possible, and this was another one of those little gems of dadhood I knew I was going to cherish. 

She finally satisfactorily explained that the bath salts were to remind her that being clean is important, and that you have to be clean to go to the temple.  That the time capsule was to be kept ’till the day she would go to the temple, and she could re-read the letters that were inside any time she wanted, but especially on the day she goes to the temple for herself.  

She had emptied the capsule while explaining everything to me and once she was finished, she asked me to read the letters to her.  Two of the letters were from priesthood leaders here in the ward and stake and the other was from the ward primary president.  Although the first two were well written and presented a beautiful message, it was the third that made the moment special.  Hardly had I begun reading it when a surge of emotion came over me, and I had to stop mid word to hide my faltering voice–  So it’s a funny thing that the spirit uses the same frequency to speak to us as our feelings do: through our emotions– Anyway, the love this sweet primary president has for the children was made manifest, and it is deeply appreciated. 

Sometimes we have experiences we don’t understand and this was one of those for me.  I knew this sister loved the primary children, so why did I need a confirmation of it?  I may never know.  Maybe occasionally, we just need little reminders that God knows and cares about us each individually. 

I do know that the memory it created was priceless.

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Cost-Plus vs. Fixed price

So, you think you want to update your exhausted kitchen and add on a family room.  One of your neighbors recently did the same thing, and you love how theirs turned out.  You have begun your research, and keep hearing the terms “cost-plus” and “fixed price”.  What does it all mean?!

Lets have a look-see at the two of them.  Cost plus is where the contractor agrees to do the job at cost, and then you pay him an agreed upon percentage, the “plus”, as his profit.  You get to see all the bills and know exactly what the job is costing, which can be a huge benefit to you.  If the job goes smoothly, and there are few hiccups, you stand to save a lot of money with a cost plus contract.  The downside however, is that the contractor has little incentive to keep his costs low.  Also, if the job does not go smoothly and surprises keep popping up, what you thought was going to cost you 120k, is suddenly running closer to 150k.  When a contractor is presenting a cost-plus contract to you, his proposal will typically look considerably less expensive than a fixed price contract.  This is because he is usually presenting a best case scenario.  Keep in mind that with the cost-plus contract you burden all the financial risk.

The fixed price contract is different in that the contractor gives you a price for doing the entire project, and then sticks with that price.  He takes all financial risk, so his bid is usually higher than the cost-plus because he is giving you a worst case scenario, so if the job goes great he might make some money, and if it doesn’t, he could lose money.  Keep in mind that most fixed price contracts include a clause that protects the contractor from spikes in supply costs, that he may pass on to you. 

One of these contracts is not necessarialy better than the other because every situation is so different.  Be sure to do your homework on the contractors you invite to give you bids.  Call references and ask as many questions as you can think to ask.  

One possible solution to calming some apprehension on your part may be to do a hybrid contract and get a fixed price on the items that may run over, and cost-plus on the rest of it.  One rule of thumb would be to get a fixed price on all earthwork, foundation, framing, rough electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. 

Hope this helps…

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My First Shot

Yeah, sooo, why did you quit playing baseball?”

I must admit I was completely stumped when my dad asked me that the other day.  We had been working in the hay field when my youngest brother came out and began telling us how he had been bragging about me to his friends.  You know, the my brother can run faster/throw further/hit home runs better than your brother type of stuff.  I was flattered that he would be talking me up to his friends, but a little worried about why a group of boys in their twenties would be arguing about such things, and even more worried that at any moment one of his friends would call, with his big brother challenging me to a home run derby or something.     

As he continued telling how great I am/was, I couldn’t help but get a little carried away fantasizing about what might have been.  High school championships, scholarships, my striped Yankee uniform, more money than I would ever be able to spend….  Then, quite unexpectedly, memories and emotions that had long since been forgotten came flooding back.  Suddenly, I was ten again. 

Hundreds of summer evenings flashed before my minds eye where I was doing one of the things I enjoyed the most, playing catch with my dad in the front yard.  I loved that I had a dad who would spend the time with his sons teaching them how to catch, hit and throw.  I loved that he came to just about every game I had.  Sometimes he would show up in his police uniform, just say hi and then be off on his next call.  I thought my dad was funny and I liked him.      

Dad was a very good ball player, and we spent many summer evenings at the ballpark watching him pitch in the city fast pitch softball league.  It was his dream that someday one of his sons would play pro-ball.  It was my dream too.  I would often lay awake in bed imagining myself throwing nine pitches an inning, and hitting a grand slam every at bat. 

It was in the middle of all this reminiscing that my brother asked, “What position did you play in high school?”

“Well,” cough “I didn’t play in high school.”

“Huh?!”  He looked at me wide eyed, and I could tell a little worried that fact might somehow get back to his friends.  “I thought you did.”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

That is when my dad, who up to this point hadn’t said much asked “Yeah, sooo, why did you quit playing baseball?” 

I remember hating practice, but I don’t think that was it.  I was batting clean up the last year I played, and got hit with a pitch, which scared me enough that my little league coach ended up moving me to the end of the batting order.  But I don’t think that was it either.  I liked the kids I was playing with, I liked my coaches, and I liked the father son time.  Despite all that, I remember pressure, and the fear that I would be unable to live up to my dads’ expectations.  Silly, I know.  Today I wish I could go back and do it for myself, but as a kid I felt trapped and obligated to perform to gain dad’s approval.  I was playing for him.      

I remember the day we were supposed to sign up for the next baseball season, and how knotted up inside I was.  Dread had filled my existence for weeks before.  The day came and went, and I wondered why we hadn’t gone to sign up.  The paperwork sat blank on the counter, and I assumed dad had just signed me up himself at the parks and recreation office.  Days passed, and no one said anything about what team I was on, or when the first practice was going to be.  Days turned to weeks, and friends talked of when they were going to start practices.  I would go home and wait for the dreaded announcement.  It never came. 

A year passed, and again I was filled with dread as the deadline for sign-ups approached.  Just like the year before, baseball was never mentioned. 

I knew the conversation would have to come up sometime, and once it finally did it turned out to be one of the best self-esteem building experiences I’d had in my life to that point.  Dad asked if I was ready to play ball again.  I told him no.  Now that I’m a father, I appreciate the conversation we had that day even more than I did then.  It had to be incredibly frustrating for him to see whatever talent he thought I had going to waste.  Yet, there was no hint of disappointment, anger or sadness on his part.  We had a pleasant talk about life in general, and then he expressed to me his love and support and let me know that regardless of whether I played baseball he was still proud of me.  I don’t know if he saw it, but a million pounds lifted from my shoulders.

I will forever be grateful to a father who, despite his own wishes, was man enough to allow his son to follow his own.  His faith in my decisions has been one of the greatest gifts he could have ever given me.  Right or wrong, he always allowed me the freedom to choose my own destiny.  I have been able to live life unburdened by his expectations, for which he has my undying gratitude.  Thanks again dad.  I love you.

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