Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CFA LEVEL III: Results Day

In previous years I had no idea when to expect that heart-stopping email from the CFA Institute. I was generally blindsided some summer morning. This year I got several emails reminding me about the big day, each one subjecting me to a mild stroke -- but containing no actual exam results. Those reminder emails told me to expect my results "sometime after 9:00 am ET" on Tuesday, Aug 16 (or 7:00 am local time).

At 7:00 am this morning I suddenly panicked. From that moment I started refreshing my email inbox every minute or two, except for the 30 minutes when I had to climb on my bike for the ride to work. Riding alone in the elevator from the parkade I retrieved my phone from my bag and checked my inbox again to see the subject line: "Your CFA Exam Results".

Is that burning toast I smell? I think I'm losing feeling in the left side of my body.

I opened the email and my eyes scattered all over the text looking for the all-important information. The search lasted less than a second, but I distinctly remember how my eyes had raced on while my brain registered the leading phrase: "I am very pleased to inform you that you..."

Wait, that sounds pretty upbeat for a fail-message!

On the next line I saw the words "...passed the June Level III CFA exam." --Full-blown stroke meets victory dance in the privacy of the elevator-- The full implications of this news washed over me as the 9th floor doors opened to my post-exam life.

I am now looking forward to spring 2012 like never before. The last time I had a decent May long weekend was in 2007, when Scott was just 1 month old and Katie was but a twinkle. Every spring since then I have dedicated every weekend and most evenings for the months of April and May to the CFA exams. It seems incredible to think that my wife and I will not have that painful conversation in February when she asks me when I am going to start studying. Instead, when she got the news this morning she said that she started crying.

I still need about 1.5 years until I have the work experience to qualify for the charter, but this part of the journey is OVER.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Water Babies

This summer there is hardly anything our kids have liked better than splashing in the pool in the back yard. Look at how tiny Katie looks next to Scott.

The tattoo is a Star Wars character that he got from the doctor's office. I think it lasted more than a week on his stomach -- long enough that I started to wonder if it would leave a visible tan line. At the Brian Head reunion he had a bunch of stickers on his hands and forearms for the first two days that left some funny tan lines when he pulled them off.

Katie loves stickers too, but she could never get one to stay on long enough for a tan line -- she peels them off and resticks them to her hand every 20 seconds or so.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Kalispell: The Home Stretch

Since we were driving all over creation on our 16-day reunion oddysey, it seemed entirely reasonable that we should tack on an extra 90 minutes to our return journey to stop overnight in Kalispell, Montana to check in with the cousins who couldn't make it to the Island Park shindig. The visit was brief, but we still had a grand time hitting Five Guys and chilling out at the park Saturday night. Connor was great about playing soccer to the level of the little boys. Scott would follow him anywhere.

I don't know if I should use the word "daring", but Scott has certainly grown more daring as a result of this trip: riding a wave runner, riding a horse, rock climbing, riding a zipline and tubing behind a boat. After all that, the little zipline at the playground that might have worried him before was nothing.

We found a basketball and we tried to see how many consecutive dribbles Scott could do. The results varied greatly, ranging from 2 all the way to 42. Shooting was quite difficult, as he had to sit on my head to try a shot and we only managed to score once.

The next day we had to leave for home just a little while after church, but we still got a chance to BBQ together and just chill out for a while inside to beat the heat. Since they moved to Kalispell it's been great to be able to visit cousins so much and the kids can't wait to go back.

I posed for a quick picture with my brother C before we left. Can you tell us apart?

And that is the end of our big trip. After 16 days of sleeping in various rooms, usually with both your kids crammed in the corners, it is nice to be back in your own house and your own bed. However, this was one of the best vacations we have ever had, and I'm already turning my thoughts to next year.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Island Park: All the Family

Although not everyone could be there, it was so much fun to have the family together at a great location for almost a full week. It had been so much fun, that it only seemed fitting that the first group to depart (the NYC-3) should be given a formal send-off, with the rest of the family waving wistfully from the front steps.

Farewell, dear family. Until next time!

Departure Shots

Friday, August 05, 2011

Island Park: Fun & Games

The days were filled with activities like swimming, video games, floating the river, and archery, while the nights were mainly dedicated to board games -- except for that one glorious evening when we went to the Mack's Inn Playhouse to see "Home School Musical", which was probably the hardest I have laughed in years.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Island Park: Katie & Ava

Baby Katie met Baby Ava for the first time at our Island Park Reunion, when Katie was 18 months old and Ava was 7 months old.

Being the grown-up girl that she is, Katie loved to feed Ava her bottle -- thrilled with a real-life baby doll who was much more fantastic than anything she could find in our house.

Katie is a snuggler, and it didn't take much encouragement to get her to try to give Ava a hug and a smooch. However, Ava was a little wary of this close encounter. Give it a few years and I am sure that the two of them will be great friends.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Island Park: Stop & Go in Yellowstone


We hit a few sites in Yellowstone Park on Day 3 of our reunion, and MAN WAS THE TRAFFIC TERRIBLE. It took a very, very long time to get anywhere because the roads were clogged with stopped cars, ogling tourists, roaming cameras, and lots of buffalo. Don't get me wrong -- I am totally into buffalo, but I am not into traffic jams when I have small children in the backseat. Poor Katie couldn't really see anything out the window, since her seat isn't high enough. We finally figured out that we could open her door to let her look out at the herd of buffalo one time when we were stopped.

Katie LOVES animals.

The Buffalo stroll around like they own the place. They have no respect for fences, or signs, or geysers or mud volcanoes. One came cruising right down the middle of the parking lot and totally surprised a woman who was coming out of the restroom, as well as a man who pulled a stroller off the roof of his van and turned around to see a buffalo just a few feet away. He totally froze there, with the stroller still high above his head until the buffalo had passed by.

Mud Volcano

For quite a while now, Scott has been fascinated by volcanoes (probably his natural disaster of choice), and he was super-thrilled to go to Yellowstone where there was steam bubbling out of the ground all over the place because of "underground volcanoes" like the Mud Volcano.


The falls were really impressive. In fact, tourists were lining up all over the place to get a shot in front of the distant cascade. Amazing scenery. Amazing traffic jams as well. Yellowstone has it all.

Island Park: Legendary Ski Conditions

Day after day, Island Park Reservoir supplied some of the smoothest water I have ever seen in my life -- all day, every day. It was the stuff of which legends are made. Usually, you have to get up at dawn to enjoy a brief window of glassy water. Out here, you get glass all day, and skiing at dawn means you get surreal mist and fog.



Captain Joel Aboard the Vessel "Uno Más"

Monday, August 01, 2011

Island Park: Reunion #3

The third and final reunion of our trip was in Island Park, Idaho, with my family gathering to a large cabin on the Reservoir for 5 nights.

Getting There - Blown Tire

30 minutes into our Highland-to-Island-Park journey we encountered a heavy rainstorm and found our car was suddenly very skittish on the road. We pulled off the freeway and found it more stable at the lower speeds of State Street (HWY89) until we got north of the storm and pulled back on the freeway again.

A few hours later a loud jolt went through the car as we rounded a wide turn and I immediately knew that a tire was flat. As inconvenient as it was to unpack our heavy load to access the spare, it was very convenient that the incident happened just outside of Pocatello, Idaho, where my parents run a tire shop. Allegedly, my older brother J had a flat in almost the exact same spot on the highway the previous year.

Apparently, the weight of all our gear had bowed the independent suspension outward and had rubbed all the tread off the inside edge of our tires to the point that it was showing the steel belts and one of them blew. It was only a matter of time before the other rear tire would have blown as well. I would like to point out that the kids were watching the Pixar DVD movie "Cars" in the back seat when the incident took place, and I consider Lightning McQueen's two blown rear tires at the beginning of that film to be foreshadowing for our incident.

The Cabin

We selected the cabin because its description (5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms) appeared sufficient to accommodate our group of 22 people, but we were surprised at just how grand it really was.

Given the private dock and an additional waterfront patio, the set-up for waterskiing was ideal, although the steep bank and the absence of any beach meant that it wasn't ideal for little kids. Still, the secenery was excellent and the weather idyllic.

The Food

Each family was assigned a day to lead out on menu planning and food prep, resulting in some really fantastic dinners; however, one of the best meals all week was Gary's Breakfast Event, which featured perfectly-seasoned French Toast made from fresh-sliced baguettes and bacon-scrambled eggs that made me wish I lived nearer to his home in St. George.

The NYC clan did not disappoint with their homemade strawberry icecream, and thanks to Highland's illustrious J-Lynn there were snacks and candy enough to keep us munching every waking hour of the day. With all of that in place, the stage was set for a great finale to the 2011 Summer of Reunions.