Posted by: Brandon | June 3, 2009

My blog address has changed!

moving menI have decided to finally move this blog from the WordPress hosted account to my own server and my own domain name. This way, I can customize the site exactly how I want, with my own design (when I get around to it), and put whatever other things I’d like on it. It’s also just cooler this way. 🙂

My new blog address is:

http://www.brandonpearce.com

Yep, just my name. Lucky I grabbed it a few years back before all the other Brandon Pearce’s in the world wanted it!

I plan on posting some articles soon on how to start and run your own business successfully (or at least share what little I know about it), and of course I’ll keep you up to date on my travels and what I’m up to. (I’ll be going to Japan next month, for example!) Thanks to everyone who’s been reading!

Please update your RSS feeds with the new address. I’ve copied all the posts and comments from this blog onto that one, so there won’t be much need to come back here anymore.

Have a great life! See you at www.brandonpearce.com!

Brandon

Posted by: Brandon | May 30, 2009

I love my new car!

Jen and I have been driving old ’94 and ’95 Toyoa Corollas, ever since we’ve been married. These have been great little cars, but they’re both getting to the point now where they need some kind of maintenance every few months (belts or spark plugs replaced, new alternator, etc.). They’re also rather noisy and when the air conditioning is on, we almost have to shout to hear each other in the car. We also wanted something slightly larger for seating 3 carseats in the back, should our family expand.

So, we thought it was about time we got a new car. Originally, we were thinking of getting a Toyota Camry – slightly larger than the Corolla (so it could fit 3 kids if we have another), great reliability ratings, and they even have a very quiet Hybrid model. We test drove them, and liked it okay. The Hybrid was really cool, but had a very small trunk, and was a lot more money.

Wanting to stick with the reliable “Toyota” line, we decided to test drive a Lexus next – just to see. We drove the IS and ES350. This was my first time driving a luxury car. Honestly, I expected a lot more. I thought I would get in and go, “Wow, this is awesome!” But I really wasn’t overly impressed. The heated and cooled seats were kind of neat, but there just wasn’t enough to justify the cost in my opinion. The IS was more sporty, but too small. And the ES felt like a “grandpa car”. The dashboard was also covered in too many buttons – not user-friendly.

Ininiti G37

Infiniti G37

Next we tried an Infinity G37. Wow! Now this car impressed me! The exterior and interior are both very sleek and sporty. We like all the smooth countours and the placement of the dashboard options. Even without the navigation system, these cars come with a 7″ screen for controlling the radio and climate. I can even plug in my iPhone and it will show all the songs on the dashboard touch screen – a gadget geek’s dream car!

If that was all the G37 had, I would have been impressed. But the minute I stepped on the gas pedal, I knew I was in a powerhouse. The acceleration is incredible, taking you from 0-60 in just 5 seconds! It has a 7 speed automatic transmission, which can also switch over to “manual/sport” mode if you want to shift manually. But no matter how fast you’re going, even uphill, if you slam on the gas pedal, you’ll get a huge boost. It’s an amazing feeling and very fun to drive! (Now I just need to be more careful of speeding tickets).

Infiniti G37 Interior

Infiniti G37 Interior

One of the things I love most about this car, that I couldn’t find in any other car (except an overpriced $70,000+ BMW) is the option for the sports seats that have power lumbar and torso support, a manual thigh extender and thigh support adjustment. This car “hugs” me, which is so nice for such a skinny guy like me.

After test driving a Nissan Maxima, and a BMW 3 series just to make sure we didn’t like something else better, we decided on the G37. We even tried the Infiniti EX37 crossover, which was great, but felt it was too big for us – we just like smaller cars. (By the way, the BMW was a joke as far as technology and interior look were concerned – I felt like I went back to the 80’s – no comparison with the Infiniti. I even liked the Infiniti’s handling better than the BMW. Infiniti wins hands down – except that BMW did have more trunk space and fold down rear seats. Oh well.). No, we didn’t test Honda or Hyundai or Mercedes (just checked them out on-line, and read lots of reviews, too). We had a hard time imagining something we would like better than the G37. It just seemed like our dream car.

g37-sideSo yesterday I went to the dealership and got one! We were open to getting a used one, but were pretty picky with the options we wanted, so had to go new (used Inifiti’s are harder to find). We picked the dark gray (Platinum Graphite) exterior and black (graphite leather) interior. We got the all-wheel drive option to help with the rain and snow in those winter months (along with heated seats).  And even though we originally didn’t think we wanted navigation, it came with voice activation options for almost every feature in the car, as well as a 9.3GB hard drive to upload music to the car, and a rear view backup camera, so we thought it would be worth it. Jen especially loves the backup camera. I like that I don’t have to keep looking at my iPhone while I’m driving to figure out where to turn (so it’s a bit safer). The hard drive is cool, too. Oh, and Bluetooth – I no longer have to hold a phone to my ear to talk! The keyless entry and push-button start is nice as well. The kids love the moon roof. Oh, I could go on and on.

We broke in the car by taking a trip up to Logan that afternoon. When we got there, the girls wanted to play at a park. We did a search on our navigation system and found a nearby park, which we played at for a while. The car then led us to dinner at Sizzler, and to a bowling alley. This was the kids first time bowling, and it was so cute to see them get excited when they knocked the pins down. We had a great time. Emily beat us all by far!

We ended the day by getting some ice cream at the Aggie creamery and headed back for some night driving. And we actually have headlights (which turn on automatically when it gets dark)! Our Corolla’s headlights were so dim compared to this car. It’s nice to actually be able to see the road. However, the car was covered in bugs by the time we got back, so we gave it another bath today. 🙂

We didn’t know anything about Infiniti before we test drove them, except that we liked the look of them from the cars we’d seen on the road. We didn’t even know they were considered “luxury” cars (turns out they’re Nissan’s flagship car). And despite the high price, it was definitely the best car we could find for the money, with the options we wanted. We ended up getting it for (should I tell?) $41,000 before taxes and fees – about $1200 less than the msrp. This was my first time buying a new car, so I’m not sure if that’s a good deal or not. But we plan on driving this car for a long time, so wanted to get one we’d love. And we did.

Posted by: Brandon | May 24, 2009

Volunteer Vacations for Families with Young Children

loveperukidsSince we got back from our Panama trip, we’ve been thinking a lot about where we want to go and what we want to do for our next trip. Because of our dislike for cold weather, and the Salt Lake Inversion, we’re probably going to head out during the winter months, like last year (starting in January, 2010), and go somewhere warm. We also would like to stick with a Spanish-speaking country since the girls and I have already picked up quite a bit of Spanish, and we want to get more comfortable with it (and Jen can help us get around).

So right now I’m leaning toward South America. For a short while, we thought of doing a cruise down there (using the cruise as our transportation there instead of a flight) that might hit several of the South American countries, and then leave us down there to explore further, but we didn’t find any cruises that had our desired itinerary around the dates we wanted.

But as “fun” as cruises are, and as life-changing as our vacation in Panama was, I want our next trip to be even more meaningful. I want to do something that will not only improve our lives, but other people’s lives.

So I started looking into volunteer vacations. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to help others in need, and at the same time experience the people, language and culture in more depth than we otherwise would. I believe that volunteer service has the potential to change lives for the better – both the giver’s and the receiver’s. I can’t think of a more meaningful and fulfilling way to spend time with my family than serving others.

I found several organizations that organize trips to countries around that world that include a mix of volunteer work, as well as tourism, and often include food and lodging. I have been doing hours of research on-line, and have contacted several of these organizations to see what their requirements are and what kind of work we could do. We’re most interested in working with children, possibly at an orphanage or something similar – we figure our girls will probably do best with children around, and is something they could probably help with.

However, there are two main problems I have found with most of these organizations.

  • First, many have minimum age requirements of 6 or 8 years, or more. This won’t work for our family since our girls will be 6 and 4 next year. We have to find something that allows young children to help, or at least tag along.
  • Second, most of these organizations are very expensive! For example, a typical cost might be $1500 per person for one week! For our family of four, that’s a lot of money – especially for low-cost countries in South America.

These are some of the reasons we didn’t do any volunteer work in Panama. No one would let us take our kids – and if they did, they would charge us a lot of money. But I knew it didn’t have to be like that, and I have been determined to find some kind of organized service we can do together as a family on this next trip.

How pleased I was when I started stumbling upon some volunteer organizations that not only allowed children of any age to participate, but that also cost very little or were even free to participate in! Most weren’t advertised as “volunteer vacations”, but did allow time on evenings or weekends for sight-seeing or other activities. Some even offered free Spanish classes, and very cheap lodging and food (by far cheaper than staying at a hotel and eating at restaurants). They were also generally more flexible than their more expensive counterparts, allowing you to volunteer for as little as one day, to as long as several months or indefinitely, rather than confining you to a specific date range.

The advantages the more expensive organizations offer is medical and evacuation insurance, 24/7 support (in case of emergency), and they seem to hold your hand a bit more. Since evacuation insurance can be purchased fairly inexpensively, and Jen already speaks the language, these advantages didn’t seem significant enough to us to justify the extra expense.

I still haven’t chosen which one(s) we might do, and I’m waiting to hear back from several places, but I wanted to share my findings with you so far. If you have been looking for volunteer opportunities for your family,  hopefully you will find this list helpful. I’ve been focusing my search in Peru right now, so a few of these will be Peru-only, but some offer placement in many locations, including Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Pay-to-Volunteer Organizations

 


 

 

 

 

CCS (Cross-Cultural Solutions) – www.crossculturalsolutions.org ($2500/person)

This appears to be one of the larger and more well-known international volunteering organizations, and it looks like they do a great job. Their minimum age requirement is 8, but they said they sometimes make exceptions. However, it’s also one of the expensive ones. They do have trips all over the world, going at all times of the year, but it would have cost our family almost $10,000 to volunteer for two weeks, so this isn’t one I considered for long. I only list it here, because you’ll probably run into it on your search, and it’s hard to find pricing on their website.

Volunteers for Peace – www.vfp.org ($500/family)

Volunteers for Peace has several volunteer programs nationally and internationally, although a significantly fewer number that allows families with small children. They are also relatively inexpensive ($500/family). However, all of their family programs are during the summer, and we want to go during the winter, so this one was out for us. But if you are looking for a family volunteer opportunity in the summer, you may want to look here. You can search their directory or projects here: http://www.ivsp.org/vfpsearch.aspx

Globe Aware – www.globeaware.org ($1250/person)

Lots of great locations. Lots of dates. NO AGE REQUIREMENTS! They also handle lodging, food, and excursions for you. I was seriously considering this one…until I found I could volunteer elsewhere for FREE! (See below)

Free / Cheap Volunteering Organizations

 


Most of the sites below I found on this list: http://www.volunteersouthamerica.net – what a great resource that is! It’s kind of the king of volunteering organization lists in South America – at least from what I’ve been able to find. Not all of the organizations cater to families, though, so I have sorted out the ones (from Peru) that look like they will be work for us. And here some of them:

 

 

 

 

Hogar de Esperanza (www.perukids.com) – So far this one’s our favorite, and the only one we’ve heard a response from after a week. This is an orphanage with kids of various ages. They seem to have great, clean facilities with lots of different kinds of opportunities to help including caring for the children, cooking, reading/games, grounds maintenance, cleaning, arts and crafts, and more. They offer optional accommodations (including Internet) and 3 meals a day for just $15/day!

http://yanapay.facipub.com – Free to volunteer. Teaching children, one week minimum.

http://www.fairplay-peru.org/en – Take care of children ages 6 months to 6 years. Restaurant work, environmental work, working with the elderly. Also has Spanish classes and cheap accommodations.

http://english.elim-cusco.com – Free. Working with street children, playing games, teaching music, etc. Offers Spanish classes and cheap accommodations ($10-30/day).

http://www.travellernottourist.com – $60 for 2 weeks. Teaching kids, arts/crafts, cleaning, cooking. Accommodations for $200/month.

There are others, but these are the ones that interested me the most so far. We still have several months before we need to make any kind of decision, but it’s been rewarding to find what is available out there, and we’re excited to participate in something like this. I’ll keep you posted as to what we find and what we end up doing.

Has anyone reading this had any experience volunteering overseas that they could share? This is our first time doing this, and we want to learn all we can before we go.

Posted by: Brandon | May 17, 2009

Micro loans that change lives

kivalogoRecently, I’ve started participating a little bit at kiva.org, a website that allows you to loan money to individuals in developing countries looking to create small businesses to support their families. There are other websites that do similar things (www.globalgiving.com, www.microplace.com), but I liked how personal this one is – almost like getting to meet who you’re helping. And it’s not just a charity or donation, but a loan that they will pay back, and hopefully become self-reliant in the process. What a great idea!

This week at kiva.org, I found Augustina in Lima, Peru who is starting a restaurant. You can read Augustina’s profile here. I only donated $25 (through Paypal), but combined with the contributions of several others, in just a few days, Augustina was able to get the $825 she needs to buy some tables, chairs, and kitchenware for her new restaurant. It was rewarding for me to see so many people contributing to help out those in developing countries, and is exciting to participate in some small way, in making someone’s life a little better.

If you have a minute, head on over to kiva.org and look through some of the profiles of the entrepreneurs wanting loans. If you can afford to have some money tied up for a few months while it’s getting paid back, it’s amazing what a difference just a little bit can make.

Posted by: Brandon | May 16, 2009

Marie-isms

Here are some of the funny things my three-year old daughter Marie has said lately.

IMG_3587Be Thankful

(At dinner time)

Marie: Ewww. This food looks yucky!

Daddy: Let’s not say it’s yucky. Mommy made it, and we should be thankful. Marie, will you say the prayer?

Marie: Heavenly Father, we’re thankful for this yucky food…

Ears

Emily (about the 5th time): “Can I have a purple one?”

Jen: “Emily, if you ask me one more time, I’m not going to give you any. I have ears!”

Marie: Mommy, I wish you didn’t have ears!

How Old Am I?

Marie: How old am I?

Jen: How old are you?

Marie: I don’t know.

Jen: You don’t know? You should know by now. [Jen holds up three fingers]. How many is this?

Marie: Tres Años. I don’t know how to say it in English.

Growing Up

Dad: Marie is growing up.

Marie: Mom, why did Daddy say I’m throwing up?

IMG_1182

Posted by: Brandon | May 14, 2009

100 Pushups

one-hundred-pushupsThis week, I started participating in a “100 pushup” program, where in six weeks, I should be able to do 100 consecutive pushups. A few of us guys and girls who are in the “Joseph” show decided to do it just for fun. It’s cool to say you can do 100 push-ups! Plus, there’s a chance some of us will be shirtless in the show (like Joseph, of course), and even I may need to wear a coconut bra! Agh! (Don’t want to embarrass myself or anything)

I’ve always enjoyed pushups. I used to do them every morning and night as a teenager, and I still often do them as part of my morning exercise routine. But I usually don’t do enough to get sore. This week has been different.

You can go to www.hundredpushups.com to read all about the program. You do an initial test and max out to see how many pushups you can do (I did 31 on my test). Then you follow a chart, and 3 days a week, you do a series of pushups with a 60 or 90 second break in between.

For example, yesterday, I did 20 pushups, then 25, then 15, then 15 again. Then I did as many as I could. I was SOOOO worn out, and was sore all day.

And I am still sore today. But more than being sore, when I woke up and saw my bare chest in the mirror, I was shocked and a little scared to find out that my chest had mutated! My pectoral muscles seemed almost twice the size they were last time I checked. I didn’t expect that, nor did I think it possible that this kind of growth could happen in just three days!

I’m a little scared to keep going with the program, because at this rate, I’m going to look like a girl by next Friday. I also don’t like being constantly sore. Then again, it’s kind of fun to have a little muscle – especially for a small guy like me. 🙂 So, I think I’ll do some more tomorrow, and have a very sore weekend. Wish me luck.

Posted by: Brandon | April 30, 2009

How I Spend My Time

I like being productive. And I like being able to look back at how I spend my time and see how closely it aligns with my ideals. That’s why I track my time while I’m working.

Because I run my own business from home, I’ve had some people ask me recently how much time I spend “working” each week. I define work as doing activities that directly relate to producing income. For me, that’s running my business. Things like mowing the lawn, or planning my next vacation are certainly work, but I don’t count them here (although I do track them, which I’ll show you below).

So, in answer to the above question, I usually spend between 8-15 hours per week on activities specifically related to producing income. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. It depends on how excited I am about what I’m doing, or what other things I have going on. When I was in Panama, I averaged about 5 hours per week.

What About The Rest?

But much more important than the question of how much time I spend “working” is the question, “How do I spend the rest of my time?” And am I spending my time how I really want to? It’s possible to spend all day reading blogs, watching TV, or just sleeping and eating. But is that how I want to live? No sir. Well, not usually…

I’m a very project-driven person. If there’s something I’m passionate about accomplishing, I can focus on little else until I have accomplished or achieved it. It’s just how I work, and it’s how I get things done. There was a time I was spending 12 hours a day (roughly 70 hours/week) working on producing income. I doubt I’ll ever put that much effort again into making money, but I don’t think I’d have a successful business today if I hadn’t been so committed to making it work.

I think there needs to be time for work and time for relaxation and play (Eccl 3:1-8). But what is the right balance for you? And when you’re working, what do you want to be working on?

Try Tracking for Simple Improvement

slim-timer-tasksI’m now going to share with you today how I spent my time this past week. For over a year now, I’ve been tracking my time using a free tool called Slim Timer. I started using it because I wanted to track the hours I was working on web projects, back when I was billing hourly. But have since realized how useful it is to track how I’m spending time in other areas of my life, and the habit just stuck.

I’ve learned that once I start diligently tracking something, whether it be every bite of food I put into my mouth, every penny I spend, or every minute of how I use my time – I start to become more conscious of what I’m doing and almost instantly start seeing improvement, even if I haven’t been trying to improve. At different times in my life, I’ve tracked all three (food, money, and time) and with each one, I have been amazed at what effect such a simple exercise (tracking) had on me.

For example, in my 8th grade health class, I had to write down everything (and I mean everything) I ate and drank for a week. If you’ve never done that, I recommend you try it! I couldn’t believe how much garbage I was feeding myself and I instantly started eating more healthy. I don’t know why – I just did! The same thing happened with tracking money in my teen years. Every penny I spent I recorded and categorized in MSMoney, and I instantly started saving more and spending more wisely. Now as I’ve tracked my time over the past while, and have reviewed it regularly, I have seen a lot of improvement and I know I’m spending my time now more in the way that I want to, than ever before in my life. If you’ve never tracked something like this, try it! It’s amazing what even a simple log can show you that you just don’t realize otherwise.

I should say before showing you this report, that I certainly don’t have time management mastered. I still end up wasting time on things that really aren’t that important to me, or creating an imbalance of too much of one thing. I’m also not always perfect in remembering to track my time. But I am improving, and most importantly, I am happy and I love my life!

So, here are the totals for the past 7 days. (Note: I’m posting this on a Thursday, so it’s from Thursday to Thursday, although I usually review on a Sun-Sat schedule, if that matters.)

Working Hours

  • Web Projects: 4 hours, 47 minutes. This includes creating proposals, assigning tasks to my programmers, checking their work, and discussing projects with clients. I currently have about four projects going.
  • Music Teacher’s Helper: 2 hours, 28 minutes. This is my main source of income. I spend so little time on it because it’s very streamlined, and I have great teams to help so much with it. Tasks involved here include advertising, support, correspondence with my teams, blogging, checking stats, finances, and a little programming. (I have each of those tracked to the minute). Next week will probably be higher here as I’ll be writing some more marketing content and maybe creating another video tutorial.
  • Studio Helper: 5 hours, 32 minutes. This is a newer project which is just starting to take off. In addition to making sure the programming is going smoothly, I have been working hard on some marketing, planning, did a little programming myself, and launched a special offer this week, that resulted in a number of new subscriptions. Yay!

Total Working Hours: 12 hours, 47 minutes

Other Hours

So how did I spend the rest of my time? Well, contrary to what those who know me may think, I don’t (anymore) spend all day in front of the computer. I do carry my iPhone most everywhere, but I don’t usually track my time as diligently when I’m not working. I bet if I did, I’d start spending it better, though!

That said, a lot of these numbers will be estimates, whereas some will be more exact.

  • Sleep: 60 hours. Everyone needs sleep. Some more than others. I almost always get 8 hours per night, and a couple days this week I slept in an extra hour or two because it felt good, so 60 hours is probably about right for the week. I don’t use an alarm anymore, unless I have an early meeting or something. I usually just get up when my body tells me it’s time. However, if I sleep too long, I get a headache all day, so I try to get up before I feel the headache coming on. I usually go to bed between 10pm and midnight, and wake up between 6am and 8am.
  • Time alone with my wife: 23 hours. Our kids currently go to preschool twice a week for 3 hours, so we automatically get 6 hours per week of date time for that – we love our lunch dates! Plus, last Saturday night we went out to dinner and to Opera premier of “Little Women” (first time in a while that we’ve had an evening date without the kids). We love spending time together! Then, every night after we put the girls to bed around 8, we stay up and talk, watch movies or travel shows, or read (she’s been reading “Harry Potter” to me). This is usually for 1-3 hours per night. So I think I’ve estimated about right for this week.
  • Time with kids: 17 hours. This is one I really wish I was tracking better, because it’s so important. I will often come up during “breaks” while I’m working to play catch with the girls in the front room :), play imaginary games with them (or dolls), wrestle, or this week, teach Emily how to ride a bike without training wheels! Sometimes we’ll do these things before or after meals as well. We have Family Home Evening every Monday night where we sing, pray, and have a lesson, games and a treat. And every night we have a little devotional where we sing, pray and read together as a family. I also threw in a couple hours of driving time this week as well, when we were all together, since that sometimes turns into conversation. This also includes meals together, and evening time after dinner when we just “do nothing” together. We have dinner together almost every night, lunch together except when the girls have preschool, and occasionally we’ll have breakfast together. Usually, I eat with the girls, and Jen eats later.
  • Church: 10 hours. We go to church for 3 hours each Sunday. I also study the gospel for about 30 minutes every morning, which I count here. This also counts the time I spend doing my calling (making appointments for our bishop, or updating the ward website), and time attending the Temple, which I did once this week. I counted Family Home Evening and devotional time as family time, but it could just as easily be counted here. Time spent on “church stuff” is generally very fulfilling for me because I feel like I’m being of service, or at least feeding my soul some good spiritual food, which keeps me going in other areas of my life.
  • Personal: 39 hours. This week, this includes writing this blog post (1 1/2 hours), visiting relatives (6 1/2 hours), cleaning (30 minutes), morning and evening rituals: shower, etc. (4 hours), exercise: daily morning tai chi and yoga routine (2 hours), fixing an old computer my grandma gave me (1 hour), cast meeting for Joseph (1 hour), personal e-mail (2 hours), reading (1 hour), personal finances (1 1/2 hours), planning (1 hour), mowing the lawn (1 hour), and working on a video of our Panama trip (7 hours) – that’s been my big project lately.

Okay, so you math experts out there will notice that this totals up to about 162 hours (if my math is right). But there are 168 hours in a week (24*7). So that leaves about 6 hours unaccounted for!! What happened to those other 6 hours?! You know what? I don’t know! I told you there might be some inaccuracies. 🙂 It was probably spent mostly reading on the web, or resting on the couch or something – I don’t know.  But that does makes me curious. Does this mean I could have an extra 6 hours in my week if I could find it? Or did I just do a bad job at tracking what am I doing in that time?

Ah… but I must remember the more important question from the beginning of this post. Am I doing what I want to be doing, and am I spending the time I want on the things that are most important to me? I can answer yes to that. The point isn’t to squeeze as much into our day as we can, and do as many things as possible. The point is to make sure we do those things that we love and that bring us fulfillment. (Although, now I’m tempted to start tracking every minute on Slim Timer through my iPhone next week just to see where that time went… See how I am?)

I wanted to go on and share with you some of the other tools I use to track my time and appointments, but this has gotten pretty long, so I think I’ll save those for another post.

But before you leave, I want you to get something from this post. Rather than it just being an interesting (or not) post to read about the weekly life of Brandon Pearce, why not take a look at yourself, and your own time, and ask yourself if you’re spending your time the way you want to? You may not want to spend your time at all like I do, but figure out how you do want to spend it and see how close you’re living to that. You may be surprised.

Or start tracking it using Slim Timer or another tool and see what happens. Even logging part of your day, like I do, is immensely helpful. Set aside some time to think about what your ideal day might look like (a topic which deserves at least a whole post to itself), and how you can reach it. You just may have an enlightening experience (such as, you’ve lost 6 hours of your week and don’t know where to find it…).

Happy living!

(May 3, 2009: Update: I think I figured out where the extra hours went. I forgot to calculate in my Oratorio Society rehearsal (practice for Mendelssohn’s Elijah, which was 2 hours), and my weekly Tai Chi / Yoga class, which is 3 hours. Plus driving, I think that accounts for about everything. Yay!)

Posted by: Brandon | April 22, 2009

I’m in Joseph!

joseph-logoLast week, on a whim, I decided to try out for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the South Jordan Community Theater. I sang, “I Can Go the Distance” from Hercules for my audition, and made callbacks.

I haven’t been in a musical since Jr. High school (unless you count some little one-act plays I did in High School). And I’ve only ever had a lead role – I like being in the spotlight for this kind of thing. But after seeing how much fun Jen had in Seussical last year, we decided that this year would be my turn, and Joseph is one of my favorites. My sister has been the narrator in it, my mom played in the pit when I was a kid, and my dad even did it at his school last year.

There was some excellent talent at callbacks, both from the men and the ladies. I knew the director would have a tough time deciding who should have the main roles. I was hoping for the role of Joseph, and was pretty confident going into it, but after I saw the other talent, I knew it would be a close call. But there are so many fun songs in that show, I knew I wanted to be in it regardless.

I found out today that I was cast as Judah! He’s the one who sings the Benjamin Calypso song near the end of the show! I remember when the director had us each do that song. I really jumped in with a lot of energy and was almost silly in how I pulled it off, banging on my pretend steel drums and dancing around almost like I was drunk. I guess she liked it. 🙂 Here’s a video of someone else doing the song.

So, the next couple months will be pretty busy with rehearsals for the show, but I think it will be a good and fun experience. I think it brings out some good things in me – the “inner child”.

In fact, after four hours of callbacks I was so exhausted I came home and rested; but that evening I had so much energy! We went to the grocery store and I was extremely goofy, pushing the girls really fast in the Harmon’s shopping “car”, even riding on it myself, and swinging to kick my heels together in the air every so often. Jen even caught me jumping off the hood of our little Corolla after putting the shopping cart away. I haven’t been that crazy in years, but I was having so much fun…at the…grocery…store… Is that what acting does to you?

One more bonus – they’re letting kids as young as 5 be in the children’s chorus if their parents are in the cast, so I’m going to have Emily join me on the stage! She is so excited, and I think we’ll have a good time.

Oh, and for those interested in coming to see it, performances are June 19, 20, 22, 26, 27 & 29, 2009 held at South Jordan Middle School.

Posted by: Brandon | April 8, 2009

A Nerdy Computer Family

Jen took a few pictures recently of a humorous, yet still somewhat typical scene in our home – every one of us on our own computer.

Pearce family computing

Pearce family computing

Yes, I’m a nerd, and I’m sure my children will become nerds also (“cool nerds”, of course). 🙂 Even my wife is more nerdy now that we’ve been married almost seven years! Long live computer nerds! Hey, at least we’re in the same room, right?

Marie playing chess, and Emily on the piano

Marie playing chess, and Emily on the piano

Emily practicing the piano

Emily practicing the piano

Emily and Marie both love playing computer games. In this scene, Emily is trying out a new program to help her learn how to play the piano. It’s kind of like Guitar Hero, but for piano, and it actually teaches you how to play – it’s fun and educational. Impressively, she was able to learn in about a half-hour, how to play middle c, middle e, quarter notes, half-notes, and whole notes on a grand staff, and I didn’t have to teach her much at all! She had a blast trying to beat her score. The program is called Piano Marvel, and was developed by a friend of mine in Colorado. If you want check it out, you can get a free trial and a 20% discount when you sign up by using the code: 3EEED31A. Or just go here.

Marie playing chess

Marie playing chess

Here, Marie is playing chess with herself on the little computer. Not that she really knows how to play chess, but she likes to move the pieces around and see how many she can “kill”. So I guess she’s at least learning how the pieces move.

I think she wouldn’t have been interested in it at all had we not played yard chess in Boquete, Panama. So I’m glad we did that. Chess is pretty nerdy, too, isn’t it?

In the top picture, I’m probably working or checking e-mail or something. I’m on the computer a lot, either upstairs with everybody, or down in my office, or on my iPhone. I’m trying to use it less, but computers are just so useful and so much fun! 😀

Jen is the only one not shown here, and this is obviously because she’s the one taking the pictures. But you’ll often find her reading blogs, searching for new recipes, or looking up something on-line.

Not only are we a computer nerd herd, but I’m also a word nerd, and on Saturday morning, I woke up with a great new joke! Ready?

Question: What do you call a cookware salesman who’s not making any sales?

Answer: A pan-handler! HA!!!

Pretty good, eh? Not all my jokes are dumb. 🙂

Posted by: Brandon | April 6, 2009

General Conference To-do’s

pres_monsonThe past two days, we have been watching the annual April LDS General Conference. I always enjoy watching Conference, and as usual, gained a clearer perspective about life, what is most important, and where my focuses should be to bring the greatest happiness.

Here are my todo’s from Conference. Many of these weren’t mentioned at all by the speakers, but they’re what I feel I need to do.

  1. Put my home and family in order. This includes cleaning out and organizing the basement, securing our finances, building food storage, and figuring out how we’re going to educate our children. I want our home to be like the Temple – a house of love, a house of learning, a house of order, a house of God. I’d like to spend more time together, have less contention, and feel more bonded. This is my #1 focus.
  2. Attend the Temple more regularly. I think I’ll try to get back to my once a week routine of going Wednesday mornings. I haven’t been inside the Temple at all this year (except for the Draper Temple open house), because we were in Panama for so long. So I want to get back into regular Temple attendance. I’ll also try to go with Jen more often.
  3. Take more opportunities to serve others – even if it’s just asking in more detail about their lives, and taking time to listen. I want to slow down and enjoy life more, and put people first.

That’s it. Those are the main things I’m going to be focusing on right now, starting with putting my home and family in order.

Speaking of home, we have been thinking lately about moving into a new house, and renting out the one we’re in now. The rates are so good right now (5%) and there are some incredible deals out there. But we decided that it would be better for now to put more money away in savings and investments, rather than in an additional mortgage. I’d like to have at least 6 months of living expenses in liquid assets before we make any other major purchases. A new house would be nice, with more room, and a more comfortable living space, but what we have now is sufficient. Really, a bigger house won’t necessarily contribute to the happiness of our family anyway, and may actually cause additional stress because of the extra financial strain. We may look at moving again later when we have enough cashflow that it won’t be a burden at all.

I’ll also be talking to a lawyer next week about estate planning, setting up wills and trusts and llc’s to better secure our property and other assets. It’s the kind of thing you think about doing when you’re almost dead – I figure why not be prepared and do it now?

As for food storage, I recently received an advertisement from a food storage company called Shelf Reliance who will send you monthly food storage items for a monthly subscription payment. It sounds like an easy way to stock up on food, since for some reason, we have trouble remembering to pick up extra items when we’re at the store. It might be more expensive this way, but if it gets the job done, I think it will be worth it. You can choose the food you want them to send, and they give you nice shelves to put it on. I think I may give them a try.

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