Sunday, December 12, 2010

My First Brevet

My alarm is going off.  Again.  It’s 5:48 on a Saturday morning in December, a time rarely seen save on Christmas, and I’m lying in bed trying to decide if I really want to get up and ride my bike 200km (125 miles) over the next several hours, in uncertain weather, with a group of complete strangers. In the corner against my going are: a chest cold; torn cartilage in my knee; being gone from my family; lack of recent riding; and the comfort of a warm bed. The primary motivator: ego; and a knowledge that I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.

Two years ago, I ran across the cycling subculture known as randonneuring. Essentially ultra-long distance cycling, with an emphasis on self-sufficiency and camaraderie, the sport seemed to match my own riding style perfectly. Rather than list event results in finishing order, they are given alphabetically: there is no competition between riders, but rather the clock. The shortest event (also known a brevet) is 200km with a 13.5 hour time limit, and they just get longer from there, eventually topping out at 1200km or longer.

I hadn’t done a brevet before, but after my great experience on October’s century, I felt I was ready. The local club, Hill Country Randonneurs, was sponsoring a 200km brevet in December, which seemed like a great time to try my hand at the sport. I spent the several days leading up to the brevet on a business trip away from my bike, but still visualizing a successful ride. I read everything I could online, and even solicited feedback from email lists. I was going to do this brevet.

After hitting the snooze button yet again, I decide not to go, get back in bed, and then proceed to castigate myself for being such a wimp. A few minutes' dozing later, I make a rather rash decision, jump out of bed, get dressed and throw down some breakfast before kissing my wife goodbye for what I hope isn’t the last time. As I drive through the darkness to the organizer’s house, our starting point, I envision riding up the road at the end of my ride.

After some paperwork, and a few preride pleasantries, the organizer tells us "my son has a trombone concert at 3, so I’ll be riding a fast pace." He’s good on his word, and after mile 5, I don’t see him again. Instead, I ride with the rest of the group, maybe a dozen souls who know I’m the new guy, but are happy to have me along. They even share words of wisdom as we ride, and we pass the time by getting to know each other.

The weather is fairly cooperative throughout the ride, with temperatures staying steady in the 60s. We have some fog in the morning, but that eventually brakes. The only drawback is the wind. Oh, the wind. The forecast for the day indicated a south wind, with a front moving through late in the day. I interpreted "late in the day" to mean "after the ride was over," but the weather didn’t get that memo. Instead, we find ourselves riding into the wind most of the day, but the most ferocious wind a 15-25mph beast over the last 50 miles. I even manage to take a few turns pulling, for which I’m glad.

The route wanders through South Austin before heading east through tiny Texas towns. The first stop (or "control" in randoneurring parlance) is the Lytton Springs General Store, where I down a chocolate milk and a Clif bar just in time to get back on and continue riding. The rest of day is like this, small towns, Clif bars and lots of chocolate milk and sports drink. The most excitement comes when the rider I’m following hits a orange traffic barrel as we ride through a construction zone. The barrel dances toward me, and I barely escape, while the other rider was lucky not the hit the pavement. Dogs I can handle, but moving barrels are uncharted territory.

The best part of the day, of course, is meeting new people, including a rider all the way down from Seattle. I am impressed by their stamina, and also the fact that I’m one of the youngest in the group, giving me hope for continued randonneuring enjoyment for years to come.

It’s been a long day, and I come to the last and biggest climb, a short but steep pitch a mile 119. I’d been warned about this climb, and had attempted to leave some gas in the tank, but the wind has really taken a toll by this point. I find my lowest gear, and just grind up the hill, waiting at the top for a few folks behind. The last few miles are a familiar jaunt toward the setting sun down the same road I’d driven in the dark hours earlier. I finish with a time of 9 hours, 36 minutes, which isn’t bad for a rookie.

As the euphoria wears off, things start to hurt. My knee, which has been bothering my for a long time, is aching, in spite of a generous helping of Vitamin I (ibuprofen). My legs don't ache so much, but I feel like they will the next day. My upper back muscles ache, and both knees feel like they have IT band soreness. I'm coughing and trying to convince my chest cold to stay in remission. Above all, I’m questioning my sanity in attempting such an event, but less than 24 hours later, I’m already planning my next brevet.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life as it now stands.

Well Charlotte is 7 weeks old tomorrow. The last seven weeks have been pretty good. There have been a few long nights but really only about enough for one hand. There have been a few frantic moments as I try to figure how to keep the baby nursing, get the phone and get Jonathan off of something high and unstable all at the same time. I think I probably just stuck with nursing the baby. There have been a few nights of, "let's just get them to bed." All in all though, things are going really well.

Last week I ran a couple of times and while I was slower than molasses, I was outside running. Wahoo! It was so nice. The weather has cooled off and I love it. We've made cookies and candy for Christmas and we can't wait for that to get here. I have another sewing project I'd like to finish for Christmas but I think it might require more brain power than I can give it right now. I'm learning to take things as they come and live more on the, go with the flow side of life.

Charlotte is getting on a bit of a schedule. It fluctuates by about 30 minutes in either direction but pretty reasonable. She's smiling more and more everyday. I can almost get on on cue now. The kids love her and Hannah has become mini me where her brother and sister are concerned. Today I weighted Charlotte and she's about 11.2 lbs. She sure is growing. Monday we go in to the doctor and we'll see what the official measurement is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The story . . .

After I had Hannah, if anyone would have asked if I would ever be induced again my answer would have been no way. It was no fun. Labor itself isn't any fun but being stuck in a hospital bed for who knows how long without really being able to work through labor isn't really how I pictured Charlottte's birth and yet, that is how it happened. I even had the choice to do it or not.

So Charlotte was induce a week early. The reason, probably mostly because my doctor was due four days after me and feeling very sympathetic to my end of pregnancy lack of patience. The other, my babies are big. Hannah was 9 lbs 6 oz. and Jonathan was 8 lbs 13 oz, and he was 10 days early.

So, Thursday, October 21, I got up early to get a shower and spend a few quiet moments by myself before we went to the hospital. My induction was scheduled for 9 am. at about 6:45 we got a call from the hospital telling us to sit tight. I decided to make some yummy muffins. Just as I was getting the muffins into the oven at 8:15 the hospital called back and said to come on in at 9. I didn't get to enjoy any warm muffins. I was really disappointed.

We waited a bit in the hospital. Apparently, there quite a few little ones who decided the 21st was a good day to get here. By 10 my nurse had start my pitocin and antibiotics and then we just waited and waited and waited. I really expected things to move pretty quickly but they didn't. I had come in dilated to about a 3 and about 60% effaced. By noon I wasn't any more dilated and only 15% more effaced.

Around 12:30 or 1 my contractions started requiring a bit of concentration but weren't really terrible. My doctor came in at 1 and nothing had really changed. By 2 my contractions were requiring a lot of concentration and I didn't know how I was going to get through it but I was determined not to get an epidural. By that time I was dialted to 5 cm and I just couldn't bear the thought of still having halfway to go. Finally, I just thought why? Why go through this pain when I don't have to? I'm ok with hospitals and medicine. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. So, I got my epidural about 2:30. The nurse waited a bit to put in the catheter.

By then my contractions had ramped up enough that I didn't really think the epidural was very effective. After the nurse put in the catheter, I started to have some really acute pain, I thought was the catheter. Everyone thought that once my contractions got really strong I would have Charlotte really fast so everything was ready and doctor had said that if I felt anything odd or noticed any difference to let the nurse know. I told her about the pain and she figured it was the baby and checked me.

I was dilated to an 8! She had put the catheter in at 3 pm and I was at a 5 then, 2 minutes later I was at an 8. She called my doctor and told her to get over to the hospital. By 3:05 I was complete. I had dilated 5 cm in 5 minutes. Whoa. Well my doctor finally got to the room. Waiting for her felt like an eternity. I should have just had the nurses deliver Charlotte. After all, I'm the one that really does all the work.

Just kidding. Charlotte was born at 3:12 pm and was just perfect. I felt really good then and I have ever since. For the first time after having one of my kids, I remember conversations and the things that were going on in the delivery room. I talked to my doctor and we joked around about giving her the rest of my pitocin so she could have her baby.

We all finally got to my postpartum room around 6pm. Hannah and Jonathan came with Grandma around 6:30. It was so good to see them. I really missed them while I was at the hospital. I would have loved to have gone home Friday but everyone said I should wait until Saturday morning.

Charlotte had been doing just fine. She sleeps between 4 and 6 hours at night and has done since she was 4 days old. She is more awake everyday and we all just love her. I have felt really good. My mom was here for two weeks and we had a great time going out and playing with the kids. Life is going well. Charlotte just kind of fell into her place in our lives. She's a great blessing and we are so glad to have her.

I can't really express how good an experience this has been. I don't know if it's been my physical health, my attitude, my preparations or a combination of everything put together. I just know that I am enjoying my family, all four other members of it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Baby

As an astute reader already noted, we had our baby last week.  While I'm sure Heather will write a more effusive post about the events surrounding the baby's birth, it's probably apropos to post the vitals and a picture or two now.

Name: Charlotte Rae Wright
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 8 lbs., 6 oz.

Charlotte Rae

Our new family

Friday, October 22, 2010

Texas Baseball

Life is good for a baseball fan in Texas.  For the first time in 50 years as a franchise, the Texas Rangers are headed to the World Series.  As someone who has followed Texas Rangers baseball for half of that time, and the vast majority of my life, I'm particularly excited.  (And the fact that their most recently vanquished opponent is the New York Yankees just adds to the joy.)

Our family moved to North Texas when I was 4 years old, and I started following the Rangers within the next couple of years.  While not knowing the nuances of the game, an occasional trip to the old Arlington Stadium was always a treat, even if the product on the field wasn't very good.  I remember Bobby Valentine and Pete O'Brien, Julio Franco and Ruben Sierra, and Nolan Ryan bringing the heat (and occasionally a fist).

I lived and died by baseball.  Before the Internet, I spent summer nights falling asleep to the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel calling the games.  I'd never make it to the end, though, and would have to wait until the following evening when my dad brought home the paper to learn the result.  I'd pour over box scores and standings, just in time to catch the next game.  I still remember my first personal complete game: Nolan Ryan's 300th win.

When a teenager, I'd still listen to the Rangers' games on the radio, and usually to completion.  I made a habit of winning free tickets to the game once a season by knowing the play-of-the-game and calling it in the local radio station.  We went with friends on dollar 'dog night, we'd sit in the nickel seats, and get sit on hotdogs and cotton candy.  And earlier this year, I took Hannah to her first Rangers game, watching a 2-hitter by Colby Lewis at Houston.  (She remembers the cotton candy more than anything else.)

Hannah and Hyrum at Rangers Game in June
This season has been a bit surreal.  The Rangers have always had a way of doing well just long enough to keep fans interested, and then fading in August and September.  But not this year.  They took the lead in June and never looked back (and I started tracking their magic number in mid-July).  And they beat the Rays in convincing fashion in an elimination game 5.  And after a demoralizing start to the ALCS in game 1 (which I was at), they handled the Yankees with aplomb, winning the series 4-2.

And now the Rangers are finally in the World Series.  I sat in a hospital room earlier this evening with our one-day-old daughter in my arms, watching Feliz fan Rodriguez for the final out of the ALCS.  With that perspective, it's easy to see that baseball isn't the most important thing in life, but for somebody who has followed this sport, and this team, for so long, this season has been an exciting run.  I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Outlaw Trail 100


This is what I usually hear when I tell other people about my plan to ride 100 miles on a bicycle in one day.  While no stranger to centuries (as they are commonly called), it had been a couple of years since I last did one.  This summer, though, I've been riding my bike to school, as well as doing more extended rides around the Austin area, and a century seemed like a good goal to shoot for.  The Outlaw Trail 100, hosted by the near by city of Round Rock, was time perfectly to fit my schedule.

Since getting home from my most recent trip, I've been making final preparations.  All this week, as I've tapered for the event, I've been looking forward to it.  Add to that the recent improvements in the weather, and today was looking like a winner.  So much so, that I set a goal for a personal best of less than 6 hours, 30 minutes, studying the course map and making some plans to help accomplish that goal.

And a winner it was.  After a slightly chilling start at 8 am sharp, the weather warmed up nicely, but was never too hot.  During the first part of the ride, I made great time, at one point averaging over 20 miles-per-hour.  I later discovered the reason for my great performance when we made the turn to head south and encountered a stiff headwind, which was to be my companion for the rest of the day.

The ride wasn't without it's bits of excitement.  In addition to the wind, there was a half-mile of dirt road, as well as a some cobblestones for authenticity.  Some of the roads were a bit under-maintained, which was a bit jarring at times, but the scenery was nice, with fields of ready-to-harvest cotton alternating with pastures and cows.  At one point, I was caught in a dirt devil, as it made its way across a cotton field and on to the route.

One of several rest stops
By the time I hit the rest stop at 70 miles, I knew I could finish, but that things like nutrition, fluids and pacing would be an important factor.  I also mentally divided the remainder of the ride into 3 ten-miles rides, which corresponded nicely with the remaining rest stops.  Finally, after round the last bend in the course, I saw Heather, Hannah, and Jonathan, waiting to cheer me on to completion.  It was a great feeling.

In the end, I accomplished my goal, with an overall time of 6 hours, 20 minutes.  In addition to being an exhausting experience, it was a great lesson in anatomy, as I now know about parts I didn't even know I had, due to their aching.  And, of course, my lack of sunscreen use has led to a pretty severe sunburn with rather odd contours.  I'll take the next few days off the bike (and maybe more if No. 3 decides to come soon), but the I hope to continue feeding my cycling addition.

A very tired Hyrum, after 100 miles of riding

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Change is in the air!

Our change is not signaled by beautiful fall leaves, the smell of apples and brisk air, rather our change is signal by a lack of humidity, yes cooler temperatures at night but still mid-80s during the day and looking at the calendar and realizing that the holidays are right around the corner.

Our lives have been affected by more than this seasonal change this year. Two weeks ago we received word that a 3-bedroom apartment had become available and would we like it? Well of course we would. So, I did as much as I could to get things packed in what boxes we had and start the cleaning process in our old apartment. We didn't even have enough boxes to put all of our books in, and I had been saving them almost since we moved here (old diaper boxes--we've gone through a lot of those).

Wednesday we were all set to start moving things get into our new place. Hyrum's mom was on her way down to help for a few days and the car was loaded. We went to meet the lady with the keys but alas, due to a gunman on UT campus the day before, the office had closed, thus not completing our paperwork. The lady with the keys couldn't get them to us until 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. Let's just say Hyrum was not happy.

So, he worked, I cleaned some more and packed a few other things in random bags that seem to float around our apartment. We got the keys, that afternoon, ate dinner, Hyrum went to church and mom and I moved and unloaded the boxes and then worked on re-filling them. That night the kids' room was pretty empty and you had to tread carefully through the living room. Hyrum's mom was a good sport and bunked with the kids in their room.

Thursday, we got up and Jonathan and I went to get out his stitches, Hyrum ran a few errands, and then through the amazing efforts of good friends we were completely moved by about 7 pm that night. The old apartment was clean and we were drowning in stuff at the new place but it was all here. We even had room to sleep.

We are so grateful for all of the people who helped us move. It was hard not being able to do a whole lot since I've really had to slow down with this pregnancy. I am particularly grateful for my mother-in-law. She was a life saver and I know that it wasn't easy for her either. The great thing is that we're in, I unpacked the last box today, we have central air, and our baby could be here anytime, probably within a week and a half.

Change is in the air and we are so grateful for the blessings we've received. We are anxious for our little girl to arrive and now we are really ready for her to come. Bags are packed and ready to go.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Finally Happened

Since Jonathan could move, I wondered how long it would take us to have to get him stitched up or get a cast on a broken arm or collar bone or something that a band-aid and a hug from Mom couldn't fix.

We made it to his second birthday and I felt really good about it. I thought, well, that wasn't sooo hard, maybe we'll get to three without an emergency room trip too.

I thought wrong. Friday it happened. I was preparing lunch for a couple friends and just as I was finishing everything up, Jonathan started to cry in the living room. I started to tell him to toughen up because he and Hannah had been at each other all morning. He turned the corner into the kitchen and all I saw was the blood streaming down his face. I took him into the bathroom so I could see where the bleeding was coming from and try to figure out just how serious it was. He fell into the hinge on our TV stand and had a 3/4 inch vertical cut above and centered between his left eye and his nose.

I quickly got my things together, made a few calls to Hyrum and the pediatrician, and waited for one of the friends to arrive for lunch. She arrived just as I finished mixing the kids' Mac'n'Cheese. I handed her my key, said lunch was ready, enjoy and please can you take Hannah with you when you're done. Like the wonderful friend she is she said yes and we left.

Jonathan was such a trooper. You wouldn't even have know anything was wrong after that initial shock. I think he was more concerned about the blood dripping in his eyes than any real pain from the cut. We went to an emergency room alternative place and were able to get in and see the doctor pretty quick. They numbed him up gave him a little sedative, we ate some lunch checked on Hannah and then he got six stitches. He didn't even flinch. I was so proud of my little man. When they finished he happily sat up and exclaimed, "All done."

He'll get his stitched out on Thursday and hopefully we won't have to do this again for a while. Somehow though, I think that might be misplaced hope.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kayaking on Town Lake

Last night we took the kid kayaking. It was a lot of fun. Hyrum and I went just after Jonathan was born and we've wanted to take the kids for a while.

We saw some turtles and ducks and watched the UT woman's rowing team practice. It was warm at first but after getting a little wet and with the sun setting it was quite pleasant. The kids enjoyed trying to row. Jonathan wanted to go home towards the end because he was tired so he just leaned on me and relaxed. It was just a good night being together and enjoying being outside.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A New Semester

Hannah started preschool with her friends about five weeks ago. So far she is loving it. This year we, the moms, are teaching a 4 week unit on one topic. It seems to be working out really well.

The first mom is an excellent teacher and I was a little unsure of how to follow her act. We had a good time on Tuesday though. I ran out of material, at least that I wanted to cover and the kids seemed a little tired of what we were talking about though they hadn't quite mastered it. I think it went well though. I am excited about this unit and I think that the kids will have fun too.

We are working on spacial relationships. We worked on left vs. right for most of the class time and then worked on things like above, below, behind, in front, under. It was fun. The kids made little houses and decorated them with buttons and their picture to review.

They are holding their houses in the pictures but they are hard to see with their fun dress ups. I think the dress ups are the highlight of coming to our house.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dancing in the Rain

This week we got a little rain, well a lot of rain from Tropical Storm Hermine. I took Hannah to school on Tuesday and the kids had such a hard time not jumping puddles so, in a moment of weakness I told them they could jump in puddles after nap time.

Around lunch the rain subsided a little. They were really afraid they wouldn't be able to jump in the water. Well, about 3 that afternoon it was coming down in buckets so we changed everyone's clothes and woke Jonathan up from his nap and out they went for 30 minutes of rain stomping and singing and dancing with their dad. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, Hyrum or the kids.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Jonathan is 2. We have survived two years with that boy and hope we survive another 2. Jonathan is such a joy. He is funny and just so active. He definitely keeps us on our toes.

Jonathan loves to smile and play. He loves to talk and tell us stories. He loves Hannah and repeats nearly everything she says. He is all boy. He loves his cars, particulary his "McQueens," of which he know has four. He is so grown up and sometimes it takes a lot to remember that he is only 2. We love that kid.

He had a good birthday. We got up and opened presents early since Hyrum had to head to church for meetings. Jonathan was so excited. He got clothes from mom and dad, The Wrights sent a tractor with animals and of course, it makes noise. Grandma and Grandpa H. sent some clothes and one of the newest Lightening McQueen cars. He was in heaven with his tractor and car.

He played for the morning and then off to church we went. We got home and had pizza for dinner. We weren't expecting Hyrum to be home yet but he was able to come home for dinner. It was nice to be together. Then came Jonathan's favorite part, cake. He saw me bake and frost it on Saturday and was distraught when he couldn't eat it Saturday night. It was the easiest cake I think I've ever decorated. He loved it. He was squealing and so happy about another McQueen. We enjoyed chocolate cake and ice cream and then they were off to bed.

It was a good day with our little man. We love Jonathan and are so glad to have him as part of our lives. What a change we had two years ago. I don't think we were quite ready for him but we wouldn't ever give him back.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are you in there?

Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth

I have thought a lot about this, especially since Hannah starts school in a year and will be away from me more and more. I hope that for my children I can be there when they need me and even when they don't.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hanging in there--a few random thoughts

We just got home from the in-laws. It's great that they live close enough to drop in for a few days. The kids love it and this time their cousins from Houston joined us. It was a good trip. It was good to get away for a few days, get to breathe, not have to worry about what we were eating for dinner and they had vanilla ice cream (I'm not eating chocolate again).

I am so thankful for family near by. I never thought that would be an issue but I will be sad if one day we are not within a few hours from some sort of family. I wish I could have been with my mom. I miss her so much but I am thankful that Lynette is wonderful. The Wrights are always happy to have us there.

The kids had a blast. They loved playing with their cousins in the water, and being entertained but their aunt, Rachel and uncle, Ian. Also, seeing grandma. They love being with her.

Now we're home and there are things to do. Tomorrow I have to unpack since I have a child sleeping in my room. Then there are all of the things we are getting ready to make room for the baby. Only 10 weeks left. I am so ready for her to get here.

My joints are really starting to ache and exercising is just not what I want to do. Give me some more vanilla ice cream and gingersnap cookies, my couch and a good chick flick and I would be really happy. Alas, to work we go. The kids are excited and I really just have to finish potty training Jonathan. He's doing great. It is such a better experience than it was with Hannah.

We have to re-arrange some furniture. We were hoping to move but recently found out that wasn't going to happen this semester so, we will wait until next semester and see what happens. I'm kind of relieved because it means I can get things ready now instead of waiting and waiting and then having to move the beginning of October.

I also have a few little sewing projects to finish up and then hopefully in about 8 or 9 weeks we'll get to have our baby. I'll be really put out if we have to wait the full 40 weeks or longer.

Anyway, life is good, it just keeps going and taking me along with it. I'm thankful for a loving and forgiving husband, loving and forgiving children and great friends and family.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!

Five years ago, today, Hyrum and I were sealed for time and all eternity in the Manti, Utah Temple. It was a perfect day and the best choice I ever made.

Now five years later we are still happily in love and enjoying our life together. One promise we made is to have plenty of adventures and we certainly haven't had a shortage of those. Some have been unplanned and a little more adventurous than we would have chosen, but life, or rather our Father in Heaven has been good to us. The best part of this adventure we call life has been Hannah, Jonathan and now our new addition to come in 11 weeks.

I am so grateful for my best friend. I love you, Hyrum.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Bug

Hannah is 4 years old. I can't believe it. I seems like yesterday when I thought she would never get here.

Now she's 4. We had a good birthday with her this year. I decided I would have some of her friends over for lunch and cupcakes. We had a good time. It was a crazy day and I was exhausted by the end of it but she loved it. It was good to hang out with my friends too.

That was Friday and then Saturday, her real birthday, we didn't have much planned but the day quickly filled and finally burst into a rather productive day for us and a good birthday for Hannah. I went to a quilt thing that I have every month and when I got home we decided to get a storage unit, fill it and buy more furniture. After Hannah's approval of these plans we were off. We got everything settled with the storage stuff and then headed to one of our favorite stores, Ikea. After a tasty lunch of Swedish meatballs and chicken fingers, complete with dessert, we found our dresser of choice.

We then headed to our other favorite store, REI, for a quick stop, during which Jonathan slept the entire time. Woohoo!! After that we headed home and opened presents. Hannah was delighted. Then I hurried to decorate her cake. I made the fondant myself and I don't think I'll ever do that again but luckily she's only and she didn't mind. I got the cake made while Hyrum worked on building our dresser. We ate a quick dinner, sang Happy Birthday, ate our cake and then off to bed with the kiddos.

She got a few clothes, some workbooks for her letters and numbers, some paper and fancy scissors, shoes and from her grandparents, a tiara making kit, rubber stamp kit and a shirt. It was a good day to be together as a family.

Hannah is so happy to be four. She is really growing up and turning into such a good helper and a fun little girl. We are so thankful that she was sent to our home. Happy Birthday, little bug!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cycling Challenges

I really like riding my bike.

I've always enjoyed riding my bike.  I still remember the first time I rode on my own, as my dad let go and I was under my own power for a few brief moments, before crashing to the pavement.  From that ignominious beginning, I love of two wheels grew.  We lived on top of a slight hill, which made riding to school as a 6-year-old fun, but coming back home a bit more challenging.  To my young mind, a bike was an exciting symbol of freedom and speed.

As I got older, a bicycle found another use: basic transportation.  I appreciated the freedom that came with riding my bike to school instead of the dreaded yellow school bus, and continued to do so until I got my drivers license.  I occasionally used my bike to go exploring among the (then desolate) back roads of Allen, Texas.  My bike got a break while in high school, as I preferred gasoline fumes to the fresh air of cycling.

As a missionary, I continued to ride, mainly out of necessity.  Over the course of my two-year mission, I spent seven months assigned to areas where we were left to our bicycles for transportation.  During those seven months, I put over 2700 miles on my bike, including a single day of 70 miles.  Having a companion who enjoyed cycling helped introduce me to cycling as recreation and sport, and I learned a few maintenance tricks along the way.

At college, I was once again car-less, and my trusty Liahona-brand bike, having followed me home from my mission, became my sole transportation link: to class, to family, to church.  Even riding through Utah winters became standard, and discovering the delicacy of riding a two-wheeled vehicle on snow.  While at BYU, I completed my first century, the aptly-named ULCER, and I was hooked.  I few more centuries come before I graduated.

Upon the start of grad school, cycling again took a back seat.  Busy with school and a young family, I found little time for personal pursuits.  It wasn't until a summer internship a couple of years ago, that cycling again became a transportation necessity, and I found the time to ride for recreation as well as transportation.  Purchasing a new bike, and completing another century, put me back in the saddle toward my cycling goals.

These days are better.  Once again, I eschew the bus for my bicycle, doing a ten mile round-trip commute in the course of a typical day.  Even though I travel for work, I still try to find time to cycle.  I can ride twenty-five miles at the drop of a hat, and have found ways to sneak rides in around a busy family, church and school schedule.  I'm hoping to do another century this fall, and may even set some longer-term, and longer-distance, goals.

I really like riding my bike.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some days things just work out!

There are days when I get done with them and wonder how I will get through tomorrow and then there are days like today when I almost wish they could last forever. The past two days my kids have been so good. Jonathan has taken a long nap, they have played well together, not too much wrestling or yelling at each other and they were helpful for me.

I think it's because we're potty training Jonathan. He is upset about if for about the first hour and a half in the morning but then he is so easy going and cheerful. It's like a game to him. I've resolved not to get a whole lot done beyond keeping the house decent and it's extremely liberating in so many ways. I don't have to worry about going to the store because I can't fit it into my 30 minutes break from the bathroom. I never thought potty training could be the source of so much contentment but so far things are looking up.

I think it's also because Hannah is growing up. More and more I am reminded that she won't be my little girl forever. She is constantly reminding me of what she'll do when she's "a mommy." She'll be four in just a few weeks and it has gone by so fast. She is growing into such a responsible kid. I didn't think I'd miss her a ton when she goes to school next year but now I know I will cry. My little girl will be changed forever. How I am cherishing these days with her.

These last two days have been a great blessing to me. I am so thankful to be a mother. My Heavenly Father has so greatly blessed my life. I am anxious in so many ways to see how our new little girl will fit in but if Hannah has anything to say about it I know she won't be forgotten or left in the dust. "The new baby" is already a fixture in our lives as Hannah insisted she be included in the picture of our family she colored on Sunday.

Life's changes are great and wonderful. I hope that I learn what I need to before the chances pass me by though because time seems to only fly by faster as the days go by.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Trip Summary

I posted the link to some of our vacation pictures but I thought I would add a little explanation to it.

In early June, I got a phone call from Hyrum. It went a little like this:

Hy: "Hey so, ah, would you like to go to England."

Heather: "Ah, yeah, do you have to ask?"

Hy: "How about the last week in June?"

Heather: I think I responded with a bunch of really confused babbling.

Then Hyrum went on to explain there was a conference in Oxford, England that he felt would be worth his while but he didn't want to go unless I went too because he had been gone a whole bunch over the last month.

We found a sitter for the kids, some good friends that I knew in New York and now live only about 20 minutes away and got everything ready. Then I found myself on a very large plane headed for England. A dream come true.

It was a good visit. It was short and towards the end a bit lonely since I was on my own during the days. The way Oxford University is set up is fascinating and I really enjoyed learning about that and just walking around the city. The weather was nice, a bit warm for the locals but way nicer than Texas. I got to walk in rooms where some of my favorite authors walked, streets where some prominent members of history walked. It was really cool.We even found time to have dinner with my brother who is interning near London. I am excited for a trip to the rest of the rest of the country and hopefully a chance to learn even more about England.

We got home Sunday night and after a crazy day of laundry, grocery shopping, and packing, we left Tuesday for Utah. We decided to take a little bit of a family vacation and stopped at Mesa Verde National Park. I have always wanted to see the cliff dwellings and Hyrum wanted to see it again since the last time he had gone was as a little kid.

Jonathan started getting sick Wednesday afternoon pretty quick after we got the park. I neglected to take his temperature until Thursday morning and when I did we found a 103 temp. We gave him some medicine, saw a few things in the park and then headed north a day earlier than planned. Hyrum's aunt was good enough to house us especially since we brought a sick child. Jonathan ran a fever until Saturday afternoon which meant I was a little frazzled from lack of sleep.

We made it to the annual Allred 4th of July celebration, "Grand Avenue of Fire" or "on Fire"--if you're Hyrum, and by that night Jonathan was happy and feeling a lot better. It was a quick trip and we spent the time visiting our grandparents and spending time with our family. Hannah spent a good amount of time playing with Hyrum's 4 year old cousin. They were pretty much inseparable when they were together.

Hyrum and I even to spent Tuesday almost exclusively together. That morning his mom volunteered to watch the kids so we got ready and dropped them off then we visited BYU campus and our old stomping grounds. After the customary raid on the candy counter we dropped in to see a friend from Austin who is now a professor at the Y. We picked up the kids, gave Jonathan a nap and then took them to Hyrum's sister, Sarah. She wanted to have them for an afternoon and we were happy to oblige. They played with her while we went and saw Toy Story 3. It was a good day.

It was a good trip, an odd trip but good. We've realized that the main reason for visiting Utah this time around was to see our grandparents. We love them very much and hope they are with us for a long time yet but we cherish every moment we have with them. We missed seeing my siblings that live there. We'll just have to coordinate our vacations a little better next time.

We're glad to be home and glad we got to have some good time together.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School's Out for the Summer

This year some friends and I decided to host a little preschool for out kids. There are several kids Hannah's age that live here in our complex and also go to church with us. It was a lot of fun. Hannah really enjoyed it and I had a good time too.

Our scheduled classes finished at the end of May but since then several of the kids have been in and out so yesterday we were finally able to get together and have our end of year party. Reianna bought pizza and we had chips and salsa, salad and brownies. The kids enjoyed the pizza and brownies and playing with each other.

Here are some pictures from our first field trip and our party (at the top).

Visit To Texas' Ice Cream Capitol

If you have never been to Brenham, TX you should go. It is a charming town. You drive the streets and part of me feels like I am driving through the city I spent the first 5 years of my life or the cities I know from my childhood and where my dad currently works. It just has a nice feeling. I know that you wouldn't go for just that reason, but how about the best ice cream in the world? Maybe not the world but surely the best ice cream I have eaten this side of the Atlantic. I love ice cream, I eat the generic kind just because I love ice cream but I really love good ice cream and you can always find good ice cream in Brenham.

This is the headquarters of Blue Bell ice cream. It is only sold in the south because they won't ship to outside a days drive from any of their creameries. It is tasty stuff. They have lot's of fun flavor and your old standbys.

Our most recent trip was Tuesday. I volunteered to drive our young women from church to Girl's Camp. Brenham just happens to be on the way. My sister-in-law who lives about an hour away mentioned that we should get our kids together so, we decided to meet up in Brenham.

Our weather had been hot and sunny and what would you guess but we woke up Tuesday morning to rain clouds. It rained most of our drive to Girl's Camp and poured just as we started throwing girls out to get their tents ready. We finally got them settled and hurried to Brenham so we wouldn't miss Margaret and the boys. We got there just as they did. It was still raining. We had planned a picnic, ice cream and playing at the park.

Well we found a dry bench and being Texas it wasn't cold sitting outside even though it was raining. the kids enjoyed their lunch and being together. Then we went inside for some ice cream. Yum. Hannah and Josh enjoyed some Strawberry, Jonathan had chocolate, I can't remember what Margaret and Caleb shared and I enjoyed Caramel Turtle Fudge. It was delicious.

After ice cream we discovered it had stopped raining. We decided that we'd driven all this way to let the kids play so, let them play. We drove to a nearby park and let the kids play for about 30 minutes. Jonathan and Caleb were so dirty. At one point Caleb slid down the slide and fell off the bottom face first. They poor kid had dirt and mulch all over him. Luckily it wiped off pretty good and in minutes he was off again. The kids had a great time and by the time we left I think they were tired. We had them sit down to take a picture and they actually sat there.

It was fun. Thanks Margaret for asking us to play. What a day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Modesty is always in style.

We believe in being modest and that is something we have tried to teach Hannah. Last night we were watching a movie and Hannah had a really hard time with the dress one of the characters was wearing. It was a dance sequence and so she just had a bodysuit on with a long ruffle in the back.

Hannah looked at me and exclaimed, "Mom, she is missing half her skirt. That is not modest."

I tried really hard not to laugh. For the entire dance number Hannah went on and on about how she need to fix her dress to be modest.
I feel like I have at least succeeded in something. My kid may not be a rocket scientist but I am glad she is learning something important from me.

What have you been up to?

The classic question when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, right?

Well the classic answer, at least for me, "Oh nothin' much. Just the usual." So noncommittal and really contains no information so, I am trying to be more information and honest.

Our usual for the last few weeks means, get up at 7 am, even though my alarm went off at 6 and get everyone breakfast and Hyrum lunch if he's home. I try to get Hannah to eat quickly but I think she got my brother, Andrew's genes and she just takes it nice and slow. Then we get dressed and head out the garden.

A couple of weeks ago this meant at least an hour of pulling weeds and pulling muscles. I got all of the weeds taken care of now we/re just on to maintenance, watering and picking food. It is so fun to come home with a bowl of beans and tomatoes. The only problem is that I don't quite have enough to justify canning them and we can't eat them fast enough. I may have to find some hungry neighbors.

After the garden we enjoy the morning at our shady park. It is hot down here but somehow, under the thick branches and leaves on the pecan trees there is always a morning breeze and I can stand sitting there. Sometimes we hurry home so I can shower and we can get to the store or just so I can get inside. This heat and humidity really gets me.

I'm working on a variety of projects right now but with really no motivation or thought of getting them done soon. We'll see see how they go. I'm working on a blanket for Jonathan, my block of the month quilt, scrapbooks for the kids--getting them up to date, cutting out some laminating I had done almost a year ago, teaching Hannah how to read and potty-training Jonathan. That is in addition to the normal things involved with keeping a house clean. Next week we'll probably head to the pool and do some swimming. The kids love it and so do I.

Life continues to be busy and carrying us along with it. The kids are growing faster than I can handle most days. I am grateful for the things they teach me and for the experiences they provide. Sometimes, I want to lock myself in my room to get a break but they are great kids.

So that is what we've been up to. Not anything too exciting but, hey that is our life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What a week.

This has been a crazy week. Our garden is growing wonderfully but we haven't been very diligent about weeding so we decided it was time to tackle the weeds. We wanted to know where we planted the garlic after all. This week I have put a lot of time into weeding and I am feeling it. My body is sore and my feet itch like nothing else. Friday, I knelt down to weed and after feeling a couple bite realized I had put my feet in a fire ant mound. I quickly brushed them off, changed my position and continued weeding. Later while watering I stepped in some grass that conveniently, also hid a large fire ant mound. This time I got about 10-12 bite before I could get them all off. It was even the same foot from before. I must say though, the bag of beans and carrots in our fridge are worth it. We're looking forward to eating tomatoes from our garden this week too.

In addition to the garden, Hannah started swim lessons. The City of Austin has several swimming pools through out the city, many of which are free. Since it gets so hot in the summer, the only way to be outside is to be in the water so we swim a lot, almost everyday. I decided that especially since next summer I will have three kids to wrestle in the pool with, the more comfortable Hannah and I can be with her doing it on her own, the better. So she has two sessions of swim lessons this summer. She is doing really well and loves it. She keeps asking when she goes again and is very disappointed that she has to wait until Monday. Her friend Ben is taking this class with her so I think she really enjoys that. Thursday, Jonathan and I went dressed to swim. It was a chilly because there was no sun and after we swam for about 1 1/2 hours Jonathan was shivering so bad I finally made him get out of the water. We had a good time though.

On top of those things I have daily chores and such that work on. I am trying to get Hannah a little more cooperative in working specifically and with focus on her alphabet. That is proving extremely difficult. I also have a few sewing projects I am working on and should be working on updating the kids' scrapbooks, which I haven't touched since about 4 months after Jonathan was born.

There are also Hyrum's trips out of town that we have to adjust to. This last time we hung around her for a few days and then went up to his parent's house. That was fun especially since Josh and Caleb, the cousins were in town as well. As an added bonus we got to see Hyrum's sister, Rachel, play Millie in her school production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." I wish I had pictures but alas, I don't.

We are staying busy and time just seems to keep slipping away. In some ways it is sad but I am really excited for all the new things our kids are learning and doing. Jonathan is growing up so fast. His speech improves everyday and I find myself more often than not understanding what he is saying. It's not just words but sentences too. He is amazing. Hannah loves being with her friends. She really misses those that aren't here right now. She loves to help me and right now I am her best friend. That is a pretty good feeling because we have certainly had our struggles with one another. She is constantly hugging my arm and saying "I like you, Mom." I love it. Family is great and we are so glad to have those two little kids. We are also excited for the "new baby" (I wonder how Hannah will take it when we actually give the baby a name?).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Brief-ish Bleak House Review

*** Warning: Plot spoilers possibly ahead. ***

I just finished reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens on Monday. I feel like I've run a marathon. The last few days of my read it was all I could do to wait until kids where in bed or get dinner ready. I found a very enjoyable read. It took a few chapters to get into it and to be completely honest, there were parts I skimmed really fast.

Charles Dickens started his novel writing with Pickwick Papers which was a comedy. This was followed by Oliver Twist, a novel more about politics and social reforms. Bleak House follows the trend of the later and pokes fun at the government system of the Chancery Courts. The difficulty in reading this novel is the mass of characters. In you are introduced to a new character, the next chapter follows this new character to new circumstances where you meet another new character. This happens again and again. Finally, in the last third of the book do these circles become completed.

The character of Esther is an interesting one. Esther is an angel. She has a few struggles with pride, mostly relating to her disfigurement after her illness but other than that she has perfect perspective and is the kindest and gentlest of people. She is the person many strive to be like and have nearby.

Esther is juxtaposed by Richard who in his selfishness, paints everything as for everyone else, especially Ada, but by his actions and obsession with Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, he ignores the pleas of all those that really care for him including those of Ada, his fiance and finally wife. Richard is by all accounts a lazy young man born of the upper class. When he asked what he wishes for his profession, he has no answer. He wants to try everything out and when he finally settles on one thing gives it a meager try and then moves on to something else with no thought to the effort and sacrifices made on his behalf to acquire each position. In the end his obsession with Jarndyce v. Jarndyce proves his undoing and prevents him from enjoying life with Ada and their family.

Ada isn't really a pivotal character. She is a place keeper and gives purpose to Esther's existence. She is a tool to create the first tensions between Mr. Jarndyce and Richard that eventually becomes the wedge that drives them apart over Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. The only place we really see any character at all is when she declares to Esther that she has married Richard and will not be going back to Bleak House with her. She is simply a place keeper for those around her.

As far as the plot goes, it was pretty easy to figure out most of the twist and turns. I will admit that a few things caught me by surprise but not unpleasantly, most notably, the relationship between Mr. George and Mrs. Rouncewell. The writing was what made it interesting. Dicken has a way with words, sometimes too many words, but he expresses well the importance of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce to Richard, the cool elegance of Lady Dedlock, the craziness of Miss Flite, and other such things. He weaves such a tale that at first I had little hope of it being resolved in any good way. I began to expect a true tragedy, but eventually all comes full circle and ends well for those we care about.

I really enjoyed this book. It just cements my love for the British Literature of this period. Though there is a little bit of political commentary the plot isn't bogged down by it. The story still flows while the reader feels the contempt Dickens had for the court system. You come to love the characters and hope for their well-being. It isn't unrealistic in its outcomes either. Some characters end well and others don't, some received the very best of what they wished and others only find comfort in their misfortunes. To say the least, it was an interesting and enjoyable read.

Out of Africa

I've been traveling a lot lately.  And by "a lot" I mean "enough to circle the Earth twice, just in the last four months."  Take that, Phileas Fogg!

My latest exploits have taken me to the ICSE 2010 conference in Cape Town, South Africa.  The journey was long, though relatively uneventful, and while I enjoy flying, spending two consecutive nights on airplanes (in economy) is just a bit much.  The weather the week of the conference was rather dreary, but I did manage to get to the top of Table Mountain during one of the rare clear periods (picture below).

South Africa itself was a bit of an enigma.  Having lived in some rough areas of the US, I'd have to say that it was just a couple of notches rougher, and on a much larger scale.  And yet, going to places like Robben Island, or some of the other museums made it feel that South Africans have addressed problems that we are still facing in the United States.

The highlight of the trip wasn't actually in Cape Town: it was in Johannesburg, where I stopped for a couple of days to visit some friends.  Ten years ago, I served in Los Angeles as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The mature couple assigned to supervise the missionaries in that area ten years ago, has now been assigned to be in charge of training perspective missionaries in the Church's Johannesburg Missionary Training Center.  Compared to the MTC in Provo, Utah, this one is tiny: only 19 missionaries the week I was there.  But the experience was a good one, and I'm glad I could be there.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My favorite fruit is a strawberry. I love them anyway you can serve them, though my least favorite way is dipped in hard chocolate. I think it's all because from a young age I was forced to spend hours with them every June. School would get out for the summer and a'pickin' we would go. My mom would drag us down the room to the strawberry farm and we would sit in the hot sun for what seemed like hours and have to pick strawberries. We had quarts and quarts but it was still not enough. Finally, we would be done and then, home to clean them, puree them, sugar and jam them. A few made it into things like strawberry pizza and strawberry shortcake.

Though the above sounds like drudgery, think a hot biscuit just out of the oven. A tender bit of steam curling into the air as you pull the flaky morsel apart. Then, lather it up with some nice chilled homemade strawberry jam with junks of real strawberries that are still firm and taste like they are just out of the field. Got it? Yum!

So consequently, the drudgery has been a great experience for me and one that I have perpetuated into my adulthood and mothering. Today Hannah and I, along with her friend, Jarom, drove about 1 hour and 45 minutes to pick strawberries. A little far yes, but well worth it. There were so many beautiful berries. It was a beautiful day and the kids turned out to be pretty good strawberry pickers while I could keep them on task. Eventually they just made sand castles in the dirt while I finished the picking. We ended up picking just over 26 lbs. That is a lot of berries. Most of it will jam though I'm limited in my freezer space. I know I can just can it but I really like the freezer variety.

Tonight I made tasty strawberry muffins and strawberry pizza and a torte are calling my name. I think I'm in trouble. Hannah and Jonathan love them too. I couldn't even get the berries in the door before Jonathan had one in each hand. I was able to get them cleaned and the tops off though before he made too much damage. I am so excited. Yay for Spring and the early Texas warmth. Now we wait for Peaches next month.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Springtime means . . .

Well it means a lot of things for our family. It usually means gearing up for a crazy summer but I actually think our spring has been crazier than this summer will be.

It also means flowers and our garden is growing. The exterior to our apartments are pretty drab so I bought some flowers to spruce it up a little. It so much nicer to come home to a pot of pretty, bright flowers and a growing tomato plant than to a stucco wall and a patch of dirt.

Our garden is doing well. We had a few setbacks but things seem to be growing well. We pulled a few carrots this week and I enjoyed them for dinner last night. I have a lot of weeding to do but weeding and keeping Jonathan out of the other plots is quite the challenge. Yesterday morning Hannah woke me up at 6 and Jonathan followed at 6:30 so we got up and went out to the garden before my crazy day got started.

I got a little bit done but I was really hoping to spend a couple hours out there and get all the carrots weeded. Well it didn't happen and we came home after about 45 minutes because Hannah needed the restroom. It's pretty bad when Jonathan who spent a total of 10 minutes in the garden was the dirtiest of the lot. I tried to get a picture of him but he wouldn't stand still and look at me.

Once it looks nicer maybe we'll get a picture of the garden up too.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So proud

Today we had Stake Conference for church. This is a meeting where all of the LDS members in an area, the Stake, meet together and have one two hour meeting. It is always a great learning experience for me but with kids it can be challenging. We use to go to the room where kids were allowed to run around and be a little noisy but it still didn't allow us to hear anything and really the kids were always rowdier than we wanted on a Sunday anyway. So today, with plenty of snacks in the diaper bag and coloring books we were determined to sit in the main room and see how it went.

I was so proud of Hannah she made it through the entire meeting in the big room. During the intermediate hymn she went out with me to get more water but she basically sat through two hours without any problem. I was pretty proud of Jonathan too. He basicallly woke up at 4:40 this morning and so he was really tired but he lasted until the last 45 minutes. Then he and I walked the halls and went back for the closing song and prayer. They did a great job and I was even able to listen to most of the meeting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time Out Day

Last night and this morning were a little rough with Hannah so after a little break down by me, I decided we needed a family time out. I needed to spend some time just playing with the kids. I usually have so much to get done and they are so good at playing on their own that we don't play enough together.

We started our time out with popcorn, m&m's, and stories in my bed. Hannah loved it. Jonathan lasted through one story and then he just wanted the m&m's and his ball.

Then I thought we should at least spend a little time outside and I had already destroyed a cardboard box so, we made ladybug wings. I cut out some wings for both kids and armed with paint and lots of paper towels and an old tablecloth we ventured out into the sunshine. I put paint shirts on the kids and just decided to let them have fun. Consequently, for a few hours Jonathan's knee showed signs of becoming a little smurf-ish. He sat in front of me and painted it blue with a few orange flecks. I ended up painting his blue and yellow wings but Hannah painted her's a lovely orange with blue spots and red with yellow spots. They had a really good time. After painting his knee, Jonathan wondered around searching for sticks.

Then it was lunch time. I made quesadillas and nachos like my mom did when I was a kid. It was tasty. We started enjoying it outside when I noticed a opossum wandering slowly in our direction from the parking lot. Just in-case you were wondering, opossum are nocturnal so I wasn't thrilled about seeing one at noon. Hannah assured me though that it was "just a opossum," but we finished our lunch inside.

Jonathan has a bath and then his nap. Hannah started watching Cinderella and then we both fell asleep. Oh how I love sleep. Then we all woke up and made dinner together. We made pizza. Jonathan likes to explore so when he started looking at the knives the kids were dismissed. They got to stay up late and finally at 9 pm my house is almost all clean and my children are asleep.

A pretty good day. Take time out every once in a while. It was nice.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Weekend With the Irish

My new job has given me the opportunity to do a few things that I love: work from home, enjoy some flexibility, and do some more travel.  My travel is for work purposes, so I don't get to always choose where to go, but I occasionally get to go outside the country to visit with customers, potential customers, or other Subversion developers.  The only downside is that Heather doesn't often get to come with me.

This past weekend has found me at a hostel in Ireland for the latest Apache Retreat.  Essentially, the Apache Software Foundation rented a hostel in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin for a few days, and a bunch of us developer types got together to give talks, hack code, and put faces with email addresses.  One of my personal goals is to help Subversion integrate with the ASF, since we're now an official top-level project.  The organizers arranged some abnormally fantastic weather for the weekend, and even though it was a busy few days, the event was great.

Among the ruins at Glendalough

I managed to feel surprisingly rested when landing in Dublin at 8:30am on Friday, and had several hours before it was time to get to the hostel.  I rented a car and picked of fellow Subversion developers, and spent the next few hours teaching myself to drive on the left side of the road.  (Even though I was driving a standard, and having to shift with my left hand, the hardest part ended up being knowing where the margins of the vehicle were.  Never mind driving: steering from the right-hand side of the car is a new experience.)

We visited Glendalough, and did a hike through the woods.  Even though Austin has had spring for a few weeks now, it's just now happening in Ireland: there was grass in the fields, but no leaves on trees, and the sheep had yet to be shorn.  Our hikes took us past some waterfalls and through the Irish countryside.  I managed not to get us killed while driving to the hostel for the event.

The Irish Countryside

Saturday morning dawned clear and cool, and I decided to avail myself of the chance for a short walk on the nearby Wicklow Way.  Using a flyer from the hostel, I hiked for roughly 3 miles to an overlook of Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest in Ireland.  Even though I hadn't brought my boots or other gear, the hike was enjoyable, and I returned to the hostel in time for the first of the sessions.  The rest of Saturday was spent coding and discussing, and I even gave an hour-long talk about Subversion to about 10 people.

Powerscourt Waterfall

I took the opportunity on Sunday to visit the Bray Branch for church services, and then perfect my left-hand-driving skills while trying to find the Dublin airport Hilton in a town with a severe case of address apathy.  After a brief detour through London to get home after my original flight was canceled, I made it back home, about 100 hours after I left.  In the end, it was a whirlwind trip, but Ireland is definitely somewhere on my places-to-return list, hopefully next time with Heather.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Things toddlers say . . .

Before Hyrum leaves for the day or on a trip he will often remind the kids and I to be good to each other. Well the other night he was leaving for Mutual and asked Hannah to be good for me. Her response, "Be good for the Bishop, Daddy."

We busted up laughing. She later asked me why. I told her we just love her and that her comment was witty and clever. Great fun.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Big News

I am such a slacker, I know. I haven't been very good about updating our blog but I have really good reasons:
#1--I have been so busy for the past few weeks that I really haven't known if my head was screwed on straight. I'm coordinating a dinner for 240 people in a couple weeks and I've been trying to figure that out, I started trying to potty train Jonathan, and life is just busy and it's all my fault.

#2--Family visits and my husband out of town mean that all routine stops or at least gets seriously messed with. It's a bad habit but it's true. Hyrum is my motivation to get things done and we're so thankful for that.
#3--I've been battling morning sickness. Nut #3--Almond, will be joining our family around October 28th. (If your confused about the nut thing I'll explain later.) I hope the baby comes early enough that I can dress it up in our pumpkin costume I made for Jonathan for Halloween. I'm not out of the woods yet but I am feeling much better and even managed to run on Monday morning. Hopefully that will become more regular again.

So in the last month I finished my tree skirt after 15 months of working on it. Then I realized that since we'll be in NY for Christmas, I won't get to use it this year. I am all caught up on my blocks of the month. I finished a little receiving blanket for the baby. I've gotten started on a couple more sewing projects and we're working on our summer vacation plans. We also planted tomatoes, twice, carrots, garlic, and beans in our garden. We're excited about that.

The weather has gotten nicer so we've been spending our afternoons at the park with friends which is always nice. Last weekend we celebrated Easter by listening to General Conference. We realized that we have to figure out something different because we didn't get a whole lot out of it with our kids around. We're looking forward to reading it and listening to it later. Listening to the Prophet and apostles and other Church officers was sure a great way to remember the Savior and his sacrifice.

Life is good. It is really busy but we are doing well. We really excited about our new little one. We are slowly making steps to make sure that our home is big enough for all of us.