Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's Up?

It's been a little while. Since our last post a lot has happened. It's been a busy few weeks.

We spent Thanksgiving up at the Wright's. We had a great time. It certainly started off with a bang though. We were there twenty minutes when Jonathan fell and split his cheek just below his eye. The cut was about 1/2 inch wide so we went and saw a doctor friend and luckily he was able to glue his cheek together right then. Other than that it was pretty uneventful. We got to spend time with Hyrum's parents and sister Rachel. Hyrum had a great time : ) wheelbarrowing dirt around their back yard and assisting the tiling of the bathroom floor. I had some time to work on Christmas Projects and just chill. I had plenty of food requests that I obliged to make sure they would let us come again. We were certainly busy.

One of Jonathan's favorite things to do right now is climb on our table. He thinks that is his play area. I have to get him down or at least hold the chairs around the table 7-10 times a day to keep him from getting up there. The day I took the pictures it was cute but mostly it drives me crazy. He is starting into the frustrated toddler phase of life. He has started throwing temper tantrums when I tell him no.

Jonathan also started waking up between 5:30 and 6:30 am and just cries. If I go get him though he will sleep in my arms until 7 or later if I let him. I wish he would just sleep in his bed.

He is such a talker though. A couple weeks ago a friend was watching the kids and when I picked them up she commented that she couldn't believe how vocal he is. Hannah was so quiet as a toddler but Jonathan is always making noise. He loves to talk to us and he is constantly pointing at things and saying something about it.

Hannah is great. She is so silly and fun most of the time. The other day I mentioned the word "roller coaster". She repeated it with question in her voice. It was so cute. It is fun to see her learn new words and new things. She always wants to know what things are and why are they that way or why are they doing that.

At the grocery store she will see little kids and try to talk to them and she will comment about how they are her age. It is so fun to see her growing up. The other day I was struck with how close kindergarten is. It was a pretty scary realization. I don't know if I will be ready for that not to mention her.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Brief Accounting of Our Week

Hyrum has been out of town for a week. He arrives home tonight, Hooray! Happily this is his last solo trip for a while. When Hyrum goes out of town it generally means terrible eating habits, a total disruption of our schedule and for the most part a lot of fun, though I never wish him gone. This week looked pretty busy as of last Friday when he left and I was hoping we would make it through.

By Sunday afternoon though, just about everything had cleared up nicely. Monday I had my last day of school to teach. That was a good experience but it has cured me of all desire to work outside my home for the time being. It is way hard to get four people, two of them little children, out of the door by 7:35 in the morning. Kudos to those of you who do. I picked the kids up in the rain and we just hung out and gave the apartment some tlc.

Tuesday, we did nothing. My kids and I didn't get out of our pjs until about 4:00 when we decided to see if any friends were at the park. It was a great day. I am working on a crazy project for the kids for Christmas this year and so I spent the entire day working on that. It was great.

Wednesday, we had a field trip for school. Hannah is in a little preschool with four of her friends. We, their moms teach and every six weeks we go on a little field trip. This particular trip was to the library. The kids were great about sitting for story time and Hannah was pretty excited to get her own library card.

We got home and while the kids ate I checked my email and found a wonderful thing. A friend had sent me an email about a place to take the kids to play with dress-ups, bounce house type things, paint, and all sorts of other things and I didn't have to pick it up. Best of all, Wednesday it was free. We grabbed a couple other kids and a mom with a van, I left Jonathan with a friend so he could nap and Hannah, Jarom, Ben, William, Reianna and I went to Jumpy Gym to play. The kids had a great time. When Hannah went to bed that night she slept like a log.

Yesterday we went to play group, had a friend over after that and then had some more friends over for dinner. Tonight we get to pick Hyrum up and see him again. We are all excited. We're glad to have him back. It's been a great week and now, I have to think about Halloween tomorrow. Hannah has decided not to be Superman or a bat--her most recent choice. We'll have to figure that out pretty quick.

Sorry there are no pictures but Hyrum took our camera to Germany. Have a Happy Halloween and a great weekend.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Today, Hannah asked me if we could get another baby in two weeks. First of all, two weeks? What a random number. I told her that is takes a little longer to get babies here and she proceeded to come to the conclusion that when Jonathan is three we will have a new baby. Works for me : )

Monday, October 19, 2009


We just got home from a two week vacation to New York. We visited Grandma and Grandpa H. Never in all my life have I ever wanted to settle in the North East. I don't mind visiting but it was never the place I wanted to live, until now.

One day my mom, a friend and I were driving home after a wonderful kid free day of shopping and I was so caught up in the beauty of the drive. The air was full of the delicious scent of fallen leaves and chill but with a hint of warmth from the sun. Each time I went outside even though there weren't many apples around I could smell them and the decaying leaves. They are scents I love and cherish. I always have. It was wonderful. I love the fall. When I first moved away to Utah, I thing I missed most was the geese honking on their way south. I love a northeastern fall. It is an experience.

We had a wonderful trip and one thing I know is that I hate being is far away from family. I love my parents and my siblings so much and as we all have to face life, I find that more and more I wish that we could face it together, literally side by side. Maybe in my perfect world.

Back to work I go . . .

Tomorrow I start a little job. I am teaching Math. You read right. I am teaching math for the next five days. I am really excited. I haven't worked outside my home for the last three years and two months. I am so excited to get out and meet some new people. I am grateful a kind friend who is watching my children for a couple hours each day. Except for my mathematically challenged brain, this should be relatively relaxed and fun. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Summer Roadtrip 2009--The Conclusion

We had a great time on our trip. I've decided that the best trips are those you get to spend with people you love and that we did. We got to see our family and good friends too. We miss those we didn't get to see but, maybe next time.

We are so grateful for every chance our kids get to see their great-grandparents and their cousins. It means so much to know that everyone is happy to have us around. Here are a few more pictures of our adventures.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Times

We just got home from my parents house on Tuesday. We had a great visit with them and I didn't want to leave. I'll post more. Hyrum has our camera and all of the fun pictures we took.

We got home later on Tuesday night and I didn't get our clothes unpacked. Wednesday I did laundry and because of everything going on in our house I didn't get it folded either so, Thursday was the day.

We got up and I had Hannah help me pick up all the toys in the living room and their bedroom and then we vacuumed. This is always fun because Hannah runs and jumps on the couch. I think she is afraid she is going to get sucked into the vacuum. Jonathan follows me around curious about this noisy thing but kind of concerned that it might do him some harm. Pretty funny.

After the general clean up it was time to tackle the pile of clothes sitting on my bedroom floor. Folding laundry is pretty run of the mill, unless you have two kids vying for my attention. I put up the kid gate in my doorway so the kids couldn't get into Hyrum's bike and unfold the clothes I was folding. As I'm folding, Hannah comes to the doorway and this is the conversation we have:

Hannah: Mom, us in you room?
Mom: No, Hannah.
Hannah: (looking very perplexed) Why, no us you room, Mom?
Mom: I don't want Jonathan to get into the bike grease and the clothes.
Hannah: (her eyes lighting up) Hannah in you room, Mom.
Mom: Not right now, Hannah.

Where Hannah left off Jonathan started. He had been eating all morning and I finally told him it was time to wait for lunch. He knows where the snacks are though and can reach them so I put them up on the counter. The only problem is that they live on the same shelf as our cereal and crackers. As I folded the clothes Jonathan brought in every box of cereal and crackers in one by one and dropped them over the gate into my bedroom. It was pretty funny. He wasn't mad or upset he was just doing his best to communicate to me that he wanted to eat. It was a good moment just watching the two of them yesterday. I love them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A year already?

From this ................... to this

My, how time flies when you're having fun and we certainly have had fun. Jonathan is something else. He is the epitome of boy.

He loves my kitchen cupboards and what treasures he can find in there. He even leaves treasures for me such as fridge magnets and play kitchen utensils. He loves to walk and run around with Hannah. He loves to play chase and is pretty quick with his smiles. It's hard to imagine when you love one how you can ever make enough room to love another kids but we certainly have. I think our love has more than doubled with Jonathan's addition to our family.

He is so fun and though I get frustrated when he has pulled my pots and pans out for the tenth time in a couple of hours, I love how silly he can be and how he loves to lay in my arms for a moments rest after he's been a little wild. He has grown so much and so fast. When he was born he weighed 8 lbs and 9 oz. Now, just twelve months later he has almost quadrupled that at 23 lbs. He can understand what I say to him most of the time and just smiles and laughs as his answer most of the time.

He loves to eat and he loves his big sister. They fill our home with giggles and sweet things. Today, Jonathan had his 12 month check-up at the doctors. I took Hannah and prepped her before hand for how upset Jonathan would b and asked her to be a good helper and try and help him be happy. When the doctor had to look in his nose and mouth, Jonathan started wailing. Hannah was right there saying, "O-tay baby, it o-tay. Oh baby, I wuv you."

Jonathan gives it right back like after their naps today, Hannah sat down to watch part of Cinderella. Jonathan sat there next to her for a good 15 minutes. He laid on her lap, then on her shoulder than he tried to sit on her. She just smiled and laughed at him. It's good to have a friend.

For Jonathan's birthday he had a special treat. Grandma W and Rachel were here with us. They made a quick trip down to celebrate his birthday. Jonathan started the day at 6:30 and we hung out and enjoyed our company and then had a breakfast feast while he took a nap : ) After nap time, since Grandma had to leave early we opened presents and Jonathan enjoyed a cupcake and his first bites of ice cream. His favorite thing was the paper.

We have a birthday hat that they get to wear and it has the number of years they are on it. We put that on and boy was he mad. Those 1 year olds sure hate the hat.

It was pretty low key but we had fun just reminiscing about Jonathan's arrival in our family and the events of September 4th a year previously. Our lives will never be the same and boy are we glad.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

This comes a little late but, Happy Birthday, Little Bug! Hannah is everything a three year old should be and so much more. Yes, she is three. I babysat a little girl on Wednesday and I realized just how much she has grown in the last year. Most obvious is that I understand just about everything she says--she only has to repeat herself once occasionally twice.

She has proven to be a pretty good helper and loves her little brother. She loves to jump and climb and swim. Thanks to her boy friends and Grandma Wright (She provided the costume) Hannah wants to be Spiderman for Halloween, though she loves Cinderella, too.

Her favorite color is purple and if you ask her she does read. We've started her in a little Preschool Co-op with a few of her friends this semester and she loves that. They are a fun bunch with a lot of energy. It's fun to see her learn new things. The best new of all is that I think, for all intents and purposes she is finally potty trained.

Her birthday was spent at school in the morning and then lunch and a good nap. She got her finger shut in a door at school so she was a little upset. The nap was our lifesaver. Then when Hyrum got home from work we ate a quick dinner, opened presents and then we went swimming. Hannah had a great day. She loved all of her presents and if you ask her she'll rave over her train cake. In fact now instead of telling people Happy Birthday, she says, "Happy Cake!"

So with that, Happy Cake, Hannah!!

Friday, August 28, 2009


It's about a quarter of ten in the evening, and I'm sitting in my hotel room, listening to the rain fall from the Dutch sky. It's one of those surreal moments at the end of a trip where I wonder if I've done everything I needed and wanted to do, and also wonder when I'll be back. As I listen to the thunder roll, and hear the occasional tram bell, I can't help but think that this trip has been much better than I anticipated.

The rain's coming down harder now.

Amsterdam offers quite a juxtaposition. The old-world buildings and charm, stand right beside new-world modernity and vices. A small city by most measures, yet rich in history and experiences. I expected to find a place where I'd feel uncomfortable, yet by exercising caution, I was able to stay away from the ill, and enjoy the better parts of the city. I've already thought a few times about what I want to do the next time I come, and what I want to see more.

My visit to Holland has been largely successful, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to come. So tomorrow, as I climb aboard a plane and soar across deep blue Atlantic, there won't be any regrets, just an excitement to go home to wife and children, and a certain understanding that I haven't seen the last of this part of Europe.

The storm is letting up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pioneer Day Classic

It sounds kind of like the name of a race, huh? Well it is and I ran it. For some of you may be checking your eyes to be sure you read correctly but I assure you that your eyesight is fine.

About 6 months ago some friends and I started walking in the morning for exercise and it has morphed into running. I never thought I would ever be a "runner" and for some definitions I still am not but, I go jogging almost six days a week for about 3.5 miles. Reianna and I decided to run a 5k and while in Utah I decided I would just try it before we ran ours and I was pretty happy with my results.

I hate to run by myself because I'm not very good at keeping a good pace so my sister-in-law and brother were going to run it with me but they both backed out at the last minute. I was kind of disappointed but my parents said they would come and watch.

I ran and had a good time and my family had a great time too. Hannah jumped in a bounce house thing and Jonathan enjoyed the company of his grandpa and aunt, Kallie. It felt really good to know they were at the end cheering me on especially when I finally did reach the end. My time was 32:40 which I was pretty proud of. My goal is to run a 5k in 30 minutes so I still have my work cut out for me.

After the race I enjoyed some complimentary sorbet with fruit and granola and a massage. It was fun and I am excited to do it again in about a month.

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the Hogle Zoo

On Tuesday of the second week my parents took us all--my brother and his family, me and my children and my brother and sister--to the Hogle Zoo. Of all the time I spent in Utah through my life I had never been there. We got lost and turned around while getting there but we did finally make it. I found it to be quite a nice zoo though I don't have much experience to go from.

Most of the animals were up and walking around which made it nice for all of us but especially the little girls. They had a ball. The best part was the mountain lion that wanted to eat my sister. He prowled around following her as we walked by. Kallie would move and he would move. He sat there for a little while hissing at her too. It was pretty funny but I'm sure we were all glad there was a cage between them. The cougar would have won in a fight especially due to the fact that Kallie just had knee surgery.

I had the girls go on a carousel ride with Grandma H. At first they weren't quite sure what to think but by the end they were begging for more. It was a good day. We were sorry that Nathan and his family had to leave early but, what can you do. It wasn't even too hot and Hannah finally got to see a live bear.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the Part of 2nd Week

Our week started with a hot Sunday at my brother's house. We had a great time though hanging out in the basement playing games with the little girls. Andrew came over and it was nice to see him. I hadn't seen him since October of 2006 when he left on his mission. We had a good time.

Monday was Girls' Day with Hyrum's sisters. We like hang out at least once while we're together and we were just able to squeeze one in this trip before Margaret and her family left. Then that afternoon my parents and sister Kallie flew in from New York. It was great to see them. We enjoyed an evening at Grandma and Grandpa J's house.

The kids all enjoyed being outside and so did I. Grandma and Grandpa have grass you could swim in. I love it. There aren't any little critters waiting to get you either.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Utah, the 1st Week

Well Rachel, the kids and I made it to Provo before we melted, barely. I was so happy we made it. I hate driving and a 7-ish hour drive is really pushing it for me. Thank goodness Rachel was with us. Hyrum was off climbing mountains with his brother. I'll let him write about that.

Tuesday I met up with an old college friend. I hadn't seen her in years and it was great to catch up and hear about her little family. We also got the car fixed and it was only a minor problem. Yay for that.

Wednesday evening Konni was good enough to put our kids to bed while Hyrum and I went to see "Singing in the Rain" at the Hale Center Theater. It was really fun. We had front row seats and boy were we glad for the ponchos they gave us at the beginning. We would have been soaked. It was cute and a fun date.

Another highlight was a great visit with Grandma and Grandpa Wright on our way up to airport. The kids liked playing downstairs and it was nice to sit and talk with Grandma and Grandpa. It's always nice to have family one on one.

Saturday we made our rounds up north to some friends in south Salt Lake and a family reunion in Layton. It was quite the day. I loved seeing my old room mates and friends we miss from Texas. It's so nice to see that though you don't get to see people everyday there are some people that will be with you always and will always be a part of your life even though miles may separate you.

Summer Roadtrip 2009--Yellowstone

On July 8th we set off for Yellowstone National Park. The car was packed to the gills but we were glad that we didn't have to use the luggage rack--better gas mileage that way. The kids were happy, probably because Hannah knew where we were headed and neither one of them realized just how long we would be in the car. We hit the road and drove north towards Dallas and just kept trucking. That day we made it to Wichita, Kansas. My family slept for about 7 hours while I observed the storm and wished the cool breeze would come into the car. I didn't sleep much because Jonathan was on my lap and Hyrum had my pillow. The storm was cool but I got a little nervous at around 4 am when the garbage truck came to get the garbage out of the dumpster we were parked near.

We survived the night and made it to our first major stop by lunch time. No, it wasn't Yellowstone, it was Mount Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas. We picnicked here among the cow pies and at one point I thought a cow was going to come join us for lunch. We were shortly on our again though.

That evening we spent the night in Casper, Wyoming. I know some people love Wyoming but this trip has once again convinced me that I do not want to live in Wyoming. The next morning we started on our way out and happened upon the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center we only spent a few minutes there because we wanted to get on with our trip but Hannah enjoyed a stage coach ride and we spent a few minutes remembering the pioneers involved in Martin's Cove. It was a nice stop.

We drove pretty steadily through to Cody, Wyoming, just 116 miles outside Old Faithful in Yellowstone. We stopped there for gas and a little stretching and some lunch for Jonathan at a nice park. The picture is Hannah driving a stage coach at the park. Then back in the car and to Yellowstone. We got to our cabin and unpacked by about 4 pm and we waited and waited. We were meeting Hyrum's mom's family for a reunion. We were so excited when Grandma and Grandpa Allred finally showed up. The rest of the family arrived shortly.

Friday evening we just hung out and finally got to bed after a late dinner and a sighting of Old Faithful. (Hannah thinks Old Faithful is Yellowstone.) Saturday, the sun woke me up bright and early for a quick jog (I'll explain later) that was more of a walk. It was wonderfully cold and beautiful at 6 am. I got back and showered before my family had woken up. We then enjoyed breakfast outside on our porch only to be interupted by a family of buffalo walking through the woods and then right behind our cabin. Hannah was so excited to see buffalo.

That morning was the Great Family Picture '09. Of Grandma and Grandpa's 53 family members (including them) we had 52 there for this reunion. It was really cool. Each family had a colored shirt--we were navy blue--and each person had a number to wear corresponding with their entrance in the family. We met at Old Faithful and waiting forever for it to blow to clear off the crowds. Poor Jonathan was so tired. He finally fell asleep in my arms about 15 minutes before we took the picture. The only way you know he's there is because I have this mysterious pair of legs coming out of the stomach because his navy blue hat and shirt covered him and blended into me. The rest of the day was spent walking around the geyser basis there around Old Faithful. Apparently we didn't put enough sunscreen on the kids because Hannah's ears and head blistered and Jonathan's legs were a little darker after our walk. It was a nice day. We went to dinner with Hyrum's family and after getting the kids to bed spent a little time talking with his aunts and uncles. They are great and I'm always grateful for the experience of others when it comes to children. It helps me feel like maybe my experience isn't so strange.

Sunday we got up and ready for a little Sunday school lesson. Hyrum, Nate, Margaret and I were in charge of the nursery. It consisted of Hannah, Josh and Caleb. Jonathan was asleep. We sang some songs, had a quick lesson about how the world is Heavenly Father's creation for us because he loves us, a nature walk and of course, snacks. At about 11 we started up to the Lower Falls for the Wright's traditional photo by "the tree." It was at this point that we got in our car and realized our air conditioning wasn't working. I started to panic but hey we were in Yellowstone and there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it so, on with our trip.

The Falls were great. Hannah had a great time. She was pretty upset when I wouldn't let her hike down to the bottom with her dad but they were making a quick trip and Hannah walking is anything but quick. Instead she watched the huge ants (her word, not mine) do their thing and a raven hop on the rocks. We took the long way back and enjoyed some more buffalo and a drive up Dunraven Pass. This is my second favorite scenery in Yellowstone. My favorite views are along the road through the Golden Gate. That is fabulous but these views were pretty good too.

We hurried back just in time for a quick dinner and then off to Sacrament meeting. There are four Sacrament meetings held every Sunday in the park and ours was at 7 pm. The kids did pretty good considering they are usually getting ready for bed about that time. After church we decided to give Hannah one last look at "Yellowstone" and waited for Old Faithful to blow. It was a littel chilly but it was worth it. She was so happy.

Monday morning Hyrum and I went for an early morning walk and enjoyed the cool brisk air one more time. We got back and got ready to leave. The kids and I along with Hyrum's sister Rachel left for Utah at 8:30 am. It was a good weekend. It's always nice to be with family and Hannah will tell you that was her favorite part of our trip because Hyrum, Jonathan and I were there.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Austin's Dam Loop

I finally punched my official Austin cyclist membership card on Saturday by riding the "Dam Loop", a popular route in the scenic hill country west of Austin. The definition of the loop varies depending on who you ask, but the key feature is a ride along route 620 which passes in front of Mansfield Dam, which in turn creates Lake Travis. The route is generally well-maintained, and includes a number of hills and other interesting features.

The 43-mile ride just about killed me. I left early in the morning to avoid the 105-degree afternoon heat, and managed to stay in shade most of the way. The hill country lived up to it's name by providing over 3,000 feet of climbing, and even a trip down Tumbleweed Hill hitting 50 mph. I was riding over unfamiliar terrain, which can be a bit surprising ("oh look, another hill"), but the view was gorgeous. By the end of the route, though, the hills were getting a bit tiresome, and I was nearing the end of my energy level. It turned out to be just the right challenge for the day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Last week while I was away at Youth Conference Jonathan took his first steps. He has continued to practice though. If someone is sitting close to the couch, he will try to walk back and forth between the too, without any coaxing. Today, he took two steps and rather than falling he stopped and looked around and then decided to sit down. I am so amazed. So, at almost 10 months my baby is walking. Only time will tell how long it will take him to really take off. Watch out world.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Heather's Highlights

Fjords from Oslo to Bergen

I knew that I would have to write about this trip so I have thought and thought about how to word the play by play. Finally, I came to the realization that a play by play would be a little to much and no fun for any one. So, I have thought about it and come up with a few of my favorites and a little general information about our trip. If you really want the play by play call, send and email or comment and I'll be in touch.

Hyrum and I just got back from a 10 day, whirlwind trip to Scandinavia. We spent the first day in Stockholm than cruised over to Helsinki the next night and back to Stockholm the next. Then we took an overnight train to Copenhagen and spent one night there. Then we took the train to Oslo, Norway, sent a night there then caught another train across Norway to Bergen. We spent two nights in Bergen then back to Oslo for two more night there and back home.

We were kidless thanks to Hyrum's mom. It happened due to a conference for Hyrum and some other good things that made it the perfect time to go. Our kids still haven't recovered but, we had a good time.
On to the highlights . . .

The first thing of note is that I was grateful that even though I had two delayed flights, which led to my missing a connection I arrived in Stockholm only 4 hours late.

Stockholm was my favorite city. I never felt like I was in a crazy shopping area and I felt like a part of Stockholm especially on Saturday which happened to be Sweden's National Day. We felt like one of the people with a Swedish flag in our bag and walking around the city. Not to mention seeing the crazy football (soccer) fans ready for the Sweden/Denmark game. It was a big deal.

We enjoyed dinner that first night at the Taste of Stockholm food festival. We didn't get anything too out of the ordinary but we did have what seems to be a national dish, Kotbullar or Swedish meatballs. We love them. It wasn't the last time we enjoyed them this trip either.

We had some lovely strawberries and cherries in a beautiful park in Helsinki. We took an overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsink and back again. There is a little stretch where there is just ocean and the sunsets were beautiful, and they took forever. On average we only enjoyed about 4 hours of night every night. I kept waking up at 4 am.

I really enjoyed the Stockholm City Hall. The City Hall was so interesting because of the deep thought and symbology that went into making it. This is where the Nobel Prize Banquet is held every year. The Royal Palace with it's changing of the guard ceremony was fun too. The ruins of the old Tre Kronor Castle was really interesting.

The best place in Stockholm though was the Vasa Museum. The ship was enormous and was sunk 20 minutes into it's maiden voyage by a little gust of wind. It lay in the harbor in Stockholm for over 300 years and finally someone found it and brought her up over almost 20 years of slowly bring her up in almost one piece. It was so informative and there was enough information but not too much. It was great. The ship was amazing too.

Next we visited Copenhagen, Denmark. It wasn't my favorite place but we've decided it needs another chance, some day. Here we overloaded on musuems. My favorite though was the Thorvaldsen Musuem. He was the sculpter who made the Christus statue. We saw the original in the church in Copenhagen flanked by twelve apostles. That was cool. His sculptures are amazing. I kept expecting them to breathe.

After Copenhagen we made our way to Oslo, Norway. We stopped at the beautiful Frederickburg Slot (Castle). It is the Danish version of Versailles. Here we saw the original Karl Bloch paintings. The LDS Church uses several of these to depict scenes from Christ's life. Before crossing back into Sweden we saw "Hamlet's Castle" from our ferry.

We stopped in Oslo over night and then took another series of trains, boats, and buses to Bergen, Norway and the fjords. The fjords were beautiful and on the train I saw my first real snow in 3 years. It was lovely. It was a beautiful trip with lots of snow, greenery and waterfalls.

Bergen was really a great city. We didn't have a lot of specific things we wanted to see so we got to relax a little bit. We learn about the people that lived there and saw a church that has been around since at least 1280 and probably much longer than that. The houses from the people that lived there several hundred years ago are still there as well as an old ceremonial hall from medieval times.

These places were amazing in so many ways. One of the greatest is that they are so seeped in history. These people and cities have seen so much history and recorded it. As nations these countries are so old compared with the US. For the thinking this trip provided and the education alone it was so worth while. We had a wonderful time but we were also glad to get home to Hannah and Jonathan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back home

Just a brief update: Heather and I made is back home without incident, and are pretty much adjusted back to the right timezone. For interested readers, I'll post a full report of our escapades in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Scandanavia Day 2: Wandering around Skövde

Today, I didn't have anything to be at until 4pm, and having slept off my jet lag (but not my cold), I arose early got some of the excellent breakfast buffet, and headed down to explore the town of Skövde. The conference hotel is perched atop a local hill, Billingen, and gave an excellent location to survey the surroundings. Today dawned sunny (at 2:30 in the morning!), and my cold was starting to abate, so I decide to make an adventure of it.

Not in Kansas anymore

I made my way down through the forest on the hill beneath the hotel. The woods are part of a nature preserve and had plenty of well worn trails through them. It wasn't very long, but I enjoyed wandering through the forest and seeing the rhododendrons in full bloom. Before long, I emerged in the town, found the local tourist information office, and got a few suggestions of museums and other places to see. Most of them were closed, so I spent the morning just wandering through the town, observing the people.

The road less traveled

I noticed a few interesting things. First, even though the weather was mostly cloudy, windy, and a bit cold, people were out and enjoying their day. Older people were walking to market and home, and there were bikes everywhere. I was impressed by the infrastructure provided for those that chose to pedal their way around. In contrast to Texas, there weren't any SUVs or pickup trucks, but almost everyone who was driving seemed to be in a compact station wagon kind of car. But many preferred to walk.

I got lunch at a local cafe, which was serving (of all things) Tex-Mex that day. I was again impressed that a good buffet meal could be had for only 80 crowns, around $10. After lunch, I visited the local Kulturhus which wasn't incredibly impressive, but did have some interesting art. I saw the church, and then wandered up north of town to visit the city museum. Although almost everybody I met spoke English, Skövde is small enough that none of the signs had English translations. I enjoyed wandering through the museum, but it didn't really have much significance as I couldn't read any of the explanatory material.

After an enjoyable walk back up the hill to the hotel, I rested for a few minutes before attending a conference keynote, and eventually presenting my poster during the poster session. It was a good experience, and I was able to get some more feedback from people interested in my release engineering work, and encouraging sign. The conference dinner was quite good, and I've spent this evening watching the BBC, and doing some work. Tomorrow, the play stops as the conference starts in earnest.

Skövde, as seen from Billingen

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Scandanavia Day 1: Flying into Stockholm

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Yesterday morning, I set off on my trip to Skövde, Sweden. I was headed there for an other conference, this one an academic conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2009). In addition to going to the conference, it's an opportunity to visit with some other collaborators, and get to see a part of the world I've never been to. Getting to the conference turned out to be quite the great affair, as is any trip to another continent.

Heather and I left Austin on Sunday afternoon, driving up to Allen to visit my folks. My flight was out of the DFW airport, and Hannah and Jonathan would be staying with their grandparents after Heather comes and joins me, so we decided to use their home as our base camp for the trip. In driving to the airport, we hadn't even made it to the highway before being rearended. The car was drivable, though, so we continued on to the airport, but were both a little shaken for the event.

The first flight was uneventful, and I had a couple of hours to kill in Newark Liberty. My overseas flight began well, with an amazing view during initial climb passing directly over Manhattan. The picture really doesn't do the view justice, but I was glued to the window for some time. After we moved over clouds, I spent some time working and watching the movie/TV thingamajig at my seat. I didn't get much sleep, but I never do on airplanes.

Upon arrival, I made a quick jaunt through customs, and then took the Arlanda Express train to the Stockholm Central station. It was a little pricey, but a very quick way to get into town. From Stockholm Central, I easily found my train and settled in for a jaunt to Örebro. By this point, I was pretty tired, and had to try and stay awake, just so I wouldn't miss my stop. Since I had all day to kill before arriving in Skövde, I decided to take in the castle and town of Örebro.

I managed to fine the town okay, but it was raining and cold, and I felt a pretty sizable cold coming on. Still, I hadn't yet eaten, so I threw my luggage in a locker and wandered in to town to take a look at the castle and grab a bite to eat. I eventually found the park with the castle in it, and took a walk along the river, all the while dodging drizzle and people on their bikes. I got some food at a local cafe, and had an interesting conversation with a man from the town.

I was planning on spending several hours in Örebro, but after walking the town, suffering through a cough and sore throat in the pouring cold rain, I decided I'd had enough, and made it back to the train station in time to catch the next train to Skövde. I checked into my room, and have spent the rest of the time decifering Swedish TV and trying to get the wireless network to function. My throat is still sore, and I've got a headache, but I've arrived at my destination (at least for a few days).

An observations: Coming to a "foreign" country is always an interesting experience. The language is different, the customs are different, even the food is different, but people are still people, with common challenges and triumphs. As we were flying in to the airport, I couldn't help but imagine what the people in each of the farms or cars was doing or thinking, and I suppose it's very similar to what I would have been doing on a Tuesday morning. I'm thankful for this perspective that travel gives me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hair and More

A few people have commented on Jonathan's hair color and so I thought I would reveal the news. I think I've waited so long because I was really hoping for another redhead. My dream, as strange as it is, is to have a row of redheads. It was always so fun to go places with all my siblings and the first thing people would say to my mom is, "Are all these kids yours?" Mom's response was generally along the lines of, "Yes, all the redheads." It was fun.

So I wanted it too. The sad news though is that as of today, Jonathan has blonde hair. Yes, it could change tomorrow, but today it's blonde. My youngest brother had blondish hair that reddened as he got older so I will keep my fingers crossed.

Jonathan is a crazy kid though. He is trying to walk with all his might. He is constantly pulling himself upright and trying to take steps or practicing standing up all by himself. I can't take it. I don't want him walking yet. He's not 9 months old yet. He loves to do it though. We can hold his hands and get him to take a few steps and he just laughs and laughs. he thinks it is the greatest thing ever. What am I going to do? My little boy is growing up.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Final thoughts on ICSE and Vancouver

The past week was very busy, but very good. For me, the biggest benefit of going to conferences like ICSE is the chance to meet with other researchers. I got to see some old friends, make some new ones, and get some great ideas for future research directions. Even though the conference is long and takes a lot of energy, I come away excited about my research. Let's hope I can keep up that excitement.

It was also enlightening going to Canada for the first time. In the past, I'd often heard the joke about Canada being the 51st state, but I don't think that sentiment is justified. Even though there are many similarities to the United States, such as language and customs, I saw a country which attempts, and in large measure succeeds, to maintain a separate cultural identity. In the end, though, I'm always glad to get through customs and back on US soil (though in this case, it actually happened before getting on the plane in Vancouver).

Vancouver is also a neat city. I was surprised by the heavy Asian population I encountered, though not put off by it. The city is gearing up for next year's winter Olympics, so everything seems like it's under construction. I found the public transportation accessible and using it intuitive, all while seeing sites like Stanley Park and Capilano canyon. The weather turned out nice, which made the trip even more pleasant.

It's now time to turn toward ICSE 2010. Although I don't plan on having a paper in the main research track, I still want to go and be involved, probably through participation in a workshop, or maybe the MSR conference. The fact that it's in Cape Town, South Africa doesn't hurt my motivation any, either.

On the seawall, with Stanley Park on the left, and downtown Vancouver on the right

Friday, May 22, 2009

Scrammbled Eggs and a Fish Out of Water

That title begs the question, "What?", but I promise to enlighten. Jonathan loves to see what is behind all of our doors: cupboard doors, closet doors, bedroom doors, refrigerator door and so on. He has recently started charging into the fridge whenever it's open in an effort to get his little hands on the first thing available.

Today was no exception. I was getting milk, eggs and butter out to make some muffins for dinner. I had butter and milk in one hand and an egg in the other. He hustled right in the fridge and without thinking I grabbed his arm to pull him out. Well it is a little hard to grab a kid with a milk jug in your hand, so naturally, I grabbed him with the hand holding the egg. Well though egg shells are strong they are not that strong and Jonathan was covered in egg whites. By the time I put everything else down my floor was covered with them too as Jonathan went crawling around trying to find the next door to open.

Well I put Jonathan in the high chair and cleaned up the floor then whisked him into the bathroom for a quick bath. This kid loves water. He has no fear. For the five minutes he was in the tub he would not sit still. He seriously reminded me of a fish out of water. He was flipping, flopping and wiggling like a nice rainbow trout. Hannah and I were cracking up and he was having the time of his life. Guess I should bathe him more often. What a kid.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Temperate Rainforest

Here's a report from my first couple of days in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the 31st International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 31).

Downtown Vancouver from the Granville Bridge

On Monday, I gave a paper to the open source software workshop. It generated some good discussion, and I found some new ideas for the further direction of my work. I also got to meet some people who are also doing research in the field, and hopefully this will continue at the OSS conference next month. It was a long day, though, and I was a glad for a break the next day.

Tuesday, I didn't have anything planned for the conference, so Justin Erenkrantz, Dave Woollard and I set out to explore Vancouver and its surroundings. Our first stop was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge 450 feet over Capilano canyon north of Vancouver. The bridge actually had quite a bit of movement as people walked across it, both up-and-down and side-to-side. After getting off the bridge, it actually felt like the solid ground was swaying. The same park had a boardwalk along the side of the canyon, and one from tree-to-tree, all through an amazing temperate rainforest.

Our next stop was Granville Island, a touristy area with shops and restaurants. It was fun as those type of things go, but I usually prefer museums, outdoors sights and doing things, rather than just spending money. (Although the $3 CAD dropped in the local arcade were well worth it.)

After walking past the Orpheum Theatre, I left Justin and Dave and continued my week-long adventure on Vancouver public transit to make my way down to the campus of the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Anthropology. Like most of Vancouver, the muesum was under construction, preparing for the upcoming winter olymipcs, so the range of exhibits was rather limited. However, I did get a chance to see some good First Nations artifacts and an exhibit on European ceramics.

All-in-all, it was a good day, a nice preparation for Heather and I's tour of Scandanavia next month.