A New Year Begins

It has been a bit since I last wrote anything here, I realize, but I will try to get caught up on a variety of fronts with sort of a catch-all post here…

Christmas and Li

Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)
Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)

We survived Christmas, with the combination of the holidays and an extended break from work (for me) and school (for Ian) being something of a mixed bag. My workplace shuts down (officially) between Christmas and New Year’s Day for a holiday curtailment, so I took all of the week ahead of Christmas (mostly) off as I had some banked comp hours I needed to use ahead of the end of the year (or lose them) and I’m taking a couple more days after New Year’s, as well, which will stretch my holiday break to almost three weeks. Ian has had the past week and a half off from school, too, so we’ve all been home together for the first time in a long time — which has been wonderful.

Li was definitely “in” to Christmas this year, and loved having three Christmases: ours as a family on Christmas Day, followed by two more as both sets of grandparents came to stay with us for a couple days each. We had decided, after traveling with her for Ian’s state soccer tournament in October, that travel just wasn’t in the cards for us at this point and in retrospect staying home with her (and having visitors here) was the right move.

We tried to keep as much of a routine through the holidays for Li as possible, but we still ended up with some sleep struggles beginning the Friday before Christmas. Lots of rest-less nights, particularly ahead of Christmas itself, and several days with no naps… which were trying and exhausting for all of us to varying degrees. Just in the past couple of days, it seems — based on sleep patterns — that she is working her way out this latest cycle.

Li participating in her first Christmas program at church
Li "participating" in her first Christmas program at church (12/2009)

Aside from the sleep problems, Li is doing great. She continues to grow and develop in leaps and bounds. When it comes to food, her palette is continuing to expand (her new favorite is “pork chop” — pork tenderloin, in actuality, which she tried for Christmas dinner when I grilled a couple) and she’s more willing to try new things. She “participated” in her first Christmas program at church this year, where “participated” would be defined as learning “Away in a Manger” and then standing stoically at the front of the sanctuary with the other kids while they sang. It’s about what we had expected; when we asked if she was going to sing, she responded “No, I already sang that song.” She’s close to reading at this point, and her sense of humor is pretty amazing for a not-yet three year old. We took her sledding for the first time yesterday and she loved it, even being willing to go down the hill by herself.

Deb and Ian

Ian and his adoring little sister
Ian and his adoring little sister, both in tye-die splendor (12/2009)

Ian has a bad case of “end of break blues” right now, but other than that is doing well. He found out in early December that he and a couple of other interns from his summer job won the high school division of ¬†an international digital forensics competition sponsored by the DoD and will be traveling to St. Louis for a related conference in late January (we’re still trying to figure out how this will work). He’s in the midst of the college application process (continually being prodded slowly forward by Deb) but hasn’t yet decided where he will attend. He’s squeezing in a bit of soccer (indoor) when he can and generally suffering through his senior year of high school.

Deb also has been playing a bit of soccer (also indoor), playing in a women’s league and on a team that competed in a Christmas break tournament which was definitely a change of pace for all of us. The highlight of their tournament was playing the eventual tournament winners 3-2 (Deb’s team lost) with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of the match; not bad for a team with 3 players over 50 against a bunch of college-aged players. She has also been attending a weekly Bible study (one that provides childcare for Li during the class), which is a good change of pace for her in a couple of ways.

A Bit of Reading

Over the break, I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading, too. I finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (a gift from Santa’s bibliophilic elf — a tradition at our house) and “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, sandwiched around a bit fluff (“Thunderhead” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child). To Thunderhead’s fluff, “The Road” is flint: beautifully and sparely written, gripping, haunting, disturbing. It’s a movie I won’t see; the book is extraordinary and more troubling than anything I’ve read in a while. It’s the first of his works that I have read, but almost certainly will not be the last. “Into Thin Air” was a gift from Ian; engaging, fairly well-written, tragic.

Some Geek Stuff

I’m in the middle of a couple of projects on the geek front these days, too, in the odd moments of spare time I can squeeze out: working on getting a lightweight CFML and database server environment up and running on my netbook (based on Railo and Apache Derby, respectively) and also working on a CFML mode for ActiveState’s excellent Komodo editor. I will write a bit more on both of those at some point in the near future. I also did a bit of troubleshooting on another project (a cross-platform editor called “redcar” intended to be semi-compatible with TextMate but capable of running on Mac, Linux, and that other OS) and got to play a bit with Ruby in the process.

Those of you with reasonably modern semi-standards-compliant browsers (read: not MSIE) will notice a bit of geekery in the handling of the pix on this particular post. I’ve tweaked the styling for my blog here based on some CSS stuff I was playing with ahead of Christmas. Those of you still clinging to MSIE should consider an alternative…

Halloween Pix

The world's cutest lady bug (11/2009)
The world's cutest lady bug (Oct 2009)

As promised, a couple of pictures from Halloween this year. The first is, as you can clearly see, the world’s cutest lady bug! (Or “leggy bug”, somewhat ironically, in Li-speak.) She was really excited about her costume — including the hat with the little antennae — which is always a question, but made it really easy to get her ready to go visit a few of the neighbors’ houses. There were a couple of houses with scary music or where the people answering the door were dressed in scary costumes that threw her off a little bit, but for the most part she did great. We’d been working on getting her to say the “trick or treat!” part of it (“No, you say it, Daddy!”) and after the first house, where she would only whisper it, she got the hang of it…

A couple of hippies that showed up and agreed to cover door-duty on Halloween
A couple of hippies that showed up and agreed to cover door-duty on Halloween (Oct 2009)

We also recently found the hippie on the left living in our basement. He and his friend Fi agreed to cover front-door duty for trick-or-treaters, including serenading them accompanied by guitar, as we took the little lady bug on her neighborhood rounds, which worked out well…

Chicago: Home again

I made it home last night with little trouble, although it was close at one point.

We wrapped up the conference yesterday at mid-day. My last presentation went well, and then we bailed, heading for the airport early figuring the sooner we got to O’Hare, the better. We got stuck in traffic just at the entrance to the airport; there was something going on at one of the terminals — we never did hear what, although at one point we heard something on the shuttle driver’s radio that they had the terminal completely closed. After sitting literally motionless for close to an hour in traffic — and thinking how glad we were we had decided to leave early, and watching people walk with their luggage past the stopped traffic as they took matters into their own hands, presumably with the intent of making flights — traffic began creeping forward and eventually loosened up so that we made it to the right terminal in plenty of time. Got a bite to eat, took a nap, and boarded for SLC pretty close to on-time… only to get stuck in pretty much another traffic jam. At one point the pilot indicated we were number 20 in line for take off (weather off to one side of the airport had the place down to a single runway for departures).

We ended up leaving Chicago more than an hour after our scheduled departure, and were faced with a 100+ knot headwind (more info from our ever-helpful crew on the flight deck). I figured that our already relatively tight connection in SLC was history… and it nearly was. We came in on the far end of one concourse and had to get to the other end of another; by the time we got to our gate, they had already closed the door. We were pleasantly surprised, though, that they called down to the ramp, held the plane and sent us dashing through… and somehow they got our bags on board.

Home again, safe and sound. And it feels good to be back. Deb, Li, and Ian were glad to see me. Li was pretty excited to see me this morning when she woke up, and it was fun to get to snuggle a little with her this morning. I went in to work for a couple hours to take care of a couple loose ends, and now I’m off for a couple days of vacation (not counting the weekend) to try to refuel and reconnect with life. I came home to something unexpected: we bought a white 1986 manual Subaru GL wagon for Ian to use. One more step as he grows up; this one feels bigger than most.

I’ve got a couple pix on my phone that I will pull down and post from one of my early morning runs out to Navy Pier.

Long Weekend

Long weekend at the end of a long week…

I’m headed to Chicago later today with several members of my team from work for an annual federal conference. We’ve got several sessions we are presenting and/or participating in, including one where we are demonstrating a new tool we are building. I commented to a friend Friday evening that if this — the upcoming demo — were a home show, we were still at the stage where we were pouring footings for a couple of the new rooms. I’ve spent most of the past couple days framing in the walls, hanging sheetrock (and in some cases, hanging siding directly on the studs), etc. There are a couple of places where we’ve just hung posters over holes in walls, and some of the electrical outlets and light switches don’t actually have wiring running to them. But having said that, we’ve gotten quite a bit done.

I can’t say I’m really all that excited about going to Chicago, particularly at this time of year. I spent a week there several years ago for a soccer coaching license course and it was miserably hot and humid. I’ve also gotten stuck in the airport and/or missed connections there most of the times we’ve been force to fly through O’Hare… we’ll see.

Some random bits from life:

  • Deb, Ian, and Li drove over to Boise to see Deb’s family for a couple days, which made for a (wierdly) quiet weekend. I gotten lots done, but miss them desperately and having them gone for the past couple of days will make the trip to Chicago seem even longer.
  • Li is going through one of those huge leaps on the language front. Just within the past couple weeks, her language patterns are changing: stringing more and more words together, and everything is so much clearer. Counting to 20, naming body parts (“arm pits”, “eye brows”, “forehead”), helping with everything (“Li help Daddy make coffee?” — I think if she could reach stuff, she’d probably do it herself although she still a little leery of the coffee grinder at first).
  • Earlier this week, Ian and I went to Pocatello for a concert. The headliner was Kutless. Incredible show; we’ve long been fans of their music and their ministry and to see them live was very cool. It was a welcome change of pace from lots of work. If you get a chance to see them, by all means do. At the concert, one of the promoters mentioned that another band we love — the David Crowder Band — is coming to this area later this year; that will be another show we definitely want to hit.
  • I’ve been working on Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon” these past couple of weeks (I gave up on his “Baroque Cycle” after a couple hundred pages of the first volume of three; just couldn’t get in to it) when I have the odd minute or two to read. 900+ pages that wander between thriller, math and theory of crypto, comedy, sarcasm, and weird/silly. The shifts in tone are almost schizo at times, but I’ll probably try to finish it. Parts of it have been laugh-out-loud funny… and I need that.
  • Summer is getting close to the point where it will start winding down for us; soccer tryouts at the high school level for Ian (his senior year!) and at the junior high where I will be coaching at least one more season begin just ahead of the middle of August.