A Few Odd Bits

A few odd bits, given that I seem to lack the time to post much more than that, these days…

  • Looking over the blog traffic for September, half the traffic was for the TiddlyWiki I set up for the junior high soccer teams for this fall season. Not surprising, given the absence of much of anything else new on the site these days. Overall, traffic was about even with August.
  • We’re officially out of summer; more to come on that, I think.
  • Been doing a bit of reading, but unfortunately most of it has been on the technical side. I’ll post more there, too, perhaps. The highlight, however, has been “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini: haunting, gripping, beautiful, and heartbreaking at times.
  • Been looking a bit at OpenID, both from a work perspective and for use here. I’ve got a bit of cleanup to do here, as well, given a couple of updates to WordPress and plugins.

It’s a process…

We keep reminding ourselves — sometimes more effectively than others — that our adoption journey with Li is a process rather than an event.

Surrounded by booksIt has been quite a while — too long, probably — since I posted anything of any significance on Li. She’s doing really well, for the most part, and she continues to amaze us each day, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large ways. Physically, she’s healthy, she’s eating well, she’s growing, and she’s continuing to blossom. She loves books — can’t seem to get enough of them, in fact — and will sit in her room or in the living room and “read” them to herself.

There are still some areas, though, that seem to be roller-coaster rides for all of us: sleep is one (and it is a big one, because if she doesn’t sleep well, at least two others of us also don’t sleep well) and dealing with situations where she doesn’t get exactly what she wants is another. She hasn’t slept well the past couple weeks, either at night or during the day in the form of naps, and that has made for some very trying days (and some very exhausted parents, at times). In addition, there have been some days where every little thing has resulted in a temper tantrum (either grande or petite, depending on how tired she is and… oh, how we wish we knew what it depended on).

Both of those — sleep and behavior — are the two areas where, given that we are working with a little girl who has 14 months of pre-history to which we are not privy, this is a very different journey than we’ve had with Ian and where we do have to keep reminding ourselves that this stuff isn’t going to just work itself out overnight or even over the course of a week or two…

The other thing that factors in to some of this, too, seems to be that she is still getting used to me being gone all day during week. Where I was home from work for a full two-plus weeks after we got back from China, and then was only working part-time for the next two weeks after that, my going back to work on a full-time basis has been pretty hard on her.

It has been a full month or so for all of us. The soccer season reached its conclusion over Memorial Day weekend with a tournament down in Utah, preceded the weekend before with the President’s Cup tournament over in Twin Falls. The trip to Twin was Li’s first road trip, and we really weren’t sure what to expect. She travelled OK for the most part, and actually slept fairly well both nights in the motel. Utah was a little different story — she travelled fairly well, but really didn’t sleep all that well.

(Our team played well in both tournaments, and squeezed a great game against our primary local rival in between the tournaments, but that’s fodder for a separate post, I think.)

Our little gardener working in strawberry patchWhile in the Salt Lake area, we squeezed in a trip to the Hogle Zoo with Li on an off-day during the tournament. She liked the elephants and giraffes the best, with some of the monkeys a close second. Some of that seemed to be because those exhibits were the easiest for her to see from her stroller; she was in one of those moods where getting her into (or back into) the stroller was pretty trying, so we did quite a bit of drive-by viewing of the animals. It seemed to us, too, though that many of the fences around the exhibits really didn’t lend themselves to stroller-level viewing, which seemed to factor into her experience.

Since getting back from Salt Lake City, Li and Deb have spent a fair amount of time outside, getting out to work in the garden off and on, with a big stretch there this past Saturday. The weather has been a bit cooler than normal this spring, so Deb is just now getting stuff in the garden going. By all appearances, Deb may have a little gardener on her hands, as Li seems to love not just being outside but being in the dirt (Deb would call it soil) as seen here. She has her own little set of gardening tools and watering can, and really has no qualms about getting her hands dirty.

Deb and Li blowing bubblesOther highlights of the past few weeks, in no particular order:

  • Deb and Li blowing bubbles in the evening sun outside the hotel in Salt Lake City.
  • The skin condition I touched on in a previous post is finally clearing up. She has a couple spots (we call them Harold and Maude, because the first spot is called the “herald patch” and these two spots have been around long enough that we’re kind of on a first name basis). Harold is getting smaller and smaller each day, and we’ll be glad when he’s gone completely; Maude is close to fading into oblivion.
  • Li getting to see and feed the animals at our friends Tony and Kristi’s house (chickens, turkeys, lambs, sheep).
  • Li getting to see the animals at our friends the Beller’s (chickens, goats, horses).
  • The parents and families of our soccer team this year: they will likely never know how much of a blessing they have been for Deb and me in accepting and welcoming Li into like in Idaho Falls this past season.
  • The sheepish look on Li’s face in the bath tub Sunday evening when she got her face wet accidentally, along with the look of surprise and anguish a few minutes later when she did it again (except that the second time, she inhaled some bath water).
  • Reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle four straight times the first evening after our neighbor Chris gave it to Li; her love of books and curiosity about them just shows no signs of slowing.
  • Watching Li dance to Dave Matthews; we first saw signs of this when my friend Kathleen from work finally got to meet Li one evening a couple weeks ago when Kathleen was in Idaho Falls on a work trip.
  • Watching Li shovel Chinese noodles into her mouth with both hands as fast as she can; she does like her noodles.
  • Watching Li wake up on a Saturday morning, when we’ve tucked her into “the big bed” between us at 5am because we all need another couple hours of sleep, and she’s fallen back asleep until 7.

She’ll hit 17 months old here in a couple of days, and I still can’t believe it has been two months since we got home…

Springtime in Idaho

Springtime in IdahoTough day for daffodils…

I saw this in one of our flower beds this morning when I went out to get the newspaper. After spending a fair amount of time outside with my soccer team these past three weeks since getting back from China, I have a pretty good idea how this daffodil feels. (And it could be worse: for a change, when I took this picture, the winds were relatively calm — a welcome change from the 30+ mph we’ve had the past couple days.)

Looking Both Ways…

It’s the end of the year, and I’m sitting here thinking about this past year as well as looking toward the coming year and what lies ahead for us in 2008…

In retrospect, I wish I’d written more as this past year went by. (And that’s something that perhaps I can address as this next year passes.) Lots there to reflect on:

  • Work was way too busy, between new projects and what felt like a never-ceasing string of reorganizations. The most recent appears (finally) to have stuck and — as opposed to the others during the year — seems to bode well for my team, at least in terms of leadership for our organization. Time will tell.
  • On the geek front, Linux Mint 4 is now my distro of choice with Fedora 8 a close second. I’ve had some version of Mint running on my primary system at home now for almost a year and I don’t have any plans to change — which is the first time I’ve felt that way since switching to Linux. Deb is now using Linux almost exclusively, as well, so the stability of sticking with a single distro gets more important.
  • Soccer was kind of a mixed bag, based more on stuff off the field than on. Politics are never fun, and they surfaced in a most unpleasant and unexpected manner this past summer. That said, however, we had a good spring season on the competitive front, had a blast coaching the junior high team this fall, and Ian had a really good season with the IFHS JV team (and played enough with the varsity to earn his first letter).
  • We’re finally close to having the project of finishing several rooms in the basement finished, although it looks like that particular project won’t be wrapped up by the end of the year as we had hoped. But it’s close.
  • Our vacation — a week-long camping trip in central Idaho — was one of the highlights for me for this year. We spent a week there doing as close to nothing as possible. Sleeping late, hiking, mountain biking, and eating well from the Dutch oven. Deb was admittedly dubious about the idea of a whole week camping, but it was a wonderful week. I really needed the time away from pretty much everything.

Looking ahead, there are some big changes ahead…

  • The largest of the changes coming for us will be the addition of a little girl to our family. For almost three years, we’ve been in the process of adopting a girl from China. We started in February 2005, and got our paperwork into the mill just as the whole process ground to a glacial pace on the Chinese side of things. At this point, it looks like we should finally be matched with our girl in early January. That would most likely put us in China in late February or early March.
  • Spring soccer will be a little different for us (and Ian) this year, as we have primarily a new team to work with (after having basically the same core group of players together for the past five years). Our focus early will be primarily on getting the group to play together as a unit.
  • Work is likely to hold some changes and challenges for us, too. The workload and the reorganization will no doubt necessitate some tuning and reshaping of our team. We’ll end up updating our CF servers to run CF8 at some point early in the year, and jQuery is playing a bigger and bigger part in the client side of how we develop.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I am going to try to write more as we go through the year on both the geek side of life and on the personal front, too. There will be lots to share as we wrap up the adoption process and begin what will feel, at times, like a new life with a new child.

Fall Season Wrap-up

The fall soccer season is all wrapped up and over at this point, and I would have to consider it a success no matter how I measure it. Both our teams qualified for the post-season tournament, going in as the #3 seed on their respective sides of the tournament brackets. TV Fuego won their first round match 5-1 over #2 seed Madison Red and then lost in the tournament semi-finals 3-1 to Mountainview (who subsequently won the title with 6-1 win over Eagle Rock). That 3-1 loss was a significantly better showing than our early-season 8-1 loss to the same team. TV Azul lost in the first round of the tournament, losing on kicks to Eagle Rock after ending regulation tied 1-1. Taylorview was the only squad fielding two teams on either the boys or girls side to put both teams in the tournament.

In addition to qualifying for the tournament — and more important to me as a coach, though — we saw some significant growth in the play of the teams and from many of the players over the course of the season. Watching TV Fuego come together after a miserable 4-1 loss to rivals Gale that dropped us to 2-2, and then winning 3 straight to clinch a tournament berth was pretty cool. Our defense in particular just continued to improve each match.

All the gory details from the season are available on our team’s Web notebook. (And as has been the case each time I use it do put something like that together, I am just continually amazed by the power and flexibility of TiddlyWiki.)

A quick word of thanks to several people: to Mike for helping coach; to Dave for serving as team manager and for bringing your air tank to all the training sessions so that I didn’t have to pump up balls; to Meesha, Garry, Dave S., and Dave D. for helping with some of the training sessions;  to Jake for helping with goalkeeper training; to Lisa for helping with the team party at the end of the season; to Kris for taking pictures and putting together the photo DVD. Most importantly, thanks to the players for their hard work, their great attitudes, their sense of humor, and their love of the greatest game.

Now we turn our attention to tryouts for the spring season’s competitive teams, and then to indoor soccer over the winter. And best of all, now I get to go back to playing pickup matches in the park on Sunday afternoon with my soccer-loving friends…