Sunday, December 30, 2012

Catching Up Before the New Year

So, I've been meaning to write on the blog now, for... oh, I don't know... two month's now?  We've had a lot of exciting developments since our adventures in California.  Let's start at Thanksgiving, shall we?

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the very first time ever in our married lives.  I'd have to say that things went rather well!  Don't believe me?  Well, I think Mr. Golden Brown Turkey has something to say about that!

Plump.  Delicious.  Perfectly-cooked turkey.  Nevermind the fact that our thermometer didn't quite give us an accurate depiction of doneness for our bird.  No, no.  Instinct created this marvel of holiday icon-ery.  Did I mention that we brined it?  Oh yes we did!  Nevermind the fact we almost forgot (until the morning of, that is) that we had no serving platter ready for when this beautiful bird came out of the oven.  No, no.  We had a flawless Thanksgiving experience.  Really.

Joking aside, things did actually go quite well.  We had my brother and his wife and a few of his in-laws (of whom I am quite well acquainted) over for the meal.

It was really enjoyable.  We made punch.

Enjoyed a load of delicious sides (not pictured).  And settled in for a day of watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Dog Show (a family tradition we seem to have acquired) intermixed with some playing of games and picture-taking.  It's great to have the holidays with friends and family! :)

In other news (and before we get to the current holiday times), I've decided that it would be a good idea for me to start a website.

I've wanted a creative outlet for my hobbies lately, and a website seemed like a great place to start.  What better way to mix computer programming, graphic design, writing, video-editing, etc. into one place?  There is none, I say!  The website focuses around a video game I decided to Kickstart a little while ago.  The game, called SolForge, is a digital Trading Card Game akin to that which I've played frequently in the past (ie. Magic the Gathering, Legend of the Five Rings, etc.).  It's a lot of fun to play, and I think it's really going to take off once it's officially released.  Beyond a simple tutorial-style version.   I have a lot of high hopes for the website, if for no other reason than I get to brush up on some old skills and try out some new ones in the process.  Should be fun!

Back to the present, now.  Chirstmas has been a fun holiday for us.  Lovetta's family is all in town and we've been spending a lot of our time at her parents' house.  Probably one of the more interesting things was when we took an underwater camera with us to an indoor pool.  Check this out!

I just love how some of these turned out without the aid of a program like Photoshop.  Not all of them were this spectacular, but there certainly were enough of them that it was time well-spent.

We had a great Christmas day, and aside from the fact that I've had to work most of this holiday season, we've had a great holiday overall.  We're looking forward to the New Year (which is much more significant, because it's Lovetta's birthday).  We're pretty hopeful for what's to come and we hope to share more of it with you as it arrives :)  Happy holidays everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Break

I'd like to add my response to Tom's previous post by pointing out that you (our friends and family) are not entirely helpless.  I believe that your prayers are helpful to us, and we need people to hang out with us and keep us from being reclusive.

We were lucky enough to visit our good friends Rob and Lisa in California for Fall Break a few weeks ago.  I used the airplane barf bag for the first time.  It was not as bad as it could've been.  The lady sitting across the isle from me even told me I was the best barfer she'd ever seen.  What an accomplishment. 
In happier circumstances, we went to the beach.

We went to the Getty Museum.  I got to see some original famous paintings.  It was so awesome it gave me goosebumps!  We went on a guided tour and walked around for hours.  The museum lets you take photos in most places, so here they are.  We never end up with as many pictures as I think we should have.

We also went to Pink's hot dog stand.  Never before have I had valet parking at a hot dot stand.

We spent some time with my sister as she prepared for her big international trip, and we spent some time chilling in the hotel and some time in the hot tub.  Overall, it was a nice fall break.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sad news, everyone!

So, how to summarize the last two months?  Is it really worth it to go through it all?  Can I even remember everything?  Probably not.  We've had a rollercoaster of a time.  Lots of resolutions and decisions, all pretty much shattered by a singular event.

Lovetta and I went to the doctor's office about two weeks ago because we were pregnant with our second child.  We had been trying to get pregnant for about seven months before we finally got a positive pregnancy test.  We opted to tell no one about it until we'd been to the doctor to find out if everything was OK (with a singular, unusual exception that I can tell you about sometime if you really want to know).  Well, we went in for the ultrasound, and ironically talked to the technician about our prior experience and our hope that everything would turn out fine.  It seems that it's not.  Once again, the technician found (and the doctor confirmed) a case of hydrops in our baby.  It's the same thing Max had.  We have no other details beyond this, not even the sex of the child (likely due to the fact that we were about 10.5 weeks along at the time of the ultrasound).  We don't know if this baby will have the same heart problems that Max had.  We do know that fatality is highly probable.  We go back for another checkup in a few days.

It's been hard news for us to take, though in some ways cushioned by the fact that it's happened once before.  We talked about trials at church today, and this one appears to be ours again.  It's hard not to feel like you've done something wrong, even if your doctor, your family, and your religious leaders try to tell you otherwise.  It's hard not to say, "Why me? Why again?"  I know we'll be able to get past this; we did once before.  It just doesn't make it any less sucky to go through.  The doctor said that this pregnancy could terminate at any moment.  They said the same about Max, but at least he got to term (sort of) and we were able to hold him and love him before he passed on.  We don't know if we'll be that lucky this time.

The whole situation has really left us bummed out.  The doctor explained to us that Lovetta and I must have a recessive gene thing between each of us that's pairing up somewhere between 25-99% of the time we try have a child.  When it does, it will pretty much end up this way every time.  Sobering news, and it comes with a lot of unnecessary guilt attached.  What do you do with your life when you spend so much time gearing towards having children and then find out that you're quite a bit defective at it?  Bleh.

That's it for now, I think.  I'll bore you with my adventures in fiction writing and iTunes U some other time, perhaps.  I just thought I should pass this word along in a way that doesn't necessarily require any kind of action or response from anyone that reads this.  I hate giving people bad news, but what's worse than that is getting the condolences.  There's nothing worse, really, than watching someone who really, truly cares about you want to give you help but they don't know how and neither do you.  All that helplessness going around, just makes it even more sad :(

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Arches National Park: The Heart of the Desert

"Refilling a reusable bottle at a faucet in [Arches National Park] does more than conserve fuel, water, and landfill space.  When you drink park water, a drop of the desert becomes a part of you.  It is a way to take Arches National Park home with you, along with memories of your visit, a little sand in your shoes, and photographs of unique and dramatic landscapes.  Responsibly sharing water with the juniper, yucca, pothole creatures, bighorn sheep, and countless future visitors is par of the experience at Arches.  So fill your cup, say a word of thanks, and enjoy a refreshing gulp of the heart of the desert."  By Karen Henker

Getting ready to hike to Delicate Arch.  It's early in the morning and already 95 degrees outside.

Skyler climbed just about everything.  I like that the rock looks like a diamond.

Here we all are on the way to Delicate Arch.

The big rock looks like a dragon head.  It's eating Trezor, Katie is trying to rescue him, and Telisa and Tom are just running away.

We are standing in an arch, making an arch, in front of Delicate Arch. :)

North Window and South Window

Tom is the only thing keeping that Balancing Rock from falling.
Double Arch

I love the hair.

Turret Arch
The clouds are so awesome!  You just can't plan for shots like this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Student Work

Now that school has been over for a few weeks, I'm reflecting back on the past year with fondness.  It was a good year with so many sweet and smart students.  My first graders wrote me many wonderful and adorable notes and drew some awesome pictures throughout the year, but I can't save them all.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, are of some of my favorites. 

This is a picture of me and one of my students, painted by the student.  I love this because it was given to me on back-to-school night.  That means he was able to paint me before meeting me.  I love that.

This is a piece of a typical homework assignment.  The great part about it was that when this student turned it in, he pointed to that blue one on the end, and said, "That's the POWERFUL one, Teacher."

Translation:  Dear Mrs. Reyes-Cairo, 
 Thank you for the pumpkin.  It was too smooth.  Thank you for that pumpkin.

We went to Hee Haw Pumpkin Farm for one of our field trips.  This student got sick and couldn't come, so I brought her back a pumpkin.  She really appreciated it.  I love my glasses and long ponytail in the picture.  Very accurate at that time.

Some of my favorite notes.  Isn't that an adorable unicorn family?  And this unicorn is fabulous.

I love my students so much to 100 to 200 and 432100 right back.

I love my blue hair in this note.

Being picky is a good thing.  And look at that handwriting!  Pretty good, right?  My students were such great writers by the end of the year last year.  I can only hope they keep reading and writing over the summer.  I love first graders.  It's great to be a teacher.

Right now I'm attending some teacher training for math, and it has been a good reminder of what I learned in college. If you're into math at all, here is an interesting problem for you to solve.  "According to one study on 6 out of 85 preservice teachers at the elementary school level solved this problem." Says Kristie J Newton, author of Mathematics Teaching in Middle School, 2010.  But, don't be intimidated.  She goes on to explain how surprising that was because the concepts addressed are really very simple and there are multiple ways to find the correct answer.  OK... Here is the problem:

Jenny was mixing herself a glass of chocolate milk (Which by the way she enjoys a strong “chocolaty” taste.) when her friend Kevin remarked,
“You certainly have enough chocolate syrup in the glass.” Kevin of course was looking for a glass of his own, so he could make some chocolate milk.
         Jenny responded to Kevin, “I only have a third of my glass filled with chocolate syrup.”
By this time Kevin had found a glass, that was twice the size of Jenny’s, and he said, “Well I am only going to fill mine one-forth of the way with syrup.”
“But Kevin, your glass holds twice as much!”
         Kevin, knowing that Jenny really liked “chocolaty” tasting milk said, “Jenny, tell you what, lets combine our drinks into a larger pitcher, and then split the whole amount.”

Your Task:
         Determine the amount of chocolate syrup in the combined larger mixture. Will the new mixture be more “chocolaty” or less “chocolaty” tasting than Jenny’s original glass of chocolate milk?

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?