Friday, September 29, 2006

Two weeks in Newfoundland

We just got back from our trip to Newfoundland, Canada, where we spent two weeks exploring the backroads and fishing villages of "the Rock" from St. John's to Corner Brook and back. Hallie will be writing a "best of" awards post, coming soon. Today we're feeling pretty jet-lagged, but because real life starts in earnest much sooner than later, I figured I'd reort on what we did. We left bright and early on Thursday the 14th from SLC, and rain delay in Newark had us missing our flight into St. John's that night. We managed to get rerouted into Halifax rather than spending 24 hours waiting for the next flight to St. John's out of Newark, but that meant we spent the night in Halifax Airport. Mike started getting sick, so it was pretty miserable. Thank goodness for Tim Hortons! We had a few timbits and some herb tea, then waited it out.

Flew into St. John's the following morning (Friday, 9/15) to find that our luggage did not make it with us. Fortunately, Mike had packed extra clothes in our carry-ons, but we had no toiletries due to stricter restrictions on liquid products. So, we tried to make the best of it by travelling around while we did our shopping. We went to Memorial University, Cape Spear, Petty Harbour, and down along Water Street before Mike finally started falling asleep in the car instead of giving Hallie directions. We stayed at Anna's House B&B, and Olga and Nick were quite helpful and kind enough to start us off with a few needed items.

On Saturday, 9/16, we continued exploring St. John's, going to the fishing village of Quidi Vidi and going inside what we later found out is thought to be the oldest still-standing house in the province (a lot of things lay claim to being the oldest this or that here). At lunchtime we went to Costco to stock up on foodstuffs we can only get in Canada. From there we went to Signal Hill before taking in Water Street one more time. We still had no luggage and no toiletries, so we went to a couple of stores and the Avalon Mall in the evening.

Now into day 4 without new clothes, we did laundry on Sunday, 9/17, before heading up along the portion of the Avalon Peninsula surrounded by Conception Bay and Trinity Bay (the Baccalieu Trail) before arriving in Dildo (No, this is not a typo. Yes, it is a town). We took in all the tiny towns along the way, even managing (by accident or coincidence) to drive by the hometown of Canadian Idol runner-up Craig Sharp, Upper Island Cove. Dildo was a charming little town, and Inn by the Bay had a nice set of adirondack chairs from which to watch the sunset. We also happened to watch the Canadian Idol final that night. Congrats, Eva Avila! We had expected the weather to be cooler than it turned out being (granted, the wind could be pretty wicked), but we experienced temps in the upper 50s to the lower 70s throughout the trip. Our bags finally caught up to us, thanks to the good folks at Air Canada. We appreciated their good work.

Monday, 9/18, found us leaving the Avalon Peninsula and following the west side of Trinity Bay on our way to the town of Trinity.

Picturesque Trinity, NL

House on the Nuddick, Trinity
Once we arrived in Trinity and checked in at the Eriksen Premises, we had lunch (our standard for the trip was peanut butter and honey sandwiches, bottled water, chips, and fruit bars (really good! and great for when you don't have access to a refrigerator) in a local park and checked email at the town library (also something we tried to do when we could). That afternoon we went up to the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and took in some of the stunning scenery.

We thought we would have a long travel day on Tuesday, 9/19, but it turned out that we covered a lot of road pretty quickly. We drove through Terra Nova National Park on our way to Lumsden, which we thought would be a needed stopping point on our way to Twillingate. While the actual towns of Lumsden and Musgrave Harbour were pretty sleepy, we had one of our best B&B experiences at Barbour's B&B. We spent the evening visiting with Patsy (the owner) and a couple from Belgium. Many of the other tourists we have met in our stays have been middle aged with children our age, which leads to interesting conversations about a wide range of topics. Fortunately, we have avoided the political and kept to those of more general interest.

On Wednesday, 9/20, we travelled to Twillingate, lunching outside Prime Berth, which bills itself as "Newfoundland's finest tourist destination." The museum was actually pretty interesting, and it included funky mannequins demonstrating fishing life. From Prime Berth, we drove to the town of Twillingate, where we checked email again before checking in at Captain's Legacy B&B. We went up to Crow Head and the Long Point Lighthouse before dining in town. Mike had fisherman's brewis (pronounced BREWS), which tasted a lot like fish stuffing. Other fishy fare Mike had during the trip (pan fried cod, mussels, halibut, Atlantic salmon) was quite good. Hallie, who doesn't like fish, had worse luck. We also walked through the Twillingate Museum and got a flavor for life in the area early in the 20th Century. Breakfast the following day was quite good, as was the conversation.

From Twillingate (which was worthy of at least one more day -- actually, at this point we could have done with taking a slower pace overall or staying at strategic places and taking branching day trips, easier to do on some parts of the island than others), we drove over to Hull's Riverview B&B outside of Springdale. Francis and Stella were quite friendly, and we were entertained in the morning by their cat Ginger's fascination with a rascally squirrel at the picture window.

We stayed Friday and Saturday the 21st and 22nd at Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park. While our B&B experience wasn't the greatest, the park was beautiful, and we experienced a fun pub show played by the Ocean View Motel's house band, Anchors Aweigh. We went up to the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and went moose tracking each night without success. We also found a wild patch of partridgeberries (AKA lingonberries) and drove around the park to both the natural wonders like Gros Morne ("big little mountain") and the Tablelands as well as the small towns that dot the coast.

On Sunday, 9/24, we got up bright and early (5:45 am) to go to church in Corner Brook. On the way out of the park, we finally found our moose – a bull, then a cow, then two cows. We had a little trouble finding the church building, but we did make it in time, and good thing to, because before coming up to Newfoundland, Hallie had organized a children’s book drive at home for the kids in the St. John’s and Corner Brook branches, and the Corner Brook branch president asked us to speak in sacrament meeting. Visiting with the good folks in Corner Brook branch was one of the highlights of the trip, so I’m glad we made it there. On our way out, we saw some really bright fall colors near Marble Mountain Ski Resort.

From Corner Brook, we started our drive back toward St. John’s, stopping at Hill Road Manor in Grand Falls-Windsor for the night. Beautiful big house, cozy bedroom, playful black lab, and great breakfast. We were both experiencing some travel fatigue at this point, and Hallie started coming down with a cold in the night, which means that neither one of us slept all that well.
We weren’t sure how far away our next stop, Port Blandford would really be, and had we known it was so close, we might have pushed on for Clarenville or even St. John’s on Monday, but we had made our reservation, so there we were. We lunched down by the water in the car because it was so dang windy. We relaxed in the B&B before having dinner at the local golf club.

On Tuesday, 9/26, we headed back to St. John’s with Hallie really beginning to feel under the weather. We stopped for lunch in Thornlea and fed the ducks while there. We must have inspired one of the locals, because as we left, this elderly lady came walking down toward the waterfront with her own bag of bread. We chatted with her for a little bit, then made our way back to St. John’s. In the afternoon, we went back to the Avalon Mall and Water Street.

We spent our last full day in St. John’s, Wednesday, first at The Rooms (the city’s museum), then up to the Fort Amherst lighthouse before finally crashing at home for a bit. In the evening, we went down to the St. John’s branch building and visited with some of the church members there. Happily, our books had arrived on Monday. We enjoyed visiting with friends old and new, and the visit made for a happy ending to our time in Newfoundland.

We flew home on Thursday, and this time our flights went smoothly and all our baggage arrived with us. Mike has more jet lag than Hallie, and Hallie brought her cold back as a parting gift from the Rock. We really enjoyed our trip to Newfoundland, and after all the planning and anticipation, it’s hard to believe it’s over and that our “real” life has resumed here. We brought back many warm memories of the people and places that make Newfoundland a unique part of the world, and we’re grateful we had the chance to experience the place for ourselves.

Update (10/16/06): We made a book of our trip (password 710069) using It turned out beautifully, and we were really pleased.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Weekend in Yellowstone

We just got back from a Labor Day road trip to Yellowstone National Park. What an experience! We put something like 1400 miles on the car in 4 days of traveling in and about some of the most beautiful scenery of the mountain west. We started off on Friday by going up through Idaho Falls and Rexburg on our way to the Jeffers Inn, a bed & breakfast in Ennis, Montana. That afternoon, we drove into Virginia City and Nevada City, and we got a tourist's taste of life in the Old West. The lady who runs the B&B is straight out of the frontier! She sleeps in a tent out in back of the B&B, and she has grown up caring for horses. On Saturday, we trekked through the north part of Yellowstone and took lots of pictures of the natural wonders. On Sunday, we stuck around the general Ennis area, going to some of the areas that are off the beaten path for most tourists. We had lunch at a little campsite in the middle of nowhere and drove along the Madison River, watching fly fishers and river rafters along our way. On Monday, we took a marathon car trip back home through Yellowstone (stopping by Old Faithful, of course), the Grand Tetons (majestic), Jackson Hole (a fun town, worth going back for its own visit), Star Valley (beautiful), and Bear Lake (our milkshake was just OK) before finally making it home 12 hours after we left Ennis. In all, we had a fun trip, and we have decided that road trips are some of our favorite vacations. Along the back roads, a new town or attraction or view is just around the bend.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another Summer Program (Nearly) Done!

What started out as the anticipated summer that would not end has begun, inevitably, to draw to a close. This picture shows the cover of this years Upward Bound Magazine. The program directors chose the Renaissance as the theme this year, and the students then interpreted that theme in the magazine/yearbook. Once again, they have done phenomenal work. This year we anticipate being able to print the whole thing magazine-style and in full color. English composition was more of a challenge this year than in past years, and the rising seniors have shown less willingness to accept repsonsibility for the tone and example they set. This is the first time I have noticed the effect the older/more experienced students (and the effect older newcomers who have not been socialized to the expectations of the program) have on the younger/less experienced students and students who seem less certain of who they are. These observations probably come as a result of my pouring over the data I have collected (I have to pretend I am actually learning something), but they have value beyond detatched academic applications. I wonder what changes I would (could?) make if I ran the program, and I wonder whether I would even see what I see as a teacher from the administrator's desk. Perspective is everything.
In other news, at the end of August, Hallie will start working 1:00 - 5:30. She is looking forward to it because she feels she is more motivated in the mornings. It is also just about seven weeks until we head to Newfoundland. (Now Hallie is writing.) A lot of people in the ward have donated many books for the cause. I am so grateful for it. But before we get ahead of ourselves with Newfoundland we are going to spend Labor Day weekend in Yellowstone and Hallie is so excited. Today we tried a little eatery that shares a space with a pottery shop. It was quite good. A little pricey, but we had a ton of food left over. We ordered a meatball sandwich and a Philly Cheesestake. The place is called Moochie's, and it is here in SLC. We shared a yummy piece of chocolate cake, too! It is a place we will definitely bring visitors to. BTW, check out our myspace site.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Little Disheartened, But Yet Excited!

So we met with our social worker at LDS Family Services a few weeks ago. No one has looked at our profile as of yet. I am still waiting for the man above to show me why we are going through all of this. After church today I have decided at least for the day that I don't have a lot of patience. I guess it was just one of those days. The longer you wait for a child the more comfortable you get with not having any.
The excitement for us is the time away we will have come September. We are extremely busy right now. Mike is working 10 hours for the University of Utah, 40 hours for Upward Bound and doing all of his interviews for his dissertation. I don't see him much. Sundays are hard because I know he will be gone again come tomorrow. We are stuck together at the hip. Come September Mike and I will be going to Yellowstone for the Labor Day holiday. I am so excited about going. I hear so many wonderful things about his natural wonder. I am excited to relax and to take it all in. September 14-28 we will be heading to Newfoundland, Canada. I can't even contain myself when I talk about going. I can't read enough about it or do enough research about going. I wan to see all of the nooks and crannies. I want to meet the friendly people and I want to live the culture. We are gathering childrens books at church to donate to congregations on the island. Today there were so many books I barely made it home with them. A nice girl helped me carry them home. I think it is so great that people have been so willing to donate. I hope they will enjoy them There are some very nice books.
The air is finally working at my job. It was a miserable 3 weeks with no air. Some people who worked upstairs could not handle it. I felt bad for them. Now it works so well we get goose bumps. I will take goose bumps any day.
Well I guess that is all from me for now. I want to go have some ice cream before it is time for bed. Early to bed early to rise is our motto. If you know anyone send them to the link below for our adoption profile. Bye for now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spread the Word: Our Adoption Profile is Online

We now have received official word that we are approved to adopt, and we have put our adoption profile online at LDS Family Services. You can look at our profile by clicking the "Our Adopion Profile" link on the sidebar. So, spread the word around to any birth parents you know who are interested in adoption, and we'll get the ball rolling from there!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Excitement In Our House

Well this week has been full of great excitement. On Tuesday Mike presented a paper at AERA in San Francisco and I heard he did great! Wednesday Mike defended his proposal for his dissertation and he passed! Thursday Mike turned 33 and we found out that we were approved to continue on with the adoption! We are very excited with all that has gone on in the last week. We can't give out our website information yet as it has not been approved. As soon as it is we will put it out for all to have. I know that you know someone who is in need of putting a child up for adoption or knows someone who knows someone. Let us all play the six degrees of seperation game. We appreciate any help you can give us. If you do know of someone have them contact their local LDS Family Services Agency. We will not be searching for our new child whole heartedly until we come back from Newfoundland as we did not get airline tickets for a baby. So... we know that we are not in charge of the process anymore, but we pray it will work in our favor.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How Exciting This Day Is

Well Mike is to be on his way home from San Francisco any minute now. The plane was actually to leave 30 min ago but on Uniteds website it said it was running late. That makes me feel bad for him because he has such a big presentation to give tomorrow at school that getting in so late will not be fair to him. I hope he ate before he lives because it will be too late for him to eat when he gets home. I can't wait till he is home and is in my arms and in my bed. We have missed each other so much that this will not happen again. Mike defends his proposal tomorrow and on Thursday he turns 33. April always seems to be a little hectic around this time. I guess it is to make you a better person. Cheers to you all.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It Is A Sad Day At My House

Michael is in San Francisco until Tuesday evening and I am a basket case. Eating, eating, and eating. I counted the days down till he left thinking I would go and do something wild and crazy. (which that is nothing really) But as the days drew near I started getting weepy eyed more each day. I have now cried several times today especially when I talked to him on the phone. I also have spent some money and watched a movie. That all took up some of my time which was nice. Tomorrow I am going to lay around the house and get the much needed sleep that I have been longing after. Hopefully I will actually be able to sleep through the night.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Quals Passed, Proposal Defense to Follow

Thanks to anonymous for asking about the status of my qualifying exams (nothing like leaving a story unfinished). I (Mike) received unofficial word that I had passed the Friday before President's Day (made for a very pleasant weekend!). However, I did not receive official word for another week or so. Phew! This means we won't be packing up and buying that B&B in Alma, New Brunswick. On a more disturbing note, my friend did not pass her exams and has expressed her intent not to continue fighting it out. Some colleagues and I are attempting to convince her otherwise, but the cards seem stacked against her. Not that I am unaware of the difficulty of the process, but this is the first time that I've seen how brutal the process is in the life of someone close.

Sobered, I am now in the process of preparing for my proposal defense. I will be conducting a grounded theory study of educational leadership from the perspective of the led. A grounded theory study is one where you use raw information gathered (mostly) from interviews to develop a new theory about a social process. You are trying to answer a big "How?" question. My big "How" is "How do students enrolled in an educational opportunities program participate in the program’s leadership practices?" Basically, I believe that leadership happens anywhere people get together, and I am interested in looking at leadership from the perspective of the led. What do ordinary people do that affects the ability of organizations to do their jobs? As a teacher, I learned that my biggest problem in the classroom was my own lack of awareness of my students, their needs, and the little things that went on in their lives both in and outside of school each day that helped or hindered their ability to learn. They played a vital role in my ability to do my job. I know, I know. So why did it take pursuing a PhD to learn that. I'll let you in on a secret: PhD's are weird. We don't think like normal people. And we're running your lives! How's that for scary. Anyway, that's the sort of drivel that occupies my time.

On another note, read this book! From the link: "We just don't think critically anymore, says journalist and former Washington Times columnist Michael LeGault. To anyone who's been intrigued by the 'thinking without thinking' concept presented in Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Blink, LeGault says Gladwell is wrong, and he explains why critical thinking is more critical than ever, in his book Th!nk"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Our adoption story so far

In December we decided to adopt, and since then we have had a couple of interviews with our social worker, attended a couple of classes to earn our required education hours, created a collage of ourselves to share with potential birth parents, and bought a couple of items for our baby's nursery. We still have a ways to go before we can bring a child into our home. We will have to have three home visits from the adoption agency, and we still have several more education hours before we become certified (although those who know us already know we are certifiable--certifiably nuts). We will also need to create an Internet profile to share more pics with potential birth parents. In all, it is kind of a hurry-up-and-wait game. But we are excited. This has been a really positive experience as we have had the chance to think about what we mean to each other and as we contemplate bringing a new member into our family. Not to be sappy, but we feel as though the experience has brought us closer. We have gone through the expected range of emotions (I guess) as we have made the choice to expand our family through adoption, I think that once we committed to the choice, opportunities and stories opened up that have reinforced that choice. At this point, we are anxious to complete the qualifying process and have our baby!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Great Big Sea Hove in Park City

This weekend Hallie, Mike, and Hallie’s brother Riley had the opportunity to see our favorite band, Great Big Sea, in concert in Park City. With many prayers we braved the weather to and from Park City, heading down Provo Canyon afterwards through a snowstorm and very low visibility. We love our big beautiful boxy Buick. The best part of the concert happened after it ended. We were invited to attend a reception following the concert, and we each got to talk with the members of the band and get our pictures taken. Let’s just say Hallie was in heaven. Hallie's favorite picture is of her and Bob.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Exams are over!

I (Mike) took my qualifying exams last Thursday and Friday. Glad they're over. Thanks to all who have been so supportive! Hallie took me out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse, we bought a couple of Coldstone Valentine's-themed ice cream cakes, then we took advantage of Little America Hotel's romance package and spent a night away from the whole school thing. Next thing to do between taking the exams and waiting for the results is get my proposal in order.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Avoidance Behavior

I (Mike) am in the midst of studying for my qualifying exams, and I know only one thing for sure (barring unforeseen disasters that reveal the relatively trivial nature of accomplishments like graduate degrees for what they are): February 2nd and 3rd will come and go, and I will continue breathing. The exams require me to remember a lot of material I have learned both in classes and on my own over the past two years, and I am only now beginning to realize how little I remember. So after each day's mini panic attack, I get back into slogging through the material. In addition to studying, I am also practicing a few avoidance behaviors. First, we ordered USD-TV (cable TV with an indoor antenna), even though I had committed a number of years ago that I would never pay for TV when I could get it for free. However, this last time when we went home American Chopper kept calling to us, reminding us of Paul Sr. and Paulie's heartwarming interactions, and HG-TV kept showing all those home shows we had been missing since our move to Salt Lake (cable was free in Provo, so it was fair game then). USD-TV cost us $18 a month, so I caved. Now, you can't buy something without using it, so I study by day and we watch by night. The second avoidance behavior I have practiced is preparing our second bedroom to be a nursery. This involved long hours of going through boxes and throwing out items that had not seen the light of day in at least two years as well as rearranging the bedroom furniture and building a new dresser (courtesy of IKEA--we love that place. This is really sad, but we want the next place we move to to be within an hour of both an IKEA and a Costco. Talk about your priorities). Finally, I sit here writing when I should be reading. That said, I will sign off now, but not before relating three bits of news. First, a case worker has our adoption file, so hopefully we will receive a call for an appointment soon. We have an orientation meeting on January 26th. Second, Hallie and I are now both back at Weight Watchers (too much TV and indulging in tasty treats results in clothes not fitting--surprise!), and last week I lost 2 lbs, and she lost .8 lbs. We go again on Saturday. Finally, we celebrate seven years of marriage on Sunday the 23rd. It has been one fast ride, and Hallie makes the best travelling companion a boy could have. Thanks, Hallie! I love you!