Sunday, June 24, 2007

our un-vacation

it all started last week when i took a look at our summer schedule and realized that our 'oo we need to take the sailboat down to corpus' weekend excursion needed to happen this weekend or it would most likely not happen at all. so we made plans to take our summer vacation down to corpus. friday night we gathered up all the camping gear, hooked up the sailboat, and we were off! the chances of rain in the forecast kept us slightly subdued, but we were naively hopeful that we would escape any bad weather. i mean seriously, other than in west texas, what is the percentage of time that weather forecasts are correct? (i exclude west texas because although these weathermen also mess up the important forecasts, their percentages are boosted because most days the 'its gonna be hot and dry' works out pretty well for them)

friday night we got into town and dropped off the boat at ross' parents property and said hi to james, ross' cousin who lives next door. we then checked in to a hampton inn nearby. ross bargained our rate down by about $30 dollars (though it was still painfully high) and we tried to open our door. the lady reprogrammed our keys no less than 3 times but to no avail. i don't know whether to blame her or the door. but it worked out well. because she gave us another room, a room that was a higher rate than the discounted rate we just paid. it was a suite with a king size bed. the best bed that either of us have ever slept on. we took note of the mattress brand and had a pleasant evening. this, it would turn out, would be the highlight of the trip for me.

the next morning we hit up h-e-b to load up our cooler as we intended to camp on the beach. we then drove out to padre island and it was drizzling some as we drove. it seemed to be letting up as we got closer, yet every time we would mention 'hey the rain stopped', it would simply begin to rain again. we got out to the beach and sat in the car watching the rain. this was fun. james met us out there and then we checked out the boat ramp. we unhooked the boat, but then it started raining harder. forgive me for saying this in TEXAS in JUNE, but it was sooo cold with the wind and the rain, that we had to abort our sailing AND camping mission.

determined not to let our vacation be ruined (we DID just drive all the way down here!), we decided to go to the texas state aquarium in corpus. this was pretty fun, and we could get a good visual on the lexington from the aquarium as well, but did not go on board.

it was no longer raining but more rain was in the forecast and darkness was approaching in a few hours, so we made the joint decision not to go back out to the beach, though the sunny skies left us feeling very torn as to what to do. we set up our awesome propane stove at a park along the waterfront and had our picnic dinner there. we saw a regatta of sunfish sailboats, which was cool, but also kind of rubbing it in our faces a little bit. afterwards, we went to half price books that ross used to hang out at, and some of his old chess buddies were even there, so he got a couple games in. then we went to barnes and noble (we love bookstores :) ) for awhile. then we went and saw a movie. this wasn't quite the day we had planned, but it turned out to be fun in spite of the rain and change of plans.

so saturday night we hadn't planned to stay in a hotel, we'd planned to stay on the beach. so we tried to scout out a cheaper hotel, though the spring air avalon suite mattress back at the hampton was very tempting. so the next day we woke up and the sun was shining! we were glad we'd stuck it out, as we had considered driving back to austin the evening before. we loaded up and drove to the beach. The ramp was packed, the skies were clear, and we were stoked! We got the boat rigged up, put her in the water, raised the sail, and.....all the fishermen started coming in. A storm was coming in from the south. We could see the clouds. ross asked a guy we'd been talking to, how long, 1 hour? the guy said 20 minutes. as he said this, it began to rain. then, it began to pour. we frantically tried to pack up the boat while about 30 other boaters did the same. we could not have been wetter if we'd just gone and jumped in the ocean. so, basically, we got as close to sailing as possible, without actually untying from the dock.

and then we drove 200 miles home. soaking wet. and that was our summer vacation: sailing in corpus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Quick Update

Since Sharon has been so busy learning to be a teacher, she has forgotten to post! Ergo, it only seem right to sneak into her account again to post on her behalf. Unfortunately for you, it's been a pretty boring week.

Well, her birthday has come and gone and so we shall start there. My gift was a necklace with an alexandrite gemstone, her birthstone, and if she ever picks it out, a "teacher bag" that she's been wanting. We went to eat at "The Y Bar and Grill" in Oak Hill. The Y is amazingly well designed with some unique architecture and an outdoor eating area overlooking the woods. An outdoor eating area featuring trees with funny faces actually. Apparently someone thought it would be funny to glue disguise masks on a few trees in the woods. We sat outside and started with some crab stuffed mushrooms and listened to a local musician. Not much else to tell I'm afraid.

Yesterday however, we experienced our first real wind of the summer ( that is, wind not accompanied by a storm ). It turns out that sailing season in Austin is every season except summer, which features 0-5 mph winds on a regular basis. Bummer. We got some 15-20 mph winds yesterday so we left work early and went to the lake. My hiking stick broke off my rudder ( a long pole attached to the rudder ) and so it was a little annoying because being forced to ride in the back of the boat makes it impossible to distribute your weight for maximum performance. Sharon took her turn at the helm too - she's not going to admit it but she kinda likes it. We got some new gear to make sailing better for us; namely a dry bag so we can safely stow gear on the trampoline. We stayed out until sunset before coming in. Here's a shot that even came out good on a phone camera.
It also turns out that Sharon doesn't like waiting forever for me to rig and derig the boat so she has demanded that I find a simpler, faster way to do it. She'd so be a manager had she stayed at USAA ;) But OK, so I did some thinking and she was right - it was worth it. I probably whittled 20 minutes off of our rig and derig time. Now the hiking stick is fixed, some other questionable hardware replaced and we are set to maybe hit the beaches in Port Aransas with it this weekend. If you are interested you can see plenty of videos of people "cat surfing" on youtube.

Ross Hytnen

Sunday, June 10, 2007

fishin' excursion

now, try not to be jealous that we live about 5 minutes from one of the best lakes in texas, attend a church with saturday night services, and live down the road from charles who not only has a fishing boat but is willing to come pick us up early in the morning to go out for some good ol' fashioned fishing.
you probably know that ross has gone fishing several times over the last 3 months we've been here. this weekend i agreed to tag along to see what the fun was all about. the 6.30am wake up call doesn't seem as early after getting up at 6am for the past 2 weeks, which helps. the lake was smooth as glass and it was a gorgeous morning.

the last time i went fishing it was i guess well over a decade ago, when a much younger sharon went out in 'the bass boat' with dad, pawpaw, matt, and a trusty ol' snoopy fishing pole and bobber. this was a trolling fishing trip and the guys let me reel in the first fish...a striper. we caught 4-5 bass, but all of the fish we threw back because they were just under sized. plus we have a lot of fish filets in the freezer that still need to be grilled up. fish fry anyone? come on over.

we also got to observe a sailboat race as we went by one of the marinas, which was pretty cool, and get an up close look at mansfield dam. and when we got back, there was still plenty of day left! all in all....pretty fun, i must say.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

the authoritarian

i have survived week 1 (of 6) of my teacher training class and week 1 (of 4) of summer school. i highly favor the mornings at summer school to the afternoons being a student, because in the mornings i am totally in charge. well, not totally, because i'm just the student teacher, but for the most part, after 1st period, i was in charge of the 7th grade math classes.

the students we have, all 85 of them, are a little scary. but one must not let on that you realize they are scary. in fact, the first morning there i felt as if i was at a juvenile detention center, with all the teachers barking out orders demanding military straight lines, shirts tucked in, and no second chances. there is definitely a fine line of tension between quiet learning and utter chaos that i'm constantly praying will not snap, particularly during class periods on my watch.

i believe my finest teaching moment of the week actually came during the end of the week quiz. one young man was trying to recall the order of operations and i told him that all i could help him with was to try to remember the acronym and work through the problems using it (PEMDAS). he told me that he not only did not know what an acronym was but he had no idea what i was talking about, though the other student teacher had done a review on it 5 minutes prior to this conversation. i said, an acronym is where the letters in one word stand for letters in other words. scanning through my mind i came up with NBA...the national basketball association. the boy told me 'i have no idea what you are talking about'...his loss. the boys at a nearby table were apparently impressed with my NBA knowledge and tried to stump me with which i answered major league baseball, and was met with stunned looks. yes, i had exerted my authority in not only math matters, but now also in sports. so sit down and listen to me students! ;)

in other news, ross and i celebrated his birthday last week with a trip to KOBE Japanese steakhouse, where they gave him some complimentary porcelain chopsticks since it was his birthday.

last night we cooked some kabobs on his birthday present (propane grill) and he even wore his cook-out apron, a bday present from nana.

also this week we had a little dinner party team awesome austin-style (will. lisa. summer plans??),participated in a small group from church, went sailing on lake LBJ, watched the spurs dominate with some friends, got a DVR and DishNetwork(!), and met up for lunch in downtown austin.

minnie is helping me write this post and wants you to know that she killed a very large lizard yesterday and is currently hoping i would share some tunafish sandwich with her as a reward.

a public service announcement is that summer has arrived. you should not go biking at 1pm on a saturday afternoon, as ross and i just did. it is simply waaaay too hot.

Monday, June 04, 2007

back to work

most of you know that i have decided to switch careers from IT to teaching. the process has included a hiatus from working for the past few months (march-may) which has been at times enjoyable and at times frustrating. last week i started back to work by attending a seminar with other teachers from the school district that i will be working at in the fall. we were working on creating a standardized district curriculum and common assessments for the upcoming school year. it was a good way to get introduced to the state objectives for 6th grade. it was also a time to see that some teachers are embittered and resistant to change, while others are motivated and excited to embrace whatever catalyst is needed to propel students toward achievement. today i started my classroom seminars and in the morning i will face my first day of student teaching. i guess its kind of easy to get caught in a 'grass is greener on the other side' mentality when facing the challenges of beginning to teach and remembering the certain comforts that come from being a professional in the corporate world. some days i wonder why i would leave a profession that allows me to wear whatever i want, show up whenever i want, and show up and only need to focus on what i need to be doing and where i need to be. but i try to remind myself that in some ways these are selfish ambitions. and i want to do something that when i look back on my life i will have made a difference in someone else's life, not just been successful in my own. so in some ways i'm super nervous about becoming a teacher and sometimes a little sad to have left something that i had learned to enjoy. but mostly i'm super excited! i can't wait to share with you the things that happen this summer during my training, and this fall in my 6th grade math portable classroom!

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.
--Jeremiah 9:23-24