Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mark's visit with Dan

The family gave me airplane tickets to visit Daniel in Houston as a combination Fathers Day and birthday gift.

I got there late on the evening of Wednesday, September 2 and was met by Daniel at one of the Houston airports. As he drove us to his apartment, I was very impressed with his new talents as a freeway driver and with how well he knew the maze of roads and freeways that we traveled.

We spent Thursday together at the Texas Medical Center, where Daniel goes to school and does his research. The medical center is really an extraordinary place that I must describe for you. If you were to stand at the outskirts of the Houston suburbs and look in toward the city center, you would see the collection of skyscrapers that you would expect to see at the center of any large city. However, if you looked about three miles south of the city center, you would see another collection of skyscrapers that looks like a second downtown. That is the Texas Medical Center. It is a congregation of about fifteen skyscrapers and just as many smaller buildings that are all dedicated to some aspect of the medical field. Most of the tall ones are hospitals. I think it must in all truth be the largest group of medical facilities located in one place that exists anywhere in the world.

Thursday morning we walked from Daniel's apartment along a gigantic canal called Brea's Bayou to the medical center. Daniel's office is on the second floor of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, a large hospital dedicated to research about cancer and to treating cancer patients. He shares the office with about twelve other graduate students. The guy on his left is a year or two farther along than Daniel; the guy on his right is a Chinese man whose oldest son is in high school. Every now and then another of the Chinese graduate students comes over and they discuss their research in Chinese.

Daniel's classes are in the University of Texas Graduate School of Biological Sciences, which is next door to the cancer center and is connected to it by an elevated walkway. After a short stop at Daniel's office to check on the progress of the computer simulations he was running, we went to his Anatomy class. There were about thirty students in the class, including most of the group from Daniel's program that he had made friends with in his first year. We had heard about most of them, so it was fun to meet all of them.

We spent the rest of the day in the cancer center working on Daniel's research, having lunch in the big indoor "park" and attending a second class. I couldn't attend the class because they had more students than chairs in that particular classroom, so an extra uninvited guest would have been awkward.

That evening we drove across town to Daniel's meeting house where we attended the weekly Institute class. The classes are taught on alternating weeks by Daniel's roommate, Jeff, and by a girl named Erin. I enjoyed the lesson and I especially enjoyed the chance to meet most of Daniel's church friends that he had been telling us about all year long. After the Institute class about fifteen of us stopped off at a hamburger joint for milk shakes. We had a party room with a big-screen TV all to ourselves, so we had lots of fun socializing and watching Boise State beat Oregon.

We spent Friday at the cancer center again, mostly working on Daniel's research. I got to meet the post-doc who is supervising Daniel's research. He seems to be a very pleasant, easy-going guy. I really had a good time working with Daniel on his project and I think he enjoyed having someone to keep him company and bounce ideas off of.

On Friday night we grabbed a couple of Quiznos sandwiches and headed for a park in downtown Houston where they show old silent movies one night a month. It was fun to see the downtown area close up. We parked right across from the Toyota Center where the Houston Rockets play their games, and walked a couple of blocks to a small outdoor amphitheater to see the movie. This particular movie was the classic comedy "The General" and it was accompanied by a live band that had written music specifically to accompany the film. We had a great time.

On Saturday we headed about fifty miles south of Houston to Brazzos Bend State Park, the home of the American alligator. It is a big swampy area where the Brazzos River makes a great sweeping curve, creating perfect alligator habitat. There are about three hundred adult alligators in the park, some of them up to eleven feet long, who mingle with the visitors. We spent most of the day hiking the trails in the park, looking for alligators. We eventually saw three of them at a distance of about ten feet. The largest was around six feet long.

We also saw a large quantity of very large spiders in very large webs. We didn't know of the existence of these spiders until we were walking along a less-used trail and almost blundered into one of them. We found out later that they are called Golden Silk spiders, that they are docile and practically harmless to humans, that they have the bad habit of spinning their webs across trails at about eye level and that they are the largest non-tarantula spiders in North America. We can vouch for that! They are actually quite a pretty yellow and brown color and appeared to be about four inches across from toe to toe. We grabbed a long stick and waved it in front of us as we walked until we got to the wider, more traveled trails. I think we probably saw at least thirty of them throughout the day.

Saturday night we went to a ward social at the apartment complex of one of the ward members. They had the BYU-Oklahoma football game on the big screen in the theater room, so it was an especially pleasant social for all the BYU fans. Again I had a fun time meeting more of Daniel's church friends.

On Sunday we attended meetings and then I read a book for a couple of hours while Daniel carried out his duties as ward clerk. Later we had supper at the home of one of the ward members, actually it was Erin, who had taught the Institute class. She and Daniel have started a singing group and they needed to meet to choose songs for their next concert, so she invited us to dinner and then she and Daniel spent forty-five minutes selecting music. About that time thirty ward members showed up for a birthday party that Erin's house mate was hosting, so I got to meet more of Daniel's friends. We talked and ate refreshments and played Pit.

On Monday morning Daniel and I drove to a park and played flag football with a bunch of guys (and two girls) from the ward. It was very hot and humid, but lots of fun anyway. We capped off my visit with a driving tour of Rice University and Herrman Park, the big city park between Daniel's apartment and the Rice campus. We also stopped at an area next to the campus where there are a bunch of restaurants and shops, including the Chocolate Bar, where we enjoyed some gourmet ice cream.

So had a really great time and came home happy to know that Daniel is making a good life for himself in Houston. Hopefully more of us can pay him another visit soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Speaking of Plan B....

Alright, I would just like to say that I used "sporadic" in the title of my blog for a reason...yeah, so it's been two months since I've posted. My excuse: I don't have any adorable children to blog about. Anyway, excuses aside, I have some big news:

Remember how I was saying that I was going to Houston to do my student teaching....well, that's not happening anymore. It's not that I applied and didn't get in, I just really thought both options through, prayed about it, and came to the conclusion that I should stay here to finish up. I feel really good about my cooperating teacher - I'll be student teaching at Lakeridge Jr. High in Orem. I really love my ward and my roommates. I'm not going to lie - I am not loving the prospect of another winter here, but hey, you do what you gotta do. Anyway, just thought I should officially inform everyone. I turned in my student teaching application today. If all goes well, I'll be teaching next year!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just call him Adam!

Dave found out today that he got the part of Adam in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. I called him and asked if he had gone to the school yet to see what part he got and he said I'm on the way now, I'll text you when I find out. A little later I get this text....."three words....I am ADAM!" We are really happy for him and he is really excited for the challenge and the great experience every show is, but especially to be a lead, it will be a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time. The show is at the beginning of November

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Holy Crap!!!

So, I had an interesting experience last night. Rachel had just given McKay a bath, and, as he does every time he has a bath, he began to run around in a less-than-decent statew (naked). I let him go for a couple of minutes because he looked like he was having such a great time running and squealing like a 14-month-0ld.

He was so happy, it seemed a shame to stop him, but I didn't necessarily want to encourage the behaviour. So, I called him over to lay on the floor so I could put his diaper on. When he came over, I turned around to grab a diaper out of the closet.

It hadn't been more than 30 seconds when I turned back to McKay. As I did, he was getting up to his feet and walking away. Upon closer examination, I realized that he was not getting up from sitting but rather from squatting. In the exact spot where he had been squatting was a lovely little pile... Yep, you guessed it... He had, in the 30 seconds I wasn't looking, done his business (#2) right in the middle of his bedroom. In shock, I called Rachel in to look at what he had done. I, of course, was the one who had to do the dirty work of cleaning up the mess. It wasn't all that bad, but nobody likes to clean stuff like that up (except maybe my father-in-law... lots of practice with the dog).

Anyway, it was an exciting time and it cleaned up very nicely.... I can't even tell where it was anymore. It'll be a good story to tell his wife someday :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School has begun!

Dave had his first week of school and oh my, I fear that we are being trained to live without him - he was gone a lot, but when he was home he seemed very happy, though tired, and always had a fun story to tell about the things going on with school. They had an activity every night that he had to be to because he is on exec council, one night it was mud volleyball at the river, one night it was slip and slide kickball, one night an open swim for the high school and another was a barbecue for the new students. He had council meetings at lunch and after school, so he was very busy. The week before school started he was at the school every morning by 5 or 6 to personalize the parking spots for the seniors. The whole council came and helped him, but it was quite a week, because when they finished each day at nine am, they had to then go into the school to be there for registration at the school until 3 each day. He was very tired, but is having a great time with the other members of the council and all of the students that come to the activities. Next week they will be having auditions for the high school musical "7 Brides for 7 Brothers", it will be fun to see which part he gets, he is preparing well so that he won't be scared to death at auditions. Hopefully it goes well - we'll keep you posted.

Becky came home for a few days this week during her break, it was so fun to have her here. She brought her roommate from last semester, Chelsi, she is a cute girl and we enjoyed having them both here. They came Wednesday night and we had a good dinner together and then watched a movie, the next day I worked half a day and then we went to a mattinee together and that night had a good dinner and played several rounds of clue, which was fun. The next day I had to work again and they had to leave that afternoon, but I came home for lunch and made them panini's and a fruit smoothie and we watched the video from Sarah's birthday when Becky was like three and we watched the clip of when they were telling the scarey story and Becky gets scared and runs into Sarah's arms for cute!

Friday night we took Dave out to the new restaurant in town called "The Brick Oven" for those of you who have been to Provo it is the same one as in Provo, and has a great salad bar and pizza, so that was a big treat and we had fun catching up with him. Life is busy, but good and we hope it is good for all of the rest of you - we miss you and love you! Theresa, Mark and Dave

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baird Family Grapevine

Okay - next phase of the grapevine is to see if we can do a blog instead to see if we can get more going in the way of information flowing between us all! I hope this helps - I know that some of you have blogs already and I will place links here so that we can all check on those of you who are up and going - but if you want to share something with the whole family please paste it here or put a separate entry so that we can keep in touch - I hope you enjoy it and and I want you to know I love you all and miss you! Theresa