Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dallas & Emily are sooo funny!!!

Hi everyone, I just had to take a minute to share some of my hilariousness with you... you see, my mom has a blog. It's lame and retarded. It's got to be one of the absolute worst blogs in the world. It wouldn't even be worth the waste of a cybertree to mention it here, it's that bad. So, on occasion when inspiration strikes, I've gotten into the habit of creating humorous posts on it (I have her login data since I helped her set up the blog ages ago and she uses the same password for everything, and will probably never change it... yeah, she's one of 'those' users who gets lost when Blogger asks her to sign in and instant messages with full capitalization and punctuation...! But I digress...)

Anyways, I'm proud of all my subterfuge on her blog, but I must humbly submit that I truly outdid myself on this last caper! And being the magnanimous luminary that I am, I would like to share the laughs.

A little background on her blog - she uses it as a business outlet for her dog-breeding and horse-breaking trade. If someone wants to see what her pups look like then she simply directs them to her blog first to see the recent pictures that she has posted. That's basically all the blog consists of - boring posts of dog after dog. Like a no-sodium chips and salsa platter. Blah. Thus I have taken it upon myself to 'spice up' her presentation... please enjoy!

Double K Ranch: Brand-new Breed!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stuart Brower and Dallas Heaton in Concert!!!


I found this little treasure and felt compelled to show off my brother-in-law's talent with the world. It was filmed about 2.5 years ago. (Sorry about it being dark and grainy....) Presenting Stuart Brower with accompaniment by Dallas Heaton!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ahh, it sure feels nice to be home. And I can't forget how wonderful it feels to have a camera again, even if it is slowly dying.

We are pretty much settled back into normal life here. Dallas started school on Monday. He is not too busy with classes, taking an acoustics class, Harpsichord lessons, piano lessons, and then studio classes. (Am I forgetting anything, Dallas?) But I have a feeling he is going to be as busy as he wants to be with work. He is still doing some stuff at MCC and then accompanying the main choir at ASU. He has already been playing for auditions, and trying out his broken finger. We are all really hoping it heals so he can be back to where he was before. I haven't heard him, but I am sure he is still amazing.

As for me, I have decided not to take any classes this semester. I feel like I need a little bit of time to get my life back in some order. My friend, Alice, who I met while we were here earlier this year, is currently in the hospital due to a fall, and is depending on me for help as soon as she get out. She really feels like family to me, and I feel a great desire to be there for her, as she no longer has any living family. Ever since my mom died, I have thought about Alice and felt that I should be available to her. I just know that when my mom was ill, even though nobody could take away her pain, at least she had family surrounding her. I can't imagine how lonely it would be to have nobody.

The kids are doing fine. They are being pretty naughty these days, but cute as ever too. Sophie has become quite an unashamed little liar. Is this normal? Penny is her little accomplice. Gabe is saying more and more words, things like ball, car, water, mama, dada.

So that is about it. Hope all is well with everyone.

Posted by Picasa

Back to Arizona

So our drive back to Arizona was less than pleasant, but we made it! Here we are stopped for lunch and a break in Panguitch, UT. I just had to take a picture of the weird purple-haired thing at the grocery store there. It says, "Tell Me Again How Lucky I Am To Work Here I Keep Forgetting."

Posted by Picasa

Dallas eating at Maddox

So, pretty much, Dallas' mom has been a saint! She took care of my kids for 2 whole weeks out of the summer, and then also me when I was there after my mom died. Then, after Dallas came home, she offered to give us a day to ourselves while she took the kids. She is amazing. She has been so sweet and supportive to me. I cannot even tell her how much I love and appreciate everything she does for me. My kids absolutely adore her and still ask everyday if they can go back to Grandma's house. I know I would not have been able to survive this difficult summer without her. I love you, Mom!

Posted by Picasa

Gosh, isn't Annaka so beautiful? It was so fun to play with everyone. I love my family!

Posted by Picasa

What is up there anyway?

Posted by Picasa

This is what happens when Dallas plays basketball.... Yeah, do you see that errant little piece of bone floating around? For most people, it may not be a big deal, but isn't Dallas planning to make a living dependent on him having agile fingers? We are hoping everything heals over just fine. Dallas' dad looked at it and a radiologist took these lovely shots. He also went to a Dr. here in Arizona for more x-rays and he will go back in today to figure out what to do for it. I should take a picture of the finger. It is still black and blue and swollen, and this happened a week and a half ago. No more basketball for Dallas! Anyways, he looks goofy playing, don't you think?

Posted by Picasa

Paul and Whitney inherited a canoe from a former tenant, and the boys decided to try it out for Canal Patrol. It was really fun, but the time I decided to try it happened to be the same time Dallas decided to try getting in by way of the rope swing. As you can tell, it didn't work out too well. Oh well, it was super fun!

Posted by Picasa

Sorry none of these pictures are really great. The kids all really liked riding in the canoe!

Posted by Picasa

The Monday before we left Utah, we were all going to go to the Logan Aquatic Center, but it was closed until 3pm, so we decided to swim in Sesaly's little pool. Our kids loved it, but probably scared Sesaly!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 21, 2008

TAOD #12

"Abroad he had some time to spende,
yet all things do, at some pointe, ende."
(Berchtesgarde, XIII:3)

So now we come to the final official installment of The Annals of Dallas. Although I am not quite home yet, I am making avail of the flight delay to write my final update. 'What, another flight delay?' you say? Yes. That seems to be my luck with flying. But I get ahead of myself, and have much still to tell...

This week has been a whirlwind tour through some of the highlights of central Europe. I've already related the first few days of my travels with my dad, so I'll just pick up where I left off. As I mentioned in the last TAOD, Monday night we arrived in Munich. By the time we got in, it was late and we were exhausted, so we didn't see the sights until Tuesday morning. Using convenient traveler's guidebooks which my dad brought, we were able to see some of the highlights of the city as well as spend a very enjoyable time in the Archäologisches Staatsammlung (The state Archeological museum). We spent hours there and the collection was amazing. As was to be expected, everything was in German, so I did my best to not only translate the information plaques for my dad but understand them myself. But in spite of the language difficulties being able to see the artifacts was amazing. To see things that people used thousands of years ago in the very spot where you are makes one think - deeply.

After we had our fill of Munich we left that evening for Prague. I wasn't sure what to expect upon entering the Czech Republic. I wasn't sure if I'd even notice any differences between the two different countries. Surprisingly there were quite a few differences. Not only were the highways in worse repair, but there was much more graffiti. Even the countryside was different - it was less green and different crops were grown. There was also much more uncultivated land. Thanks to the GPS we got to our hotel quickly. We did run into a little issue with parking, though. When we arrived we drove around and couldn't really find anywhere to park, so we just parked in a reserved area temporarily to go check in. We checked in and asked where we could park. The receptionist said that the hotel did have a small parking area, but she recommended that we not park there because it's not safe. She said that just last week a few cars had been broken into. She said that there was a paid, guarded area across the street, though. So I went to the room while my dad went to go figure out where to park. He decided to walk around (which in my opinion seems unusual... wouldn't you want your car with you if you're looking for a spot?) and had finally decided to go get the car to move it. Well, when he got to the car there was a policeman and a tow truck just about to start towing it away. My dad doesn't know any European languages and they didn't know English, so I'm not sure how he did it, but he convinced them to let him hurry and just drive away. So he went to go park in the guarded lot. I'm surprised how quickly they were about to tow the car - it had only been there for about a half-hour. And that would have been a major kink in our plans, so that was a close call!

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but when we arrived in Munich we went to the tourist office for help finding a place to stay. They suggested a chain of hotels and hostels called A&O. We were pleased with it on our Munich stay and also found out there that they had hotels in all the cities we planned on staying in. Not only that, but if you booked ahead from another A&O hotel, you could save 10%. So we decided to stay with them for the remainder of our trip by booking ahead. It was very convenient (all the hotels were in good condition, cheap, and fairly close to the city center), and it took off a lot of stress of having to find a place to stay every night. The A&O in Prague was by far the worst one we stayed in, however. In fact, the area of Prague we stayed in was pretty scary.

When we got up on Wednesday we decided to leave the car where it was, since we had read that parking downtown in Prague was difficult and expensive. So we walked into the center and saw the sights. There were many nice things to see in Prague, but again, the city was not as well taken care of. Much of the city that wasn't the tourist area was run-down and graffiti seemed to be a real problem. There were also tons of American fast food restaurants! Burger King, McDonald's, and KFC was everywhere you looked in Prague. I wasn't expecting that.

We got done with Prague relatively quickly, so went back to get the car and get out. The crooks at the parking area charged us a pretty exorbitant amount for being there, and then we got a little ripped off when we got gas as well (since we payed in Euros and not the Czech currency). We decided to break up our trip to Berlin by staying the night in Dresden, which conveniently is about halfway between the two capitals. By the time we got to Dresden we were both pretty tired, so decided to see its sights on Thursday.

And that's exactly what we did - Thursday morning we got up, saw the downtown of Dresden and spent half a day there until we drove to Berlin. I happened to read that in Berlin most museums are open later on Thursday nights and are free, so we decided to hit two museums. The first was the Altes Museum. They have a great collection there and it was great. The second one we went to was the Pergamon. It turned out that it wasn't free, but we still went to see their Babylon exhibit. It was extremely interesting, and we were able to get the headphones that give the tour. It was fun and we saw some amazing things.

On Friday we saw the rest of the city, taking another walking tour based on a guidebook. Berlin has tons of stuff to see and do, and our time here was great. We saw things from all of Berlin's history, from medieval sights up through WWII and recent Cold War points of interest. By far the coolest thing I've seen in any city has been the Holocaust Memorial. It's a large area with regularly spaced pillars of varying heights, somewhat reminiscent of coffins in a graveyard. We walked among them and we fascinated at the power of it. If you're ever in Berlin, or even Germany for that matter, do not miss this sight. It is truly a work of art.

It also happened to rain all of Friday, so that was nice because it tended to thin out the crowds. It was the first rainy day we've had since my dad has come, so it was also a welcome change. For dinner that night we decided to actually eat out, so we found a Burger King. It was good. I know I should have enjoyed more German cuisine, seeing as I'm in Germany and all, but dang it, I'm sick of it. Eating new things is not enjoyable to me, and I'm longing for safe trusted foods like hot dogs, Oreo's, and tacos. So I was perfectly happy with some familiar American fast food for my last dinner in Europe!

That brings us to today. Our flight was scheduled to fly out of here about now (11:15 am), but we had to have the car back by 8:30. So we packed all of our bags last night so we could get here by a little after 8:00. After I mistakenly guided my dad into a parking garage (which cost 4 euros for our 5 minute-stay...! It's not my fault though, because it was not clearly marked!!) we got the car returned and went to the terminal to check our luggage. The man informed us that our flight was delayed, and that we wouldn't be leaving Berlin until 2 pm, and our arrival was as a result also delayed until 11 pm in Salt Lake. Blargh! I'm so excited to get home and see Emily and my children! But instead of getting progressively closer to home I'm forced to sit in the airport for 5 extra hours. This is very lame, and I've about had it with flying. Every trip I've had has had complications - none of which are my fault.

I have now safely arrived back in Utah and my travels proceeded without further incident. I even beat my dad in the in-flight Trivia game on the way to Salt Lake, so take that! Ha HA! We actually made good time on the last connection, and arrived in Salt Lake about an hour early. I was not, unfortunately, able to get this message to Emily, though, so we had some more 'fun' time in the airport waiting for her as she finished her meal at an Indian restaurant in Provo.

Simply-put, my month in Europe was amazing. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. This summer program and seeing some sights afterward with my dad was fun and met all my goals and expectations. I am so glad I had this opportunity, and wish to thank all those who both helped and supported me and my family during this time.

It is now time to hang up my adventurer's hat and finish my last year of graduate school. I will still post a few more photos of the trip that I haven't been able to put on yet, but many more can be found on Facebook. Regular blog updates will continue, but probably under Emily's skillful direction. Much has happened in the few days since I've returned - from hellish delays in the desert to broken bones. That should certainly whet your appetite for the next update!

So until then. The Annals of Dallas have come to a (temporary) end.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I just thought this was so touching, so I wanted it on my blog. This is the prayer my brother, Ben, gave at my mother's funeral. I say amen to everything. Thanks Ben! I love you!

Our father in heaven,
Today we are saying good-bye to a rare soul,
The embodiment of peace, love, sacrifice and service.
I want to thank you personally for the privilege of being one of her children.
She was a wonderful mother.
She taught us to love by loving us with all her heart.
She taught us patience with kindness.
She taught us to find joy in our work and our lives.
She worked tirelessly for her children, her community and for you, Lord.
As we say good-bye, I would ask that we can keep in our hearts forever the memories and the love she so freely gave.
We are all truly blessed to have known Dauna.
She brightened the Earth while she was here and now she will brighten the heavens.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

TAOD #11

Again, too long without an update and now I have too much to write! It is now 11 pm on Monday night, August 11 and I'm here in Munich. For clarity's sake I'll organize my update in days again. I know it's not the most creative idea, but to organize what's transpired alphabetically or by assigning each event a random number in a oscillating converging sequence would simply take more brain power and time than I have tonight.

The last time I wrote was Wednesday, so let's start with Thursday (August 7). It was a fairly regular rehearsal day. We were all very busy trying to prepare for our final concert, but I was still able to find time to sleep in. Oh how I love to sleep in! Thursday was also notable for the most insane thunder and lightning storm I have possibly ever experienced anywhere. It was crazy. Tons of rain, and crazy, very near lightning. It was great, and I got wet. YES!!

Friday could have been considered another extension of Thursday. We had more rehearsals, more rain and storms, and our final dress rehearsal for the final concert. One thing that was notable about Friday was the absolute best dinner I have ever had in Austria!! Normally dinner is a rather stressful time for me - I have two or three options to choose from for my meal. None of them look good, or there might be one part of the meal (like potatoes) that appears edible against a range of other gross selections. So I have to first figure out which meal will do me the least amount of harm, and then figure out how I'm going to get rid of the rest that I don't want so as to minimize the offense I will inevitably give to the restaurant when I return a plate still half-full of food with a humble "ich bin fertig" (I'm done). Sometimes I just choose a meal because there's one amazing thing which I cannot pass up (like French Fries). This is also complicated by the fact that in general, the portions are twice as much as I would eat normally. It's really hard to be me, you see, and I wish to send a public apology to Cafe Klingler that I'm so sorry! It's not you, it's me!

Anyways, it so turned out that Friday the meal was almost ideal - it was a egg/cheese omelet and french fries, supplemented by a good soup! YES! I was so happy to return an empty plate that I almost wish I had taken a picture of it. (Well, it wasn't quite empty, there were a few inedible fry parts... Emily would understand!)

Saturday was our last official day of TOP Opera. My dad arrived that morning... (sorry, my train of thought was just interrupted by some moronic African American midget rapping over in the corner... wie sagt man 'retarded' auf Deutsch?!?)... I had sent him an email the previous night to give him directions to my apartment, telling him that I would wait for him there. Well, I waited and waited, and finally left to go get some food before the store closed. Lo and behold there is my Dad sitting by the grocery store near the roundabout. He didn't get my email (thanks Hotmail) and had been there for at least an hour. He hadn't been bored, though, since he had already apparently met all the other TOP opera participants on their way to the school. So he hung out with me most of the rest of the day as we rehearsed, made last-minute plans for our own travels, and then did the final concert.

The final concert was long - 3 hours. Things went quite well, and the audience (we had a full house) really seemed to enjoy it. I played very well, and only wish that I could go back in time and redo the last number. It's tricky, and didn't work as well this time. Grrrr... oh well... I guess it's okay. It wasn't horrible, but I've done it better. My dad stayed with us that night since Florian went back to Innsbruck, so that was also nice to not have to find somewhere else to put him up.

Sunday I packed up all my stuff while my Dad cleaned our apartment (it was a mess!). We drove west through the Austrian Alps via Innsbruck to Bregenz. It was a beautiful drive, and we drove through some very long tunnels also. In Bregenz we walked around the city and saw the sights and looked for a place to stay. We didn't have a lot of luck, so we decided to go to nearby Lindau (just across the border in Germany) to find a place. We found an information wall with housing options and found an ideal place there - cheap and not far. The only problem was that we had to call them to see if they still had any rooms, and of course this task fell to me since I was the only one with any German skills (my Dad's German skills are not great, in fact, they may as well be negative... sorry Dad, I'm trying to help you!). This was a stressful event for me because I'm not great in German, and have never talked on the phone before. But I sucked it up, did it, and was successful! I understood everything fine, and she understood me. They had one room left and she asked if I wanted it. I said yes and that we were on our way. We found it easily (thanks to my Dad's awesome GPS) and were very luckily, because right as we drove up the landlady was turning away a Dutch couple that wanted our room! Woo hoo for me!! So we ditched our stuff there, freshened up a bit, and then drove back to Bregenz for Tosca.

The Bregenzer Festspiel consists of a few events, the main one being a elaborately staged opera on a stage in the lake. This year's production was Puccini's Tosca, and I really wanted to go. So we got the cheapest tickets we could and attended. It was great. Really. The singing and the orchestra were wonderful, and the staging and set design was spectacular! Our seats were far away (i.e. second-to-last row) but were good enough. The only really big downfall was for my Dad. For one, the opera was sung in Italian with German subtitles, neither of which help him much in comprehending the action. Secondly, he was suffering some jet lag and faded in and out of consciousness a few times during the course of the opera. So I'm not sure how much he enjoyed it, but I thought it was great!

Today (Monday) we got up, got breakfast, and left Bregenz to come to Munich via roads that follow the Alps. We drove through many quaint small towns on the way to Füssen. Our goal was just to see some scenic country and then see Schloss Neuschwanstein. Neuwchwanstein was gorgeous as was the country around it, but it was fairly crowded and a little touristy for my taste. But it was still worth it to see this magnificent castle and it's sister castle (whose name escapes me at the moment) nearby. We hiked up to the Marienbrücke as well. That was an intense hike, and it really wiped me out afterwards, but definitely worthwhile.

After we were done there we headed directly to Munich along the Autobahns. Our plan was to meet up with one of my friends from TOP Opera who's from Munich and have him show us around the city. Unfortunately we weren't able to get in contact, but it's just as well because we got in here later than expected and weren't up for traipsing all over the city after our earlier hikes. So we went to the tourist area, used their free hotel-finding service to get a place to stay, and went there. It's a combination hotel/youth hostel and has an interesting atmosphere. There's lots of groups of young teens from different places but also older people as well. It's close to the center of town, but it's not necessarily in a peaceful locale. In fact, it's pretty crazy. I'm in the lobby right now to use the internet and it's very loud. But it works and it fits our needs perfectly - it's cheap, close, and has decent enough accommodations (shower, clean beds) to suit us. It just so happens that this chain of hostels also has locations in Prague and Berlin, so we might just stay with them for the remainder of our trip. It would definitely relieve the stress of having to find places to stay. That's the most stressful part of the trip for me - I prefer having a little more idea in advance normally. Especially when it falls on me to have to do the communicating/translating!

But I must say, I'm very proud of the fact that I'm able to communicate clearly and easily. I have learned a lot of German in my few weeks here, and in situations like this it's very evident. I still have a long ways to go to be where I want to be with this language, but I'm on the way!

Tomorrow we will spend the morning and afternoon seeing the main sights of Munich. There's much more to do here than we have time for, so we're just going to hit those things that we most interested in (historical sights for the most part, though I really want to go to the archeological museum here as well!). In fact it's been great traveling with my dad, because we have very similar traveling styles. We both appreciate the cheap, walk more, avoid stupid touristy things, and like to visit museums/historical sites and actually read the information plaques.

We plan on leaving here around 5 or 6, and drive to Prague. That will be an adventure, because I no nothing of Czech. I've tried to learn the pronunciation so I can at least pronounce the signs and stuff, but we're really going to be lost there I'm afraid. Hopefully we'll be able to communicate in English or German, but who knows!

Well as is normal, this update has taken me a while to write and it's almost midnight now. I'm tired and have nothing else to say, so I'm done. Internet access is sporadic, but hopefully I'll get another update up in a day or two (though I'll probably wait on pictures until I'm back in the States). Until next time!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Okay, besides having about the cutest nieces in the world, I just have to brag a little. I took these pictures, and I really think they turned out pretty good. I do think it helps to have great looking kids to take pics of, but I am still proud. These are my sister Julie's girls, Opal, 2 years, and Nora, 1 month. Cute, cute! If anyone wants some pictures, I would love the practice! I am hoping to get a nice digital camera in the near future. These were taken with Julie's Nikon D50. I am seriously considering accidently packing it in my suitcase.
So, also to update a bit, I am now in Nampa. After having two totally blah days in Utah, just not really knowing how to function, my niece Amanda and I drove to Nampa. I have not yet seen my mom, but I plan to tomorrow. It is good to be with my family, though. Almost all my sisters practiced the musical number tonight. And then we played cards. It still doesn't seem quite real that my mom is gone. But, I feel strengthened here. It feels good to remember my mom and to laugh over memories. This experience, as sad and unfortunate as it is, has really given me an opportunity to love my family more than ever.
I miss my mom. I am worried that I am going to forget things about her. I am thankful for the memories I do have of her. She is truly an amazing woman!

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa