Thirteen

Yesterday, Tricia and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. She was amazing then, and is so much more now. What a privilege it has been to grow and love and live and work together these many years. I am not the man I was (which is a good thing!), and much of that change is due to Tricia’s patient love for me.

May God bless us with many more decades together. I love you, sweetie!

Viewzi in the Newzi

Okay, first, let’s just clear up one thing. The whole “newzi” rhyme was Tricia’s idea. So if you loved it, now you know. And if you didn’t, well, there you have it.

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. a news-team of two showed up at our offices to put together a story on Viewzi’s upcoming live launch. Stephanie Lucero interviewed several of us, got her footage, and had a story run on the 10 p.m. news. We were on the air at about 10:15 p.m. The end of the story included a teaser for a referral code found at the story’s accompanying web article. At approximately 10:22 p.m., our servers became a giant molten blob that sank into the earth’s crust…

Actually, the platform did amazingly. And the story had a fun “local boys try to make good and take on the big-bads of internet search” angle to it. You’ll see me briefly. If it was a movie, I would be listed in the credits as “Man 1, 3 men at a table”. Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Sweet, Beautiful Sleep…How Thou Dost Elude Us

See these four cute, angelic-faced creatures? Aren’t they sweet all snuggled together and ready for bed in their various nighttime attires?

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Who would believe, looking at these four cherubic little faces, that these dear children are the cause of night after sleepless night for their poor dear parents? Parents, who despite their youthful good looks, cannot deny the fact that they are continually aging, and feeling the need for more rest for their weary bodies. The dark blotches underneath our eyes are a testimony to the nighttime antics around House of Horne, and except for one blissful night of uninterrupted sleep that happened a few days ago, we parents cannot recall another night in the past many, many weeks around here that we were not wakened by at least one incident in the wee hours of the night. So we are feeling sleep-deprived, despite the fact that we are more than two and half years out from having a newborn in the house. And this at a time which is, perhaps even more so than usual, pretty busy around here.

Popular themes in nighttime wakings include (but are by no means limited to) bad dreams, bed-wetting (through your diaper if you are the two year old and through your Spiderman boxer briefs if you are five – even though you haven’t wet your bed in literally almost a year’s time), coughing spells, stomach aches, night terrors (this is really actually quite sad despite my attempt at humor — Nicolas has suffered continually since January with ongoing, very awful night terrors), and various requests from the two-year-old to “sleep in your bed with you” just because “I want to” at 3am. Ugh. Continuous wakings throughout the night do nothing to improve my looks or my countenance, and it has been more of a struggle of late to hold my frustrations and tendency toward impatience in check.

So…why do I take the time to emote (albeit mildly) about this on our usually rant-free site here at House of Horne? I don’t know…running out of interesting fodder? Not really. But, I told Jay the other day that I really do love this stage of life with relatively young children. Mind you, I think I made this statement after that one night where we were not woken up by children, but even so. I love our life, sleep-deprivation and all, and would not exchange it if you gave me the option.

Despite the physical exhaustion that is often a part of parenting young ones, it is a precious time, and one I do not want to miss, no matter how tired I am. I feel as though we are given a gift in watching these little people grow and mature, and in having a huge part in shaping whom they become. Being their parents is hard, hard work, but is it also wonderful fun, and heaps blessing after blessing upon our lives. I pray, despite sleep deprivation which will most likely continue, that we will parent these children well. That God blesses our efforts, feeble and stupid though they sometimes are. And yes — since you asked —yes, after everything else, I do pray for sweet sleep as well…maybe someday.

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day weekend has always held special significance for Jay and I. Along with the rest of the U.S.A., we are thankful for the men and women who have sacrificed to help give us the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.

On top of that (but in no way to top that), Memorial Day weekend marks the time we first met, fifteen years ago, when Jay and two other Rice undergrads visited my family’s church in North Houston. Two years later, on Memorial Day weekend, Jay and I were married, so each year our anniversary falls right around this holiday weekend.

Perhaps it is only fitting then that we ended up living in a neighborhood that “does it up big” for this holiday. Each year there is a wonderful parade and celebration honoring our veterans and those who serve our country. It is a great day that brings folks together and fosters community like I have not seen before in any place I’ve lived. Last year was our first Memorial Day in this house, and our family was honored to be asked to march at the head of the parade carrying the all-important sign:

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This year was even better, first, because Grammy Ruth got to enjoy the parade too (she was still suffering from her Meniere’s last year and was too sick to be here) and second, because all our children had the fun of riding the train in the parade, which they thought was better than walking the whole route. Go figure.

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After the parade, we enjoyed a cookout with even more family and friends back here at the house. It was a great day. And so many pictures were taken that it is fitting to add another album to our sidebar!

Happy Memorial Day!!

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Dear Uncle Russ and Aunt Joan,

Thank you for our wonderful sweatshirts! We love them. They are cozy and warm, and they look great!

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And this summer when it is 100 degrees outside we will gaze at our Cape Cod sweatshirts and think about the cooler weather that will surely come again. Someday….

It is with Great Excitement That I Introduce You to….

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…..Lucy!!

At least, that’s what we voted last evening to name this furry creature who appears to have taken up residence here at House of Horne.

Personally, I am a bit dubious that the name will stick. We’ve been calling her Dixie for six weeks now. And despite a very democratic process there is one member of the household (who shall remain unnamed) who, every time the dog is referred to as Lucy yells “No! Her name is Dixie!” A real team player, that one.

So anyway, we shall see. Since we came up with this name ourselves, there will be no prizes given to our wonderful participating readers. Sorry, folks. But kudos to everyone who chimed in – we have loved reading your interesting suggestions. I think it is fair to say that Lucy received the greatest amount of positive reaction, so in our book you are all winners!

Here’s to many happy years with ole Dixie, er…I mean Lucy!!

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Weekend In New Jersey!

Yes, that’s right: on Friday, I hopped aboard a plane! Thanks to those week-long business trips to China and France that Jay used to take on behalf of his job, Abigail and I had free plane tickets for a weekend trip to my home state, where much of my family still lives. The reason for our visit this time was my little sis’ Bridal shower given by several members of her wonderful fiance’s family and a lovely aunt of ours. We had so much fun, saw extended family that we hadn’t seen in many, many years, and met quite a few of Keith’s relatives, all of whom we enjoyed greatly. Jay and the boys bonded back here on the home front, and it was nice to come home to everyone fed, bathed, and happy!

I took a few pictures of our weekend, which you can see here on our picasa site. Here are just a couple.

This is Abigail and I with my little grandmother, Lolly, as we call her. It’s been four years since I’ve seen Lolly so we were thrilled to spend the day with her.

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And here is the happy bride-to-be modeling a new creation from a very talented cousin-to-be of hers, who painstakingly molded a paper plate, tissue and ribbon into a thing of beauty that was only more lovely when worn atop my sister’s head.

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And to see Sandra’s album of pictures from the shower, click here. Enjoy!

It’s all about the Views

It is with great pleasure that I announce I am now an employee of Viewzi. It’s a great bunch of folks working together on a great product, and I am extremely excited to be part of it. I began contracting for Viewzi on April 7 after a whirlwind interview/discussion period. On May 1 I became a regular employee and showed up on the About page yesterday.

Viewzi’s got several great ideas all rolled up into one product. Ask yourself, should search results always look the same (e.g. a text list)? No! The display of results should merge two things: the intentions of the searcher and the results. I may enter “Madrid” as a search term, but I likely have a goal in mind such as “I wonder what it would be like to stay in Madrid?” or “I think that song I heard on the radio had ‘Madrid’ in the title”. Should travel information and MP3s be presented in the same way? Not to humans. Viewzi solves this need. It’s all about the Views.

Also, should everyone be forced to use the same means of traversing search results? No! Even with multiple Views, you still need to be able to customize your experience. Viewzi is currently hard at work on the first wave of enhancements to support user customization.

What about the long tail of niches? If you know you are searching for recipes, why get song titles or travel destinations in your search results? Why even search sites other than recipe sites? Why indeed? Viewzi tailors niche Views to appropriate data sources. So for general search Viewzi uses the big 4 and others. But for all the other Views, it pulls from a rich diversity of specialized sites and data sources.

And all this is built on an open platform that (eventually) allows anyone to build their own View. Viewzi isn’t trying to figure out the best way to search automobiles. Instead, Viewzi is building a platform that will allow the wisdom of crowds to settle that issue, and even come up with a diversity of answers.

If you are interested in joining the beta, I’ve set up 50 referrals for our steadfast readership. Go to www.viewzi.com/invite and enter the referral code “hornes.org” and you are in.

Airing Our Dirty Laundry

Yesterday the little boys and I drove a very full carload of donations from our school class over to the wonderful folks at Wycliffe Bible Translators. The ministry has a little boutique on site, where they sell donations of clothing, housewares, etc to raise money for their nonprofit organization. The third grade visited Wycliffe as part of a field trip earlier this year, and our service project for the year centered around supporting this international ministry.

It’s a pretty long drive down to Wycliffe, and since I had the kids with me, we unloaded things pretty quickly so we could return to school for afternoon carpool. And somehow, in the midst of dropping my huge carload of stuff to these good people, I managed to donate our family’s dry cleaning. A very big bag of dry cleaning. With the only pairs of dress pants that still fit my sweet husband who has lost 15 pounds in the past few months.

I wasn’t aware of what I had done till this morning when I realized the bag of cleaning was absolutely gone, and I dreaded telling Jay. Feeling utterly stupid, I slunk into the bathroom where he was brushing his teeth, and relayed that I had donated all his clothes to a ministry. He looked at me dumbfounded for several seconds, and then just burst out laughing.

And that is how you know you have a great husband: instead of being angry at you for sending all his clothes to a ministry, he laughs and thinks it’s the funniest story he’s heard in weeks. I’m glad he can laugh; I am so angry at myself I feel like crying. I cannot wait to tell the volunteers at Wycliffe that I need to take back my donation! Here’s hoping they haven’t already sold our dirty laundry to some unsuspecting patron.

Updated to Add: Great news! Our bag of dry-cleaning has been found – hooray!! and my wonderful sister saved me another long round trip down to Wycliffe by running over there on her lunch break from work, and rescuing all our clothes, not one of which had been sold yet. Thank you, Sandra!