Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I just ran into this video this morning and had to laugh. Its surprisingly fun, and I think it just might be the next generation of Mannheim Steamroller!

North Point's iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

I'm so glad that Bryson has posted about some of the poems from the Concert he's conducting this coming week, otherwise there wouldn't have been a post for a long time. But I do have a reason why I've been absent to the blogging world.

I've been gaining some weight...okay quite a bit of weight....

Then pair that with my cravings for fruit popsicles, and cool ranch doritos and that can only mean one thing....We're pregnant!!!! That's right folks, in 5 months time there will be a new little Mortensen. :) We are so excited. I'm due the end of May and I'm about 16 weeks and feeling great! My aversions to food are mostly gone which is so nice, and I have energy again. Morning sickness wasn't terrible, mostly just nauseous days spent on the couch. My next doctor's appointment is at about 18 weeks and right before Christmas so there's a chance we might find out what we're having. If not we have to wait till we get home. But that's okay. We're just so excited to have this little one in our lives!!

Me at 16 weeks. I have realized that when you're short there's no where for the baby to go but out, so I started to show early.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Choose Something Like a Star

As I keep writing about the poems, I think I'll share them with you. Here is the final song in the set, a setting of Choose Something Like a Star:

7. Choose Something Like a Star

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud --
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

It saddens me that Randall Thompson decided to have this song as the final song in the piece, since it introduces the meaning of a “star” that runs throughout the entire set of songs we’ll be singing. Perhaps he hopes that it will act as a final summation of the thoughts. In several places, this poem gives insight to what the “stars” can symbolize.

There is something about the “loftiness” of the star that always inspires me. I love to go for long walks on clear nights to see the canopy of stars above me, little flecks of light that bring beauty, light, and order to an otherwise dark and dreary sky. Frost’s star seems to serve the same purpose, it represents those things in our lives – our hopes and dreams, perhaps – that make beautiful the otherwise dark and dreary humdrum of our lives. While we would love to have our whole lives filled with “stars,” the “dark is what brings out [their] light.”

More importantly, Frost’s star teaches us about our hopes and dreams, and what they should be for us: “it says ‘I burn’” – do our dreams burn with the passion to motivate us? “not even stooping from its sphere” – do we set our sights high as we choose our dreams and goals, and never compromise them? “But to be wholly taciturn/ In your reserve is not allowed” – do we stand up for those things that matter to us and choose never to be taciturn (silent) when our dreams are challenged! Above all of these, the most meaningful definition of a star is found in Frost’s final statement “We may choose something like a star/ To stay our minds upon and be staid.” Those hopes, dreams, and goals are the things that keep what is most important in front of us so that we are not detracted by the sway of the world or get lost in the humdrum of our daily lives.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Road Not Taken

My students this semester are singing "Frostiana;" Randall Thompson's setting of Robert Frost poems. To get us started in a discussion of the meaning of the poems, I decided to write my own feelings about it. Let me know what you think!

1. The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The story behind this poem is that Robert Frost and a friend would go for walks together and Frost’s friend would agonize over which path they should take, and Frost wrote this poem in response to him. You can actually see the indecision in the poem’s description of the two roads. “Then took the other, as just as fair,/ And having perhaps the better claim…Though as for that the passing there/ Had worn them really about the same” In one moment he sees one as better, but then second guesses himself, saying they really do look the same.

Robert Frost claimed that he wrote the poem as a sort of jab at his friend, suggesting that it really didn’t matter which road one takes. I think that, by the end of the poem, Frost discovers some very important truths about making choices. “Yet knowing how way leads on to way,/ I doubted if I should ever come back.”

We go through our lives constantly making decisions. While some do not matter, many do, and every decision yields consequences that either open wider opportunities to us and yield greater benefit to our lives, or they limit our opportunities and subsequently reduce our potential for satisfaction. More importantly, however, is the fact that we can never go back to undo any decision. We can change our decision at any moment, but the consequences of that first decision will always be a part of our history.

It is so tempting to select the easier of two choices simply because it is the most common, or the least work. Inevitably these decisions; decisions to play instead of work, to blow off responsibility, or to be small minded towards your fellow man; lead to unhappy consequences and limited opportunities. It is often the difficult choices; the decision to work hard, to hold to your commitments, and to the best of those around you; that yield the greatest results. Often, these choices are lonely ones, but the benefit of such difficult decisions are much greater than the payoff of popularity. Randall Thompson portrays the benefit of these moments so expertly in the music. Throughout all four verses, the anxiety of choosing a path, and the difficulty of choosing the “road less traveled” is portrayed expertly by the brooding chords in the piano accompaniment, while the loneliness of these roads is found in the choir’s a capella singing. However, as our character presses forward in the decision he (or she) knows to be right, Thompson portrays the benefit of such a decision in a sudden, positive change in the piano accompaniment.

So, take Robert Frost’s poem as a challenge to live the higher life! Give up on choosing small-minded options and make those decisions that are difficult but lead to long-lasting benefits! This can be something as simple as working hard (both in classes and at work) and holding true on every promise you have made, or choosing to do something great instead of something simply mediocre. Recognize that any moment of choice only comes once, and challenge yourself to choose the best of whatever is offered to you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finally...The Apartment

Sorry for the delay in getting these pictures up. But Bryson and I feel settled and are loving our new apartment! So without further adieu, let's start the tour!

When you walk in the front door, straight ahead is the living room and balcony. You'll see this in other pictures but to the left is the kitchen and to the right is the dining area.

Also to the right is our fireplace!!! We've used it a couple times already and love it! It will definitely be getting more use as it gets colder. :) The door to the right is a large storage closet.

The other part of the living room. We saw the bookshelves and the tv stand in Ikea and fell in love. I think they fit nicely in the space don't you? Although I didn't take a picture of it, behind the couch and to the left of the fireplace is a little area that could be used as a study area. Right now we use it as blanket storage, but I think a reading nook is in the future.

The kitchen and front door. We love having not only a dishwasher (yay!) and more cabinets, but we also have a wonderful pantry as well. I didn't really realize what little space we had in our kitchen in Provo till we moved here.

The hallway! That's all.

Our second bedroom/piano room/office. Trust me it's cleaner now then when I took this picture.

Also in the second bedroom is one of my other favorite features missing in our Provo apartment...our own washer and dryer! It's so nice to do our laundry in our house rather then using the ones in the building attached to our complex. It was coin operated and a homeless man slept there for a while. This is so much better. :)

The guest bathroom.

Our bedroom with a wall of closets.

Master bathroom

Last but not least, some of our fall decorations.

I hope you all enjoyed the tour!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Bryson and I headed over to Milwaukee on Saturday and decided to focus our adventure at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). It sits on Lake Michigan and is so beautiful! We had lunch at the museum cafe (which was so good!) and then had a great time exploring the first part of the museum. Afterward we headed out across the suspension bridge to see a little of downtown Milwaukee. Although I wasn't the biggest fan of the wind (Bryson kept telling me to embrace the wind :) ) it was fun to see all the different styles of architecture, from turn of the century and art deco to modern.

Even the museum's parking garage was a work of art.

One of my favorite pieces, this was what we saw when we came up from the parking garage.

Want to know a secret? I think it would be so cool to be a glass blower and make things like this!

Standing in Windhover Hall looking up at the sky through the museum's "wings." The Burke Brise Soleil has the wingspan similar to a boeing 747 and the open and close every morning and evening. Plus they have wind sensors, so when the wind reaches a certain point, the wings will close.
Here's a view of the wings from the suspension bridge.

The next couple pictures are some of the amazing buildings we saw in downtown Milwaukee.

We're so excited to head back to Milwaukee. Not only for the wonderful traffic (Driving to Chicago is stressful!) but to see more of what Milwaukee has to offer. I'm sure we'll be back soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

First "week" of classes

So...I guess I finished my first "week" of classes - which was actually only one day of classes and one day of auditions (they are on a Monday - Thursday schedule here...). Things have gone great! A little bit exhausting, but I'm looking forward to a great semester. Here are some pictures of my office, I think its turned out really nice! Hopefully it makes sense. We'll do some pictures of campus later...

Panorama makes things look funky, but the desk on the right and the table on the left are actually parallel to each other, my little "nook" in my office. Notice the candy jar on the table, I won that at the retreat!!

That's my window! Bookshelves (with mostly my books) on the right. When I came in, both bookshelves were PACKED with books that weren't mine. My first couple days were spent sorting through the ones I wanted to keep and the ones that were out of date...

Kinda weird angle, but it connects the rest of the room. My "closet" on the left. I'm making a goal of riding my bike to work, so I have lots of clothes to change into once I get there :) The bike (try not to notice its conspicuous absence) will go on the wall by the door.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Yay! We got married a year ago! Since we'd just moved across the country a couple weeks before, Bryson and I decided to have a more low key anniversary. We decided that we would go explore Madison. Before we left we headed to Saturday morning farmers market down town. It was so fun to walk around and get all our vegetables for the week, plus two cupcakes (one caramel and one chocolate - two of the flavors of our cake) to eat since we didn't save a tier from our wedding cake. After taking all our wonderful produce home, we headed up north to Madison.

Madison has a large farmer's market that circles around the capital building. Bryson and I had a great time wandering around and seeing all the wonderful things that were being sold. We found these gorgeous pepper plants at one stand. If we hadn't been staying all day in Madison we would have bought one.
At the same stand they also had beautiful strands of peppers to buy. Don't you love how vibrant the colors are?!
Everyone had such beautiful produce. I love all the different colors of these bell peppers.
The capitol building was modeled after our nation's capitol building but was built about three feet shorter.
It was built from 43 different types of stone, many of which can be seen in the rotunda area. It was just breathtaking to see all the detail that was put in to this building, both on the inside and the outside. Plus there's a wonderful observation deck that lets you see all of Madison and some of the five lakes that surround it. If you ever get a chance to go to Madison, Wisconsin definitely go to the capitol building. It's beautiful.
After leaving the capitol, Bryson and I headed over to the Student Union at the University of Wisconsin - Madison for some ice cream. It was so so good! Afterwards, we headed over to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. I think I could have spent hours in there. It was so peaceful to walk around the grounds and see the beautiful flowers, plants and water features. I think I might have gone a little camera crazy!

This plant was one of Bryson's favorites. I love how vibrant the colors are.
Once we got home it was time for dessert and these cupcakes did not disappoint. We had such a fun day exploring Madison and reminiscing about this past year together and how much fun we've had. I am so excited for this next year as we start our new adventure here in Janesville! I love you hun!


After two days of driving and two days of cleaning and unpacking, we all thought it was time for a break. So we found some walking tours online and headed down to Chicago. Both Bryson and his mom had gotten some great ideas for things to do in Chicago, so these ideas combined with our handy dandy walking tour made a wonderful day.

We had lunch atop the John Hancock building, where we had some great food and beautiful views of the city and Lake Michigan.
Isn't that just gorgeous?!
The Hancock building was at the end of our walking tour, so we decided to start there (since we were all hungry!) and work our way backwards. Our next stop was the beautiful Fourth Presbyterian Church, which was right across the street and looked like a little piece of old England had been transplanted right in the middle of Chicago. It amazed me that as soon as you stepped into the garden the sounds of the city melted away.
This is the covered walkway that separates the garden from the bustling streets of Chicago. I thought it just beautiful with the greenery that crept along the edges and the wonderful archways.
Of course we had to stop at the Hershey's building!
And what do you think was right across the street? Ghiradrdelli's! They gave us chocolate when we walked in which was delicious! We actually came back after dinner and had some of their wonderful desserts.
This is the Old Chicago Water Tower which, along with the Pumping Station was one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The Wrigley Building (Yep headquarters of Wrigley chewing gum) is a beautiful and majestic building that sits right on the Chicago River. Although you can't see it, the building has a really cool four sided clock tower.
We wanted to go to Giordano's pizza to get some Chicago deep dish pizza, but the line just to get on the waiting list went down the street. So we walked across the street to an Italian restaurant called Rosebud on Rush. We got in right away and were seated outside, so we got to watch Chicago life as we ate. Oh my goodness it was so so good! The picture above is a salad that Bryson got. Isn't it gorgeous?! And it was good too. :) All four of us got something different and then shared and everything was amazing. We are definitely going again.

It was such a fun day to wander around and explore Chicago. I'm glad both of our moms were able to come out and help us and see where we will be living. I think it's so fun that we live so close to cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, and we're so excited to be able to explore more of our new home!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Driving...and driving...and driving...

The beautiful Rocky Mountains in Wyoming.

Welcome to Nebraska!

About halfway into Nebraska we found the corn!

Coming over the hill in Iowa and these majestic windmills appeared!

You know those streets in California that are lined with palm trees?
Here are the palm trees of Iowa.

We saw these gorgeous farms surrounded by corn all throughout Wisconsin

This isn't a corn field, it's an English garden.

Driving is all we did for two days straight. We went through four states the first day, and three states the second day. Both days were long and tiring, but it was fun to spend time with our mom's and with each other. Plus we got to see some beautiful country! It was so amazing to wake up surrounded by mountains and fall asleep in the flatlands of the Midwest. We saw a lot of corn and a lot of soy beans, but I think my favorite site was seeing all the windmills. There were a couple different places along the way that had fields of windmills. It was definitely a sight to behold. But while we all enjoyed seeing all the new sights and new states, we were all happy and ready to be in Janesville and out of the car!