Sunday, January 24, 2021

Update


Hola!  Well, it's still January.  Of course, this being Austin, it was like 73 degrees today with like 90% humidity.
Tomorrow we might have snow.  I dunno.  Haven't checked the weather.
We're mostly just plugging along here in the midst of the midwinter doldrums.
We've got a new President.  I'm not sure whether he's the best President ever, but it seems as though he's willing to defer to people with actual professional expertise on a wide range of issues, so I feel like that puts us light years ahead of where we were a couple of weeks ago. 
I guess we'll see.


Bella walks Raylan to school.  They're really 
this as thieves.  It's adorable now.  But God help us
as the years go by if they figure out how
to team up against us.....

It rained a lot this weekend.  We did a lot of inside playing- games, art, make believe, crafts, etc.  Bella spent the night at Grandma and Papa's house Friday night.  Raylan asked if he could stay home to "play with my toys and watch TV".  So he stayed home.

Raylan spent a lot of time this weekend working on hamster mazes
and hamster obstacle courses.  We do not have a hamster.

Saturday night I had band practice.  It was just Reed, Jim, and I.  We did a sort of acoustic power trio.  It was fun.   Maybe it sounded okay?


Raylan has been getting Kiwi Crates in the mail
thanks to Nana.  He loves them,  This week he made 
a floor sweeper that actually works!


Bella hosts a tea party.  Invited guests include Mini Mouse,
Marshall (from Paw Patrol), and Grogu (the Madalorian).
Bella patiently explained to her guests that she had run 
out of cream and sugar and that all she had left for cookies
were crumbs.
Worst.  Tea Party.  Ever.

Like I said, it rained a lot.  We still went for walks as soon as the drizzle stopped.


If we scoop water back into this drainage pipe, something
amazing is sure to happen, Bella!


Finally outside!!!!!!

I've recently started trying to cook a bit (like once a week).  Amy's the cook in our house, but she seems to be happy for me to give her a night off from time to time, even if my results are more spotty.
Tonight's dinner came out okay, though, I thought.  It was a sort of cajun dish with chicken sausage and asparagus.  Turned out okay!


Steans goes cajun up in heeyah!

That's about it!  Have a good week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Update

 Hello!

We're just coming off a 3 day weekend for the MLK Day holiday.

Here's a picture of Amy doing a virtual hearing in District Court.  The exercise bike was in the house because it had been particularly cold that day (usually I ride it in the garage).  Just posting this pic because it does a pretty good job of capturing pandemic work life.


The secret to success in a video conference
hearing is apparently proper footwear.

Here's a game that Amy got called Ice Cool.  It involves flicking pieces around a board into different rooms.  I'm not a huge fan, but the kids seem to really like it.  A kinetic, coordination-based game which requires little kids to move around a table.  So the kids like it-so much so that they work themselves into a manic frenzy when we play it.  Which is part of the reason I'm not a huge fan.

It's called Ice Cool, but I think it should be
called Meltdown, because that's what happens
when we play.


The kids spent the night with my parents on Friday.  As always, they had a blast.  On Saturday we took them on a family bike ride.  We rode over to Garrison park, and the kids got to get off their bikes and play a little bit.




He had to do this.  Because none of the 
7 other empty swings were good enough.

Pedaling really hard to get home so we 
can watch TV and not move.


On Saturday night we had Mono Ensemble practice at Reed's house.  This week is Reed and Eric's birthday, so it was a bit of a celebration as well as a rehearsal.

An Intimate Evening with Mono E


On Sunday we all went over to my parents' place.  We went for a hike with them and ate Rudy's barbecue and spent the night over there.  It was really nice to hang out with my folks and to get out of our house for a while.

Raylan shows us that he is not afraid of
cliffs on a Steiner Ranch trail

Trying out a trail bench with Bella

Raylan.  Probably up to trouble.


On Monday we went home.  Amy took Raylan on a play date with Dorothy and her family at a park while I stayed home with napping Bella.




Amy got this floor desk for th kids to 
share.  When we told them to share it
we thought they'd take turns....

Anyway, that was about it.

I DID reread Letter from a Birmingham Jail on MLK Day.  Still powerful and so very smart.

Okay.  That's it!  Hope you're doing okay!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Update

Hi!  Well, this week has been a wild ride.  And to make that declaration after having just finished up 2020 is really saying something.

Of course, COVID continues to rage across the county (the U.S. surpassed 4,000 deaths in one day on Thursday for the first time ever).  Georgia had a runoff election for 2 Senate seats on Tuesday which ended up shifting the Senate to Democratic control.  On Wednesday, as Congress was certifying the electoral vote count to confirm Biden as President, Trump held a rally near the Capitol which ultimately ended with his followers marching on the Capitol and pretty much taking over the building.  Trump, during his speech at the rally, encouraged his followers to march on the Capitol and to show strength instead of weakness.  One rioter was shot and killed, several more died due to vaguely defined medical issues experienced during the riot, and a police officer died after being struck with a fire extinguisher.  Pipe bombs were found, people were arrested with weapons, and Senators and Congressmen had to be evacuated for safety.

On Thursday and Friday here in Austin, very large numbers of state troopers were deployed near the state capitol, although it seems like the protests here were pretty mild.

DPS forces gather near the capitol on Friday

Anyway, needless to say, the national news this week has been crazy.  Apparently now the Democrats are going to attempt a second impeachment as Trump wraps up his last 10 days in office.

Well, so that was last week.  On a more personal level, the kids were in school and doing fine, and Amy and I were both still working from home.

On Saturday we took the kids for a 3 mile hike on the Sunset Valley nature trail.   

They posed for this picture and asked for us to take it.

Raylan explains that he is leading
the way for Dad and Bella is
leading Mom.

On Saturday evening I had band practice with the guys.  All 5 of us were there for a socially distanced practice on Jim's back porch.  We played acoustic guitars and had a lot of fun.  It was a little cold outside, but Jim had his fire pit going, and it wasn't too bad.

Reed on drums

Frank tries to contain
his excitement

On Sunday we had a legitimate snow storm!  They had been saying we were gonna get snow, but the temperature predications were still a little above freezing, so I thought it would just be a few flakes.
Instead, it came down pretty hard and for a long time!
The temperatures did stay pretty much above freezing, so although the snow managed to blanket the lawns and trees pretty well, it seemed like the ice didn't accumulate too badly on the roads.

   
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=11aKdX7rMgYDma7kH1L5LZBdH0boXqynS

Bella has mixed feelings about the snow


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1cEsBSVLmFhIbqgoWeMPApg2310jEwEPA


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1aE6yxboYaJHOJkxF9BxNQ4x9Gp9uuiet
Once we got Bella some mittens, she liked the snow a lot more.
She was super excited about this particular snowball and carried it around
for a long time on our walk.  A loooong time.


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1CxShXRmSWmHbJHTU3iSDteDj6nfE4_4_
Walking around our neighborhood.  The kids seemed to enjoy it.


Our winter cottage....

Anyway, between the national media events and the snow storm, we had kind of a crazy week.

I hope everyone is doing okay.  Stay safe!!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

New Year

Hello!  Happy New Year!

Well, 2020 has been one heck of a wild ride, to put it mildly.  The coronavirus pandemic has completely upended all of our lives, obviously.  We've been through an extremely divisive presidential election, and we had widespread protesting and some counter-protesting in the wake of George Floyd's death up in Minnesota.

We've become familiar with working from home and virtual school.  We've missed seeing our friends and family (to put it mildly).  We really miss Ryan and Jamie, and we miss being able to travel to Arizona to see Amy's side of the family.  

We've also just missed going to restaurants, movies, and concerts.

In a lot of ways, 2020 has been a disaster.  There's not a lot of ways to put lipstick on this pig.

On the other hand, we have had some highlights.  

Obviously, foremost among them has been adopting Bella.  We love her to the moon and back, and this one event has honestly outweighed so much of the negative stuff that's happened this year.

Also, so far our immediate friends and family have managed to avoid COVID and any serious health effects from it.  We have Mom and Dad in our bubble, and that's been great for them and for us.  They have been super helpful and it's been great to be able to have them continue to be in our bubble and part of our lives.

Another positive has been the school experience this year.  Raylan started kindergarten and really seems to like it and has made some new friends.  He's already reading a bit and working on math.  Raylan and Bella have both had a chance to do most of their schooling live and in-person, although there have been periods when Raylan did virtual school.  We've been very fortunate that there haven't been any substantial COVID outbreaks at either school (there were a couple of staff who go sick once at Raylan's school, causing a partial quarantine there).

Anyway, 2020 has been a rough year, but in the midst of it, I can't help but feel fortunate, blessed, and thankful.  We've had a great deal to be thankful for.

In more routine news, the kids continued to have last week off.  They septs a couple of days with my parents and had a blast (as usual).  I was working this week, and Amy had the week off, so thanks to her for helping out so much with the kids.


Making slime with Amy on a rainy day.

Our New Year's Eve celebration this year was pretty muted (like most people's, I guess).
We got Kerbey Lane for dinner, played games with the kids, and didn't stay up super late.


Crazy New Year's Eve dance party.

The costume portion of our NYE party

On New Year's Day I took the kids to the park.

Raylan and Bella try to guess the dollars per
square foot for this South Austin home...

Later on New Year's Day we took the kids over to Mom and Dad's place for dinner and some hanging out.  We had a very nice diner and a nice time!  I felt a little guilty going back over there again after they did such a nice Christmas for us, but we offered to have them over or to bring dinner to their house!  We really did!

Dad explains why 2020 was his favorite year

The kids warm up by the fire.  But promise not to
get toooo close

On Saturday Amy took Bella for a balance bike ride.  I took Raylan to get a haircut.  

This is what they call "man pretty"

Later I took Raylan on a bike ride and we went to a park by Odom School.  That kid continues to amaze me on a bike.  He's an amazingly good rider already for his age- jumping off curbs, going over bumps, and zooming through tight spaces.  If anything, he's so good that I worry about his overconfidence.  I spend a lot of time just trying to keep him aware of cars and his surroundings.  He's pretty good about it, but he's five....

Saturday night I had band practice practice with the guys.  We had a good time and sounded pretty good.  We played at Jim's house on his back porch.

My resonator guilt on Jim's back porch.

On Sunday we went for a 2.5 mile hike at Slaughter Creek Trail and then went for an almost 6 mile family bike ride. Somehow I didn't take any pictures of either one of those events.

Amy helped the kids hang a bird feeder on
Raylan's window on Sunday.
They were disappointed that a flock of birds did
not immediately materialize.

And that was about it.

As I'm writing this Amy is making Sunday dinner and the kids are playing in the back yard.
It's been a good one.

Happy New Year to everyone and best wishes for 2021!!!


Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas 2020



So, Christmas 2020!  It was definitely one for the record books.  With pandemic infections on the rise across the country, we kept things pretty low key this year.  2020 was a year with no Christmas parties or concerts or plays or restaurant dinners.
More difficult was the fact that it was a year where we couldn't really travel (so we couldn't go to Arizona to see the family out there), and we couldn't hang out with Ryan and Jamie even though we were in town.  Kind of rough.
But our family has, so far, remained healthy, so we've been counting our blessings.

The  kids were off from school last week, and both Amy and I took off as well.

We took the kids on several bike rides and hikes, in the attempt to keep them busy over the break without participating in indoor activities or playdates.

On Tuesday we took them on a hike on the Violet Crown Trail near our house.  It was a nice hike, even if it had some hills to climb up and down.  We hiked down into an area near Barton Creek and then climbed back up to take the Mopac pedestrian bridge on the way back.

The kids contemplate how to throw themselves into this
small pond and make it seem like it was an "accident"

Raylan leads the way into the wilderness.
What could go wrong?




A view of the Austin skyline and the Mopac
pedestrian bridge from the return leg of our trip

pedestrian bridge



On Wednesday we had a session with a photographer at Butler Park.  It was given to us for free as a gift following Bella's adoption.  It was a bit of challenge to get the kids to cooperate at times, but I guess that it went pretty well, overall.






After we had our pictures taken we let the kids play on the new playscape down there.
 
Amy and I hung out on a bench and I snapped my own picture....
 
Amy is awfully pretty.

Thursday was Christmas Eve.  We had a plan to go out to my parents' house that evening and into the next day, so on Christmas Eve morning we let the kids open some presents at our house (so we wouldn't have to take the presents with us to Steiner Ranch).
    

I know these people!!!

Wouldn't it be amazing if there were some kind of magical
kingdom somewhere and a princess's castle like this
actually existed...

Christmas morning, part 1.

Later in the day I took Raylan and Bella over to Raylan and Jamie's house to drop off some presents that the kids had picked out for them.  We put the presents on their porch and talked to them for a few minutes from a safe distance away out in the yard.

On the way home we stopped and played at their neighborhood park for a bit.

Bella was a little afraid to go down the  slide alone, so she got
a Raylan assist.

Thursday afternoon we went over to Mom and Dad's.  Susan joined us, so we got to celebrate her birthday with her as well as Christmas Eve!

Mom put together a little Christmas Eve service for the kids where we read the Christmas story and sang some Christmas hymns.

Children's Christmas sermon in 2020

We had spaghetti dinner that night and a frozen yogurt cake for Susan's birthday.


Crackers and crowns on Christmas Eve!

Raylan attempts to complete the Christmas tradition
of eating a yo-yo
Grandma and Papa teach Bella the holiday tradition
of Ring Around a Raylan

We spent the night out at my parents' house.  We had egg casserole for breakfast that Amy had made.
We opened presents from Santa.  Raylan got a nice desk for his bedroom from Grandma and Papa.


Christmas pajamas

A flurry of unwrapping


I am going to find a way to live in this treehouse.

Mom and Dad not only served us Christmas Eve spaghetti, but a very nice turkey dinner on Christmas Day as well.  We ended up staying on the night of Christmas Day as well.  It was really nice.  Felt like a genuine vacation.  
I know that a lot of work went into it, and we really appreciate it, Mom and Dad!


Wait.  How many pieces of cinnamon toast have you guys
eaten?

We headed home on Saturday after we got packed up and out the door.

On Sunday we spent some time de-Christmasing, and we took the kids for a bike ride on a more northern/eastern part of the Walnut Creek bike trail.  It was beautiful weather and a nice ride, even if it did have some hills.


Is it time for a water break?

Sunday afternoon my folks dropped off Raylan's new desk, and Ryan dropped off some salmon for us (he gets it from his neighbor.  I don't really understand where this salmon is coming from, but it's good.  Ryan has become the salmon fairy).

Later, Bella wanted to go to the store with me to pick up groceries.  But it had been a busy couple of days...



And that was it!  Christmas 2020!

It was a little weird, and we missed Ryan, Jamie, and Amy's side of the family, but hopefully the separation has been worth it to keep us all safe.  We ended up having a very nice Christmas, in the end (thanks again, Mom and Dad!), but we're looking forward to seeing more of the family next year!

Merry Christmas, y'all!!!