Monday, January 26, 2015

Update

Hey!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Ours was good, but too short.  On Friday, after work, we went to see our friends Mary and Chad.  They're expecting a baby this week, so we went to hang out with them and wish them good luck as they forge ahead to scout out the new parent territory.  We'll be joining them in a few months, so we're counting on them to warn us of pitfalls as we charge into the whole thing.  It was good to see them.  We also had fun scouting out the pre-baby house changes that they had made (always fun to see how everyone brings their own personalities to this stuff as they go through it).  We're excited to meet their kiddo!
On Saturday we took care of errands and did some shopping (after breakfast tacos).  The weather was great this weekend, which was perfect since we wanted to keep the windows open to rid the house of the last remnants of the paint smell.  Saturday night we went over for dinner at Shelly and Kit's house.  They cooked a kind of Thai chicken dish for us.  It was really good!  Spicy, but not too spicy.  We checked out the electrical work that Kit is doing in their cool, new Tuff Shed (someday maybe we'll put on in our back yard for storage), and we played Mario Party on the GameCube.  I'm proud to say that Amy and I were victorious, despite the trickery of our opponents.  We had a really fun evening.  Very cool of them to have us over.
On Sunday we went and checked out strollers at Buy Buy Baby.  Since I'm tall, we had to buy one that had an adjustable handle.  For better baby maneuverability.
We slowly hung some stuff back onto out walls on Sunday and did a few other chores.
I went over to Reed's house on Sunday night to play some music with him.  It was good to see Reed and his familia, and it felt good to be playing music.  Amy made stuffed peppers on Sunday.  I had requested them, and, as usual, they were delicioso!  You can see the goodness all coming together in the picture below.  Garlic, onions, peppers, cheese...  You can't see the sausage because I think Amy was cooking it in a pan when I snapped this photo.


Peppers in Progress!
So that was our weekend, basically.  We got a little exercise, and walked Cassidy a bit.  Nice weather!
It all went by so quickly...
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
I like my job, but I good do with a little more weekend time these days!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update


So how has everyone been?  Fighting back against the midwinter, post-holiday funk?  These dark days can get you if you let them (and I mean they're literally dark- as a light lover, I hate how quickly the sun goes down this time of year).
We've been busy!  We stayed with Mom and Dad last week out in Steiner Ranch while we got the inside of our house painted.  We used a company called Renaissance Painting, and we're happy with the results.  We picked mostly pretty neutral colors, with the exception of the accent walls (one of which is in the picture below).
Anyway, thanks to Mom and Dad for everything.  Thanks for letting us stay at your house and being such great hosts and for your help with everything from moving furniture to doing electrical work!

So, our week was a bit tiring in terms of driving, meeting with painters, going to work, trying to get a bit of exercise, and whatnot, but in the end, we're pretty happy with our results.  Our house feels brighter and cheerier for our efforts.


New Paint!

We also got some landscaping work done last week.  It was mostly to fix some drainage problems in our yard, but it looks pretty cool as well.  The picture below shows the work in progress.  There's a little stone wall, and crushed granite closer to the house to allow for better drainage (although I don't think the granite had been filled in yet at the time the picture was taken).
New Landscaping!
And this picture shows Amy's yard work from Monday.  Amy bagged up leaves from our former dog run (we had it removed to expand the back yard) while Dad and I were working on repairing a ceiling fan.  I had no idea she filled up all of these bags.  Taken in the aggregate, it was a lot of work.  Dad and I were pretty proud of our work on the ceiling fan, and then I walked outside, expecting to find Amy reading a book, to find 10 or more large bags of leave and brush bundled up.  Not bad for a woman who's on her 7th month of pregnancy...


Amy v. Old Leaves
Anyway, we got a lot done over the last week and a half or so.  Commuting back and forth from Steiner Ranch, we also got to experience Austin traffic in a way that we're not really used to.  I think it gave us a new found appreciation for the location of our house.
So the baby prep and the house repair continue.
Things are good with us.  After two weekends of moving furniture and belongings in order to accommodate the painting crews, we're looking forward to trying to see some friends and having a little relaxation time.
Not much other news.  We've started watching The Honorourable Woman, a British miniseries about spies, international politics, and corporate intrigue.  It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rea.  We're liking it.  Mostly.  I can't decide whether the show is really clever or whether the show just thinks that it's really clever.  At any rate, we're still watching with some interest, and I want to see how things turn out, so I guess that's an endorsement.  Stephen Rea, as usual, puts in a good performance.
And that's about it.  Happy birthday to Reed Shaw, who had another one on the 20th!  Hope it was a good one. 
It's been a while since I got a chance to make music with Mono or anyone else.  It's overdue.  Hopefully this weekend.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Update

Hey!  Not too much to post about right now.  We're sort of in a transitional period at the moment over at our house.  We're having some interior painting done, so much of the weekend revolved around moving furniture and taking pictures off the walls and stuff like that. 
On Saturday night we managed to make it out to see The Imitation Game.  It was a good movie.  Alan Turing's story is pretty amazing.  It's just sort of fascinating the way that his knowledge of math, cryptography, and machines came into play at exactly the right moment in time to help turn the course of the war and save countless lives.  Of course, other aspects of his life were occurring at exactly the wrong point in history.  He ended up as somewheone who should had been venerated as a national hero on a societal level (although, because his work was classified, the magnitude of his achievements were never widely known during his lifetime) while suffering a lot of pain and grief on a personal one.  Anyway, the movie has a few moments that are a little heavy-handed, but it's still a really good film.  Go see it!
Mom and Dad came to the house yesterday to help us move some stuff and to get the house ready for painting.  I really appreciate all their help.  We're staying with them this week in order to escape the fumes and mess at our place.

And that's about it for now.
Just wanted to check in and say hello.
Hope you're doing well!

Monday, January 05, 2015

A New Year!

Happy 2015, everybody!  I hope it's a good one for everyone.  We've got some pretty big changes on the horizon in our family this year, so we're pretty excited!  (and maybe just a teensy bit nervous)

Our New Year's celebration was a good one, if low key.
New Year's Eve was cold and a little damp in Austin.  Afraid of drunk drivers and bad weather, we ended up staying home.  Buuut Ryan and Jamie came over to hang out with us!  We ordered pizza, Jamie made a salad, and we bought some dessert bars at Central Market.  Throw in a little wine, and it was a nice evening!  We played a board game (Dixit) and watched the ball drop in New York.   Very nice, easy way to ring in 2015.
Thanks for coming over, Ryan and Jamie!

On New Year's Day we mostly hung out at the Hop a Long Lounge.  The weather outside was dreary, drizzly, and cold.  We went across the street to Mandy's house in the afternoon to see her and her family.  We ate some black eyed peas and cabbage (I can't afford to pass up good luck!), and we watched Mandy's nieces and nephew set off fireworks with their Aunt Candace.  I'm here to report that kids today are not daunted nearly enough by sparks, smoke, and explosions.  Sigmund stopped by with Miles, so we got to hang out with them and catch up for a while.  It was really fun to see everyone.

On Saturday Dad came over and we put together a rocker/glider chair and a dresser for the new nursery.  We also made a Goodwill run with some old stuff.
While Dad and I worked on that stuff, Amy made a really good lasagna.  We took the lasagna over to Mom and Dad's house for dinner that night.  Mom provided salad, bread, and dessert.  We had a good time hanging out with Mum and Da!  I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock and it was already 10:30.

And that was pretty much how we brought in the new year.  There were other errands and shoppings and chores and whatnot, but, for once, I'm gonna keep that stuff to minimum.
Because it's 2015.
And there's always room for improvement.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas!

So it's been a little while since my last post, but we've been busy!

Last Saturday, December 20th, Amy flew out for Phoenix to spend some time with her family.  Her pregnancy is going to keep her grounded pretty soon, and we'll have a baby to shortly after that, so she took a little time off to extend her trip home.  It might be a little while before she makes it back to Arizona (not forever, but a little longer than usual), so she flew out there before me to have some extra time. 
I stayed in Austin and flew out the next Tuesday.  I got a chance to have nice dinners with Ryan and Jamie as well as my parents.  I also got together for a little bit with some old friends, Libby and Jordan, who are in town over the holidays, taking a break from living abroad in Spain.
I flew out to Phoenix on Tuesday. It was a good trip!  We visited with Amy's family and did lots of Christmas-type stuff.  Amy and Jean are working on some cool quilting/sewing projects for the baby.  Their work is awfully nice.  This kid better appreciate it!
Greg and I played guitar.
We all played with Nathan and Scott quite a bit.  Got in a couple of fun trips to the park with them.  We got to spend some time on a couple of days with Amy's grandparents, Carol and Jerry.
We went to church Christmas Eve and, after breakfast, opened presents Christmas morning.
During the visit we had really good chicken curry, tasty grilled chicken sandwiches (with bacon, cheese, and green chiles), and delicious egg casserole with hash browns and cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Jean and Amy did really well by us with the food.  Greg made cranberry martinis that were troublingly good.  
We also went out to eat, celebrating Carol's birthday at a good Mexican restaurant.
And we got to enjoy the Phoenix Zoo on a really nice day with Amy's parents and the nephews.
The weather in a Phoenix was really nice-  cool, but not cold, and sunny.


(At the park with Nathan on Matt and Scott on Jason)

(Jean and Amy outside CCV- the church where we attended
Christmas Eve services)

Scott with Carol and Amy on Christmas morning

Greg and Jean help Nathan figure out his toys while Scott looks on
and Heidi examines her loot

Christmas at the Davis house!

Scott tries to convince Amy that it's time to
move on to the next animal

Unsure of the next move at the zoo


Nathan on a leash

Watching the elephants with Amy and Scott

Late afternoon desert balloon launch.  Because these things
happen in Phoenix.

So it was a great trip!  The Davis, Sinex, and Koffel families were very warm, welcoming, and fun to hang out with.  I'm lucky to have married into such a fun, gracious family.
Hope all of you had a nice Christmas as well!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Update

Our weekend was good.  Filled with Christmas merriment!
On Wednesday we went to the annual Christmas party for Amy's office.  It was nice.  There was good food, good drink, and good folks.  It was hosted at the home of one of her co-workers, Linda, who's nice enough to open up her home to her colleagues for the holidays.  There was a white elephant gift swap, and we walked away with dog shaped salt and pepper shakers as well as some record shaped coasters.  It's always fun to get a chance to chat with some of the people I hear about from Amy's work.
Navidad Bandidos!

Friday night we worked out and ate pizza.  Nothing too remarkable, but it felt nice to just chill out.  We frequently order pizza from a place called Giovanni's.  I'm here to sing their praises.  Giovannis is located inside a Valero gas station on South Lamar.  You wouldn't think you could get good pizza from a place inside a gas station, but you would be wrong.  It's owned and operated by a couple of Italian guys who make pizzas in several ovens located in a food stand in the corner of the gas station, and the place is sort of a poorly kept neighborhood secret.  Amy and I learned about it from one of her co-workers back when she worked at the Legislative Council, and it's been a go-to place for us for a while.  On Yelp it even gets 4.5 stars off of 130+ reviews.  Good pie, and it's generally no hassle.  As an added bonus, the Valero where it's located has a pretty great beer selection.  They go out of their way to stock lots of different kinds of craft beers.
So when you want a good but lazy meal on a Friday night, strangely enough the South Lamar Valero has got you covered.
On Saturday we did a few errands and chores.  I picked up a glider rocking chair from Babies R Us (I'm still punk rock- shut up!), and we did some grocery shopping.  Saturday night we went out to celebrate an Italian dinner with the family.  This is the second year that we've done this, and we're trying to create a bit of a new tradition with it.

This year we went to Siena (more properly Siena Ristorante Toscana).  It's a Tuscan-style Italian restaurant that's out near my parents' house at the inersection of Highway 360 and 2222.
We had a really nice meal, and a nice evening,  Dinner was a multi course affair with appetizers, salad, pasta, and entrees.  My entree was Cacciucco alla Livornese, which contained shrimp, scallops, fresh fish, calamari and fresh mussels sautéed with red chili, oregano, garlic, fresh tomatoes.  Very good.  I really enjoyed it.  We also tried gnocchi and ravioli pasta, and I really enjoyed both of those, as well as a bit of bruschetta al cinghiale, which involved wild boar from South Texas (I was skeptical, but it turned out to be very tasty).

jolly Christmas elves

the family

Ho ho ho!!!

 
The dinner was really fun.  The stone building where it is located is a really interesting, pretty place (I think they have what I would imagine to be a Tuscany-meets-Central-Texas feel going on).  Great way to spend the holidays with the family.  The food was great.  I don't mean to sound trite or cheesey, but the most important part of this yearly dinner is getting together with the family, and I had a really great time just hanging out with everyone.  The food this year was outstanding, though, and I really appreciated the experience.
As Ryan said later, next year we'll probably be eating somewhere that's a little more kid friendly.  ;-)

After dinner we went over to Mom and Dad's for dessert (I'm not sure we needed more food, but Mom made a cake in the shape of a snowflake, and it was good).  We looked at some family photos, and had coffee (well, I had a diet Coke).  Then we headed home and passed out!

On Sunday I did a little shopping and ran a couple of errands.
In the afternoon we ran up to Ikea to pick up a dresser for the nursery.  In the late afternoon/evening we went to a Christmas party up north that was hosted by one of Amy's co-workers, Tony.  It was a fun party.  A number of Amy's friends and co-workers were there with their spouses (Matt and Britney and Shelly and Kit and Kellie and Tommy and Mary and Chad).  There were good Christmas cookies and snacks and beer.  We stood out back under a giant inflatable UT Longhorn tent and debated movies, cooking, and automobiles.  A good time was had by all!

After the party we went home and ate a light dinner. 
I've been playing Grand Theft Auto V, so I played a bit of it while Amy stitched and watched.
I know that the Grand Theft Auto games catch a bad rap by people who think they're just about hookers and gang violence.  I am NOT going to sit here and say that the Grand Theft Auto games are for everybody.  They're rated R with a capital R.  They're about robbery and crime culture.  I wouldn't let a kid younger than 17 or 18 anywhere near them,
That being said, Grand Theft Auto has better writing than most current movies and does a better (and much more hilarious) job of satirizing modern American culture than almost any other media work that I've seen in recent years.  Drug legalization, consumerism, corporate culture, politics, celebrity worship, mass media, and even hipsterism all end up in the crosshairs of the game's extremely funny, but extremely cynical writers.
The game succeeds amazingly well on a technical, artistic, and even literary level.  The characters are definitely better developed than the majority of people currently occupying both the big and small screens.  The game succeeds by pointing out that the criminals in the game, despite their horrible failings, aren't necessarily that much worse than a lot of so-called "legitimate" people in the world around them.  The criminals in Grand Theft Auto aren't simply preying on society- they're a natural byproduct of it.  
People who are easily offended are certainly justified in skipping this game- but they can't really do so without missing out on something kind of awesome.

Anyway, that was our weekend.  It was good.  It was festive!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Update

Hello!  Is everyone feeling festive?
Our week/weekend was pretty good.
I can't remember what we did on Friday night.  I'm not sure we did anything, really.  I think we watched some Netflix and then passed out in bed.
Saturday we went out to breakfast and ran errands.  Lots of chores.  We went to the grocery store and ran into Ryan and Jamie.  They were buying food for their party on Saturday night.
Saturday night we went to that party.  It was fun!  Lots of good food, some festive decorations, and quite a few people that I hadn't seen in a while.  Also got to see Mom and Dad.  We had a really nice time!

Nothing screams "holiday season" like my brother in a Turkish fez
with a cocktail in his hand

On Sunday I got up and ran another errand or two and did a couple of chores.  Amy went to a baby shower for her friends and coworkers, Mary and Katarina, while I helped Mandy string a few Christmas lights and took Cassidy for a walk.  In the evening I went to band practice.  All five of us made it, and we practiced in a rehearsal space over at Music Lab.  We're having to find new places to practice now that my band room is becoming a nursery.  Reed hosts at his house when he can, but when that's not working out, we'll probably be renting space.  It worked well, though.  It's pretty cheap, and it's easy.  Nice option to have.
I got home from band practice and Amy was making baked potato soup.  It was really good!  We ate soup and watched the first half of Elizabeth, which Amy had checked out from the library.  Then bed!

The weekend went by too fast!