Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MLK Day Weekend Update

Hey! How are ya?
So this weekend was a three day weekend, due to the MLK Day holiday and the fact that Amy and I are both guv'ment lawyahs.
The weekend, had some good points, but maybe it wasn't our overall best weekend ever.
Part of this was because Amy came down with some sort of flu/fever thing on Saturday.  She wasn't feeling great Friday night, and by Saturday she had a fever.
I think this was on Thursday night.  Amy helps Raylan make
breakfast for dinner
We had pretty rainy weather over the weekend, too, so Amy wasn't feeling great, and we were trapped in the house with a very busy toddler.
Raylan was pretty good, though.
Friday night, prior to Amy getting sick, we went to La Posada and ate dinner.
Then I took Raylan with me to the grocery store and to run errands on Saturday morning.
We played with his Hot Wheels a lot over the weekend, and generally read lots of books and played with lots of his stuff.
On Sunday we went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.  Raylan was really excited about the pancakes. Amy was excited to get out of the house.
Sunday we went over to my parents house in the afternoon.  Mom made chili, and Dad read Raylan books.  We watched the Packers beat the Cowboys.  When you've pretty much only been watching college football, the NFL seems insanely fast paced.
Anyway, it was nice to hang out with them, as always.
On Monday we also had the day off for the MLK holiday.
In the morning we went over to the park in Ryan and Jamie's neighborhood.  Raylan played on the playground, and we got to see Ryan (Jamie had just gotten back from dialysis and was resting).  They have a nice little neighborhood park.  We played there until it started raining again.
So that was mostly the weekend!
We squeezed in a few walks, and Raylan played on his fort a little bit, but the weather was pretty gloomy and wet.

"Launch me!!!!"

"You gotta savor each bite, Dad."

Gonna keep it short because I'm busy and there's not too much to report, anyway.  Amy seems to be on the upswing.  Fingers crossed!

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 12, 2017


So on January 2, the day after New Year's Day, Amy and I both got the day off from work.  I mostly mention this because we went down and walked on the board walk at Lady Bird Lake with Raylan, and I took some photos, but forgot to post them.  The weather was nice and we had fun!


Monday, January 09, 2017


Hey! It's been sort of a busy week.  On Friday we got a new glass sliding door installed on the back of our house to replace our old French doors.
The French doors never worked right and wouldn't open correctly anymore.
The new glass sliding door got installed, weirdly, on probably the coldest day that we've had so far this year.  Luckily, the guys were able to get it put in over the course of a single afternoon.  I had meetings at work, so Amy and my dad came and met the guys and hung out in the cold house while they worked.  Thanks, Dad and Amy!

There comes a moment when you have a large, gaping hole in the back of
your house on a 30 degree day when you may begin to somewhat question
the wisdom of your plans...

Cassidy was not excited to about the cold, noisy house, so Amy
bundled her up back in the bedroom.

On Friday night I got home and gave Raylan a bath and got us fish and chips from Baker Street, which seemed like a good idea on a cold night.
Saturday morning was sunny, but cold.
We went to a birthday part for Ophelia, the daughter of our friends Adam and Katie, over at their house in Hyde Park.  It was fun.  There were lots of kids there, and Raylan had a fun time running around.  He ate cake and got to play.  We talked to a few parents of the other kids who were there.  It seemed like most of the kids at the party went to daycare with Ophelia.
When we got home, despite the cold temperatures, Raylan insisted on a little bit of time on his swing set.

"The cold can't catch you if you swing hard enough, Dad."
Saturday afternoon we went to Home Depot and ran some errands.

On Sunday morning we went out for a Tex Mex breakfast at La Posada and then went grocery shopping as a family.  Rylan seemed to enjoy both events.

"I know you think this hat is too big for me, guys,
but if I give it a jaunty tilt, I think I can pull it off."

The family that shops together... uh...
stays mildly entertained on a cold, winter day.
On Sunday afternoon, sadly, I actually had to go to work.  I'm working on a brief for an appeal, so I gotta get it done before the deadline catches up with me.  Ryan and Jamie came by the house to visit Amy and Raylan while I was at the office.
Sunday night I got home and gave Raylan a bath while Amy made chilaquiles.

And that was pretty much our weekend.  Also, for the second time, we watched John Carter, breaking it up over a couple of nights.  That movie didn't do especially great with critics, I believe, and I don't think it did great at the box office, either, but we both still like it.  It's a Steans-Davis cult hit, I guess. Pulpy Mars sci-fi adventure, told with a bit of a sense of humor.  What's not to like?

So that was the weekend.  Amy is out of town right now on a work trip.  She's in Wichita Falls.  Rylan is spending the night with my mom and dad.  The house is weirdly quiet.  I miss them both.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Christmas in AZ; New Year's in TX

Hey!  So a lot of festive stuff has been going on.  We flew out Thursday for Phoenix to spend Christmas with Amy's family.  Our flight was uneventful.  Raylan slept the whole way.
We got to Amy's parents' house, and there was a sort of dinner party gathering planned for Carol's 75th birthday that evening.
We had tasty lasagna and pasta with bread and salad, and Jean made excellent chocolate-peanut butter pie and sugar cream pie for dessert.

Excited to get to Phoenix!  Except one of us partied too much
before he got on the plane...
"I see the ornaments, Poppy, but I really think it would be better for
both of us if you'd just let me climb this thing."

"Joanna, I see that you have the construction trucks, but
I do not believe that you appreciate them with the same
level of enthusiasm that I do." 

To be honest, I'm not sure what we did on Friday.  Raylan didn't sleep great that first night (adjusting to a new place), so we laid low a bit.  I know that we went for for some walks, and that Heidi came to visit with the Nathan.

Scott dares the Tooth Fairy to, "Come and Take It!!"

Saturday was Christmas Eve.
We got up in the morning and went with Jean to take Raylan to Sun City to see some trains and some fountains.  The Sun City residents had set up some miniature train stuff for Christmas.  Rylan was equally excited to just run around the grounds near their activity center, checking out the fountains and visiting the dog park and whatnot.

"Just let go of my hand, Nana.  I swear that I will
try to try to not get wet."

It rained pretty hard on Saturday, and the weather was kind of cool.
I've been to Phoenix a number of times before, but I've never seen it rain like it did on this trip.  It was kind of cool to watch the dark clouds roll in over the mountains and into the dessert in The Valley.

We went to Lord of Life Lutheran Church for Christmas Eve.  It was a nice church.  Unfortunately, Raylan only lasted through the first song before he started sort of squirming and loudly protesting about not being allowed to run around the church.  First I tried to quiet him down.  Then I took him to the narthex.  Then I finally had to leave the whole building and go to a fellowship hall on the other side of the court yard because he was yelling so loudly by that point that the noise was going to carry into the sanctuary and disrupt the service.
Oh well.  We tried!

It all started out so peacefully...

"Mom, now that we're out here, I'd like to talk to you about all of the
Christmas presents that I deserve."

So this was taken on the way in to the
Christmas Eve service.
Anyway, we ultimately ended up leaving early, taking the car and heading home, with Jean and Greg kindly offering to catch a ride home with Jerry and Carol.

We got back from church and later that evening we just hung out.  Greg put together some kid-sized vehicles that were Christmas presents for Joanna, Nathan, and Scott.

"Dad, I'm not sure you're really getting all of the subtext here
in your portrayal of this delivery truck driver and the challenges
that he's facing as he tries to get this furniture to this family."
On Christmas morning we had a nice breakfast.  Jean made egg casserole and Heidi brought hash browns over.  We had cinnamon rolls and fruit and other stuff, too.
The kids opened presents.  This was the first year where Raylan started to really "get" Christmas, so he was excited to open gifts and get presents out of a stocking.  It was all very nice.
The only moment of drama came when we found out that Scott hadn't been feeling well when he got up.  There was some initial concern that he might not make it, but Matt brought him over just a little while later when he was feeling better.  We were all really happy that worked out and that he didn't get genuinely ill on Christmas.

Jean shows us all how to use a PlasmaCar.  Greg, sensing
that the Christmas shenanigans are about to get out of hand, gets
the bloody marys ready.


Jerry, Amy, and Carol

Later everyone went to their separate houses for a nap.  Raylan recharged so that he could be faster and louder later.
The family reconvened in the late afternoon, early evening for a dinner with smoked turkey, artichoke and crab dip, cheese and crackers, and assorted other treats.  Heidi made little sandwiches of turkey, roast beef, and, I believe, ham.  The food was all excellent.  Greg had some good beers, and we drank a few of those as well.  The kids ran around like whirling dervishes, both inside the house and in the back yard, having a lot of fun and, basically, wearing themselves out.

Greg reads Raylan "Are You My Mother?" over breakfast.
I am told that this did not, in any way, constitute a preliminary,
toddler psychotherapy session.

On Monday we took Nathan and Raylan to the Wildlife World Zoo.  It was a lot of fun.  Wildlife World Zoo is a private zoo, so I was expecting something on the scale of the Austin Zoo, but, it was a much larger, more extensive park, equivalent to or surpassing many of the city zoos that I've visited.
We had a really nice time.  The weather was great, and I think both the kids and the adults really enjoyed it.

"Mom, we need an aquarium like this for our house.
You keep it clean for me, and I'll look at it
from time to time."

On Tuesday we took Raylan to Anthem to play at the park and ride the train.  The train went through a tunnel that was decorated with Christmas lights.   He loved it.
Once again, the weather was beautiful.
Tuesday afternoon I snuck out to do some shopping with Amy.  Jean and Carol got me some shirts, belts, and socks at Destination XL, and they also got some gift certificates that came with them (thanks so much Jean and Carol!).  So, in the end, I not only got nice clothes as a gift, but I got to do some really good, significantly discounted shopping as well.
On the way home Amy and I stopped and picked up some pizzas for us for dinner.

"I'm gonna get on that train.  I'm gonna get on it, and I'm gonna
ride it right out of this one horse town..."

On Tuesday we also went to see Rogue One with Amy, Greg, and Heidi.  I think we all liked it.  Well, I'm not sure if Heidi liked it, but she was a good sport and didn't complain about it, and the rest of us liked it.
We saw Rogue One on the same day that Carrie Fisher died.  It was kind of weird (spoiler) to see her appear in computer generated form (albeit a younger version of herself) on the day that she died.  Presumably they got permission from her to put her likeness in the moviegoing before she passed, but, not knowing she was in the film, it was still quite a shock to see her appear on screen in the final shot.  In truth, it was pretty distracting.  (and that's not even taking up the issue of Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin, a character who appears fairly extensively in the movie through the use of computer imaging, although Cushing himself died in 1994).
Anyway, those are side issues, and I liked the movie.  Thanks to Greg for buying the tickets and to Jean and Carol for watching Raylan.

Arizona sunset with no filter.  Shot on the way to Rogue One
And that was pretty much our trip.  There were plenty of other conversations, walks, and trips to the playground in there.
It was a nice visit and a good chance for everyone to catch up.
Thanks again to Jean and Greg for being such great hosts and to the Jerry, Carol,  and the Sinex family for being so welcoming and gracious.

We flew out on Wednesday.  We got home feeling a little worn out, but happy.

Raylan learns about real estate opportunities through the in-flight magazine.
Mom and Dads picked us up at the airport, and we went home and crashed.
"Dad, would ya mind closing the bathroom door?
Just one more text and I'll be done in here..."
We had a few more days until New Year's, and we spent them getting chores done, unpacking, and generally settling back in.

"Dad, I really like Phoenix, but there's just something
special to me about a South Austin Tex Mex, breakfast
know what I mean?"
Our New Year's Eve was pretty low key.  Mom and Dad took Raylan on Friday night after we stopped off and visited with them for a while.  That night we went out for a pleasant, quiet dinner at Chinatown in Westlake the night before the crowds got crazy.

On Saturday night, New Year's Eve, Amy made chicken enchiladas, we drank a couple of glasses of wine, and we all went to bed before midnight.  There were fireworks in the neighborhood, and I watched a bit of Kathy Griffith and Anderson Cooper on CNN, but other from that, it was a pretty low key night.

Amy's enchiladas, served with the help of pot holders
that Scott made and gave to her as a Christmas present
New Year's Day was really nice and sunny and warm.  We took down Christmas stuff, did some yard work, and went over to Mandy's house in the afternoon for a New Year's Day celebration.
Andy, Rami, Wilson, Kellie, Josephine, Goldie, Donna Rene, Kim, and Mandy were there in addition to ourselves.

January 1, 2017 in Lower Austin

Rylan with Wilson and Jojo in Mandy's sunken room on
New Year's Day, watching cartoons and stirrin' up trouble
And that was pretty much it!
We had a nice set of holidays.  Thanks to our families for being so supportive and helpful.
We love you guys, and we couldn't do it without you!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pre-Christmas Update

Ho ho ho!  We're npot exactly sure how much Raylan understands about Christmas, but he's definitely learned to yell, "Ho ho ho!" while pointing at Santa decorations and the Christmas tree.  After this weekend, I think he is beginning to associate the idea of "loot" with Christmas as well.
We've had a good, but busy week and weekend.
On Wednesday night my parents took care of Raylan.  They were nice enough to get us tickets to see A Christmas Carol at Zach Theatre, so we had a date night on Wednesday, going out for Thai food and then going to see a musical at Zach.  The play was fun!  There was a lot of singing and dancing. Very festive, lively, and jolly.  We had a good time.
Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Amy and I doing grown up couple stuff!
During the day on Thursday we had our annual office holiday luncheon.  On Thursday night I had Veterans Court, and then afterward Amy was kind enough to watch Raylan so I could swing by my office holiday party at El Mercado.  It was fun.  I had a drink or two and got caught up with some friends.  It's good to occasionally see people from work outside of the courthouse.
As my first boss, Pat, used to say, the holiday parties sort of help grease the wheels of justice,
You know what really lends gravitas to an office discussion about trial
strategy and tactics?  Tiny hats and antlers.
On Thursday my parents also were at our house when their Christmas present for Raylan was delivered- a fort/playscape.
The thing is pretty awesome.
When I was a kid my dad built us a fort by hand that was really cool.  It had a rope ladder, a swing, a sliding pole, and a wooden ladder.  It was the bees knees.
But nowadays there are these companies that build playscapes professionally.  And they're crazy.
Growing up, I wouldn't have imagined such a thing outside of a neighborhood park.
Fort Raylan
Due to work schedules, we didn't really get to take Raylan out to play on it until we got off work on Friday, but when we did, he seemed to really take to it right away.
He declared it his "house", spent a lot of time climbing around on it, and immediately demanded some swing time.
He got to play on it on Saturday morning as well, and each time he went out to play on it he got a little more adventurous with climbing up and down on the thing.

"Dad, can you believe this?"
Mom, Dad, and Ryan all stopped by on Saturday afternoon, and by then Raylan was pretty comfortable climbing all the way up the ladder into the top part himself (although we stood close behind him to catch him in case his confidence outpaced his ability).

"You're mostly  doing it right, Uncle Ryan."
It was really nice to have the family stop by on Saturday.  Sadly, Jamie was feeling a little under the weather.  Mom and Dad stayed for dinner (Amy made some delicious tortilla soup), but Ryan just hung out for a little bit before heading home to spend time with Jamie.
Raylan got to open some presents from our family, and he seemed really excited about the whole Christmas thing.  He got books, cars, a basketball goal, and some cool plush butterflies that are now hanging from the ceiling in his room ("Buttahflies!  In da sky!!"- thanks Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jamie!)

Yup.  Shorts!  December 17th and about 80 degrees.
But still merry and bright...

"You mean to tell me that all these wrapped boxes contain PRESENTS?!?!"

"You can't put me to bed as long as I'm sitting on Poppa!!!"
So we had a really nice time doing a little pre-Christmas with Raylan and my family.  We'll be in town for actual Christmas, so it was really fun to have a small little get-together beforehand (which wasn't really formally planned, actually- it all just sort of fell nicely into place).
So it was like 80 degrees and humid on Saturday.
On Sunday we woke up and it was about 28 degrees.
Being the intrepid weekenders that we are, we bundled up, anyway, and went to Kerbey Lane for breakfast.

That hat may be designed for a toddler, but Amy makes it work.
Despite the literally freezing temperatures on Sunday, we still managed to get Raylan outside to play on his new fort.
We also went to Target and ran some other errands.

"As soon as I can find my hands I'm gonna try that swing..."
There was exercise, a family shopping trip walking down to Central Market, and various odds, ends, and chores.

Eventually on a cold, winter day, one of your inside activities
is gonna end up being a game of
"Silly face- silly noise".
The rules are incredibly complex.

And that was our weekend!  Hope everyone had a good one!
Stay warm (or stay cool if it's 80 outside).  Stay festive!
Ho ho ho!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016


Ho ho ho!  Well, it seem like we're sort of in the full swing of the Christmas season.
On Friday night we didn't do a whole lot, I guess.
I ended up working sort of late for a Friday night.
Then Amy and I both exercised that night.
Not too much to report.

"Dad, either this is a tiny front loader, or these are giant cheerios.  I
haven't decided."

On Saturday Amy got up and went to a hair appointment, and I got up and took Raylan to the mall to have his picture taken with Santa.  We had a scheduled time to see Santa, so that was awesome. Getting Raylan into the right clothes and getting out the door in time to meet the jolly old elf was a bit of a challenge, but we pulled it off.
Mom and Dad called and wanted to come meet us at the mall to see Raylan get his picture taken.

"What are you doing there, buddy?"
"Uh, no, that's not hugging.  Let's go see Santa"

"So much help, Dad.
So.  Much.  Help."
And so the big meet up with Santa took place.
It went swimmingly.
Surely if Dad joins in the picture, that'll calm everything right down...

So that was my first Santa picture experience with Raylan.  By the way, he was laughing and happy from up to 10 seconds before we tried to take the pictures and immediately happy again and asking for a snack about 5 seconds after we took the pictures.  
He might be a wee bit dramatic.
No idea where he gets that.

Thanks to Mom and Dad for coming out for the pictures!

In the afternoon we went to the park.

Saturday night we went to Sophia's Austin Supper Club for dinner with the family.  We got a babysitter and went out for our yearly Italian meal before Christmas with Ryan, Jamie, Mom, and Dad.
It was fun!  The food was really good, and it was nice to hang out with our family.
Amy and I definitely appreciated a chance to have a grown-up evening with our family without having to wrangle a toddler while trying to visit with everyone.

On Sunday we went out for breakfast, ran some errands, and in the afternoon we went to a Christmas party thrown by Amy's co-worker, Tony.
It was a fun event.
Good food and fun people.

Logan, Raylan, and Truett enjoy the party.

Raylan squeezed himself in between some ladies and refused to come out.
The boy is a prodigy when it comes to understanding party dynamics.

Sunday night I had band practice.

And that was it!  Nice weekend!