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!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

One More Thanksgiving Pic!

Jamie's dad, Dick, took this picture on Thanksgiving and sent it to me last night.  It's a really good picture!  Nice to memorialize the family unit as gathered on Turkey Day 2014!  Amy and I were very thankful to have such great family to celebrate with.

Back Row:  Dad, Ryan, Mom, Jamie, Me, and Ciara
Front Row: Dick, Susan, Donald, and Amy

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thanksgiving Week in Pictures

On Wednesday we went in for an ultrasound.  We're going to have a boy!
Very cool!  I mean, it would have been cool either way, but it's just kind
of exciting to start to have more of an idea of who our kiddo is going to be.
After the doctor's appointment we spent Thursday afternoon and evening getting the house ready for Thanksgiving.  Amy did some cooking.


Ryan and Jamie showed up on Thanksgiving bearing gifts.


One of two tables to accommodate our guests


Mom got so excited about Thanksgiving that she was... dancing?  Twirling?
Some sort of performance art?


Amy doing one of the things that she does especially well- preparing
delicious food for hungry folks!


Yum.


The pies!


Post-meal backyard decompression.
We had Jamie, Ryan, Mom, Dad, Dick, Susan, Ciara, and Uncle Donald for dinner.  We had good company and good food.  We provided the turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and a really good apple pie.  Thanksgiving was a potluck affair, with Jamie bringing rolls, chocolate pie, and stuffing, and Mom bringing a vegetable (I think it was broccoli), a pumpkin pie, and something else...
Dick brought something, too (I'm having a hard time recalling all the food, but it was all good), as well as some wine.  Susan and Ciara brought a salad and some vegetables.  Uncle Donald brought a sugar free apple pie.  Dad brought wine!
After dinner was all over, I watched the UT-TCU game with Mom, Dad, and Amy.  It was awful.  We're not gonna talk about that.


On Black Friday I put up some Christmas lights


Friday night Jamie, Ryan, Mom, Dad, Amy, Susan, and I went to
the Saxon Pub to see Joe Ely with Jeff Plankenhorn.  Really good music!
Thanks for the tickets, Ryan and Jamie!


On Saturday Amy had to go in to work for a while, I took a bike ride.  During my ride I
came across a South Austin rockabilly cluster.  They were all dressed up to celebrate Christmas
with their kids in the traditional rockabilly way- with their hot rods.


On Sunday we put up our Christmas tree.  I also had Wastewood practice with Reed over
at his house, but I'm pretty sure Reed isn't pictured here.
That was about it, really.  We also did some shopping and chores and looked for a baby rockin' chair for our nursery.
Lots to be thankful for this year!  And thanks to all of our family for making our first Thanksgiving at our house so special!