Monday, November 30, 2015


Howdy! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!  Ours was nice.  We had some good family time, got to see some family friends, and had a really nice dinner out in Steiner Ranch at Mom and Dad's house.  My only gripe was that the weather was sort of dreary (cold and wet), but we stayed pretty busy with inside activities and some shopping.
We got to spend a lot of time with Raylan.  It was nice.  He's a lot of fun right now-  very curious, and bursting with personality.

("What does this button do?")

(Pies.  So many delightful pies.)
(post dinner UT-Texas Tech viewing)
(Jamie talks with Amy, while the non-football crowd chats in the nook)
(more football)

Feeling maybe a little bit of cabin fever following Thanksgiving, we loaded Raylan into the car and headed for Barton Creek Mall on Black Friday to walk around, stretch our legs (it was cold and rainy outside), and do some shopping.  The mall, predictably, was a little crazy, but it was fun.  Raylan seemed to enjoy watching all of the activity.  He even got to see Santa Claus from afar, but didn't get his picture took with the jolly old elf because Raylan was in sweatpants, and they were deemed to be inappropriate for his first Santa photo shoot.

("Mom, let me hold that for you while Dad takes your

("I never get tired of this story, Dad.  I just love the
characters and the plot!")

(on to the next thing)

Anyway, we have had so much to be thankful for this year. I have so much to be thankful for.  I'm thankful for Amy and Raylan.  I'm thankful for Dad and Mom and Ryan and Jamie.  I'm thankful for our home and my job and for Cassidy.  I'm thankful to have friends to make music with.  I'm thankful for all of the friends in our life.  We have a lot of people around us who just make life better.  It's a lot easier to deal with all of the craziness, stress, and general absurdity of life when you have people to laugh with.
It was a good Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Hello! Hope everyone had a good weekend.  Ours was low key, and pretty good.
Raylan turned 7 months old on Friday!  I can't believe it.  The passage of time has been a strange sensation since Raylan was born.  In some ways it feels like he's been around for a lot longer than 7 months.  It seems hard to believe that we've only had the little guy in our life for just over a half year.  On the other hand, it seems impossible how much he's already grown and changed and developed.  He's very vocal now and extremely alert.  He says things like , "Mumma... Mumma..." (maybe in relation to Amy, or maybe just because it's fun to say, and we keep repeating it to him- probably a combination of both).  He really enjoys having books read to him.  He looks at the pictures, grabs at the pages, and gets excited (arms flapping and bouncing) for certain books. He also just started to do some forward scooting this weekend.  He's been able to turn and roll for a while now, but this weekend he started doing a sort of soldier crawl where he pulls himself forward with his arms.  We have some babyproofing in our near future...
Anyway, in short, by now it seems sort of hard to imagine life without Raylan, but it also seems like he's growing up in a flash.
He's an amazing little kid.  We love him.  He loves us.

So we took some 7 month shots this weekend.

(In the middle of my room, surrounded by my
stuff, and sitting on Mom.  Everything is as
it should be.)
(Yeah, this has been great, Dad, but I'm ready to
get back to my toys now.)

On Friday night I think we sort of just hung out.  Amy made a good vegetarian dinner that had orzo and assorted veggies in it.  I enjoyed it.
I think on Friday night we also watched the first episode of The Man in the High Castle, streaming it from Amazon Prime. 

The Man in the High Castle series is loosely based on the Philip K. Dick book of the same name, which I had just finished reading last week.  The show takes place in the early 1960s, and it's an alternate history fiction in which the Nazis have won World War II and divided the United States into both Japanese (in the West) and German (East) territories. 
The novel is a little stranger than the show, with most of the characters sort of accepting the current, depressing state of their country and the world as more or less immutable fact.  they sort of make the best of things and do the best that they can in living out their lives.  Events ultimately take place in the book which offer the promise of potential change, but this possibility is only a sort of glimmer of potential hope.
The series, on the other hand, seems to suppose the fact that an Axis occupation of the United States would be met with an underground, armed resistance from the get-go.  To be sure, the television series is dark in its depiction of occupied, Axis North America, but I actually found the book a little more chilling in its portrayal of a world in which Americans have become resigned to living under a government which oppresses freedom, regularly engages in genocide, and allows for the utilization of slaves.  The instinctive belief that Americans would, if faced with Axis occupation, undoubtedly leap into action despite great personal risk creates a definite sense of drama and danger, but it's actually a much more optimistic viewpoint than the more staid depiction of more humdrum America where people would rather put up with tyrannical, insane rulers so long as, in their personal lives, they are mostly allowed to go on with the ins and outs of their regular day-to-day routine.  The differences between the show and the book are interesting, and although they might initially seem subtle, I think they ultimately present very different views of American nature.  The show presumes that we won't tolerate injustice and will fight for liberty at any cost.  The book assumes that, once subjugated and acclimated to a new system, Americans will tolerate terrible injustices, at least insofar as they aren't suffering too terribly on a personal level.
Anyway, we're only a couple of episodes into the series, but I'm liking it.

On Saturday we got up really early and went to breakfast with Raylan.  I'm here to report that if you want a good table at Kerbey Lane on a weekend, getting there at 7:00 a.m. will really cut down on your wait time.
We had a nice breakfast, and then I did some grocery shopping.  During the morning, a cold front rolled in and the weather cooled off.  The sun came out, and it was breezy.  We went for some walks, and I took Raylan with me to Target while Amy went to the gym.  I went to the gym after I got back.
Saturday night Amy made tortilla soup and we watched another episode of TMITHC.  Soooo good. 

(Cassidy enjoying the cool, fall weather on Saturday)

On Sunday we mostly relaxed.  Took care of some chores.  Played with Raylan a lot.  We each went to the gym.  We once again took several walks.  I had band practice with Reed and Frank in the evening.  It was good to get together with them and make some music.  It had been a few weeks.

(Raylan and I go for a stroll)

So, overall it was a pretty quiet weekend.  Nice, though.
Hope everyone is having a good one.
Turkey Day is right around the corner!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Well, it's taken me a while to get around to writing an update post, but this week has just been really busy. It's still busy.  I'm gonna keep this post short.

On Friday night Ryan and Jamie came over for dinner.  We got burritos from Freebirds, and they got to visit with Raylan a bit.  It was good to catch up with them.  Things get so busy.

On Saturday Mom and Dad came by and picked up Raylan.  He spent the night with them on Saturday so we could go out.  Saturday night we went to Austin Karaoke to celebrate a bunch of birthdays from the ladies in Amy's office (I think Shelly, Kellie, and Emily all recently had birthdays).  We had a really good time!  The whole thing was a celebration of ridiculousness and cheesy music.  I think the good thing about karaoke is that it pretty much requires everyone involved not to take themselves very seriously.  And I haven't laughed that hard in a while.  Attendees included Emily, Joe, Kit, Shelly, Kellie, Tommy, Craig, Mary, and Steven.  Standout songs included Tommy's soulful rendition of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2U", and a couple of high octane rap songs performed by Kit and Joe, including "Jump Around" by House of Pain and another song which will not be named or described on Steanso's family-friendly blog (hint- it's from SNL and it deals with a young man's struggle to contain his excitement).
(Straight outta... some very white, middle class suburb)

(the judges from The Voice had nothing on these ladies)
(I thought I might have dreamt this in a nightmare until I went through
my pictures the following morning)
(It's only fun if you take it seriously, right?)
(Kit and Steanso psyching themselves up to perform)

So that was pretty much Saturday.  On Sunday Raylan returned home (yea!), and we took care of some chores.  (grocery store, etc.)  One chore that did not get done?  Hanging up the mini blinds that I had ordered.  I had put the measurements in the computer backward, so we got short, fat mini blinds for Raylan's room instead of tall, thin ones.  Kind of a bummer, but the people at seem cool, and they're making me a new set for free.  Let's hope the next batch goes better.
Amy made some tasty pasta for dinner, and that was pretty much the night.

(someone put a hat on my head to celebrate a
holiday that I do not yet understand)

And that was the weekend.  It was really good to see Ryan and Jamie Friday and to have a chance to relax with friends on Saturday night at the karaoke place.
Hope everyone else is doing well.  How are the holidays coming up on us so fast?

Monday, November 09, 2015


Hey!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
We had a nice one.  
Friday night we just ate pizza and relaxed.  We watched an episode of The Americans.  We're both still really enjoying that show.
On Saturday morning I did some grocery shopping.  We took turns going to the gym.  We hung out with Raylan a lot.

(No, you're the best!)

(Amy tests out some new shushing glasses.)

On Saturday night our friends Shelly and Kit came over to watch the UT-Kansas game.  Kansas is not very good, so UT won pretty handily.  Raylan hung out for a little while at first, but then he went to sleep.  We had a really fun time visiting with Shelly and Kit.  Amy made queso, and we got other snacks and some cookies to go with it.  The game was okay, but mostly it was just good to see friends. 
(Waiting on Shelly and Kit to show up, but definitely ready for the game!)

(Tailgating with Mom)

(I have food on my face?  Really?  Where?)

On Sunday the weather was great.  It was cool and breezy and sunny.  I put a blanket out in the front yard, and played with Raylan on it for a while.  Sunday afternoon Tommy and Kelly stopped by for a visit.  We chatted with them for a while, and then we all walked to Central Market for lunch (well, Raylan rolled).  We ordered from the cafĂ© and then sat outside to eat.  It was great to see them.  Made for a very nice afternoon.
Sunday night we ate some Zuppa Toscana from a recipe that I found online.  It was pretty good.  Amy helped me make it, since I have a lot to learn in the cooking department (and many other departments as well).
And that was pretty much the weekend.  It was really nice.  We got some stuff done, and got to spend time with friends.  Friends are important for so many reasons, and it's been hard to keep in touch with people since we got a tiny little new boss in our house.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, friends really do make our lives richer, make us laugh, help us talk through our worries, and generally keep us grounded.  It was good to see Shelly, Kit, Tommy, and Kelly.  Thanks to them all for coming by to spend time with us.

(Walk?  Treat?  Whaddya got?)
And that was the weekend!  Have a good week!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Halloween Weekend

Hi, guys! Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!
Our weekend was a little strange.  For one thing, we ended up having a 3 day weekend that we weren't planning on.  On Friday we got up in the morning to some pretty torrential rain at our house.  I was supposed to go to work and take Raylan to daycare, but it was raining so hard that I decided to go in a little late and wait out the worst of the weather.  Well, the rain only got worse.  We watched on the news as South Lamar closed down due to flooding in a couple of locations, and then we got an email telling us that they were evacuating the children out of Raylan's daycare building into the adjoining church (there were tornado warnings by that point).  I'm not sure exactly how much rain we received, in the end, but there were tornado warnings at the airport, and 14 inches of rain were reported there.  Sunset Valley, only blocks from our house, had homes evacuated due to flooding.  Our backyard got a lot of water as well, but (knock on wood) the flood control remediation work that we've had done kept the water out of our house this time.
So, we ended up at home on Friday.  The rain let up by the afternoon, but apparently by then our office was sending people home because the rising floodwaters and swamped low water crossings were making driving dangerous (we also had some water damage in our building that required a number of offices to shut down all of their computers and electronics).
I was actually a little bummed to miss work on Friday.  It was the day before Halloween, and the people in my office decorate the place and bring candy so that co-workers can bring their kiddos to the office for trick-or-treating.  It's a lot of fun, and I had been planning to pick up Raylan from daycare, put him in his costume, and swing by the office so he could meet some of my friends and colleagues (he's never been up there before).
Oh well.  Next year!

(our little backyard levee holding back the floodwaters)

On Saturday we got up to see the last of the rain clearing out.  We took care of Raylan, and I went to the store to do some grocery shopping.  I also squeezed in a quick trip to the gym near our house, and ran over to Guitar Center to check out an amp that I was looking at (easier to carry than my Vox- for more lightweight rocking).

("So we're gonna win for sure against
Iowa State, aren't we Dad?")
On Saturday evening we headed over to Ryan and Jamie's house for some Halloween festivities coupled with some viewing of the UT-Iowa state game.
As per tradition, we handed out candy to a bunch of the neighborhood kids, and we saw some good costumes.  Our own family dressed up as well.

(Monkey Raylan fails to see
the A PEEL of my costume)
So Raylan got a legit first year Halloween experience.
My parents came over as well as Jamie's Dad and Matt, Nicole, and Juan.  My parents brought barbecue from Rudy's, and then we all ate some good food while watching a horrible UT performance.  I don't know how we got shut out offensively while allowing a fairly mediocre Iowa state teams score 24 points.  It was godawful, and almost made worse by the fact that UT had recently shown so much promise against OU and Kansas State.  We just didn't look like we were serious about playing football.  I guess Coach Strong's job is in jeopardy again.  Dear lord.
That was not great.
Thanks to Ryan and Jamie for having us over, though!

On Sunday we go up and went to Central Markey for breakfast.  We took some walks, Amy went jogging (great weather on Sunday), and I bought a used amp from some dude off of Craigslist.  I also put away some Halloween stuff, and made a trip to drop some stuff off at Goodwill. 
Sunday night I got together and played with Reed.  It was good.  After practice we had dinner.  Went to bed sort of early, knowing that Raylan would not be adjusted to the time change (an accurate prediction).

And that was the weekend.  We had lots of laundry and chores squeezed in there.  Somehow babies, despite being small, sort of exponentially increase the amount of laundry.  Thanks to Amy for putting up with my shenanigans while I was trying to buy this new guitar amp.

Hope everyone has a good week!