Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Hey, guys!  Hope everyone had a good Christmas!
Ours was pretty good!  Mostly...

This was, of course, Raylan's first Christmas.  At a little over 8 months, he's a little young to understand what the holiday is all about, but the family sure got excited about having Raylan in attendance.  And you know what Raylan is not too young to appreciate?  Attention!!  He loves it!!
He loves smiles and laughs and play time.
He is also learning to love a variety of toys, and since some of those showed up this holiday season, he was excited about that.

As to the less fun part of our Christmas adventure, Raylan got sick starting Monday night the week of Christmas.  He got a fever, which the doctor determined was from another ear infection.  He got antibiotics, but they took a couple of days to work.  On Christmas Eve we found ourselves hustling across town to make it to the doctor's office (our second trip of the week) before they closed for the Christmas holiday.
We'd had grand plans to attend Christmas Eve church with my family and then host them over at our house for snacks and drinks afterward, but instead we ended up hunkered down at home by ourselves, letting Raylan rest and recover.  My family really helped us out, though.  Thanks to Jamie and Ryan for taking over the Christmas Eve hosting duties at the last minute, and thanks to my dad and Dick (Jamie's dad) for bringing us a couple of plates of food over at our house on Christmas Eve.
Interesting to note that somewhere in there Raylan learned to crawl on all fours instead of just dragging himself around the house.  Sickness or not, he suddenly picked up a lot of speed...

Christmas Day went a little better.  Raylan's fever had dropped, and he was in a much better mood.
We got up and had a nice time eating breakfast and opening some presents at our house before heading over to my folks' place in the afternoon. 

(This is amazing!!  We should do this every day!)

My Mom and Dad did a really nice job of hosting a very nice Christmas Day get together.  They made a dinner with both turkey (for sure) and prime rib (I think), and lots of other food and goodies.
We opened more presents, and we had a good time hanging out and catching up with people.  In attendance were Mom, Dad, Ryan, Jamie, Dick, Susan, Ciara, Uncle Donald, and family friend, Juan Diaz.  Amy and I, grateful to be out of our own house after being a little housebound with a sick kiddo all week, hung out a little while after everyone else had left just to quietly decompress and talk with Mom and Dad (Raylan was asleep by that point).

(Dad, I still live with you and Mom, though, right?)

(official "Raylan's first Christmas" family photo)

(a mysterious, beautiful woman in Christmas socks,
entertaining some baby) 

(whole lotta Christmas)

(Susan shows Raylan how to open your mouth really wide)

(Raylan gets some aunt and uncle time)

(Back Row:  Me and Ryan
Middle Row:  Dad, Mom, Amy with Raylan, Ciara, and Susan
Front Row: Dick and Uncle Donald
Picture taken by Juan Diaz)

On the Saturday after Christmas Mom and Dad were good enough to come down to our house in the afternoon for a little while and watch Raylan.  Amy and I went to the gym, ran to Target to do a few errands, and ate some Thai food.  It was nice to get out and about a bit.  We really appreciated the time off.
On Sunday I went to the grocery store and ran a couple of errands.  In the evening we had Leslie (one of the women who works at Raylan's daycare) come babysit, and we went to see the new Star Wars movie (i.e., Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens).  I really enjoyed the movie.  Amy less so.
Her main complaint, which has validity, was that there were too many plotlines and scenes in the movie that were extremely derivative of episodes 4 through 6 (spoilers-the orphan in a desert, the hunted droid carrying crucial data, the crazy bar scene, the father confronting his son on a catwalk bridge, the threat and vulnerability of a new Death Star, etc. End spoilers).
Personally, although I could see her point, I saw a lot of the things that she saw as repetitive as expanding on themes from those prior movies.  Undoubtedly, though, Abrams cashed in quite a few nostalgia chips to make this film.  In order to have successful follow up movies, he's going to have to find a way to wander into more dangerous territory- more creative and farther afield of the earlier films.
All in all, though, I thought the characters and dialogue were so much better than in episodes 1 through 3 that I could pretty much overlook the repetition of plot points.  The prequels, after all, had a markedly different plot structure than the original movies- and they sucked.
This movie put some joy and some fun back into Star Wars, and I think that's what everyone was desperate for.  I really enjoyed it.

(Amy with the Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader from Aliens
in the lobby of the Slaughter Lane Alamo Drafthouse)
And that was pretty much our Christmas holiday.
Hope everyone had a nice one!
Cheers!  Be safe out there as we approach New Year's!!

Monday, December 21, 2015


So we're in full speed holiday mode now, for sure!    On Tuesday night Amy and I joined Jamie for Santaland Diaries at Zach Theatre.  (Ryan got sick and bailed).  Mom and Dad were kind enough to get us the tickets.  It was a lot of fun!  Amy and I had seen it a few years back when Amy's folks were in town, but almost half of the material was new, and the second portion of the performance, based on the David Sedaris essay, is pretty much a classic.  The whole thing was very funny and entertaining.  I recommend it.

Getting in the mood before my office
Christmas party

Raylan and Will making "music" at daycare

Thursday night was my office Christmas party.  It was at El Mercado this year (second year in a row).  It was pretty fun!  They reserved the whole restaurant for us, and lots of people came out.  I had a good time catching up with folks (the defense attorneys and judges were there, too).  It's good to go to some of these things.  When you argue with people so much for a living, it's good to just relax and remind yourself that you're all, ultimately, in it together.  Amy skipped the party to Raylan sit, but I made it home in time to feed him a bottle before I went to bed.
Friday night we ordered some Thai food.
Saturday mostly involved errands and chores.
Saturday night we were supposed to all go over to Ryan and Jamie's for our traditional Steans family Italian Christmas dinner.  We've been doing this for the last few years- getting together to celebrate Christmas with a small, family dinner before Christmas arrives.  This year we had it at Ryan and Jamie's house (as opposed to a restaurant) so that we could bring Raylan and celebrate with the entire family.  Unfortunately, Raylan pretty much refused to sleep all day, so he was super tired and cranky.  Long story short, Amy ended up staying home with Raylan so he could get some sleep while I went to dinner with the family (while bringing the salad that amy had made and some bread).
Ryan and Jamie put on a really nice dinner!  They had appetizers and wine, and Jamie made a really good lasagna.  They set a nice table, and even had some good Christmas music playing.  It made for a very nice evening.  I was really bummed that Amy and Raylan didn't make it because it was a really good time.  

(Most people try to lure Santa Claus to their house.
Ryan's hoping for someone with different super powers)

Sunday morning we got up and went and had breakfast at Central Market.  We took some oatmeal with us for Raylan, so he could sit at the table and dine with us.  He made for a decent breakfast companion, so long as we could steer him away from awkward conversations about politics.

(Rylan talks about the difficulty of building a moderate consensus
in a radically polarized political climate)

Mostly Sunday we hung out and took care of errands and chores.  Sunday night Amy made some really good shrimp creole.  
Today (Monday) Raylan's daycare was closed, so I took the day off to hang out with him.  We ran a few errands together, fighting out way through the Christmas shopping crowds as a team.

(Rylan helps me chart a course through the holiday
badlands of the shopping center parking lot)

("C'mon, Dad!  You can get this thing going faster!!")

And that's pretty much been it.
Hope everyone is finding a little happiness in their days amidst the craziness of the holiday preparations.
Take care of each other!


Monday, December 14, 2015


Hey! How is everyone? Feeling merry yet?

Well, we've been good, but pretty busy.
On Thursday of this week, we had the Christmas party for Amy's office.  It was nice.  It was at Emily and Joe's restaurant (i.e., Russells Bistro).  Nice food and drink, and I got a chance to chat with some of the nice folks from Amy's office that I don't see all that often.

(Amy wore her cat sweater, I think for the ugly sweater contest, but then
she decided it was too hot, and took it off before the actual judging)

(Jolly ol' Saint Nick made an appearance!)

So that was on Thursday night.  Mom and Dad kept Raylan that night so we wouldn't have to worry about him being up past his bed time while we were at the party.  Thanks, Admiral and Karebear!
Friday night I don't think we got up to very much.  I can't really remember, honestly.
On Saturday I went grocery shopping, and we did chores, and we took turns running to the gym.
Saturday evening we went over to Mandy's house for a sort of potluck dinner (although Mandy did most of the cooking).  Kim, Sigmund, Miles, Andy, Rami, Wilson, Mandy, Kellie, Marigold, Josephine, and our family were in attendance.  It was fun to hang out and catch up and watch the kiddos play.  Raylan seemed to really enjoy watching the other kids.  Also, Mandy made some tasty chicken tacos!  It's a little surreal (and cool) to see all of these kids hanging out together, knowing that the parents have been hanging out together for many years...
So that was Saturday.
On Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.  It was nice to get up and get out for breakfast.  We ran a couple of errands before heading home.
We took care of some chores on Sunday.  Laundry.  Raylan wrangling.  Amy made some treats for a holiday cookie party at her office and worked on a project for one of her nephews (it's a Christmas surprise, so I won't give it away).  We took turns exercising.
In the evening I went to band practice.  It was good to see the guys and play some tunes.

("I'm MOBILE now!!!")

("Because I'm comfortable here.  That's why."

("Oh my God!  Did you guys forget to knock this cup tower over,
or what?!")

("Dad, this thing makes the inside of
my head light up...")

("That's it...  Just take one step
closer, Mom....")
And that was the weekend. I'm not sure where it went, really, but it seemed to go by fast without much down time.
It feels like we're just racing through the holiday season.
I hope everyone is doing well.


Monday, December 07, 2015


So, it wasn't the best weekend ever.  Not the worst, mind you, but I got a cold starting g on Friday night, and by Saturday I had one of the worst headaches I've had in my life.  It.  Wouldn't.  Go.  Away.  Anyway, I'm not really used to serious headaches (God help those people who live with regular migraines), so I spent a lot of Saturday sleeping and whimpering (because I'm tough like that).  I was supposed to go to a graduation dinner for our friend, Kit (congratulations, Kit!!), but I ended up staying home sick while Amy went on her own.    Sounds like she had a really good time.  Mom and Dad had already arranged to take Raylan for the night so we could go to the graduation dinner, so I was able to get some rest.  Thanks to them!

Anyway, consequently, I don't have a lot to report from this weekend.  I ended up sleeping through UT's final game of the year, in which they apparently managed to defeat the once-mighty Baylor (I know they've had some quarterback injuries- but I still thought they'd beat us).

(Raylan teaching Mom to read on Thursday morning.
Raylan likes when Grandma hangs out with him for
the day.)

Amy looking beautiful for the dinner I didn't make it to

(Here I'm trying to feed Raylan food, but he
prefers his teething toy)
And finally, a video from Friday night that Raylan fans might enjoy (but which his enemies will hate).  It's a little repetitive, so we'll forgive you if you don't watch all of it.  ;-)

That's about it.  I'm hopefully on the mend.  Raylan's got a cold, too, so we're working through things together.