Monday, February 29, 2016


Hey! Hope everyone had a nice weekend!  It's feeling very spring-like here in the ATX.
We had a nice weekend after a pretty busy week.
We're having our driveway re-paved, along with having our patio fixed and a new front walkway put in.  So we have a lot of construction chaos going on at the house at the moment, but it's all in the interest of fixing our house up, which we're excited about.
(Diggers Go!)

On Friday night we watched Step Brothers, a 2008 comedy starring John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell about two grown men (40-something) who both still live with their respective parents and end up sharing the same house.  It's a ridiculous movie.  But it's fun.  I had seen it before, but this was Amy's first time.  I had sort of lukewarm memories of the movie, but ended up enjoying it more this time around.  Amy laughed at the movie most of the way through it, and then at the end told me it wasn't as funny as she thought it would be.  I think the expectations going into a movie with both Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly might just be too high (as they were for me the first time). 
I think it's a funny flick.
Anyway, that was Friday.
On Saturday my parents came and picked up Raylan to take him to stay with them overnight.
Several months ago I had bought Amy and I tickets for Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music at Bass Concert Hall.  Amy had seen a TV review of the touring production and heard that it was good, and it's apparently one of her favorite musicals from her childhood.
I've seen The Sound of Music a number of times, myself (it's one of my mom's favorites, so we watched it on TV a number of times growing up).  I will admit, though, that I gradually sort of came to think of The Sound of Music as something that girls/women might be a little more interested in than boys/men.  Between all of the romance and the cute little singing kids (and the decided lack of gun battles, spaceships, ninjas, and robots), it wasn't something that I thought appealed to guys.
So, although I knew the music from the show, I went to The Sound of Music mostly to make Amy happy. 
But I ended up really enjoying it!
The musical performances were really terrific (some of the best that we've heard in a musical), and the stage version had a couple of extra songs and scenes which sort of leant some added weight to the whole moral dilemma that the Von Trapp family faced as they chose to flee Austria rather than succumb to Nazi rule.  The Maria-Captain romance and the kids were, of course, still central to the story, but the conversations between Captain Von Trapp, The Baroness, and Max were a little more fleshed out and adult in the play than in the movie, spelling out the risks of opposing the Germans versus the benefits of pledging loyalty to them.
So we both really enjoyed the show!  It's always nice to enjoy something more than you expect.

(belated birthday fun)

We saw the play in the afternoon, and that evening we met up with our friends Shelly and Kit at Reale's Italian Café up in North Austin.  We had a fun dinner with them.  These days we don't get to go out in the evenings very often because Raylan's bedtime is so early (we have more breakfast and lunch outings these days), so it was definitely a treat to have dinner with some good friends.
Afterwards we all met up with Tommy and Kelly for some bar trivia at Opal Divine's.  We had a really good time.  We were in 2nd place for most of the evening, but in the final round we stumbled on some random questions and slipped into 4th (and out of the bar tab money).  Oh well.  Fourth out of 28 ain't bad.  We'll get 'em next time!
On Sunday we got to sleep in, go to breakfast, and then do a little shopping before... Raylan returned!

(Yanking Grandma's earrings off is hilarious!)

We went for a walk on Sunday.  Amy and I both exercised.  I went to band practice.  Reed, Frank, and Jim were there.  We played pretty well.  Good to make music and have a chance to catch up with the guys.
("Father, I do believe that for all of my life I shall have
grown men push me around in a carriage while I wear
fashionable sunglasses and drink delightful beverages...")
And that was about it! Very nice weekend.  It went by too quickly.
Hope everyone is doing well. 

Monday, February 22, 2016


Hey!  How's it going?  Happy birthdays to Heidi (Sunday) and Jean (Monday) from the Arizona branch of the family!  Next year maybe we ought to plan our winter trip during February to come celebrate with you guys!  Hope you both had a good time on your respective days.
Things are going pretty well on our end.
We had a pretty nice weekend.  The weather was overcast, and sort of misty/drizzly on occasion, but it was warm for February, and still nice enough to go outside.
I did some grocery shopping on Saturday morning, and afterwards we took Raylan to the park.  He can go down the slides with a little assistance, and he's already a big fan of that experience.   
Later, after his nap, we took a trip out to The Austin Zoo.  Heidi and Matt got us a family zoo pass for Christmas, which was super nice (thanks, guys!).  We had a really fun time.  The Austin Zoo isn't super big, but it's fun and a good size for little kids.  You can get a good look at some of the animals.  We got to watch them feed one of the lions.  Raylan seemed to enjoy it.  He was sort of intrigued by the animals, but equally happy just to be outside and roaming around with his folks.
Somehow I didn't end up taking any pictures while we were on Raylan's first trip to the zoo.  I'm not sure how that happened.  I think that between juggling kiddo and stroller and whatnot, I just didn't really think of it.
We had a nice time, though.
On Saturday night Amy made chilaquiles.  Very good!
On Sunday we went out to lunch and ran a few errands.  Raylan likes being out and about.  He likes eating out where he can watch other people, and he likes riding in the shopping carts at the stores.  As he's getting older, he's getting a little more shy, so he's not entirely sure what to do when strangers want to talk to him, but overall he seems to like going out in the world.
Mom and Dad stopped by the house briefly after going to see a play downtown, and Amy made barbecue chicken tacos on Sunday night.  We watched Pitch Perfect, a silly but fairly entertaining comedy about a competitive college a cappella group.   It made me chuckle.

I didn't really take many pictures this weekend, but here's a video of Raylan and Amy playing around on Friday night...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

AZ Trip; Update

So I haven't made a post for a while, but we've been really busy.  Last weekend we flew out to Phoenix to go visit Amy's family.  We headed out on Saturday morning and got back on Tuesday evening.
We had a nice trip!  We got to visit with Amy's parents (Jean and Greg), her sister (Heidi) and brother-in-law (Matt), her nephews (Scott and Nathan) and niece (Joanna), and her grandparents (Jerry and Carol).  We went out for a couple of nice dinners (El Encanto and Saigon Kitchen), had some nice meals that Jean prepared (including a great breakfast with cinnamon rolls and sausage/egg casserole that we at outside), watched the Superbowl, and had a few play dates with Raylan's cousins.
Raylan had a fun time hanging out with everyone, and I think they had a pretty good time getting to see him.
It was really good just to visit and catch up with everyone.  We met Jean and Greg's new dog, Molly, and we got to see Carol and Jerry's new house (very nice!).  We took some walks, went to the playground, and stopped by the Sinex house.
Very nice visit!  Thanks for the hospitality, Arizona family!!

(Raylan ponders the advice being whispered to him by Cousin Scott)

(Carol helps Raylan adjust to the sudden arrival of family)

(Raylan proves to Jerry that he can fetch at least as well as the dog)

(In this shot I am interrupting a genuinely nice moment
between Amy and her grandmother...)

("Dad, what's static electricity?")

(Raylan and Joanna- an armload of trouble!)

("Nana, everyone drinks beer for the Superbowl!")

(A fistbump across 4 generations.  And Raylan has decided that Poppy is
pretty darn entertaining...)

(Joanna and Raylan hold a roundtable discussion at Jerry and Carol's

(First time on a swing set with Mom and Dad)

We got home and went back to work.
On Friday I went for my first bike ride in a long time.  It felt really good.  I think I rode like 19.5 miles.
I also went to see The Revenenant.  I thought the movie was really good.  I've heard it argued that it didn't do anything new from a story perspective, and there's probably some validity to that argument, but I'm not sure that it was a film that was made with an eye toward treading new ground in terms of plot.  Instead, I think the director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, was more interested in using cinematography, direction, and landscape to explore some classic literary themes.
I'm not an expert on movie-making, but I thought he did some interesting things- contrasting intimate, almost claustrophobic scenes of dialogue and frenetic character action against expansive, majestic, rugged scenes of the natural world that the characters were struggling to overcome and traverse.
The ultimate effect, at least on me, was a film that simultaneously told a fairly universal, epic tale of revenge while simultaneously serving as a reminder that no single human story is ever singularly profound when measured against the backdrop of the drama contained in the natural world and mankind's overall struggle to carve out his place within it.  Or maybe both things are simultaneously profoundly meaningful, albeit on different scales and existing side by side.
I dunno.
Pretty, pretty movie.  But brutal.
Anyway, I saw that movie.
On Saturday we went over to my parents' house in Steiner.  Ryan and Jamie came over, and Mom and Dad made a really nice steak and salmon dinner.  We took Raylan to the park, and he got to play in the grass and ride on the swings.
Raylan didn't sleep or nap super well, so we had to leave earlier than planned, so that was a little bit of a bummer.  Oh well.  You gotta stay flexible with kiddo in tow.

(Hammock time!)
Sunday was Valentine's Day.  For whatever reason, Raylan didn't sleep well the night before, so we were tired.  We didn't do a whole lot.  We went shopping at the store, and ran some errands.  Amy and Raylan got some naps in.  In the evening we watched a couple of episodes of season 2 of Broadchurch.  Lots of good acting on that show.  Interesting to watch the way that the British court system works.
Monday we had the day off for President's Day (yea for government employment!).  We got up and went to Kerbey Lane for breakfast.  Mom and Dad came over and watched Raylan while Amy and I took her old car (the Civic) to CarMax.  She unloaded it and got some money for it.  Now she's back down to one car- driving her new Mazda5.
Afterward we went over to Home Depot.

(Vampire baby.  Actually fruit.  Fruit vampire baby!)

(Cassidy keeping watch on Tejas Trail)

In the evening Amy made some really good chicken tikka masala.  Very nice dinner.

Annnd... well, that was sort of quick and dirty, but it more or less catches us up.  There were probably various walks and trips to the park and other things in there that I neglected to mention, but, in broad strokes, that's what we've been up to.
Hope everyone is doing okay!

Monday, February 01, 2016


The weekend was pretty good! On Friday night we had dinner, and then Amy went over to her friend Heather's house to hang out with friends (I think they ended up watching a movie). I stayed home with Raylan (well, he was pretty much asleep the whole time).  I watched the first episode of the new X-Files miniseries. 
It was okay, but not it didn't really blow me away.  I mean, it was a passable X-Files episode, but it wasn't really outstanding, which ended up raising the question of why someone would resurrect a cancelled show after decades if they didn't have a really great script burning a hole in their pocket.
Anyway, I watched the first episode streaming through the on-demand service since I missed the live broadcast, which does not allow you to fast forward (it forces you to watch the commercials).  Then I got halfway through the next episode before accidentally starting the thing over when I hit the wrong button on my remote.  At that point I threw in the towel because I didn't want to watch the entire episode again from the beginning (no fast forward).  Instead, I watched Fury Road on HBO.  If Amy was going to hang out with her friends on Friday night, I would hang out with my homies, Immortan Joe, Imperator Furiosa, and Max.
On Saturday we got up, ate some breakfast tacos, and went on a walk to the park.  I went grocery shopping, and we took care of a couple of other chores.  I went to the gym. 
The weather was ridiculously nice, and thanks to the warm weather blowing in from the south, there wasn't even much cedar pollen in the air.  We opened to windows and spent a lot of time outside.
Saturday night we ate chicken chipotle sloppy joes that Amy had been cooking in the crockpot all day (yum!), and we watched Silicon Valley after Amy was in bed.
We're really enjoying that show.  It's really funny and never takes itself seriously, even though it definitely has some points to make about the tech world and its culture.

"Give me the signal when she's not looking, and I'll make a run for it."

"This grass is okay, but you know what would be really great?
If some ridiculous man would pick me up and carry me around on his should-"


(Raylan sports his international look)

(Cassidy- aging guard dog of Tejas Trail)
On Sunday I drove over and got us some bagels from Wholy Bagel for breakfast.  The place has been there forever, but Amy read about it recently on some web site and insisted that we try it out.  Good bagels!!  They have more of a legit New York style to them than some of the other bagels in town (harder on the outside and chewier in the middle).
We walked Raylan again and took him to the park.
Ryan and Jamie came over for lunch and we walked over to Central Markey with them.  The weather was nice, so we sat outside.  It felt really good to see them and catch up.  It had been a few weeks, given Raylan's various illnesses and whatnot.
We both exercised and took care of a few chores.
In the evening I went to band practice.  All five of us were there.
I ended up playing bass for the whole practice.  I got to finally use the new bass amp that Amy got me for Christmas.  It's a Fender Rumble 200, and it worked well.  It's got a good sound, the volume hung in there with the full band, and it's lightweight and easy to carry.  Thanks, Amy!
It was fun to play bass again.  I'm a better bass played than guitar player, I think, despite having played guitar for many years (I'll never be a very good lead guitar player- rhythm guitar is really the best I ever pull off).  Also, I'm pretty much incapable of singing while playing bass, so when I play bass I focus on just playing my instrument- which probably makes me better at it.
Anyway, it was a fun practice. 
We played songs that we haven't played in a long time, but after all of these years we're pretty good at falling back into our old grooves.  Jim ended up playing keyboard, and he sounded good.
And that was pretty much the weekend!

Hope all of you Austinites are enjoying this weird, mid-winter spring!