Sunday, December 10, 2017


Hello!  Hope things are going well for everyone.
We're racing toward Christmas here at a semi-frenetic pace.  Mother Nature stepped in this week to make things feel a little more Christmasy (Christmasish?  Christmaslike?) this week by bringing us over an inch of snow in the Austin area.  I really don't ever remember such a thing happening before Christmas here in Austin, although I could be wrong.
Raylan, having read quite a few stories about snow-filled Christmases, had asked several times about when it was going to snow, so I was happy that the little guy got to see some white stuff on the ground.  A Christmas miracle!
Both the Attorney General's Office and Travis County opened late so that the ice could melt off the roads a bit.  Our family braved the snow and went out to breakfast La Posada.  We got to see the snowy South Austin neighborhoods on the way there and back.  It was fun.

Someone must have been out building this guy in the dark as the snow
was falling on William Canon.  Raylan was impressed.
It's also the time of year when various work-related holiday events take place.  The mental health docket that I work on takes place twice a week in County Court 8, and this year Judge Barrera and his staff invited our mental health docket team to attend their yearly Christmas holiday luncheon.  It was really fun!  The food was amazingly good.  I'm not sure how they pulled it off in an office without a real kitchen.

The holiday buffet!  All homemade and delicious.

People wander in to celebrate once they're done with their
morning dockets.
So I had a nice time at the holiday luncheon.  I had to squeeze it in before a morning docket and and an afternoon docket, but it was still really nice.
On Saturday we did some chores and errands during the day.  Raylan got some time outside.  He's getting better at pedaling that tricycle.
Saturday evening my parents, Ryan, and Jamie came over for dinner.  Amy made King Ranch chicken casserole and salad.  She also made some sugar cookies, which Raylan got to decorate before dinner with some help from Amy and Mom.  He had fun with that.

For every sprinkle that made it onto the cookies, two went into
Raylan's mouth

Raylan gets excited when his people are all together.  He was
running around like a crazy person, here, and giving out the
occasional hug

Family dinner time!

After dinner the grandparents and aunt and uncle helped Raylan
 put together a puzzle.  Seemed to be the highlight of his day.
So we had a nice dinner.  Very casual, but very fun.

On Sunday we played with Raylan some more.  More tricycle riding around the neighborhood.
Patrolling the mean streets of Western Trails.

2 years old, going on 14.

Amy did some babysitting for Shelly and Kit again (well, for Spencer- Shelly and Kit can mostly care for themselves).  I got Raylan his lunch, read some books with him, and got him down for his nap while Amy took care of Spencer.

Amy made tinga chicken tacos for dinner, and they were great.  Lots of good Amy food this weekend.

I had band practice in the evening, and it was fun.  Frank, Reed, Jim, and myself.  It had been a while since we played, and it felt good.

And that was the weekend!  Have a good week!

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Hello!  Hope things are going well as everyone launches into December!
We've got our tree up (Amy ordered a new tree for us this year, and it looks nice), a few Christmas decorations, and some lights on the outside of the house.

Supah festive!
Let's see, what have we been up to....?
On Wednesday of this week we went to dinner with our friends Tommy and Kellie at the Kerbey Lane down on Guadalupe.  That was good.  It was fun to see them and catch up.

On Saturday morning we went to the Austin Nature and Science Center.  We met up with a few of Raylan's friends from school.  That place is pretty cool.  It has a few animals (some large birds, a fox, a bobcat, a prairie dog, and some animals in aquariums), a pond, a creek, and a large, sand "Dino Pit" where the kids can dig for dinosaur bones (cement).  The place has apparently been there forever, right on the west side of Mopac, just over Ladybird Lake, but I had no idea that it existed.  (which seems weird, since I've pretty much lived here my whole life and tend to think I'm not totally ignorant about my city).

Yeah, the pond is great, Mom, but we gotta keep mooooving!

Dorothy, I think that something BIG might have died in this sandbox....

Evie, Dorothy, and Raylan get to work on digging up
those dino bones.

Papa, how am I supposed to fall into the water with all of this
fencing in the way?


Raylan, Amy, and Sam

Dad, I keep trying to look at the filters, but the turtles keep
getting in the way.

Raylan, Alex, and Evie checkin' out the critters

"We went to the park yesterday and I made Papa chase me!"
(actual quote)

Evie and Raylan getting ready for snack time.
So the nature center was fun.  Raylan had a blast seeing his friends and running around.  It was also nice to get to see the other parents again and chat with them a bit more.

On Saturday evening Mom and Dad took Raylan to spend the night at their house.  Amy and I had a little date night.  We went out to dinner and went to see Thor: Ragnarok (which was a fun movie, but pretty ridiculous).  We also got some grocery shopping done.  Cause that's how we party these days.
On Saturday we went out for breakfast, and then Amy went over to babysit for Shelly and Kit.
Mom and Dad brought Raylan home, and Dad helped me hang some blinds (thanks, Dad!)

Later in the afternoon I went for a bike ride.  It was the first anniversary of the St. Elmo Brewing Co., and I'd been wanting to go to that place since it opened, so I rode my bike over there.  It was pretty cool, but also pretty crowded.  They had a bluegrass band playing, food for sale, and a few beer specials going on.  The beers that I tried were pretty good.
There were a lot of dogs and little kids.  There were also a lot of guys wandering about who worked at other breweries around town.  I ended up talking for a bit to a little group of guys who worked at three different breweries (Hops and Grain, 512, and Live Oak).  They all did different kinds of stuff at the breweries (one actually brewed beer, and two of the other guys were in marketing).  It occurred to me while talking to them that Austin is now employing quite a few people in its craft beer industry. Kind of cool.

St. Elmo's 1st anniversary

So I hung out for a while St. Elmo.  Then I rode back toward home.  I stopped off for a beer at Radio just to chill out there for a few minutes as well in a less hectic environment.  It's a nice place.


I got home, and Raylan was still asleep.  It seemed strange.  I felt like I'd been pedaling around South Austin for a while, talking to people, having a few beers, and then I got home and Raylan wasn't even up from his nap yet (he'd been sleeping when I left).  It was kinda nice.  I got to have some time away, and he literally didn't even know I was gone.  (and Amy got to do some cooking and relaxing without me pestering her)
Amy made some tikka masala for dinner in her new pressure cooker, and after dinner we all goofed around a bit, got tired, and went to bed,

Raylan helps Amy do the laundry in the new washer and dryer.
They have lot of lights and play little songs.
Raylan, already fascinated with appliances, is in love.
So that was the weekend.  It felt like it went by way, way too fast.
I hope you guys have a good week!

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Hope you had a good Thanksgiving holiday and a good weekend.  Ours was pretty good, mostly.
Amy and I each got to leave work a early on Wednesday (Thanksgiving eve!), so we got a chance to grab lunch together, which was nice (Raylan was still in the middle of nap time at his preschool, so we couldn't pick him up right away).

Raylan watches some popcorn pop on Wednesday night.
He seemed to enjoy the popping process more than the
actual popcorn.
On Thursday- Thanksgiving- I woke up feeling really crummy.  At first I thought it was just allergies, so I went to the gym, which usually helps me feel a little better in those situations.  Instead, I ended up feeling a lot worse.  I just had a runny nose, sore throat, cough, aches, and fatigue.  I had an elevated temperature that got up to a little over 100 degrees at one point, and I just felt really weird (I got chills at some points and felt hot at others).
Amy was kind enough to take care of Raylan while I slept for a couple of hours.
By the afternoon I was feeling a little better, but still pretty funky (I was still calling around to try to get into my usual medical clinic- closed for the holiday).  Amy convinced me that it might help if I got out of the house, so I took some medicine, vowed not to get near anyone, and piled in the car with Amy and Raylan to drive out to Mom and Dad's house for Thanksgiving dinner.
I'm really glad that I went.  We had a really nice Thanksgiving.
Jamie, Ryan, Dick, Susan, Uncle Donald, Mom, and Dad were all there along with our family.  We watched football, ate some very good food, and watched Raylan try to entertain everyone.

Thanksgiving 2017

Sick?  I'm really feeling muuuuuch better....
By that night I started to feel better.  It was kind of weird to feel that bad and then recover so quickly. 
I think I was a little freaked out to be getting sick because the last time I had been feeling like that I ended up with pneumonia for over a week and had to see two different doctors and get two kind of antibiotics to get rid of it.  Amy has had a cough for like a week now, and we're still trying to get her over the hump on that.  Anyway, I was thankful that I got better so quickly.
I was also very thankful this year for Amy and Raylan and our life together, as well as for Mom, Dad, Jamie, Ryan. Susan and Donald.  I love the whole family, and I don't take them for granted.
I'm also grateful to have married into a kind, gracious family out in Phoenix.  The Davis, Koffel, and Sinex families are always very hospitable and fun when we go out to visit, and it's nice to have married into such a nice group of people.  They've got a lot going on out there (three little cousins to juggle!), and I'm always humbled by the efforts that they make to go out of their way to accommodate us and make us feel welcome when we come flying in.
I also don't take that for granted!
On Friday we actually ventured out to run a couple of errands in the morning.  We even dared to go to Target on Black Friday, and surprisingly, it wasn't all that crowded.
Friday we had a new washer and dryer delivered (Amy is way excited), and we put up our Christmas tree and some lights on the outside of the house.
That night Amy made sausage pasta, and I watched UT shoot themselves in the foot in a demoralizing regular season closer against Texas Tech.  Oh well.
On Saturday we went to Kerbey for breakfast, and then I went to the grocery store.  Then we took Raylan to the mall to meet up with Uncle Ryan and see Santa.  I'd really been hyping this Santa thing after Raylan sort of melted down last year (i.e., screamed like a banshee and tried to flee).  This year I'd been telling Raylan how nice Santa is and prepping Raylan on how to score some good Christmas loot (Raylan had assured me that he was ready to ask for a "dark blue present" if Santa inquire about what he wanted).
Well, when we finally got to game time, the pressure sort of got to the boy...

Ho ho ho!  Maybe it'll help if the WHOLE FAMILY is in the photo...
Ryan jumped up and down behind the camera like some sort of deranged Christmas elf, trying to get Raylan to just smile and look up, but the kid wasn't really having it.  I think Raylan knew that we were going to try to dump him in that old man's lap, and he was ready to bolt.
Eventually the photographer lady busted out a wooden rocking horse, and Raylan's toy-greed and excitement to show off his rocking skills overwhelmed his fear of oddly-dressed strangers.

"Who's behind me?  What are you doing?"
Anyway, that was Christmas Santa Photo Experience 2017.  Thanks to Ryan for helping out.
Afterward, predictably, Raylan instantly became fearless, running around the mall in his cardboard antlers and insisting that Uncle Ryan serve as his steed for closer inspection of Christmas decorations.
We wrapped the whole thing up with a trip to the food court for some chicken nuggets and pizza slices.  Cuz Christmas.

Higher!  Higher, I say!!
Saturday night Susan came over to babysit Raylan while Amy and I went to see Tuna Christmas at the Zach Theatre with Mom, Dad, Jamie, and Ryan.  (Thanks for the show, Mom and Dad!)
We really had a good time.  The play is funny, and the actors did a good job.
Joe Sears and Jaston Williams have retired from performing the play, but Jaston Williams is still directing it.  With all of the changes going on in Austin, I'm really happy to see them keeping the Texas-centric Tuna plays alive.  They're a fun way to remind everyone that we're still living in Texas.
Thanks to Susan for taking care of Raylan!

On Sunday morning we ate some breakfast tacos.

Legit South Austin toddler breakfast experience 

We also took a walk and went to the park.
Raylan is really learning to pedal that tricycle.

Faster, Dad!

We have some neighbors who really embrace Thanksgiving
In the afternoon, while Raylan was napping, I went for a bike ride.  The weather was beautiful, and it was fun to get out and pedal around.  I had a good time.

In the evening we ate some of Amy's "midwestern spaghetti", which was very good, as always.
That night we watched the first half of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which we'd borrowed from Jamie and Ryan.

And that was it!
I hope everyone had a nice holiday and a nice weekend.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Arizona Trip!

So we just got back from a trip to Arizona to visit Amy's family.
We had a really nice visit.
We flew to Arizona on Thursday, getting there relatively early in the day.  We hung out at Jean and Greg's place, mostly, although we spent the night at Carol and Jerry's house.
We went out to dinner at Casa Rio with Jean and Greg, and met up with Heidi, Matt, Joanna, Scott, and Nathan.
We had a nice dinner and got some frozen yogurt afterward.

Raylan and Nathan play with toys and with Amy while Molly
bounces from person to person seeking affection

Raylan on the electric-powered four wheeler
On Friday we went with Jean, Nathan, and Scott to the Children's Museum of Phoenix.  It was a really cool place.  The main lobby of the building has a sort of three story tall playscape that they call a "climber".  The whole thing is enclosed so the kids can't fall out of it, but it involves all kinds of walkways and climbing sections.  Raylan loved it, and Scott was a big help in sort of guiding him through it since neither Amy or I could really fit through all of the narrow walkways and tunnels, especially with a bunch of other little kids running around on it.

The Climber!

Drop down maze cage in the Climber.  Rylan is trying to keep up
with Scott

Scott shows Raylan how to work one of the ball puzzles in
The Grand Ballroom

Raylan, having dropped his ball into the chute, watches it traverse the room
through a sort of Rube Goldberg machine before ending up in a bucket

Raylan keepin' it clean at the car wash!
We had a really good time at the Children's Museum.  We've been to children's museums in Phoenix, Portland, and Austin (yeah, I'm calling The Thinkery a children's museum), and I think the Phoenix one was the best.
Friday afternoon I borrowed Greg's bike and took a ride around Vistancia.  I was mostly riding in neighborhoods, but I managed to get in almost 13 miles.  It's always fun to go riding out in Phoenix.  It's such a different looking place than Austin.
Friday night we had a really good Italian dinner at Jean and Greg's house.  Everyone was there:  Jerry, Carol, Matt, Heidi, Scott, Nathan, and Joanna.  The food was tasty, the company was good, and Raylan had a blast playing with his cousins.  The kids all got flashlights, and they spent time in the dark bedrooms of the house and in the darker parts of the backyard playing hide-and-go-seek as well as a particularly weird game of Raylan's invention in which everyone tries to look for the Pale Green Pants from the Doctor Seuss story, "What Was I Scared Of?"  I've never seen Raylan actually find the Pale Green Pants, but he assures me that he has found them before.  Scott wins best cousin of the year award for participating in that hunt.
Anyway, it was a nice evening.  Jean made pizookie, and it was great.
We all slept hard that night.

On Saturday I got up and exercised on Jean and Greg's elliptical.  We had some plans, but Raylan managed to stumble his way onto a cholla cactus while on a walk, soooooo... by the time we got the spines out of his leg (a process which did not look fun), he needed a little down time to recover.  He bounced back pretty quickly, though.  Raylan hates to miss a party.

Raylan chills out and watches some cartoons with Nana
after his de-spining

Getting his groove back,  Raylan takes part in a bongo party with Poppa Greg.
Turns out that Raylan really loves playing bongos with Poppa Greg.

Raylan works on cutting wooden vegetables with a wooden knife.
"Like Mommy does."

Greg and I went out to the Peoria Artisan Brewery and Gastropub on Saturday afternoon.  I had a really fun time.  We each had a flight of beers, so we got to try their stuff.  The beers were good!  (They had a couple of good IPAs as well as one that I think was a vanilla rum porter which was really tasty).  Anyway, it was fun to sit outside in the beautiful weather, have a few beers, and just have a nice, relaxing chance to talk.
Saturday night Amy and I went out to eat with Matt and Heidi at El Encanto while Raylan stayed with Jean and Carol.  We had a nice dinner.  It was good to get a chance to catch up without having to chase or corral kids.  Thanks to Matt and Heidi for coming out!

On Sunday we got up and exercised.
Raylan helped Jean do laundry.

Even after he got back to Austin, Raylan continued to proudly tell me
about how he did the laundry with Nana.

We met up with Matt and Heidi and the cousins at the park.  (By Sunday morning Raylan was repeatedly asking where the cousins were).  They had a really fun time playing with each other, and it was a really nice way to wrap up the trip.

Nathan and Amy

Raylan chasing Scott

Raylan, Nathan, and Scott

Even once we got back to Austin, Raylan was still talking about how he
and Scott climbed the green ladder.

Hey, we managed to get a picture where you can see the faces
 of all three kids at the same time.  Success!!!

After that, we piled in the car and rolled out for the airport.  It was a good visit!
We had a nice time, and it was good to see everyone.  We talk about the Arizona family quite a bit when we're here in Austin, and it's great to watch Raylan form stronger connections with them.
As always, a big thanks to all of the Arizona family for all of the hospitality!

Hope to see you guys again soon!