Sunday, January 29, 2017

Update

Hi!  Hope everyone is doing okay!  Our weekend was pretty good.
Friday night I think we sort of laid low.  I picked up dinner for us.  I got some tacos from Torchy's, and picked up dinner from Crepe Crazy for Amy.  Because Amy is, in fact, crepe crazy.
Saturday morning we went out for breakfast.
Then we took Raylan to the park and played with him.   We ran errands in there, somewhere, and Amy went for like a 4 mile run.  I plodded along on the elliptical.
Our newest house project has been a new fence.  We put up a privacy fence in the back, and a cattle panel fence in the front.  We like it!  It sort of changes the feel of the house a bit, and it sort of simultaneously makes the front yard feel more private (and useful for wrangling kids and dogs) while at the same time keeping it open to the neighborhood.
I wanna get a chair so I can sit out there with Raylan and Cassidy and play guitar while they run around.

Our new fence, mid construction, with Amy doing
her best Vanna White impersonation
On Saturday we also went to Target and ran a couple other errands.  We went to Half Price Books, and I bought a cheap copy of Animal Farm.  I was gonna buy 1984, but the guy at the store said they couldn't keep it in stock, and he heard that even Amazon was running out of copies.  I guess Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer have everyone thinking the same thing.
Raylan got a haircut.  He sat on Amy's lap and played the Hungry Caterpillar game on her phone, and was shockingly well behaved.

On Saturday night I went to a plate party at the Flying Saucer for my friend, Bill.  Apparently if you join the beer club at the Flying Saucer and drink 200 different beers (no more than 3 on any given visit) you get a plate on the wall with your name on it and a little party where they give you- you guessed it- beer!
It was a fun time!  Thanks to Amy for watching Raylan so I could go out.
A few of Bill's friends came out, including my friend from work, John, and his wife, Sally.
It was good to hang out, catch up, and drink some excellent beers.

Bill gave a toast to celebrate the fact that he is
really, really good at drinking beer
Discretion being the better part of valor, I ended up leaving my car at The Triangle and riding the bus home from the bar.  I tried to just hang out and eat a late Tex-Mex dinner at Maudie's to let the beer wear off, but it didn't work.  They have some strong ales at the Flying Saucer.  
It's late, dark, and cold while I'm waiting for the bus.
But I'm still smiling.
Because beer.
On Sunday, we still didn't have any groceries in the house for breakfast since we didn't make it to the store Saturday, and we had to get my car, anyway, so we went out for breakfast for the second time in one weekend.  Hooray!
After breakfast we went to the grocery store.

"Mom, I'd like you to let me out of this chair so I can introduce myself
to some of the people here..."
Other from that, it was mostly a lot of goofing around.
I went to the gym and Amy went for another run.

Sunday Fun Day.

Sunday night I had band practice with Reed, Frank, and Jim.  It was good.  Felt good, and we sounded alright for a bunch of guys with an intermittent practice schedule.
I came home and ate some tasty tortellini soup that Amy had made.  Yum!

That was pretty much the weekend!

Have a good week!









Sunday, January 22, 2017

Update

Hi!  I hope everyone had a good weekend!
Ours was pretty good.
Last Thursday we got to go see a play!  Mom and Dad took Raylan for the night, and we went to see Let the Right One In.  It was fun!
Let the Right One In was a play about a young boy and his first childhood romance- with a young girl who turns out to be a vampire.  The play was put on by the Nation Theatre of Scotland.  It was based upon the movie of the same name.  It was good.  Scary and poignant and sometimes funny.
We enjoyed it.
We also went out to dinner before the show with Shelly and Kit at the Salty Sow.  It was a good restaurant.  We had a really good time.  Nice evening.

Pre-play selfie


Spooky set.
Mom and Dad took Raylan overnight on Thursday and had him on Friday as well.  Predictably, it seemed like he had a good time.  He got to go to the aquarium, which apparently he really enjoyed.

Raylan under the sea.
On Saturday we got up and I took Raylan with me to the grocery store so Amy could get some stuff done for work.
After our trip to the store, I rode my bike downtown to check out the Women's March.  Amy was a little wary about bringing Raylan to it and a little wary about finding parking downtown on her own, so, perhaps slightly strangely, in the end I represented our family while Amy stayed home with kiddo.
I had heard a bunch of women at work and in our neighborhood talking about going to the march, and these weren't necessarily the kind of people who show up to protests and marches at the drop of a hat, so I felt like something potentially unusual might be in the making.
And it was.  The march was huge.
I've previously shown up for a number of protests and events downtown (against the Iraq War, supporting Wendy Davis, anti-Trump, for tighter gun control, etc.), but this was by far the biggest political protest event that I've seen in Austin.  The newspaper put the numbers at 50,000, but I honestly would be surprised if there weren't even more people than that (I kept trying to compare the crowd size to the 100,000 people I've seen at DKR stadium for UT football games, and I would have put the march crowd at closer to 3/4 or 4/5 of the stadium than 1/2).
Anyway, it was a lot of people, and they were loud and enthusiastic.
People weren't just anti-Trump (although that was certainly a theme).  They were also simply for women's rights, for human rights, for equal pay, for women's health care, and in favor of leadership which respects and understands their interests.
I know that it's easy to dismiss protests and marches, saying that they don't effect real change, and while it's true that no one is going to pass a bill or create a law simply on the basis of a march, I do tend to think that protests and marches inspire people and generate a lot of energy.  The trick is to harness that energy, refocus it, and redirect it into something that creates concrete results.  I believe this can happen. We've seen this happen.  We have a memorial to M.L.K. in Washington, D.C., which stands as a testament to the power of a leader who never held a political office or a military rank.
Laws were passed and political leaders ultimately were compelled to comply with a mandate that he helped to create through moral leadership of the citizenry.
Sometimes political will precedes official action.  Sometimes it precipitates it.
Would I have rather seen this sort of energy before the election?  Sure.  But honestly, I think a lot of people never took Trump seriously enough to realize what he represented.  His election might end up as a wake up call for progressives.  This is by no means a sure thing.  But it's definitely possible.
As I've told a number of people- Trump, himself, wasn't actually the shocking thing about this election.  What came as a shock was the fact that there were enough people in this country who were willing to vote for the man to put him into office.  I think a lot of progressives sleepwalked their way through the election believing that there was no way that someone with the character and disposition of Trump could ever get voted into the presidency.
The real slap in the face came from finding out that the nation was willing to elect a guy who had run a reprehensible campaign and who had been engaging in extremely shady business practices and personal conduct for decades. (And I don't think is necessarily even a partisan position- many notable conservatives also refused to endorse Trump).  Many people never imagined that a Trump win was possible prior to the election.
Well we know better now, and, sadly, we know our country a little better now.
Hopefully this realization will generate action.

Anyway, time will tell whether the Women's March was a moment or a movement, but it was definitely something to see.





On Saturday afternoon we took Raylan over to Doc's.  He played on the playground and ran around and generally had a good time.  The place, especially the playground, was packed with kids.  At one point Raylan got away from Amy and me and went running off between some big kids who were on the swings.
Some lady ended up dramatically diving to the ground to try to stop him.
I was a little mortified, but scooped up Raylan and thanked her.
Deciding at this point that the playground was a little overcrowded and crazy, we fled!

"I like this restaurant, Mom.  I like the decor."
On Saturday night I think we took it easy.  Amy made some really good pasta with sausage.

On Sunday we got up and went out for Mexican breakfast at La Posada.
Afterwards, I installed a curtain rod for out new sliding door, and Amy hung up some curtains.
Amy put Raylan in the jog stroller and went jogging for 4 miles. (Ironwoman!)
I went to the gym.
Raylan took a nap sort of late.  We played outside a bit.

"Slave?  Oh, slave?!?!  Lift me, please."
Later I went to Reed's house for band practice.  It was just the two of us, but we had a good time. Reed's birthday was Friday, so it was good to get a chance to hang out with him a bit and do some rocking.

And that was it!  That was the weekend!
It was good.  It went by way too fast.

Hope everyone has a good week.











Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MLK Day Weekend Update

Hey! How are ya?
So this weekend was a three day weekend, due to the MLK Day holiday and the fact that Amy and I are both guv'ment lawyahs.
The weekend, had some good points, but maybe it wasn't our overall best weekend ever.
Part of this was because Amy came down with some sort of flu/fever thing on Saturday.  She wasn't feeling great Friday night, and by Saturday she had a fever.
I think this was on Thursday night.  Amy helps Raylan make
breakfast for dinner
We had pretty rainy weather over the weekend, too, so Amy wasn't feeling great, and we were trapped in the house with a very busy toddler.
Raylan was pretty good, though.
Friday night, prior to Amy getting sick, we went to La Posada and ate dinner.
Then I took Raylan with me to the grocery store and to run errands on Saturday morning.
We played with his Hot Wheels a lot over the weekend, and generally read lots of books and played with lots of his stuff.
On Sunday we went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.  Raylan was really excited about the pancakes. Amy was excited to get out of the house.
Sunday we went over to my parents house in the afternoon.  Mom made chili, and Dad read Raylan books.  We watched the Packers beat the Cowboys.  When you've pretty much only been watching college football, the NFL seems insanely fast paced.
Anyway, it was nice to hang out with them, as always.
On Monday we also had the day off for the MLK holiday.
In the morning we went over to the park in Ryan and Jamie's neighborhood.  Raylan played on the playground, and we got to see Ryan (Jamie had just gotten back from dialysis and was resting).  They have a nice little neighborhood park.  We played there until it started raining again.
So that was mostly the weekend!
We squeezed in a few walks, and Raylan played on his fort a little bit, but the weather was pretty gloomy and wet.

"Launch me!!!!"

"You gotta savor each bite, Dad."

Gonna keep it short because I'm busy and there's not too much to report, anyway.  Amy seems to be on the upswing.  Fingers crossed!

Have a great week!





Thursday, January 12, 2017

Addendum

So on January 2, the day after New Year's Day, Amy and I both got the day off from work.  I mostly mention this because we went down and walked on the board walk at Lady Bird Lake with Raylan, and I took some photos, but forgot to post them.  The weather was nice and we had fun!





 



Monday, January 09, 2017

Update

Hey! It's been sort of a busy week.  On Friday we got a new glass sliding door installed on the back of our house to replace our old French doors.
The French doors never worked right and wouldn't open correctly anymore.
The new glass sliding door got installed, weirdly, on probably the coldest day that we've had so far this year.  Luckily, the guys were able to get it put in over the course of a single afternoon.  I had meetings at work, so Amy and my dad came and met the guys and hung out in the cold house while they worked.  Thanks, Dad and Amy!

There comes a moment when you have a large, gaping hole in the back of
your house on a 30 degree day when you may begin to somewhat question
the wisdom of your plans...

Cassidy was not excited about the cold, noisy house, so Amy
bundled her up back in the bedroom.



Finished!
On Friday night I got home and gave Raylan a bath and got us fish and chips from Baker Street, which seemed like a good idea on a cold night.
Saturday morning was sunny, but cold.
We went to a birthday part for Ophelia, the daughter of our friends Adam and Katie, over at their house in Hyde Park.  It was fun.  There were lots of kids there, and Raylan had a fun time running around.  He ate cake and got to play.  We talked to a few parents of the other kids who were there.  It seemed like most of the kids at the party went to daycare with Ophelia.
When we got home, despite the cold temperatures, Raylan insisted on a little bit of time on his swing set.

"The cold can't catch you if you swing hard enough, Dad."
Saturday afternoon we went to Home Depot and ran some errands.

On Sunday morning we went out for a Tex Mex breakfast at La Posada and then went grocery shopping as a family.  Rylan seemed to enjoy both events.

"I know you think this hat is too big for me, guys,
but if I give it a jaunty tilt, I think I can pull it off."

The family that shops together... uh...
stays mildly entertained on a cold, winter day.
On Sunday afternoon, sadly, I actually had to go to work.  I'm working on a brief for an appeal, so I gotta get it done before the deadline catches up with me.  Ryan and Jamie came by the house to visit Amy and Raylan while I was at the office.
Sunday night I got home and gave Raylan a bath while Amy made chilaquiles.
Yum.

And that was pretty much our weekend.  Also, for the second time, we watched John Carter, breaking it up over a couple of nights.  That movie didn't do especially great with critics, I believe, and I don't think it did great at the box office, either, but we both still like it.  It's a Steans-Davis cult hit, I guess. Pulpy Mars sci-fi adventure, told with a bit of a sense of humor.  What's not to like?

So that was the weekend.  Amy is out of town right now on a work trip.  She's in Wichita Falls.  Rylan is spending the night with my mom and dad.  The house is weirdly quiet.  I miss them both.









Sunday, January 01, 2017

Christmas in AZ; New Year's in TX

Hey!  So a lot of festive stuff has been going on.  We flew out Thursday for Phoenix to spend Christmas with Amy's family.  Our flight was uneventful.  Raylan slept the whole way.
We got to Amy's parents' house, and there was a sort of dinner party gathering planned for Carol's 75th birthday that evening.
We had tasty lasagna and pasta with bread and salad, and Jean made excellent chocolate-peanut butter pie and sugar cream pie for dessert.

Excited to get to Phoenix!  Except one of us partied too much
before he got on the plane...
"I see the ornaments, Poppy, but I really think it would be better for
both of us if you'd just let me climb this thing."

"Joanna, I see that you have the construction trucks, but
I do not believe that you appreciate them with the same
level of enthusiasm that I do." 

To be honest, I'm not sure what we did on Friday.  Raylan didn't sleep great that first night (adjusting to a new place), so we laid low a bit.  I know that we went for for some walks, and that Heidi came to visit with the Nathan.





Scott dares the Tooth Fairy to, "Come and Take It!!"

Saturday was Christmas Eve.
We got up in the morning and went with Jean to take Raylan to Sun City to see some trains and some fountains.  The Sun City residents had set up some miniature train stuff for Christmas.  Rylan was equally excited to just run around the grounds near their activity center, checking out the fountains and visiting the dog park and whatnot.

"Just let go of my hand, Nana.  I swear that I will
try to try to not get wet."

It rained pretty hard on Saturday, and the weather was kind of cool.
Weird.
I've been to Phoenix a number of times before, but I've never seen it rain like it did on this trip.  It was kind of cool to watch the dark clouds roll in over the mountains and into the dessert in The Valley.

We went to Lord of Life Lutheran Church for Christmas Eve.  It was a nice church.  Unfortunately, Raylan only lasted through the first song before he started sort of squirming and loudly protesting about not being allowed to run around the church.  First I tried to quiet him down.  Then I took him to the narthex.  Then I finally had to leave the whole building and go to a fellowship hall on the other side of the court yard because he was yelling so loudly by that point that the noise was going to carry into the sanctuary and disrupt the service.
Oh well.  We tried!

It all started out so peacefully...

"Mom, now that we're out here, I'd like to talk to you about all of the
Christmas presents that I deserve."



So this was taken on the way in to the
Christmas Eve service.
Anyway, we ultimately ended up leaving early, taking the car and heading home, with Jean and Greg kindly offering to catch a ride home with Jerry and Carol.


We got back from church and later that evening we just hung out.  Greg put together some kid-sized vehicles that were Christmas presents for Joanna, Nathan, and Scott.


"Dad, I'm not sure you're really getting all of the subtext here
in your portrayal of this delivery truck driver and the challenges
that he's facing as he tries to get this furniture to this family."
On Christmas morning we had a nice breakfast.  Jean made egg casserole and Heidi brought hash browns over.  We had cinnamon rolls and fruit and other stuff, too.
The kids opened presents.  This was the first year where Raylan started to really "get" Christmas, so he was excited to open gifts and get presents out of a stocking.  It was all very nice.
The only moment of drama came when we found out that Scott hadn't been feeling well when he got up.  There was some initial concern that he might not make it, but Matt brought him over just a little while later when he was feeling better.  We were all really happy that worked out and that he didn't get genuinely ill on Christmas.

Jean shows us all how to use a PlasmaCar.  Greg, sensing
that the Christmas shenanigans are about to get out of hand, gets
the bloody marys ready.


"CHRISTMAS!!!!!"


Jerry, Amy, and Carol





Later everyone went to their separate houses for a nap.  Raylan recharged so that he could be faster and louder later.
The family reconvened in the late afternoon, early evening for a dinner with smoked turkey, artichoke and crab dip, cheese and crackers, and assorted other treats.  Heidi made little sandwiches of turkey, roast beef, and, I believe, ham.  The food was all excellent.  Greg had some good beers, and we drank a few of those as well.  The kids ran around like whirling dervishes, both inside the house and in the back yard, having a lot of fun and, basically, wearing themselves out.

Greg reads Raylan "Are You My Mother?" over breakfast.
I am told that this did not, in any way, constitute a preliminary,
toddler psychotherapy session.

On Monday we took Nathan and Raylan to the Wildlife World Zoo.  It was a lot of fun.  Wildlife World Zoo is a private zoo, so I was expecting something on the scale of the Austin Zoo, but, it was a much larger, more extensive park, equivalent to or surpassing many of the city zoos that I've visited.
We had a really nice time.  The weather was great, and I think both the kids and the adults really enjoyed it.

"Mom, we need an aquarium like this for our house.
You keep it clean for me, and I'll look at it
from time to time."

On Tuesday we took Raylan to Anthem to play at the park and ride the train.  The train went through a tunnel that was decorated with Christmas lights.   He loved it.
Once again, the weather was beautiful.
Tuesday afternoon I snuck out to do some shopping with Amy.  Jean and Carol got me some shirts, belts, and socks at Destination XL, and they also got some gift certificates that came with them (thanks so much Jean and Carol!).  So, in the end, I not only got nice clothes as a gift, but I got to do some really good, significantly discounted shopping as well.
On the way home Amy and I stopped and picked up some pizzas for us for dinner.

"I'm gonna get on that train.  I'm gonna get on it, and I'm gonna
ride it right out of this one horse town..."

On Tuesday we also went to see Rogue One with Amy, Greg, and Heidi.  I think we all liked it.  Well, I'm not sure if Heidi liked it, but she was a good sport and didn't complain about it, and the rest of us liked it.
We saw Rogue One on the same day that Carrie Fisher died.  It was kind of weird (spoiler) to see her appear in computer generated form (albeit a younger version of herself) on the day that she died.  Presumably they got permission from her to put her likeness in the moviegoing before she passed, but, not knowing she was in the film, it was still quite a shock to see her appear on screen in the final shot.  In truth, it was pretty distracting.  (and that's not even taking up the issue of Peter Cushing's Grand Moff Tarkin, a character who appears fairly extensively in the movie through the use of computer imaging, although Cushing himself died in 1994).
Anyway, those are side issues, and I liked the movie.  Thanks to Greg for buying the tickets and to Jean and Carol for watching Raylan.


Arizona sunset with no filter.  Shot on the way to Rogue One
And that was pretty much our trip.  There were plenty of other conversations, walks, and trips to the playground in there.
It was a nice visit and a good chance for everyone to catch up.
Thanks again to Jean and Greg for being such great hosts and to the Jerry, Carol,  and the Sinex family for being so welcoming and gracious.

We flew out on Wednesday.  We got home feeling a little worn out, but happy.

Raylan learns about real estate opportunities through the in-flight magazine.
Mom and Dads picked us up at the airport, and we went home and crashed.
"Dad, would ya mind closing the bathroom door?
Just one more text and I'll be done in here..."
We had a few more days until New Year's, and we spent them getting chores done, unpacking, and generally settling back in.

"Dad, I really like Phoenix, but there's just something
special to me about a South Austin Tex Mex, breakfast
know what I mean?"
Our New Year's Eve was pretty low key.  Mom and Dad took Raylan on Friday night after we stopped off and visited with them for a while.  That night we went out for a pleasant, quiet dinner at Chinatown in Westlake the night before the crowds got crazy.

On Saturday night, New Year's Eve, Amy made chicken enchiladas, we drank a couple of glasses of wine, and we all went to bed before midnight.  There were fireworks in the neighborhood, and I watched a bit of Kathy Griffith and Anderson Cooper on CNN, but other from that, it was a pretty low key night.

Amy's enchiladas, served with the help of pot holders
that Scott made and gave to her as a Christmas present
New Year's Day was really nice and sunny and warm.  We took down Christmas stuff, did some yard work, and went over to Mandy's house in the afternoon for a New Year's Day celebration.
Andy, Rami, Wilson, Kellie, Josephine, Goldie, Donna Rene, Kim, and Mandy were there in addition to ourselves.

January 1, 2017 in Lower Austin

Rylan with Wilson and Jojo in Mandy's sunken room on
New Year's Day, watching cartoons and stirrin' up trouble
And that was pretty much it!
We had a nice set of holidays.  Thanks to our families for being so supportive and helpful.
We love you guys, and we couldn't do it without you!