Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas 2018

Hi! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
We had a good one!
We packed up our bags and headed to Arizona on Sunday, the day before Christmas Eve.  It was our first time to fly with two kids.  It wasn't bad, but it was a bit of an adventure.  We figured out the day before our flight that a bunch of the airport extended stay parking lots had filled up.  Mom bailed us out at the last second by offering to drop us off and pick us up from the airport.  Thanks, Mom!
Raylan and Kiddo were pretty good travelers.  Amy got to change Kiddo's diaper in an airplane bathroom on the way out there, so that was a exciting!  (Wheeee!)
We let Raylan play video games and watch shows on his tablet, so he stayed well-behaved and entertained, except in those chaos-filled moments when Kiddo decided to push or poke him.  Then there was some yelling and mutual shoving.  Also, whenever Kiddo started to drift off to sleep, Raylan would surprise her with a poke or a slap.
They've really settled into the whole sibling dynamic.  ;-)

Family fun on the plane
The flight was really pretty good, though.

Jean picked us up at the airport (thanks, Jean!), and we headed across Phoenix to their house.

Playing Hot Wheels Garage with Greg,
"But what does the giant garage represent, Raylan?"
We had a snack and goofed around.  In the evening we met up with Carol and Jerry at Rio Mirage restaurant to celebrate Carol's birthday with some Mexican food and margaritas.
It was fun.  The food was good, Raylan and Kiddo were well-behaved, and it was nice to see everyone and catch up.

On Monday we got up and Amy and I got a chance to work out at a gym at a very nice country club that Jean and Greg belong to.  It was a really nice place.  They have some pools, a golf course, and a restaurant that we hopefully might be able to visit on a future trip.

Later, after we got cleaned up, we took the kids over to see Heidi, Matt, Joanna, Nathan, and Scott at their house.  The kids played in the back yard and had a really nice time together.  They get along really well.  It's nice to see.

Nathan and Raylan, yelling at pedestrians to stay off the road

Raylan and Nathan work up their schtick for a buddy action movie

Raylan, surprised to find his mom on the play dome
Sunday afternoon, Christmas Eve, we all went to church at Lord of Life Lutheran.  All of the kids pretty much made it through the whole service, remaining pretty well behaved (Amy carried Kiddo out at the very end because she was chatting away a little too loudly).

Pre-church Christmas Eve family photo.
If Raylan seems distracted, it's because he's trying to figure
out how to throw himself into the fountain that's just out
of frame.

The Davis-Sinex-Steans clan descend upon an unsuspecting congregation
Christmas Eve, after church, Jean made a really good lasagna dinner.  It was a nice meal. and a fun chance to hang out.  Carol and Jerry came over.  Greg had bought a really nice bourbon, and we each had a glass.  There was also a Yule Log for dessert (which was a sort of tasty chocolate cake).

The Sinex family came over later, and the kids got a chance to play.  There was a lot of running and hiding, inside the house and out.  Raylan once again had a blast with his cousins, and Kiddo got a lot more comfortable playing with them, too.  She seemed to have a fun time with the whole family.

Before bed, after the house had quieted down, Raylan wrote a letter to Santa and left out the obligatory cookie, sausage, milk and reindeer carrots.

Christmas Eve photo
On Christmas morning the kids got up predictably early.  They got to open presents and were pretty excited.  Lot of good loot this year!

Anyone excited for Christmas?  Anyone at all?

Here's a picture of me trying to blink myself awake as the kids
buzz around me
Jean made a couple of really good breakfast casseroles (one egg casserole and one biscuit).  Later Amy and I went to the gym again.  The kids had naps in the afternoon.

The Sinex family came over later, and Jean made excellent tamales and chicken.  Heidi brought some really good hash browns, and Amy made a salad.  The food was good, the kids had fun playing again (Raylan and Nathan raced wiggle cars), and it was fun to talk to everyone.

Family photo!
Back row:  Matt, me, Carol, Greg, Jerry, and Jean
Front row:  Joanna, Heidi, Nathan, Scott, Kiddo (blurred), Amy, and Raylan
Raylan took a quick trip with Amy over to Jerry and Carol's place to see their Christmas lights after dinner was over.  I stayed behind with Bella.  I'm not sure what kind of lights they had over there, but Raylan was awfully excited about them when he got back.

And that was our trip, in brief.  It was good to see everyone.  We got up and headed back to the airport the day after Christmas.  

I'm lucky to have married into such a fun, hospitable family.  We had a really nice Christmas out in Arizona, and Jean and Greg were excellent hosts (they let us sleep in their bedroom, for heavens sake!).  Amy and I had a really good time, and the kids had a blast.
We'll all have really nice memories of that trip.

The ride home.  Visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
We got back to Austin, and Mom picked us up at the airport.
Wednesday night we opened some presents back here in Austin that we had decided not to carry with us, round trip, to Arizona and back.
Once again, the kids were excited.

More loot!!
On Wednesday night there was a big thunderstorm here in Austin.  I got to bed late, once the thunder died down, and passed out hard.

On Saturday we went out to my parents house.  They did some babysitting in the afternoon while Amy and I went to see a movie (Bumblebee- it was pretty good!).

In the evening Ryan and Jamie came over so we could do a little Christmas party with the Austin family.

Amy made a lasagna, and she cooked it over at Mom and Dad's house.  We opened some presents, and Raylan and Bella got to play with Ryan and Jamie.  I had taken Raylan to a little discount store and let him pick out presents for the family on Friday, so he got to hand those out, and he was really excited about that. 

Raylan tests Aunt Jamie's upper body strength

Uncle Ryan finds a way to slow Raylan down

Kiddo and Raylan read a story with Papa
So we had a really nice lasagna dinner and some dessert, and everyone had a nice time hanging out together.  My parents got Raylan a new bike for Christmas, and he got to ride it around their neighborhood.  He seems to love it.  
Anyway, the "Grandma and Papa Christmas Party" was a nice, low-key way to wind up a very busy Christmas week.

And that's about it.

Thanks for hosting the Christmas, Arizona family and Austin family!
We really love all of you guys, and we had a great time seeing everyone!!!!

We're extremely fortunate to have such great families on both sides!!

Monday, December 17, 2018


Hi!  Our weekend was pretty good.  A little chaotic, but pretty good.
During the week, my mom and dad took the kids one night, and Amy and I went to Cypress Grill for dinner.  It was sooooo nice.  Quiet, good food, a beer, and, most importantly, a chance to talk with Amy without anyone yelling at us or throwing food across the table!  Really nice evening.
On Friday night I had my office Christmas party.  It was fun.  It was at Dogwood on West 6th Street.  It was nice to get a chance to visit with people outside of the courthouse. 

On Saturday we went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane.

The best thing about today is that we will have all day to play without
having to mess with home repairs, right, Dad?!

The family at breakfast.  You can't see Kiddo's face, but rest assured that she
is excited about food.  She's often excited about food.
Afterward we went downtown and picked up my car (I left it down at my office and Ubered home because I knew I would have a few drinks at the party).
Then Amy went to the gym, and I drove the kids home, and our garage door broke.

I ended up spending a good chunk of Saturday getting the door fixed.  The track for the door had actually somehow splintered the wood that it was mounted into.  The fact that it required wood replacement, coupled with the fact that we apparently have an old, unusual garage door, meant that I had to call a bunch of different places on the phone and meet with three different repair guys out at the house before I could find someone who could or would fix it.
Eventually I got ahold of a company who did a great job at a very reasonable price, and who stayed late to get the work done (Always Available Available Garage Door is their name).  I was really impressed.
Some other stuff got done on Saturday (some chores and Kiddo got a haircut and Raylan got a bike ride), but Saturday definitely got messed up a little by the door project.

On Sunday I took Raylan over to the Veloway.  The Veloway Park in South Austin is, well, a veloway, which means it's essentially a nice bike trail.  It goes goes in a roughly three mile loop through the woods.  It was a nice place to bring Raylan to practice riding a pedal bike (Our neighbors gave him an old hand-me-down bike with training wheels from their grandson.  It's a little heavy, but it works.).  Raylan did pretty well.  Sometimes too well.  He tends to go really fast, and then sort of lose control and/or have a hard time stopping.  He wound up in the weeds a few times.  He also has a hard time sometimes riding up the hills, but some adults have difficulty with that, so it's to be expected.
Anyway, he completed the whole 3 mile loop.  We stopped for water and stretched a few times to catch our breath.  (Raylan also rides at full speed until he's totally winded, and then he completely stops until he's "rested").

The open road!!!

Easy Rider!!
Sunday afternoon Raylan took a nap.  We took care of some chores.  I tried to fix a light bulb in the tail light of my car.  The tail light was already cracked, and I ended up splintering it.  So now I gotta get that fixed.  
Later there was playing and baths and dinner.

In the evening I went to band practice and played with Frank and Reed.  We sounded good, and I had fun.

And that was the weekend!  Have a good week!

Sunday, December 09, 2018


So, our weekend was pretty good.  We're sort of into the  Christmas swing of things.
On Friday it rained really hard here in Austin.  We had discussed going out to dinner, but we abandoned that plan on account of torrential downpours.
On Saturday we went out to breakfast in the morning.  We played with the kids and took turns working out.
Saturday afternoon we had a visit from Robert, Marina, Lowry, and Maribel.  Lowry has been in Raylan's class at his preschool for the last two years.  The kids had a play date with the moms supervising while Robert and I went out in the garage and worked on some Christmas songs to play for the preschool (Robert on drums, with me on guitar).  We all had a good time.
Afterwards we all went over to ABGB and had some pizza and a beer (well, the kids had water).

Kiddo tries to find a different angle of attack
on the Christmas tree

Amy and Marina wrangle Maribel, Lowry, and Kiddo.  Raylan is
nowhere to be seen.  Which is troublesome.
On Sunday we went to the annual Christmas Cookie Party hosted by Amy's former co-worker (now retired), Tony Grigsby.  A bunch of Amy's co-worker friends were there, and Raylan got to decorate some Christmas cookies.  He ad Kiddo also got to run around in the back yard with other kids.  We all had a good time.  Good food and good company.  It was nice to be invited.

"I think I can feel the cookies, Dad!"

Sunday night I went to band practice, but it ended up being just Reed and me.  So we played some songs from our side project band, Wastewood.  We had a good time, though, and I think we sounded pretty good.

And that was the weekend!
Things are going well.  I'm getting the ol' winter allergies, but things are going well.  ;-)

Sunday, December 02, 2018


Hi! How's it going?  I can't believe that it's already December.
Time is going by so fast.  I feel like we were just doing the whole holiday thing, and now we're back at it again.
Of course, now we have a three year old who has a much better understanding of Christmas, and an 18 month old foster daughter ho we are experiencing Christmas with for the first time (assuming that she remains with us through Christmas, which seems likely).

Our weekend was pretty good.  Mostly.  Okay, at least half good.
Friday night we took Raylan and Kiddo out to dinner at Cherry Creek Catfish Company.  We had a nice dinner.
On Saturday my parents came over to watch the UT-OU Big 12 Championship game.  We lost.  Still, it was a victory to even be playing for the Big 12 championship, especially given the fact that we've been such a mediocre team over the last few years.  We'd also beaten OU earlier in the season, so that softened the blow a bit,  Still, we had a lot of penalties and mental mistakes, so that was a little rough.
Anyway, we'll probably still pick up a bowl game of some sort, so that's pretty cool.
So Mom and Dad came over to watch the game, and Amy made queso.  Mom and Dad helped with the kids, and Amy went shopping for a while.  It was a nice afternoon.  Saturday afternoon, once the game was over, Dad and I took Raylan to some bike shops so he could check them out and see if maybe there was a bike that Santa could bring him for Christmas.
After my folks left we put up our Christmas tree and some decorations.

Raylan and Kiddo, helping to decorate the tree
On Sunday we met in the morning with Kiddo's attorney ad litem (who represents Kiddo's interests at her foster care court hearings).  
Amy had gotten out of bed feeling sort of sick on Sunday, and that sort of threw a wrench into some of our other Sunday plans.  We were supposed to go to see A Christmas Carol at Zach Theatre with Ryan and Jamie and Mom and Dad, but we ended up not going.  
Raylan was asking me to tell him some storied about camping, so I ended up setting up my old tent in the back yard so he and Kiddo could play in it.  The weather was beautiful, and they had fun. 

Kiddo and Raylan, experiencing the exotic wilderness of
South Central Austin

Telling "camping ghost stories" to Raylan and Kiddo.
Not so scary in the middle of the day...
We had a sort of low key afternoon.  I ran a couple of errands and did a little yard work.  I finished getting our outside Christmas decorations up.

Our holiday house, 2018.
And that was the weekend.  Nice weather.
Hopefully Amy is on the mend!
Have a good one.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018


I hope everyone had a safe, happy holiday!
We had a really nice one at our house.  Lots to be thankful for, this year!
Raylan is happy and healthy and active.  He's very loved by our whole family, and he loves them right back.
We're really happy to have Kiddo in our lives.  She is making great strides, and she's a fun, cheerful, affectionate child.  She seems to feel safe and secure with us, and she fits right in with our little family.
Also, we're thankful to have the love and support of the rest of the family!  Mom and Dad (i.e., Grandma and Papa) spend a lot of time with Raylan, and their experiences with him have been an invaluable part of his life.  Kiddo is getting used to them as well, and she loves them, too.  Raylan loves to get together and play with Ryan and Jamie, and  looks forward to seeing them whenever we get together.  He also loves to see Nana and Papa Greg when they come to town, and he asks about going back to Arizona to see his cousins and the rest of the family.
Anyway, life is busy, but very good.  We are grateful and thankful and do not take anything or anyone for granted.

In terms of our holiday week, Greg and Jean got into town on Wednesday.  I worked in the morning, and Mom and Dad took Raylan and Kiddo for the day (so Amy could cook and clean a bit while I worked).  Later everyone regrouped at the house.  It was good to see Jean and Greg!
Wednesday night we went out to dinner at La Posada with Jean, Greg, and the kids.  We had a nice time.
Thursday morning we got up, and I ran to Central Market to get some food.

Raylan and Kiddo sit in containers to watch the Macy's
Thanksgiving parade.  Hypnotized by the cloud balloon...
Later in the afternoon, the family came over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Susan, Donald, Ryan, Jamie, Jean, Greg, Mom, Dad, Amy and myself (plus, of course, Raylan and Kiddo).
We (...ahem, Amy) made pies (pecan and apple), salad, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and provided some appetizers.  Susan brought a veggie tray and sweet potatoes.  Mom brought appetizers, green bean casserole, regular green beans, and pumpkin pie.  Jean got some dips (love and crab) and other appetizers.  Jamie brought stuffing and rolls.  Dad brought wine and olives.
The food was good, and it seemed like everyone was happy.

Susan plays with Kiddo and Jamie eats appetizers

There was apparently a lot of anticipation to see if Kiddo could drive
the car.

Dad carved the turkey.  Because I had never done it before and failed to
look up how to do it before everyone showed up.

Putting out the spread!

Mom and Amy, working in the kitchen.

Happy in the chaos!

Raylan takes time out to give Kiddo a hug.

We had two different tables going.  This was the kitchen table.

This was the "Cassidy Room" table.  It was a very special
Thanksgiving treat for Raylan to get to eat in there.
Post-meal wind down

Proud of my Amy for orchestrating a great Turkey Day!
Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jamie brought a new Rudolph book.
Good stuff.
After dinner there was some dessert.  Also, Uncle Ryan, Raylan, and I played Ghost in the Graveyard for a while in the back yard.  I remember playing that game with the Bridenstine brothers when we were growing up.  Fun thing to pass along to Raylan (although Uncle Ryan and me might be a little slower these days).
Anyway, it was a nice Thanksgiving, and it was really good to have everyone over.  Thanks for bringing great food and helping to clean up, family!

Jean and Greg were with us most of the day on Friday (their flight was in the evening).  Greg watched the UT-Kansas game with me.  Texas played pretty well, particularly in the second half.  On to the Big 12 championship!
In the afternoon we went to Central Market and Cavender's and did a little shopping with the kids.  They didn't have boots to fit Kiddo, sadly, and Raylan said he didn't want to wear any (he wanted to "wear sneakers and drive a monster truck, instead").
On Saturday we ran a couple of errands and got lunch.

Two days after Thanksgiving, and the kids are eating Indian food.
And they're actually eating it.
Saturday evening we went out to my folks' house to have dinner and hang out.  It was fun.  They had their Christmas stuff up, and Mom made salmon.  It was fun and relaxing to hang out with them.

Raylan and Kiddo were a little overwhelmed by the Christmas tree.
On Sunday we had some of Raylan's friends from school come over to out house for a playdate.  Dorothy, Sam, and Evie came over.  Mostly the kids played in the backyard.  We gave them some snacks.  It was good to see them and their parents.

Sunday afternoon I went for a bike ride.  The weather had clouded up, and it had gotten colder and windy.  Not my favorite bike ride ever.

Sunday evening I gave Kiddo a bath and then headed to band practice.  Frank, Jim, Reed, and me.  We sounded pretty good, and it was good to get out and make some music with the guys.  Nice way to wrap up the holiday weekend.

And that was about it!  I cannot believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone.  It's all happening so fast...

Thanks once again to my family for helping out, and to Jean and Greg for coming out to spend the holiday with us.  We love you all!

Have a great week.

Monday, November 19, 2018


We had a pretty good weekend.  Mom and Dad took Raylan overnight on Thursday night.
He says he had a good time hanging out with them.  

doing dishes with Papa
We took Kiddo out to eat at Kerbey Lane Thursday night.  We had a nice time, but it was great to get Raylan back on Friday!

Saturday we went to the Joslin Park.  We played there for quite a while.  Kiddo managed to climb around successfully on the playground quite a bit, for a child who can't really fully walk yet.  (She is not to be outdone by Raylan)

In the Joslin community garden, Bluejay in hand.

Raylan, Mom, and Kiddo on the Joslin playscape
Saturday afternoon the weather was beautiful.  Amy went for a run, and I went for a bike ride.
There was also a lot of playing in the yard, mixed with some chores.

"I wanna watch some shows, Dad."
"It's a beautiful day, buddy.  Let's play outside.  Where's your sidewalk chalk?""
"The shows are inside, Dad."

Kiddo and me, chillaxing on the porch.
On Saturday night, once the kids were fed and bathed and in bed, I went over to Ryan's house to watch the UT game.  We played Iowa State, and we defeated them fairly soundly.  It was weird to watch a UT game without at least one moment where I felt anxious and afraid.

Matt, Nicole, and Juan were over there (along with Ryan and Jamie, of course), and it was good to see everyone!  It had been a while.  Good to catch up.

On Sunday we went out to breakfast and ran some errands (i.e., shopping).  Amy and I took turns going to the gym.

In the evening we had band practice over at Reed's house.

That, in broad strokes, was the weekend.  It was good.  Went by really fast, it seemed.

Have a good week!  Gobble, gobble!!!

Monday, November 12, 2018


Hey!  So we had another pretty busy week.  On Thursday my mom and dad watched Raylan during the day.  In the evening, Shelly and Kit brought Spencer over, and we did some babysitting for a little while!  Three kids!!
It went fine, and the kids had a lot of fun.  Hopefully Kit and Shelly had a nice dinner.

Spencer, Amy, and Kiddo, hanging out Thursday night.
On Friday night Amy worked late because she had a hearing that started at like 4:30 (on a Friday?  This judge doesn't have an active personal life).  I picked up both of the kids, we met Amy at home, and we all went to La Posada for dinner.  It was good.  Nice way to wrap up the week.

Partying our way into the weekend with some Tex Mex
On Saturday we got up and took the kids to the zoo.  It was a little cool out, so we were hoping that the animals would be wide awake.  It mostly worked, but a few of them were holed up in their little houses and wouldn't come out.
We think that it might have been Kiddo's first trip to the zoo.  She got to feed some goats, deer, and llamas, and see some other animals as well.  Raylan got to see the lions and bears, and enjoyed feeding the other animals as well.

feeding goats

This is a deer, dear!

The lions were up and moving on a cool, fall morning
In the afternoon Mom and Dad picked Raylan and Kiddo.  We had agreed to go to a comedy show with Reed and Jen back before we even had our new Kiddo staying with us.
So on Saturday night my folks took the kids, and we got to go out and have some grown up fun!

We met Reed and Jen at Cover 3 for dinner, and afterwards we went to see the Sklar Brothers at the Cap City Comedy Club.  I didn't know much about them prior to the show, but they were really funny.  They also had two opening acts, both of which were also funny.

We had a really fun night.  It was also really fun to hang out with Reed and Jen.  It was good to see them.  It had been too long since we all got together.

On Sunday we ran some errands and exercised, and then Mom and Dad brought the kids back.

We spent the afternoon playing with them and getting them to take naps.

Raylan has a pretty serious conversation with his
mom about his art.
Sunday night I went to band practice.  We played at Cascade Studios.  It was a pretty good space.  We were all there, and I think we sounded pretty good, for the most part.

And that was the weekend!  I drove home from practice in some pretty serious rain on a sort of cold night.  It felt good to get back home and settle in.

Have a good week!