Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Heading Into a New Year

Happy New Year!
2017 was sort of a strange year.  On a personal level, we had a good year.  Our jobs were good, our family life was good, our health has been good, and Raylan seems to be growing into a pretty happy, healthy kid.  We're counting our blessings on all of this stuff, to be sure.  We feel very lucky and extremely fortunate to have such great family and friends in our lives.
On the other hand, on a broader level, 2017 was a sort of troubling year.
Here in Texas we had Hurricane Harvey, which sort of wrecked Houston and the Gulf Coast.  We didn't suffer too many direct effects here in Austin, but Port Aransas and Houston are our neighbors, and they're places that we regularly visit, so it was rough to see the damage that they suffered.
Also, on a statewide level, we went through a legislative session where moderate Republicans joined forces with Democrats to put the breaks on some of our most potentially damaging, ideological legislation (e.g., in inordinate amount of time and energy was spent trying to decide which bathrooms transgender people are allowed to use).  The good news was that some of the most ridiculous pieces of legislation were defeated, but in the wake of this year's legislative battles, a number of good, commonsense Republicans announced their retirement rather than deal with headaches from more extreme primary challenges in the upcoming years.  Joe Straus, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced that he would be stepping down at the end of his term, thereby removing one of the strongest remaining common sense voices for legislative politics in the state.
On a national level, Trump was Trump, and has pretty much lived up to most of the fears that Democrats had when he was elected.  He has waged war on the media, immigrants, various religions, the environment, and various foreign leaders.  He Tweets incessantly, and fact checking reveals that he is either cluelessly incorrect or blatantly dishonest at a truly alarming rate (even within the truth-challenged realm of politics). 
I could really fall down a wormhole here in talking about Trump, but... that's how 2017 felt.  Every day I would read the news to see what sort of terrible mistake, idiocy, or outright lies had been made by our national leadership.  It has truly felt like we couldn't get through a week without doing something really stupid.  Most of the time it felt like we couldn't go 2 or 3 days.  It truly does feel like we are a nation that is in decline.

BUT, in our little corner of the world we're doing pretty well.

Amy and I both took off work from Christmas until the 3rd of January.  Raylan's school has been closed, and it seemed like a good chance for some family time.
We made it to the new Central Library downtown Austin.  It's a really nice facility.  The price tag for the city to build the thing was pretty steep, but it's a really cool building and a nice library.

Raylan plays with computers in the kids' portion of the library

Raylan watches bigger kids try out the library's virtual reality system.
Raylan is just beginning to get a handle on regular reality, so
we're not ready to let him try it out.

The staircase of the library

I don't know what's behind that door, but it better be good.

Rooftop reading area and garden 

The view of Ladybird Lake and Auditorium Shores from the library

The weather has been really cold for a lot of this week, so we've spent a lot of time at home playing with Raylan and his new Christmas toys as well as looking for places to take him where we can all stay warm (the library was one of these destinations).  Amy took Raylan to visit her friend Katarina and Katarina's son, Logan, up near Cedar Park.

Raylan and Logan play together
Dad, these marbles aren't going to run themselves...

On New Year's Eve we went out to breakfast at La Posada.

"Pancakes.  I need pancakes."
On New Year's Eve I had an afternoon band practice with the guys.  

A rare pic from Mono Ensemble's palatial rehearsal studio.
On New Year's Day we took Raylan to the mall so he could do some running around.

See, Dad, Christmas isn't really over!
Shopping ninja.
In the afternoon on New Year's Day we went over to Mandy's house for a get-together.  Kim and Miles, Andy and Rami and Wilson, Kelly and Jojo and Goldie, Donna Rene, Kate, and Spencer and Mandy were all there.  There was some good food, some drinks, and a lot of child-fueled chaos.  It was a good time.  It was nice of Mandy to have us all over.

Tuesday was the last day of Christmas break for Raylan, so Amy and I took it off.  We took Raylan to breakfast at Kerbey Lane, and then took him to The Thinkery to meet up with Grandma.  Mom and Dad got us a family pass to The Thinkery for Christmas, and it's a great present.  It was the perfect thing to do on a cold winter day on Tuesday.

Amy helps Raylan build a ball run

Raylan managed to get himself a little soaked in the water play section
when a bucket dumped near him.  Here's Grandma helping with
the recovery.

And that's pretty much been our week.

I hope everyone's 2018 is off to a good start.  Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy 2018!!

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