Sunday, April 29, 2018


Our weekend was pretty good.  On Friday night we went out and had some Tex-Mex food.
On Saturday we got up an went to the Sunset Valley Art Festival.  We had a good time.  The weather was great.
We heard the Bowie High steel drum band (Raylan seemed to sort of like their music, but thought it was too loud) and locally renowned children's singer-songwriter, Joe McDermott.  There was, of course, also some art.  I spent some time chasing Raylan and trying to prevent him from grabbing/mangling/destroying the art that was on display from local artists.
Raylan, painting a flower pot at an art festival tent sponsored by
Home Depot

Raylan got his boogie on for Joe McDermott
Later we went to the grocery store.  Raylan helped select produce.
There was some backyard fun on Saturday as well.

sprinkler time is here again!!!

"Do you want to SWING in the hammock?!?!"
Saturday night we grilled salmon burgers an ate dinner on the back porch.

Late Saturday night (well, at 4:00 a.m., so technically Sunday morning) we got a call from our foster agency about a placement.  The call involved a little girl who had just arrived in the country from Ghana with her mother.  The story involved is sort of complicated, but basically the girl's mother was at the hospital, and at risk of being detained for customs/immigration matters.  Our social worker came to our house, expecting CPS to do a placement, but, in the end, it never happened.  There were legal entanglements with contacting the mother's embassy, the girl's father was on the phone from Ghana, and eventually some of their family here in the U.S. showed up and got involved.
Anyway, there was a lot of excitement, but no placement.  It was a roller coaster.

On Sunday morning, having been up since 4:00 a.m. (except Raylan, who got up around 6:30), we got hungry.  We had breakfast at Kerbey Lane.

Raylan explains to us what will happen to your face if you eat a lemon.

I took Raylan for a ride to the park on Sunday (while Amy took her turn going to the gym).

Later we all took a nap.

In the afternoon, Ryan and Jamie came over.  They brought Raylan a small, toy washing machine.  It's battery operated, makes sounds, and actually spins around when you put things in it.
Raylan has been obsessed with it for 2 days.
Sunday evening we weren't having band practice, so Frank came over and we sat on the porch and played guitar (and drank a beer or two).  The weather was good, and it was a nice way to spend an hour or two.

You're in luck, neighbors!  Free show!!

And that was the weekend.  Have a good week!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Raylan's Birthday; Update

Hi!  Friday was Raylan's 3rd birthday!
It seemed like he had a really good birthday.  He spent Thursday night with Grandma and Papa.  Friday he spent a lot of time at the park and playing with his grandparents (the boy loooves Grandma and Papa!).
birthday muffin from Grandma
Friday evening my mom and dad brought Raylan back to the house.  Our family friends, Rick and Peggy, were in town visiting my folks, and they came over as well.  We ate some pizza and salad, ate some birthday cake, and Raylan got to open some presents.

Papa, Raylan, Rick, and Peggy sitting down for dinner

pizza party!

birthday dump truck!!!
a new dinosaur from Uncle Bob and aunt Linda!  (and no, you can't
hold it)
Raylan had a lot of fun playing with everyone on Friday night.  Between the party with his friends last Saturday and the pizza party this Friday, he had a great birthday.  It was really nice to see Rick and Peggy.

The fishing game that Raylan brought over from Grandma and Papa's house

getting ready for bed on Friday night

On Saturday we ran some errands.  We tried to go to the park, but it started drizzling, and we had to walk home in the misty rain.
Saturday night we got a babysitter for a few hours and met up with Kit, Shelly, Emily, and Joe for dinner at Via 313.  It was great to see them, and we had a really good time.  It was the first time we had all gotten together since Spencer and Cecilia had been born.  It was nice to catch up.

It's so great to see you guys!  Let me just answer this text really quick...

Steanso with the blondies!
On Sunday we took Raylan over to La Posada.  He ate a ridiculous amount of food at breakfast.  He loves that place.

Just one more potato, Dad.
On Sunday the weather was cool, clear, and beautiful.  We washed our cars.  Amy went for a run in our neighborhood, and I took a bike ride.  Raylan and I took a little walk and stopped by to see Mandy.

Raylan, drawing a car.  I know I'm biased, but I think that's pretty
good for a 3 year old!

April bike ride.  I wanted a shot of this crazy tall tower they are putting up,
The Independent.  It's going to be the tallest tower downtown, and it looks
like a bunch of Jenga blocks that are about to fall.  

Anyway, that was pretty much our weekend.
I had band practice Friday evening.  All of the guys were there, and we sounded pretty good.
Hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: Empire of the summer Moon

So I just finished reading Empire of the Summer Moon:  Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.  The book was written by S.C. Gwynne.
The book was well written.  Like a few other books on American history that I've read lately, it was entertaining and engaging in addition to laying out a fairly well-informed, well-researched depiction of its subject matter.
Gwynne not only breathes a lot of life into the Parker family, Quanah Parker, Ranald S. Mackenzie, and some of the other characters in the book, but he paints a vivid picture of life on the American frontier during the 1800s.
I picked up the book because I've become more interested in recent years about the life of white settlers in Texas and the central part of the country during the 1800s.  I guess it's a general curiosity about what life was actually like during that time- about how real life compared to movie depictions and written, fictional accounts of the American "old west."
Gwynne's book tends to reinforce the notion that, at least when it came to conflicts between the Northern American Indian tribes and white settlers, things tended to be extremely violent and ugly.
Gwynne, like most historians, points out the dishonesty, greed, and utter foolishness of many of the white settlers who initially tried to move into Comancheria.  Any attempts to try to negotiate a peace agreement or treaty between either the government and the Comanches (or other tribes) were violated almost immediately by white settlers who moved onto Indian lands to try to establish homesteads.  White settlers simply didn't see Native Americans as genuine persons, worthy of possessing property rights, territorial sovereignty, and the minimum level of mutual respect that would be accorded other white people.
On the other hand, Gwynne does not downplay the brutal, savage attacks by the Comanches.  In addition to being extremely skilled horsemen and warriors with a longstanding culture valuing fighting over most all other skills, the Comanches were a merciless, sadistic foe.  Torturing captured enemies to death was the norm.  The rape of women and the murder of children were common.  It can be said (with validity) that these brutal attacks were a drastic reaction to the actions of the seizure of their lands by white settlers, but, as Gwynne points out, the Comanches had been viciously waging war against other Indian tribes for hundreds of years before the first white settlers arrived on the American frontier.  The slaughter and torture of enemies had been a regular practice of the Comanches (as well as many other plains tribes) for generations.  War served as not only a method of protecting territory and resources, but as a means of striking abject terror into one's enemies, dominating them psychologically as well as physically.
Although Gwynne doesn't touch on the matter specifically, it feels like the cultures of the whites and the cultures of the Comanches were almost perfectly aligned to generate animosity toward one another.  The white settlers were determined, of course, to "civilize" lands that had served as the hunting grounds, homeland, and spiritual focus of the Comanches for many generations, utterly disregarding the fact that their settlement attempts constituted an invasion to the nomadic people that were already occupying their newly "discovered" lands.  The simple fact that the whites considered Comancheria to be theirs for the taking speaks directly, of course, to the fact that, to the whites, the Indians were less than fully formed people, undeserving of legitimate property rights.  For their part, the atrocities committed by the Comanches, not only against the whites, but also against other tribes, reinforced the notion in the minds of settlers that Indians were truly something less than human.  From such a standpoint it became easy to perceive the Indians as something to be destroyed, dominated, and overcome rather than a people to be respected or reasoned with.  The whites committed their own atrocities to be sure (plenty of massacres took place in which the elderly, women,  and children were slaughtered by government forces), but when confronted with the almost imaginative torture and mutilation inflicted by the Comanches upon relatively harmless civilians (not so dissimilar to modern-day atrocities inflicted by radical fundamentalist groups such as ISIS), it must have been relatively easy for the whites to discount the humanity of the Comanches.
For quite a long time, the Comanches held their own.  They halted the advancement of the American frontier, and, in fact, actually caused it to retreat for significant periods of time as settlers fled the horrors of the Comanche raids.
In fact, in some sense, it could be argued that some of the Comanche tactics were effective.  In the end, of course, the Comanches were defeated- killed, subjugated, and forced onto reservations.  The fighting strength of the Comanches, however, kept their culture alive much longer than it might have otherwise survived, and it brought repeated attempts by the government to negotiate with the Comanches rather than seeking to utterly destroy them (even if, in the end, the government rarely held up its part on the bargain in fulfilling treaty obligations).
At any rate, Empire really isn't a book about policy or philosophy.  It discusses the clashing cultures of the whites and the Comanches, but it seeks more to accurately describe them than to make judgments about them.
As I said, the book is full of human stories, examinations of the Comanches as a people, and vivid depictions of life on the American frontier.
I enjoyed it, and I would recommend it.
Though this country sometimes seems crazy now, it's always astonishing to think about how we got here.  America has been a wild, wild place.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Update; Birthday Party

Hi!  Hope you had a good weekend.  We had some really nice weekend weather.
Raylan will actually turn 3 on Friday, the 20th, but we had a party for him this weekend to celebrate. We invited some of his friends from his class at school (Sam, Genevieve, Dorothy, and Lowry) as well as some other kids that he knows because we're friends with the parents (Truett and Logan).  We even had a baby Cecilia sighting!
Raylan jumped out of bed and was already asking if the party could start and if people were on their way at about 6:45 a.m.
Amy made some cupcakes (which were very good), and we got fruit and bagels and quiche from Central Market.  Mom and Dad came over, and Mom brought some cookies and I think some crackers and cheese.  We had juice and water for the kids and mimosas and coffee for the adults.
As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that we did okay with the food.
We got a few plated and decorations that were themed from the Cars movies (Raylan doesn't actually seem to care about the movies all that much, but he loves the Cars movies and story books).
The weather was a little cool and breezy, but it was sunny and the kids didn't seem to mind.
They seemed to have a lot of fun and enjoy each other's company.  They played on Raylan's playscape, played in the sandbox, and played with Raylan's cars and trucks.

birthday-related chow

Dad helps Raylan figure out tee ball with a set provided by Uncle Ryan
and Aunt Jamie
Cesar and Dorothy climb a tree

cupcakes and Goldfish crackers

attacking da cupcake

Cars-themed birthday madness

Raylan and the hostess with the mostest

Raylan has a firm understanding of birthday parties at this point

Lowry springs into action

Chillaxin' family

if you kids don't wanna use these swings...

Genevieve, Sam, and Raylan, practicing some kicking on the hammock
So we felt like the party was a big success.  We had a lot of fun, and it seems like the kids did, too. Even the parents seemed to enjoy themselves (the food, coffee, and mimosas helped).
Raylan definitely had a lot fun and really enjoyed having his friends over.  He said goodbye to each of them as they left.

What else from the weekend?  I went with Ryan to go meet up with an old friend that Ryan knows from his college days, Jim Dedman.  We went to the Celis Brewey and had a few beers in their tasting room.  It was a fun time.  It was good to catch up with Jim while he was in town and to meet some of his other friends.

We also took a walk to Central Market on Sunday.  Raylan rode his bike and helped pick out fruit once we got to the store.

Going shopping

We also went to Doc's.  Raylan got nachos, I got a chicken sandwich, and Amy got a salad.  Raylan got to play on the playground and run around in the field back behind the place.

tree sittin'

When we went shopping at Central Market, Raylan asked if he could get another cupcake.  I folded.
He picked one out that was literally named "birthday cupcake".  It had a candle on top.
When you're three, the road goes on forever, and the party never ends...

More birthday!  More birthday!

And that was our weekend.  It was really nice.  It went by way too fast.

Sunday, April 08, 2018


Hi!  Hope everyone is doing okay.  We had a pretty good weekend.
On Friday I went out to lunch with Ruben and Afton and Ruben's son, Diego.  Here's a pic of Diego and me hanging out at Kerbey Lane.

How old when I be to eat da pancakes?
Saturday turned out to be freakishly cold for April in Austin.  I don't think the temperatures ever climbed out of the 40's.  We had some plans to try to go to the Honk band festival or go to a car show out at the expo center, but none of it sounded good on a cold, windy day with intermittent misty rain.
So we had kind of a down day and went to the grocery store and hung out around the house.

Frogs may not normally like cold weather, but this frog has fur.
On Saturday evening we met up with my parents and our family friend, Barb Boullear, for dinner at La Posada.  It was a nice dinner, and it was good to see Barb.
On Sunday morning we got up and Raylan and I walked down to Central Market to get some muffins and bagels.  Well, I walked and Raylan rode his bike.  Raylan picked out the muffins himself. Chocolate, lemon, and blueberry.  He was pretty proud of his selections.

"Can I take a picture of you, Raylan?"
"Do I look cool?"
After breakfast and a quick errand or two, we went and met Ryan and Jamie at Garrison Park.  I think Raylan was excited to show them his riding skills oh his balance bike.  he got to hang out on the playground a bit as well.

In the afternoon the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day.  We spent a lot of time in the back yard.

In the evening I had band practice.  Amy made spaghetti, and I got to have it for dinner when I came home.
It was a nice weekend!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter Weekend Update

We had a good Easter Weekend!

Here's a shot of Raylan going to his swim lesson on Thursday with Grandma and Papa on Thursday. He likes his swim lessons.

On Saturday went out for breakfast and dyed Easter eggs and went to an Egg Drop over at Sunrise Community Church in our neighborhood.

Amy and Raylan get some color on those eggs!
The Egg Drop was fun!  Raylan found forty three colored eggs, and won a little prize.

some of these eggs are not that hard to find

Dad supervision of egg collection

Raylan, suddenly realizing that he's on a train that's being pulled by a riding
lawnmower driven by a man that he doesn't know, starts to wonder what he's
gotten himself into

a perfect landing on the egg drop bounce slide

Raylan was far less scared of the Easter Bunny than Santa Clause

Trying to check under the bunny for eggs at the petting zoo

serious about his bounce moves in the bounce house
On Sunday we went to church at Triumphant Love with Mom and Dad for Easter service.  It was a nice service.  Raylan liked the music, although he still gets a little restless during the service.

After church we stayed and had some cookies and treats in the fellowship hall.
After that we headed home.
At home, Raylan got to open stuff in his Easter basket and have a small egg hunt at the house.

Easter loot

The Easter Bunny was slightly craftier when hiding these eggs than he
was at the Egg Drop
Mom and Dad came over and brought Raylan some Easter goodies.  They stayed for some egg salad sandwiches and snacks.

Then Raylan took a nap, and that was pretty much the conclusion of the Easter festivities.
It was a nice Easter!

Hope everyone is having a good week!